About Niš

History of the city

Niš – the imperial city, the city of faeries, a city built on dreams, an eternal secret.., a city rich in past and often with an uncertain future, the city of “merak” and “meraklije”, traditional hospitality, host city of numerous festivals, university center, a crossroads, the gate of the East and the gate of the West.

Archaeological sites testify to the existence of prehistoric settlements in this area. It was noted that a soldier dug out a 153mm long basalt axe-hammer above the fortress bridge in 1878. Another axe, made of the same material, of a more coarse craftsmanship, was discovered near the old graves near Niš, while a flint saw was found near Vrežina. These discoveries date back to the period of 4000 years BC.

Historical sources testify to the existence of an urban settlement from the Celtic period in the third century BC. During the process of settlement in the Balkans, a Celtic tribe decided to remain on the banks of the Nišava River. They were amazed by the beauty of the river, the greenery of the basin and the enchanting mountains. The legend says that the Celts turned to the gods to help preserve their city, which was often targeted by jealous tribes because of its beauty. According to the legend, the gods sent faeries, who rebuilt the walls, towers, squares and streets after each attack. As a sign of gratitude, the Celts called the river which was the city’s life source “The Faerie River – Naisa”, and the city “The City of Faeries – Navissos”.

In his work, entitled “The Kingdom of Serbia”, Milan Đ. Milićević cites the legend of the creation of Niš, which he had heard from the local population. The legend tells of a brother and sister, Niša and Vida. Their fatherland spread from the Morava to the Danube. They divided it by Niša taking the Ponišavlje and Pomoravlje, while Vida took Podunavlje. On the Nišava, between Vinik and Gorica, Niša built Niš, while Vida built Vidin on the Danube.

Constantin the Great - Niš
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History of the city

Niš – the imperial city, the city of faeries, a city built on dreams, an eternal secret.., a city rich in past and often with an uncertain future, the city of “merak” and “meraklije”, traditional hospitality, host city of numerous festivals, university center, a crossroads, the gate of the East and the gate of the West.

Archaeological sites testify to the existence of prehistoric settlements in this area. It was noted that a soldier dug out a 153mm long basalt axe-hammer above the fortress bridge in 1878. Another axe, made of the same material, of a more coarse craftsmanship, was discovered near the old graves near Niš, while a flint saw was found near Vrežina. These discoveries date back to the period of 4000 years BC.

Historical sources testify to the existence of an urban settlement from the Celtic period in the third century BC. During the process of settlement in the Balkans, a Celtic tribe decided to remain on the banks of the Nišava River. They were amazed by the beauty of the river, the greenery of the basin and the enchanting mountains. The legend says that the Celts turned to the gods to help preserve their city, which was often targeted by jealous tribes because of its beauty. According to the legend, the gods sent faeries, who rebuilt the walls, towers, squares and streets after each attack. As a sign of gratitude, the Celts called the river which was the city’s life source “The Faerie River – Naisa”, and the city “The City of Faeries – Navissos”.

In his work, entitled “The Kingdom of Serbia”, Milan Đ. Milićević cites the legend of the creation of Niš, which he had heard from the local population. The legend tells of a brother and sister, Niša and Vida. Their fatherland spread from the Morava to the Danube. They divided it by Niša taking the Ponišavlje and Pomoravlje, while Vida took Podunavlje. On the Nišava, between Vinik and Gorica, Niša built Niš, while Vida built Vidin on the Danube.

Roman Emperor Flavius ​​Valerius Constantine was born in 274 in Niš, i.e. the Roman Naissus. He developed his hometown into an important military, administrative and economic center, and considered the possibility of making it the capital. He made many important decisions while staying in his residence at Mediana. At the time of Constantine’s successors, in 441, Niš was devastated by the Huns, led by King Attila, and was restored by Byzantine Emperor Justinian. The Slavs began settling in Niš in 540, and the city fell under the rule of Bulgarian emperor Simeon in the 10th century.

In later Serbian history, in the 12th century, at the time of the establishment of the Serbian state in Niš, an alliance was formed between the Byzantine emperor and the Serbian Prince, Stefan Nemanja. The Grand Prince Stefan Nemanja and German Emperor Frederick Barbarossa met in Niš at the gateway of the Church of Saint Panteleimon. After the glorious rise of the Serbian state in the time of Emperor Dušan the Mighty, a division of the empire followed, and Niš was directly attacked by Ottoman invaders. The great Ottoman sultan Murat decided to attack Niš. Looking at the city from the high ground, he said that his fortress resembled a “bristled dragon”. It took the Ottoman sultan twenty-five days of siege to conquer the city in 1385. At the time of the Serbian Despotate, Niš was briefly under the rule of the Brankovićs, and in 1448, it fell under Ottoman rule. Afterwards, the enslavement of Niš lasted for centuries. During the Austro-Turkish wars, the city became a large battlefield and, on several occasions, passed from the hands of one conqueror to another.

