A Guide To Kalemegdan – Meet the Stunning Fortress in the Heart of Belgrade

Here is your guide to the Kalemegdan Fortress in Belgrade, Serbia. Find out what to expect, what to see, and also where to eat in Kalemegdan.

Since I live in Belgrade, I’ve been to Kalemegdan dozens of times and I think I know every corner of it. I studied at the Faculty of Philosophy in Belgrade, which is located in the city center, just 300 meters from Kalemegdan.

Although there are countless options like cafes and restaurants for spending free time between classes around our faculty, the cheapest option was to sit on the benches at Kalemegdan. And you’re guessing right – as a broke college student, that’s exactly what we did.

Now, with a small child, I go to Kalemegdan every other weekend because she enjoys chasing pigeons, watching dinosaurs in Dino Park, and seeing all the military equipment like tanks and airplanes displayed in the open-air military museum.

A strategic hill overlooking the Sava and Danube rivers is a perfect location to build a city, giving it a perfect overview and control of the surrounding area. That was one of the main reasons why this location was inhabited since the Neolithic times. Nowadays, the popular Kalemegdan fortress serves as one of the center points of Belgrade.

In this text, we will create a complete guide to Kalemegdan, explaining its historical significance and pointing you in the direction of features you need to check out while you’re there.

Briefly About Kalemegdan Fortress History

Even though this location had human settlements dating back thousands of years, it is believed that the modern way of living came with Celts around the year 300 BC. At that time, Belgrade was known as Singidunum.

While Celts were primarily known for their battle skills, developments in agriculture and pottery allowed for faster population growth. By the middle of the 3rd century BC, people even began to forge money here.

Even though it was believed that Singidunum was located right in the middle of today’s Upper Town inside the Kalemegdan Fortress, historians now claim that only one part of Singidunum was here, while another major settlement existed just down the Danube river, in the city area now known as Karaburma.

What did life in Singidunum look like?

Similar to other Roman provinces, houses in Singidunum were originally built using the same principles, which included a stone construction, with multiple rooms.

It is believed that the stone was acquired from nearby Tasmajdan and Topcider quarries, where larger houses of wealthy people even had small gardens and sculptures, and occasionally their own private bathroom as well. This stone, which was white also gave the name to the city as we know it today, as Belgrade (Beograd) literally translates to White City.

Speaking of homes, each one had a collector in the middle of the roof for the rain, which was later used in everyday life. Like other well-developed provinces, Singidunum also had minor pharmacies and hospitals, as evidenced by the founding of scalpels, special knives and even one stamp from a pharmacist.

Transition to modern times

Kalemegdan remained interesting to foreign powers even centuries after that, and where the Romans left, the Serbian people, the Habsburg Monarchy and the Ottoman Empire picked up. That is why many battles took place in and around Kalemegdan, so it’s practically a miracle that this structure is still standing to this day.

Belgrade as the capital of Serbia, was at one point consisting of Upper and Lower city, surrounded by giant stone walls, protecting its inhabitants from the conquerors. Inside the Kalemegdan Fortress, it was even possible to find castles and houses of the nobility, but the tooth of time and conflicts took most of these structures away.

Fortunately, many features still remain today, and in the text below we will explain what makes them special and why you need to check them out the next time you come to Belgrade!

How To Get Around in Kalemegdan

Most people enter Kalemegdan from Knez Mihajlova Street, so that’s where I’ll start. Once you cross the traffic light on Francuska Street, you’ll enter Kalemegdan. Continue straight for about 300 meters, and you’ll reach the Monument of Gratitude to France.

From there, you can go left, straight, or right, but I prefer left. About 200 meters to the left, you’ll find the promenade along the Sava River. During summer in Belgrade, there’s usually an exhibition of paintings or handmade items. As you walk further, you’ll reach the Big Staircase in Kalemegdan Park.

They look monumental, and there’s also a beautiful garden and monuments to WWII soldiers. Continue on, and you’ll cross a bridge and a tunnel, leading to the Roman well. Keep walking, and following the steps, you’ll arrive at the Winner monument (Pobednik).

