IPA The project is co-funded by EU trough the BulgariaSerbia IPA Cross-border Programme
Leader Partner Municipality of Koprivshtitsa, Koprivshtitsa - Bulgaria; Partner Municipality of Medijana Nis, Serbia

Niš Fortress


Niš Fortress is a complex and very important cultural and historical monument - an edifice that dominates the urban nucleus of the city. It rises on the right bank of the Nišava River, overlooking the area inhabited for longer than two millenniums.

The extant fortification is of Turkish origin, dating from the first decades of the 18th century (1719-1723). It is well-known as one of the most significant and best preserved monuments of this kind in the Mid-Balkans. The Fortress was erected on the site of earlier fortifications - the ancient Roman, Byzantine, and later yet Mediaeval forts. The Fortress has a polygonal ground plan, eight bastion terraces and four massive gates. It stretches over 22 ha of land. The rampart walls are 2,100 m long, 8 m high and 3 m thick on the average. The building stone, brought from the nearby quarries, was hewn into rather evenly-shaped blocks. The inside ofhe rampart wall was additionally fortified by a wooden construction, 'santrac', and an additional bulwark, 'trpanac'. On the outside, the Fortress was surrounded by a wide moat, whose northern part has been preserved to our days. Beside the massive stone rampart walls, the southern Stambol gate and the western Belgrade gate are pretty well preserved. Partly preserved are the water gates, while there are only remains of the northern Vidin gate and the south-east Jagodina gate. With a complete reconstruction of all the gates, Niš Fortress would once again become, architecturally and functionally, a closed fortification system.

The walls of Niš Fortress enclose the following buildings - Exhibition halls:

•Art Pavilion - The adapted Arsenal building dating from 1857;

•77 Exhibition Hall - The reconstructed and adapted Bali-bey mosque, dating from 1521-1523;

•Open-air Theatre (19), built in 1959, where numerous cultural events take place (the Yugoslav Choral Festival and Yugoslav Film Festival of Actors' Achievements, etc.);

other important buildings include:

•The City Archives building erected in 1890, former Serbian Army Cartographic Department;

•Pasha's Konak (Residence), reconstructed and used by the city-owned firm 'Mediana';

•The Monument to Prince Milan Obrenovic, who liberated Nis in 1878;

•Charnel House Memorial, erected in 1931, on the spot where insurrectionists of the Toplica Uprising (1917) were executed;

•Lapidarium - a permanent open-air exhibition of antique and epigraph stone monuments, sculptures, tombstones and parts of architectural plastic ornaments, opened in 1979;

•Prison building, adapted and used by the Research Centre 'Naisus'.

Some of the buildings and monuments enclosed by the Fortress walls have been reconstructed over the past several years:

•Turkish bath (Hamam), dating from the 15th century, adapted for an elegant restaurant with a terrace;

•Niches 1-6 and 7-12, a string of arch-vaulted chambers stretching to the north and south of the Belgrade gate, should be adapted into attractive locations and turned to various cultural and tourist uses;

•Forge building would be adapted into a spacious restaurant, fitted into the natural surroundings, on the plateau in the middle of the park in the eastern part of the Fortress.

•Powder magazine buildings 1-4, dating from 1720-1733, lined along the north and north-east part of the rampart wall, at about 250 m from one another. These chambers should be adapted for various tourist uses (restaurants, patisseries, piza-places, clubs etc.);

•Storehouse building should be adapted to house the Experimental Theatre, where various cultural and sports events can take place.

Plans for the reconstruction of Niš Fortress include raising several new objects, for example:

•A relief map of the Fortress on a tablet near the entrance;

•New Clock Tower, on the site of the old one, torn down after 1878;

•University Open-air Theatre in the north-west bastion, next to the Powder magazine 2, as well as sports grounds for students and youth, along the whole length of the preserved part of the today dry moat.

Archaeological findings

Beside artifacts dating from the period of Turkish rule, archaeological excavations in the Fortress area uncovered several earlier findings in the older layers. Prehistoric, Roman, Byzantine and Mediaeval findings include the following:

From the ancient Roman and Byzantine period:

•parts of paved streets with draining system pipes;

•parts of buildings with porches;

•numerous remains of buildings near the Hamam, the Arsenal and the Jagodina and Belgrade gates;

•a grandeous orthogonal building with floor mosaic;

•Roman baths at the entrance to the Fortress;

•a large basilica to the north of Most Mladosti (Youth Bridge);

•numerous remains of buildings and objects from the mediaeval period.

The most important finds include:

•Constantine's head in bronze, excavated during the construction of the old bridge, on the right bank of the Nišava.

•A bronze sculpture of Jupiter, found in the Nisava River bed, near the Stambol gate.

•Ara-altar and pithos with one hundred kilograms of silver coins dating from the 3rd century, excavated near the Belgrade gate.

Niš Fortress represents a valuable historical monument, which merges the old and the new, the past and the present. Offering the citizens of Niš today a beautiful park and, hopefully, numerous cultural and tourist attractions very soon, Niš Fortress rightly occupies a central place in the urban structure of the city of Niš.


Serbia, Nish,