While the Serbian Revolution was underway, Niš was affected by the great battles of the First Serbian Uprising. In the vicinity of Niš, in 1809, the battle of Čegar took place, when the brave Duke Stevan Sinđelić provided strong resistance to the Turks. Serbian courage and resistance, as well as the unexpected losses, led humiliated Huršid Pasha to erect a unique building in the world – the Skull Tower, with the aim of intimidation and warning. This symbol of freedom, resistance and struggle brought new strength for battle to the Serbs and awakened the “inat” that had sustained the citizens of Niš in the coming years filled with ordeals.

The liberation from the Turks was brought to Niš by young prince Milan Obrenović on 11th January 1878. The monument built in the center of the city is another testament to the monumental battles for liberation, and to this day, it is still a favorite gathering place for the people of Niš, who always arrange to meet “at the horse” often humorously disregarding the horseman, Prince/King Milan Obrenović. Obrenovićeva street is a favorite city promenade. Apart from freedom, King Milan Obrenović also brought to Niš the railway, telephone, schools and educated people. Niš became a modern city which still felt the trace of the influence of past times, wittily depicted in the works of the Niš teacher Stevan Sremac, after whom the First Grammar School of Niš was named.

It was in Niš where the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Serbia, Nikola Pašić, received the telegram from Vienna with the declaration of war. During the Great War, Niš became the war capital, and the place where it was decided that Serbia shall fight for freedom and the creation of a common state of the South Slavs. In the period between the two world wars, within the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, Niš experienced revival, got a theater and airport, and Russian architects designed new buildings. In that period, Niš had about 25,000 inhabitants, 11 municipalities and two districts.

Niš suffered great losses during the Second World War from German and Allied bombs. The strategic position of the city of Niš, at the crossroads leading to Greece, the German occupiers, led the Germans to found Feldkomandatur 809 as the main occupying authority in 1941. Within the framework of Nazi terror, a concentration camp at the Red Cross was formed, from which thousands of prisoners were taken to be shot at Bubanj. Niš was liberated on 14th October 1944 by the Red Army and the Partisans.

In the second half of the twentieth century, in peacetime, Niš continued its development and became the administrative, political, economic and cultural center of that part of the SFR of Yugoslavia. It was marked by the work of the poet Branko Miljković, the victory of football club “Radnički”, the music of the bands “Lutajuća srca”, “Galija”, “Kerber” and Šaban Bajramović, as well as the organization of the Film Festival.

Historical sites

Niš is one of the oldest cities in Europe, there are numerous findings to prove that: Mediana, Nis fortress, the Skull Tower, Cegar, Tinkers Alley, the monument to liberators of Nis, Crveni Krst Concentration Camp, Bubanj monument park, as well as Bubanj prehistoric findings and Big Hum findings. It is also worth visiting the beauty of nature close to the town: the Sicevo gorge, Jelasnicka gorge, Bojana's waters, the Hill of Kamenica and Cerje cave.

Mediana

Mediana

Mediana is now an archaeological park in the eastern part of Niš, on the road to Niška Banja (The Spa of Niš). During the reign of Emperor Constantine the Great, it was a settlement or a complex of residences and a large agricultural holding...

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Mediana

Mediana

Mediana is now an archaeological park in the eastern part of Niš, on the road to Niška Banja (The Spa of Niš). During the reign of Emperor Constantine the Great, it was a settlement or a complex of residences and a large agricultural holding.

The residence of the Roman emperors – Mediana was erected on a flat terrain, over 40 hectares, on a high bank, which is at a greater distance from the river, at the foot of the southern hills surrounding the Niš basin, near the thermal water springs. One street, in the east-west direction, ran along the south side of the villa with a peristyle and a granary located a hundred meters away. The central area is occupied by the villa with a peristyle, nymphaeum and thermal springs. There is a granary to the west, and towards the north, there is a spatial building with an octagonal and circular room.

To the south of the villa, there are the remains of the water tower, and registered traces of several villas and commercial buildings in between. The water tower that supplied water to Mediana was exceptionally advanced for the period. With the use of lead pipes, water reached the villa and filled the reservoirs of the irrigation systems of fields and granaries. The second part of the water supply system brought warm water with healing properties from Niška Banja. It is characteristic that luxurious buildings made of hard material with columns, decorated with marble linings, mosaics and frescoes, are mainly concentrated around the central villa with the peristyle, while the commercial buildings are located from the granary to the west, towards Nais.

The remains of two churches from the fourth century were discovered in the Mediana region, with a mosaic depicting Christ’s monogram. In addition to Constantine, Mediana was a temporary residence of six other Roman emperors.

In 1981, Mediana was proclaimed as the “Cultural Heritage of Extraordinary Importance”.

The Skull Tower

The Skull Tower

The Skull Tower is a monument representing a tower made of 952 skulls of the participants in the Serbian uprising, who died on 31st May 1809 in the battle of Čegar. It is a unique monument of this kind in the world...

