The Other Side Of Belgrade... Zemun!
The Kingdom of Hungary conquered Zemun and returned quite often. They had returned to Zemun in the 1100’s, then destroyed Belgrade and used the masonry they had taken from Belgrade to reinforce the Zemun Fortress. Later, the Byzatines would burn Zemun and use it’s masonry to reinforce their fort, the Belgrade Fortress. In the year 1268, the Serbs returned and officially named the area Zemun. The plundering, conquering and torching of Zemun would continue several more times. The Ottomans, Hapsburgs and Hungarians each having their roles embedded into it's history leading up to the twentieth century.
Today the most recognizable landmark that can be seen in Zemun is the historic Millennium (Gardos) Tower which was built in 1896 by the ruling Hungarians at that time. It is currently a tourist attraction and stands inside of the old partial corner walls of the Zemun Fort. Each corner of the grounds displays visible ruins of the Zemun fort walls. No other parts of that fort remain however each area is open to the public and is accessible to explore.
Zemun is a historic town in Belgrade and also one of it’s municipalities. It only joined the city of Belgrade in the 1930’s, until then it was a separate town. The name Zemun was first mentioned in the 9th century and is said to have come from the Serbian word ‘Zemlja’ which means earth. It’s also well known as being an ancient settlement by the Celts and Romans.
The Celts had settled in this area from around the 3rd century BC. Zemun was destroyed by the Huns, ruled by the Hungarians, Bulgarians and Austrians as well as being named the ‘Evil Town’ by the Crusaders during the First Crusade.
Zemun is known as Belgrade's quiet, relaxed side. There is a vibrant waterfront promenade that has several restaurants, bars and shops. You can walk up and down the cobblestone streets and explore the narrow paths to homes hidden beyond even more homes. Locals have gone as far as posting signs with their surnames and arrows pointing down narrow cobblestone paths so that visitors can locate them. There are several churches located in the area and large public square with a green market.
The Christian Serbian Orthodox, the Roman Catholic and Jewish. The southern end of the cemetery still has the remains of a defensive wall from the mid 1800's. Although not usually mentioned as an attraction, the cemetery holds several incredibly intriguing, historic pieces in the form of stone carvings and statues. Below the cemetery grounds are countless hidden passages that include a 20 metre deep dungeon from the fortification that sat there hundreds of years ago.
Just across the street from the Millenium tower is St. Dimitrije Eastern Orthodox Church built in 1874-1878. It’s bright orange exterior has a peculiar glow while the structure itself has seen better days. You can almost imagine when the church was first built and in it's prime. The quiet solitude that surrounds this church still brings a sense of peace.
In front of the church is the main town cemetery. The cemetery was formed in the middle of the 18th century and is a combination of three cemeteries.