From here, you can see the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers, almost all of New Belgrade, Zemun, and the Big War Island. Looking below, you’ll see Kalemegdan’s Lower Town and Nebojsa Tower.

Continuing further, if you go left through the tunnel and steps, you’ll head down to the Lower Town where Barutana is located. To the right, you’ll see Sahat Kula and a tunnel. If you go through this tunnel below Sahat Kula, you’ll reach the Military Museum, a park with dinosaurs, and souvenir shops.

However, we’ll continue straight towards the observatory, with a big tower in front of you. Further ahead, another tunnel will lead you to a bridge. After crossing the bridge, on the left are the churches of St. Petka and Ruzica.

Walking further between the walls, on the left you’ll see Belgrade Zoo and on the right, a large park. Continuing through this park to the right, you’ll arrive at Cvijeta Zuzoric’s mausoleum, marking the end of your walking tour.

You’ll need at least 2 hours for this route. If it’s too much walking, there are tourist trains available.

10 Things To Do in Kalemegdan

Below are the things you’ll see on the route, not in any particular order. It depends on whether you follow my route or choose your own.

Pobednik monument

Although Pobednik (The Victor) was built in 1928, meaning that it’s a relatively new part of Kalemegdan, it didn’t take long before it began one of its most prominent features.

Originally it was supposed to be a monument depicting a victory during the Balkan wars, but because it was finally erected 10 years after the breach of the Macedonian front, it also became connected to this great moment in history.

Just in case you visited Kalemegdan from 2019-2020 and did not see the statue, know that you weren’t hallucinating.

Because it was discovered that the entire structure was tilting, a full renovation was necessary, so the monument was shipped off during those years, but now, it’s once again towering over the surrounding landscape and welcoming more than 5,000 visitors every day.

Military Museum

One of the oldest museums of its kind in the country, the Kalemegdan Military Museum was founded way back in 1978, and as such contains many memorabilia that is fascinating.

Originally placed in an old building from the Ottoman Empire period, the location of the museum changed over the years, moving to the current place in 1956.

Speaking of the exhibitions you can see while you’re there, let’s mention the various military uniforms, guns, vehicles, cannons and a huge photo collection, depicting the feats of the Serbian army over the years.

Besides that, you’ll also be able to check out swords and helmets from the Greeks and the Romans as well as many medieval weapons and armor.

There is even a section with modern arms, specifically dated to the year 1999 and the bombing of Yugoslavia by NATO forces. All in all, it’s definitely an interesting way to spend an afternoon.

Kalemegdan Observatory

What better place for an Observatory than inside the impressive Despot’s Tower right in the heart of Kalemegdan? As one of the oldest astronomical societies in Europe, “Ruđer Bošković” received the honor of getting this premier location for the new planetarium back in 1964.

Inside the observatory you can find several telescopes, but the most special might be the one received after WW1 from Germany, which is more than a century old.

Not only that, but this location is also excellent for panoramic sightseeing of the entire city, which can be done during the day. Additionally, the best offer definitely includes looking at the stars, which can be done when the skies are clear of clouds.

Ruzica Church and the Chapel of St. Petka

You might be surprised to hear that this is the oldest church in Belgrade, even though the exact date of its founding was never precisely determined.

Like most other parts of Kalemegdan, the Ruzica church was also rebuilt several times, being destroyed by the Turks, later on even becoming the gunpowder warehouse during the 18th century, before being reestablished as a church for the final time in 1925.

Right next to the church we find the Chapel of St. Petka, originally built in 1867, with the chapel established in 1937, and the inner mosaics and arches ultimately completed during the 1980s.

As St. Petka is one of the most sacred saints for Orthodox Christians, it should come as no surprise that this place is as beautiful as it is. Both the church and the chapel are free to visit every day.

Nebojša Tower

The tower that we now call Nebojša is specific in many ways. First of all, this is not the original tower. The history books claim that two towers, Bojša and Nebojša were an important defensive stronghold once, only to be destroyed during the conquering by the Ottoman Empire.

