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17. 06. 2021.

Kalemegdan Gates – Upper Town

You’ve probably already read our blog text about Kalemegdan. Now we continue our tour and this time we’ve chosen the gates of Kalemegdan, more precisely the gates of the Upper Town.

Many city gates have been preserved in the Lower and Upper Town at the Kalemegdan Fortress. Belgrade residents pass through them countless times, not knowing their names or history they hold. But there are also those who know, they just don’t devote enough time to them.

Sahat Gate was built at the end of the 17th century by the Austrians, but what’s interesting it’s named during Ottoman Empire, after Clock (Sahat) Tower that rises above it. Adorned with a vault through which you can reach through bastion, it has two side rooms in which the guard stayed. There is something very romantic about passing through this gate, as if announcing the magnificent city behind it.

• Next to Sahat gate, Baroque Gate used to defy. Built at the beginning of the 18th century, during the Austrians rule in Belgrade. She was a symbol for strength of the Austrian monarchy and symbol of fear and trembling for the enemy. When the Turks reconquered Belgrade in 1740, the baroque facade was removed and the gate was walled up. In the late 1980s, it was renovated and temporarily turned into a museum. Today, the museum is closed in order to preserve the walls.

Inner Stambol Gate dates back to 18th century, and is adorned with a massive door, two strong protruding bastions on both sides that served as a defense, as well as numerous other rooms that keep centuries-old secrets. Unfortunately, the former drawbridge, which was an additional line of defense, no longer exists, and instead has been replaced by an embankment. It was named after the city of Istanbul because it was located at the extension of the Constantinople Road, which connected Belgrade and Istanbul, then Constantinople.

Outer Stambol Gate was built in the 18th century and its original appearance has been preserved to this day. It was the first line of defense, the connection between the bank of the Sava and the fortified city. It is ornamented with a double door, as massive as the one on the Inner Gate.

• Opposite the Outer Istanbul Gate is Karađorđe’s Gate, whose name signifies gratitude for the entry of Karađorđe Petrović and the Serbian Rebel Army into the fortress walls. It turned out that this was not an accurate information, but the name remained to this day. After the Turks conquered it again after the end of the First Serbian Uprising, it was walled up, and the bridge leading to it was destroyed. Renovated at the same time as the wooden bridge leading to it, after the Second World War, it is still an indispensable Belgrade tourist attraction.

Despot Gate and Castellan Tower defends the ancient city from the east. In the Middle Ages, this place was the main entrance to the fortress. It was named after the medieval Serbian ruler, Despot Stefan Lazarević. It’s perfectly preserved, and leans on Castellan Tower, where the Observatory of the Astronomical Society “Ruđer Bošković” is located today. If you’re nearby, don’t miss out on a chance to look at the stars and make a wish. It’s interesting to note that castellan means the Commander of the Fortress, whose home was in the tower, and the work on it.

• At the time of the first artillery fortifications, at the end of 17th century, King’s Gate was built at the opposite end of the Despot’s Gate. Massive construction in the Baroque style evokes respect. To get to it, you have to pass by the Roman well, so don’t miss out on this symbol of Belgrade.

Defterdar’s Gate offers a magnificent view of the Danube. It is located opposite Sahat Gate and is named after vocation of regional finance commander (intendant). Be careful when going through this gate, because the stone is polished to perfection, so it is not recommended to go there in heels.

Zindan Gate, connected to the Despot’s Gate from the inside, is actually the middle gate facing the Danube. It dates back mid-15th century, and was built for better protection of the main entrance to the city. What makes it famous and sung even in the songs of contemporary musicians is that it’s located between two round towers that give it the appearance of a fairy tales fortress. Name dates back to Ottoman times and means dungeon. This is one of the most famous gates in Belgrade, it is relatively well preserved and not to be missed.

Leopold’s Gate is connected to the Zindan Gate and is housed in a 17th-century bastion. It was named after Emperor Leopold I, the ruler of the Holy Roman Empire, as well as the king of Bohemia and Hungary, regardless of the fact that it was built before his reign. He is credited with the magnificent baroque façade that now embellishes it, which is why the initials L.P. (Leopoldus Primus) are carved above the entrance.

• Last but not least is Upper Town’s Small Gate. It is located between Pobednik and the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments, Belgrade, in the medieval walls. It was walled up for a long time, and was rediscovered in the middle of the 20th century. According to many researches, it was the main communication space between the castle of the despot Stefan Lazarević and the Sava slope.

There are many gates that have been walled up or are no longer in use, such as the Iron (Demir) gate, under the Institute for the Protection of Monuments. South Gate of despot Stefan Lazarević, which was once the main entrance to the medieval fortress, is no longer in function. Its remains are not visible from the outside of the fortification, but only from the inside 50 m west of SahatTower.
The gates of the Lower Town are a story in themselves, so read about them in our blog post next week.