The evening of Day 4 was spent at Niš. The town was named after the Nišava River, which flows through the city. It was first named Navissos by Celtic tribes in the 3rd century BC. From this term comes the Latin Naissus, the Greek Nysos and the Slavic Niš. This is one of the oldest cities in Europe and it represents crossroad between East and West. This is the place where Roman Empire was divided from the coming conquerors of the Goths. It is Serbia’s third largest city, and when we arrived it was sundown, but we were determined to make the most of the city.
Since our hotel was located in the main square (King Milan Square), it was wonderful to take in all the buzz of the town. The Monument to Liberators of Niš is also located at the King Milan Square (or Kralja Milana Trg, in Serbian) and it commemorate the liberation of Serbia of Ottoman rulers and in 1st World War. It represents a horse rider with a flag, which symbolise the freedom of the country.
The Niš fortress was a short walk away and we decided to head there right away before sundown. The medieval fortress is well preserved though it has been destroyed and rebuilt numerous times – by Romans, Byzantines, Slavs, Bulgarians and Serbians. The last to restore it were the Turks in1723, and this is what stands now. It is right by the Nišava River. The Fortress has a polygonal ground plan, eight bastion terraces and four massive gates. It stretches over 22 hectares of land. A walk around the fortress and the river is very pleasant.
The Nišava River
The Seventh of July Park is a memorial park, in the vicinity, that contains 10 statues such as Monument to a Footballer, Vojvodi Bojovicu, Col Stepa Stepanovic, Iskra Sleboda, People’s Hero Miodrag Mijo Stanimiro, People’s Hero Filip Kljajic Fici, Konrad Zilnik Slobodan, Filip Filipovic, Streten Maldenovic Mika, Constantine the Great, and . There are playgrounds on the east side and you have access to the river, shopping, and cafes. The Nis Fortress is only minutes away.
Birthplace of Constantin: It was remarkable to learn that this city has shaped world history in many ways. Constantin, the Great, was born here in 272 A D to a military commander- a Roman army officer, Flavius Constantius, who was of Illyrian origin (Indo-Europeans in the Balkan region), who was one of the four rulers of the Tetrarchy (the four heads established by Emperor Diocletain). His mother, Helena, was a Greek and a Christian. As history records Constantine became the Roman Emperor and established the Byzantine empire. In 324 AD, after a long and bloody battle, Constantine the Great defeated his final rival Licinius in the hills near Byzantium (ancient Istanbul). The city was officially dedicated as “New Rome” in 330 AD; it soon was unofficially christened Constantinople and the name carried on. He also adopted Christianity, as the state religion of the Roman empire. His great city and Empire lasted until 1453 when it was conquered by the Ottoman sultan Mehmet II.
To think that these events in history started in Niš and we got the opportunity to visit even for a while, it felt awesome. There are other places to see in Niš, but we did not get the time as we were off the next day to Zlatibor and were visiting the Studenica Monastery on the way. What we experienced in Niš were
- The King Milan Square/ Kralja MilanaTrg
- The Niš Fortress
- The Nišava River and the adjoining boulevard
- The Seventh of July Park
The other places that people visit are
- The Horrific Skull Tower
- The Concentration Camp
- The Archaeological Museum
In any case, I am not sure if I would have had the stomach to visit the first two in the list.
Ambasador Hotel: We stayed at the Ambasador Hotel, which is right on the King Milan Square. We had a pleasant stay though it was just overnight. You can check out the pictures of the interiors, that I have shared too.
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Other articles in this series are listed below