When you continue along Knez Mihailova Street, your path will lead to Kalemegdan Park, which surrounds Belgrade Fortress. The name of this park was given by the Ottomans and is Kalemegdan, or “Castle Square.” In Belgrade, I heard very familiar words similar to Turkish. Castle Square is just one of them. The Istanbul Gate and the Clock Tower in Kalemegdan still retain their Turkish names, they call them Stambol Kapija and Sahat Kula.
In Belgrade, which still bears traces of the Ottoman Empire, many words from Ottoman Turkish are still used. I heard that the language with the highest number of Turkish words is Serbian and that Serbs use about 8,472 Turkish words in their daily lives. Maybe that’s why I feel close to this city and miss it after I leave.
Located on the hill at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, Kalemegdan is actually a park spread over a very large area. As such, it is the largest park and the most important historical monument in Belgrade. In the park, there are many things such as Belgrade Fortress, statues, monuments, a clock tower, a military museum, a fountain and a church that you can visit and see.
After completing your trip to Kalemegdan and resting in the shade of a tree in this lush park, you can watch the city from the 18th-century Belgrade Fortress, as well as watch the Danube and Sava rivers flow past.
Nowadays, every morning, I imagine myself drinking my morning coffee in the shade of a tree in the huge, green park of Kalemegdan.
Before I talk about the magnificent view of Belgrade Fortress, I would like to talk a little about the history of this castle, which boasts an Ottoman heritage. Belgrade Fortress, built by the Romans in 279 B.C., passed into the hands of the Ottomans in 1521, when the Ottoman ruler Sultan Suleiman I conquered Belgrade.
Inside the castle, there is an Ottoman fountain. Sokollu Mehmed Pasha had the Sokovic Fountain built as a badge of one of his victories in the war. It is said that there are some tunnels dug during the Ottoman Empire under Belgrade Fortress. The fortress gives the city its title of a white city because of its walls in Kalemegdan. The most striking point of the castle is the lush and magnificent city view when you leave the fountain behind and continue walking toward the outskirts.
The main gate of Belgrade Fortress still retains its Turkish name. This gate, called Stambol Kapija in Serbian, is connected to the Clock Gate by a bridge. When the control of the city passed from the Turks to Serbia, the keys of the city were delivered in front of this door.
Statue of ‘The Victor’
Located at the far end of the park, Pobednik, or the statue of “The Victor,” symbolizes Serbia’s victories in World War I and the Balkan Wars. The statue, which was originally intended to be placed in a square in the city center, was placed here as a result of the objections of the people due to its nude appearance. Now, the statue is perhaps one of the most sought-after sights of the city. You can watch wonderful sunsets from where the monument is located.
Church of Saint Petka
It is believed that holy and healing water flows from the spring right next to this church dedicated to a female saint right under Ruzica Castle. Rumor has it that the water can cure diseases and speed up healing.
Apart from these, you can visit Nebojsa Tower, the Pre-War Dancers, the Post-War Dancers, the Natural History Museum and the Cvijeta Zuzoric Mansion in Kalemegdan. In addition, the giant chess tables in Kalemegdan make this place a favorite for chess lovers.
So many things that this small city has to offer fit in one park: Monuments, fountains, churches, castle gates, war museums…
Kalemegdan is one of the must-see places of Belgrade, which really carries the traces of history, contains a bit of mystery and offers a wonderful river and city view. I hope this guide will be useful for exploring this beautiful city. Wishing you a happy day in the legendary park of Kalemegdan, where you can sip your morning coffee while the birds are chirping near the Sava and Danube.
The Clock Tower, which is called Sahat Kula in Serbian and still preserves its Turkish name, is just above the Clock Gate. The construction of the tower started during the Austrian Empire, but its completion coincided with the Ottoman period.
The Karadjordje (Black George) Gate and Zindan (Dungeon) Gate are the other gates of the castle one should see.
After passing the Clock Gate, you will see the Military Museum. The museum, which has open-air and closed sections, starts with the open-air museum in front of the Istanbul Gate. There are tanks and similar heavy weapons from World War I here. You can also enter the military museum and see the captured weapons, bombs and missiles belonging to the Kosovo Liberation Army and the remains of a warplane shot down in 1999.
I have heard that there is still no clear information about the history and purpose of this well, which is full of creepy legends. It is not known how the water came to the well, which was once used as a granary and dungeon. Excavations in the well cannot be done due to the rocky areas. According to a rumor, the Germans investigated the well built by the Austrians during World War II and discovered all the tunnels by seizing the underground plans of the well from the Austrians. These plans enabled the Germans to escape from the Russian armies.
The strange thing is that two German divers who were doing research died in this well, but their bodies were not found. It is also among the rumors that two researchers reached the river through one of the tunnels and lost their lives.
Another rumor about the well is as follows: During the 1456 Siege of Belgrade when 30 Hungarian conspirators died in it after their scheme to let the Turks into the fortress and surrender the city to them was thwarted. They were to be paid by the Turks but were discovered and dropped into the pit with ropes. They were left there without food and after they began losing their minds from hunger, they were thrown knives to kill each other.
Gratitude to France
The Monument of Gratitude to France, which welcomes you at the entrance to Kalemegdan, was erected in memory of the French soldiers who defended Belgrade and lost their lives in World War I.
Though Serbia covered up the monument when relations with France deteriorated during the Bosnian War, once it restored its relations in 2000, it also restored the monument to its former state.
A sculpture fountain “Fisherman” by sculptor Simeon Roksandic can be found in the park. The one in the park is actually a copy of the sculpture, the original of which is in Zagreb. After the sculpture was made, it took part in the Balkan Exhibition in London. Roksandic was told that the ship that brought the work back had sunk, so he made the same statue again and the copy of the work was placed in Kalemegdan.