Fortress in Nis, Serbia

Nis Fortress – 2000 Year Old Fortifications

Nis Fortress – 2000 Year Old Fortifications

Before I leave Serbia (actaully, I already have) I want to give a quick impression of Nis which is the first stop from Sofia, Bulgaria when you enter Serbia by bus and in my case, was also the last stop before I left for Skopje, Macedonia (also by bus).

Fortress in NisAs the bus pulled into Nis the first time, I was surprised and pleased to see that there were Vietnamese Pho restaurants, when I came back to Nis and went to get some Pho, what I found was that it’s a type of Serbian restaurant. So, don’t go looking for Vietnamese food in Serbia!

It is one of the oldest cities in the Balkans, and has from ancient times been considered a gateway between the East and the West. The Paleo-Balkan Thracians were formed in the Iron Age, of which the Triballians dwelled in this region with a Celtic invasion in 279 BC that resulted in the forming of the Scordisci tribe.

Fortress in Nis, SerbiaI stayed at a pretty decent little hostel in Nis. One thing I learned while I was in Serbia was that hostel and hotel owners are required to write reports on their guests each day and then encrypt them and send them to the police. The obsession with spying in Serbia comes from being guilty of spying on each other. I had one Serbian friend tell me that in his opinion more than half of all Serbs were police informants! In general, Serbs go through life either under surveillance or thinking they are under surveillance and when it comes down to it, there isn’t much difference. This bit of information helps to explain why many Serbs automatically assume any American or Brit is probably a spy…because apparently half of all Serbs are!

Anyway, back to the hostel. I will be writing about some of the hostels I’ve stayed at and recommend in the coming months (including this one).

The owner suggested that in addition to visiting the Tower of Skulls and the Red Cross Concentration Camp that I also pay a visit ot the Nis Fortress. I took a stroll around the fortress and got a few nice pictures but the most beautiful thing there was the Turkish Mosque which was obviously out of commission since Serbia in my experience is not exactly Muslim friendly.

Nis River in SerbiaNiš is the birthplace of Constantine the Great, the first Christian Roman Emperor and the founder of Constantinople, now Istanbul.

I didn’t visit the log cabin Constantine was born in or see the cherry tree he cut down as a boy. Niš is also the possible location of Nysa, a mythical place in Greek mythology where the young god Dionysus was raised but I didn’t go out to the clubs with the French guy who stayed at the hostel, probably because he said “You should come with me, Serbian girls give you sex just because they like your passport.” I imagined how my wife would view me going out after that and decided to pass on the opportunity. Instead, I went out and ate a traditional Nis meal of ribs and cold potatoes. Not really the same thing, but I think the wife will be happy to know it.

During the day there were plenty of young people in the park who seemed to be ditching school and a few old timers walking around with canes, presumable to protect themselves from the idle youngsters.

As usual, wikipedia does a nice job of presenting the historical background of the Nis Fortress.

Niš Fortress is a fortress in the city of Niš, Serbia. It is a complex and very important cultural and historical monument. It rises on the right bank of the Nišava River, and is over two millennia old.

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.

Turkish Mosque in Nis Serbia
The mosque is inside the Nis Fortress

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, santra?, 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. Far into the fortress, there is a weather station, that provides forecasts for the city of Niš.



  1. FYI, registering of foreign guests into police’s statistics db from hotels and hostels is a standard procedure in the EU. That way, the state gets the real data about the nights guests made, and among other uses, they can estimate years’ taxes for hostel vendors upon this numbers.
    But yeah, only in Serbia they do it quite the same not because they follow EU financial VAT procedures, but because they are all into secret police and actually genetically evil nation.

    inform yourself better.

  2. Author

    The way I was informed about it was that Serbian hotels and hostels make reports about their guests activities. I was told this by Serbians. I was also showed the encryption software they use to send it to the police, not to the VAT. They don’t do that in France.

