Serbia: Smederevo Fortress

Smederevo was the capital of the medieval Serbia and the Smeredevo Fortress built in 1427 was one of the biggest and most fortified european fortresses at the time. It was closely modeled on the fortress in Constantinople and was constructed as a triangle at the confluence of Danube and Jezava River (thus providing protection from 2 of the 3 sides), while a series of two moats guarded the third side. Then there was a 2m thick wall with 25 towers. When the Ottoman Turks conquered the area around 1500 they subjected the fortress to multiple sieges which it withstood. The fortress remained intact and well preserved until 1941 when during WWII an ammunition depot blew up and demolished a significant part of it, while decimating the town of Smeredevo completely. In 1944, the fortress was heavily bombed from the air. In the socialist 1970s, a damn built upstream dried one of the rivers up completely while made Danube subject to more severe flooding – and the fortress was twice flooded since. It’s a shame – but it’s in a quite poor condition today despite some restoration work. The central part is more or less preserved, while the walls are crumbling and covered with graffiti. Still, you can explore every nook and cranny and climb onto the highest towers for an unparalleled view of the fortress and the Danube beyond.