Nis - Travel Information

The city of Nis (Serbian: Niš) lies on a fertile plain surrounded by mountains at the intersection of the Nišava and Južna Morava rivers. These two rivers comprise the two main travel routes in the Balkans. Since the ancient times, these routes have led to Sofia, Constantinople (Istanbul) and Thessaloniki. The two bodies of water merge near Nis before continuing to Belgrade and into Central Europe.
Nis is 238km away from Belgrade, accessible via highway. Sometime before the birth of Christ, the Romans conquered this town and named it Naissus. It is the birthplace of the Emperor, Constantine the Great. Nis flourished during his rule from 312 to 337. During the Middle Ages, this region was part of Byzantium, Bulgaria and the Kingdom of Hungary. For almost 400 years thereafter, Nis was under Turkish rule.
In the period from 1719 to 1723, the Turks built Niš’s famous fortress on the right bank of the Nišava River. Today, the structure has been adapted to meet modern day needs. The Artistic Pavilion is now located in the 1857 Arsenal building, Salon 77 is inside the Bali Beg mosque, and Pasha’s konak (residence) now houses an administrative office. The ancient prison is now home to the Niš Investigation Center. In 1975, the city erected a large stage in one part of the fortress. Today, the stage is the venue for the Festival of Theatre Achievement, several choir festivals and the Nisomnia Summer Music Festival – international jazz music festival.
Since the 14th century, the city has developed on the left bank of the river. There are five main roads that branch out from the city center’s Liberation Square. At the end of the 14th century, a mosque was built on this bank of the Nišava River. A large, open space was created when the mosque was later demolished. This space eventually became the city square and soon blossomed into a lively pedestrian area featuring a number of beautiful buildings.
Built in the 1960’s, the Hotel Ambasador in the city center was Nis’s first high-rise building. Stroll to the center of the square and you will the monument by Antun Augustinčić’s dedicated to the liberators of Niš. You will also discover a beautiful building in the direction of the river and central park that is used by the mayor of Niš. Obrenović Street, which was at one time a covered čaršija (bazaar), is now the city’s main commercial street. It stretches from the central square to the southern parts of the city. This vibrant street is now a pedestrian zone, which is dotted with an array of shops, cafes and restaurants. Enjoy a Kujundžijsko sokače, a brass band, at one of the cafes here.
Explore further and you will discover the beautiful Stambolijski family residence, one of the most stunning examples of Turkish residential architecture. Today, the building is home to a popular restaurant. The Niš Orthodox Church is located on the southern outskirts of the old town, in the former Christian neighborhood known as Crkvena mala.
Ćele kula (Skull Tower) is easily one of Niš’s most important sighs. Located 2km from the center of the town, it was erected following the gory battle between the Serbian army and the Turks on Čegar. After the battle, the Turkish Commander Hushid-pasha ordered his soldiers to skin every head of a fallen Serbian soldier, fill it with hey, send it to the Sultan of Stambol (Istanbul), and stack the skulls into a tower which would serve as a permanent warning to the Serbian people. Of the total 852 skulls that were used to build the tower, 58 are preserved today.
Venture out of town in the direction of Niška Banja, and you will discover the renowned Mediana archeological site. Constantine the Great built the complex as his summer residence around 330. The remains of the palace include the baptistery, granary, thermaes and pagan temple. You will see some of the most extraordinary mosaics here. These stunning works depict gorgons, Medusa and the God of Water, and a range of beautiful geometric patterns.
This text is derived from an article Niš, Niška Banja, Aleksinac on Serbia.Travel

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