  3. So far I filled couple of thousands of that little papers (since 2010 it goes electronicaly via that software). Data required are number of your passport, name and last name, and where did you enter the country, with a date of entrance. Along with that, hostel worker/owner sends statistical summary of nights ‘sold’ in their property, with the same data. Third data set sent is daily fiscal financial report which is generated on that little terminal that prints receipts.
    All these must match if you wanna avoid financial inspection.

    this way, police gets data about foreign citizens staying in the country, state statistical offices can calculate different sorts of things, and financial institutions count if you’re getting into VAT zone or not (as hostels are VAT free in Serbia up to a certain amount of income).

    They do it in the EU, and elsewhere. It might be different implementation of this general flow. For example, in 2004 the same ‘paper filling’ system was used in France, as accidentally youre giving it as example this time. I worked with Solidarite Jeunees and we had to do this stuff for our international volunteers crew.

    and btw, simply no comments on other things in ur posts.

  4. Author

    Hey, I’m not the only one reading this. You might want to let people know about anything else that you think I’m wrong about so they get the full story.

    You probably don’t care about convincing me, but you should consider that I might influence others and this is a chance to set them straight to what you think.

    The paperwork thing sounds a little different than it was explained to me, but maybe the other person was being dramatic. I don’t know, sounds like you know your stuff. I only know what people tell me and what I experience, that’s what I write about.



  5. Of course you’re not the only one who reads this and that makes You responsible for what You write here. My English is not the best one, but my intentions are good.

    For the sake of truth:

    Upon arrival to Serbia, foreign citizens need to register in person with the local police within 24 hours at the nearest police station. If you are staying in a hotel, the hotel performs this registration for you automatically. If you are renting an apartment, it is the duty of your landlord to register you at the local police station. Your employer may also perform the registration for you.

    Registration is free for the first three months of stay, regardless of the purpose of the visit. A foreigner who wishes to stay in Serbia for a longer period for the purpose of education, scientific research, employment, tourism, engagement in a professional activity, medical treatment, or marriage, is obliged to apply for a temporary resident status before the three-month period expires. When submitting an application to the police for temporary residence, you should state the reasons for requesting this status accompanied by supporting documentation.

    Try to be better informed next time.

  6. Author

    (Hands up in the air)

    I can only be informed by what people tell me and what I witness. As can we all.

    As for Serbia. I can’t think of any reason I would visit again, but if I do, now I know.


  7. where are you from, Vago?

  8. Author

    Born in the Pacific Northwest of the USA, hometown is Kailua, Hawaii but haven’t lived in the USA in years. Home is split between Fes, Morocco and Istanbul, Turkey. So, I’m an American Muslim who got accused (half jokingly of being a spy) within minutes of meeting my first Serbian citizen. It wasn’t the only time and the things that were said about Muslims, Americans, Jews, Arabs, Gypsies, and other people by a lot of the people I met didn’t endear me to Serbia. I freely admit though, it’s entirely possible I just met the wrong people. It’s happened to other people in other places, but my experience was that Serbia and the USA are far too alike for me to want to be in either.

  9. The only relevant facts in Your blog are taken from Wikipedia. Fortunately, that is more than half of Your text.

  10. Vago seems as though your impressions of serbia were pretty well informed judging by the comments on this post… serbians “appear” to be self righteous and suspicious overly bureacratic cunts.

    funny they think anyone would really give a shit about the thousands of little papers they file. HA!

    serbia won’t be in my future travel plans ya douchebags. now pick up that dogshit.

  11. Author

    Personally, I consider my experience and opinions fairly relevant to my blog. It is a blog after all. I love wikipedia though, that’s for sure.

  12. vago you didn look like a bad guy..but after reading your blogs..i think that you are over reacting…you can not say that some country or ppl are bad if you spend 2 or 3 days and know 3 or 5 ppl..really its not posibile

  13. Author

    Milan, just to set the record straight, I’m a royal opinionated asshole. I make no bones about it. Still, some people like me anyways. That being said, you’re right, it’s not fair to judge a country by a few people. The truth is that most of the people I met in Serbia (yourself included) were intelligent, good company, and open minded. I made the mistake of letting a few assholes (and it does take one to know one) influence the way I experienced Serbia. Even though I’m an asshole, I wish to offer my apologies to all the cool Serbs that I met and didn’t meet.

  14. nice! i am glad that you admit..see you Vago!have fun

Comments are closed.