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The Skull Tower

The Skull Tower

The Skull Tower is a monument representing a tower made of 952 skulls of the participants in the Serbian uprising, who died on 31st May 1809 in the battle of Čegar. It is a unique monument of this kind in the world.

In the battle on Čegar, which took place on 31st May 1809, the Turks attacked the entrenched troops commanded by Stevan Sinđelić. The battle went on all day. The Serbs repeatedly repelled the Turkish attacks, but during the sixth attack, the Serbian defense gave way to the overwhelming numbers of the enemy. Sinđelić made a decision to shoot at the gunpowder barrel storage, and caused an explosion that killed all the Serbian fighters and a large number of the Turks. It is believed that about three thousand Serbs and twice as many Turks were killed.

The Turkish commander, Huršid Pasha, ordered a tower to be built from the skulls of the Serb fighters and placed on the road to Constantinople. The tower was built on a rectangular foundation, about three meters high, with 56 rows of 17 skulls each. Over time, the number of the skulls decreased because the citizens of Niš took out the skulls and buried them according to Christian customs. Some skulls were taken because the people believed they had magical powers and the power of healing. The French poet and academician, Alphonse de Lamartine, visited this monument in 1833 and expressed great respect for the courage and sacrifice of the Serbian fighters, and pointed out that “these severed heads have become the basis of the independence of the Serbian fatherland...”

In 1892, a chapel was built above the tower, which preserved the remaining 58 skulls. The author of the chapel is architect Dimitrije T. Lek.

The Fortress

The Fortress

The Niš Fortress is the most important monument in Niš and is located in the central part of the city of Niš. It is located on the left bank of the Nišava River and contains evidence of the existence of a settlement over a long period of two millennia...

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The Fortress

The Fortress

The Niš Fortress is the most important monument in Niš and is located in the central part of the city of Niš. It is located on the left bank of the Nišava River and contains evidence of the existence of a settlement over a long period of two millennia. Today, the visible Turkish fort was built in the first decades of the 18th century, in the period from 1719 to 1723. It was built on the remains of an ancient Byzantine and medieval fort. It has a polygonal base with eight bastion terraces and four large gates. It is located on an area of ​​22 hectares. At this point in history, there are well-preserved stone walls, the southern Stambol Gate, the western Belgrade Gate, as well as the visible remains of the northern Vidin Gate and the southeastern Jagodina Gate. One of the most important archaeological finds from the fortress is the bronze head of Emperor Constantine.

Inside the fortress, there is an art pavilion, a summer stage – built in 1959, where the Choir festivities, the Nišville Jazz Festival and the Festival of acting performances are held. There is also the Bali Bey Mosque, the Pasha Konak, monument to Prince Milan Obrenović, memorial ossuary, lapidarium, and the Archives of the City of Niš.

The Čegar Monument

The Čegar Monument

The place where the battle on Čegar took place was first marked with an inscription on 4th July 1878, placed by Prince Milan Obrenović...

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The Čegar Monument

The Čegar Monument

The place where the battle on Čegar took place was first marked with an inscription on 4th July 1878, placed by Prince Milan Obrenović in the glory of the heroism of the Serbian fighters. Today’s tower-shaped symbol of a military fortification was erected on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the liberation of Niš from the Turks, on 1st June 1927. The semicircular niche of the Čegar monument contains the bronze bust of Duke Stevan Sinđelić.

Niš today

Ниш данас

The city of Niš is one of the oldest cities in the Balkans. It is located in the Niš basin alongside the mouth of the Nišava, at the place where it flows into South Morava at 43° 19' north latitude and 21° 54' east longitude. At the monument in the city center, the altitude is 194m, the highest point of 1523m is on Suva planina, and the lowest one is 173m at Trupale. The region of ​​the city covers an area of ​​596.71 square kilometers, and since 2004, it has been divided into five municipalities: Palilula, Pantelej, Mediana, Crveni Krst and Niška Banja, with 68 suburban and rural settlements. It is an administrative center of the Nišava district and the regional center of southeast Serbia. According to the 2011 census, the population of the area of ​​the City of Niš was 260,237, and therefore, Niš is the third largest city in Serbia.

It is located at the crossroads of the most important Balkan and European traffic routes. The main road leading from the north, along the Morava valley from the direction of Belgrade to Niš diverges into a route towards the south, along the Vardar valley, towards Thessaloniki and Athens, and the route towards the east, along the valley of the Nišava and the Marica River, towards Sofia, Istanbul and the Middle East. The roads to the northwest, towards Zaječar, Kladovo and Timisoara, as well as to the southwest, towards the Adriatic Sea, also diverge in Niš.

Niš is an industrial and tourist center of national importance. The traffic infrastructure makes it a crossroads of road and air traffic, and this is why the International Airport “Constantine the Great” is located here. Niš is an important economic, medical, university, cultural, religious, sports and political center of southeast Serbia. The University of Niš, founded in 1965, has 13 faculties and around 30,000 students. Niš is the seat of the Niš Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church.