Protecting the Danube dock, the Tower that we now call Nebojša is located right on the river bank, and it was originally known as the white tower. Nonetheless, it is an imposing structure that had an important historical significance as well, serving as a dungeon and a place for executions during the Ottoman rule. Nowadays, it’s a four-story structure that serves as a museum overlooking the river.

Cvijeta Zuzorić Art Pavilion

Perhaps the building in Art Deco style seems a bit out of place in Kalemegdan, but art enthusiasts in Belgrade would never admit it. Truth be told, the building itself is nearly a hundred years old, so it at least deserves to be accepted the way it is.

Prior to its opening, Belgrade artists did not have a big gallery where they could present their work, so this art pavilion served as a great place of gathering for painters, architects and sculptors.

Even nowadays, it is still a place where artists from Serbia and nearby republics can showcase their talent and displaying your paintings here even serves as a rite of passage for established artists.

Belgrade Zoo

Have you ever heard of a city where the Zoo is located in the city center, or even crazier right in the middle of an ancient fortress? Yep, this is just one of many things that make Belgrade so unique.

The Zoo is the oldest institution of its kind in Serbia, as well as the biggest one and the most visited, with 400,000 people passing through it every year.

Even though there is a strong initiative to move the Zoo to another location, most locals don’t think that it’s a good idea, and the amazing resilience of this place, which suffered two bombing attacks over the years, is something to be proud of.

It’s also the place where the oldest alligator in the world lives, and rare animals such as white buffalos and white lions call home. While it can get quite crowded during the summer days, it’s still worth visiting due to its beauty and unique charm.

On the other hand, if you’re visiting Belgrade in winter, many animals will be in their shelters, so you might not be able to see them.

Monument of Gratitude to France

A lot of people are not aware of the fact that France was of huge help to Serbia during the First World War, but if anything, the statue that can be found in Kalemegdan Park can always serve as a reminder of this fact.

Much like the bigger and more famous Pobednik monument, this sculpture was also created by Ivan Mestrovic. It consists of a stone pedestal and a bronze sculpture depicting a proud woman who is walking or running ahead.

Located in a peaceful park with comfortable benches, this can be a perfect spot to take a break and relax, sheltered from the city noise that is happening just down the street.


Barut means gunpowder in Serbian, so you might already have an idea of what we’re about to discuss next. Nope, you’ve got it wrong. Actually, the two underground objects were really once used for these purposes, but now, they are neither a museum (well, not in its entirety) nor a gunpowder storage.

Still, throughout the centuries that is precisely what it was, and it is considered that the peak of its usability was during the early 18th century, but remained in function until the early 20th century. Nowadays, it’s a club where you can listen to punk, rock and electronic music, and as such, is a popular gathering ground for the youth of Belgrade. What a strange turn of events this is, right?

Sahat Kula

While the most famous Sahat Kula is probably found in the city of Sarajevo, Belgrade also has something to offer in this field. It is located directly above the gates of Upper Kalemegdan, and because this is a high point, it allows for people to see it from nearly all sides.

Most people connect the Sahat Kula with the Ottomans, but this Kalemegdan feature was actually constructed during the Austrian rule in 1740.

However, it was completed in 1979, by which time the area was already controlled by the Ottomans. Just like many other Kalemegdan structures, the Sahat Kula was also destroyed several times, only to be brought back to its former glory in times of peace.

Roman Well

Despite the fact that it was built by the Austrians in the 18th century, long after the Romans were gone, for one reason or another, the popular belief was that it dates back all the way to the days of the great empire. A lot of mysteries surround this location, and perhaps the craziest one is that the Well used to contain an underground passage, connecting Kalemegdan to Zemun.

A rather small passage does exist, although it’s only two meters long, so that might’ve been the idea at one point in time, but it was quickly abandoned. Ultimately, the Roman Well was thought of as the place where the Germans hid large quantities of gold and other war lute, but that was never proven.

Nowadays, this place is open to visitors and checking it out takes no longer than 30 minutes, so if you find yourself here, give it a look and let us know whether you liked it in the comment section.