Zemun and its Gardoš hill

Zemun (Serbian Cyrillic: Земун) is a municipality in the city of Belgrade. Zemun was a separate town that was absorbed into Belgrade in 1934.

It lies on the right bank of the Danube river, upstream from downtown Belgrade. The development of New Belgrade in the late 20th century expanded the continuous urban area of Belgrade and merged it with Zemun.

Main attractions

Zemun developed completely independently from Belgrade for centuries and for the most part during the history two towns belonged to two different states.

Zemun is known for many squares, though almost all of them are small in size: Magistratski, Senjski, Veliki, Branka Radičevića, Karađorđev, Masarikov, etc. On one of them, the Zemun open green market is located.

The bank of the Danube is turned into Zemunski Kej, a kilometers long promenade, with various entertainment facilities along it, including barges-cafés, amusement park and especially formerly largest hotel in Belgrade, Hotel Jugoslavija.

The remnants of the old town which existed during battles between Kingdom of Hungary and Byzantine Empire in the 12th century are known as Zemunski Grad (Zemun Town). Today visible ruins however are of the medieval fortress (angular towers and parts of the defending wall) of the 1521 Ottoman siege.

The Kula Sibinjanin Janka (The tower of Janos Hunyadi) or the Millennium tower was built and officially opened on August 20, 1896, to celebrate a thousand years of Hungarian settlement in the Pannonian plain. The tower was built as a combination of various styles, mostly influenced by the Roman elements. Being a natural lookout, it was used by Zemun’s firemen for decades. Today, the tower is better known after the Janos Hunyadi, who actually died in the old fortress four and a half centuries before the tower was built.

In general, Gardoš hill is today the most recognizable symbol of Zemun. For the most part, the neighborhood preserved its old looks, with narrow, still mostly cobblestoned streets unsuitable for modern vehicles, and individual residential houses.

Gardoš Fortress, also known as the Zemun Fortress or the Citadela, is the oldest preserved part of Old Zemun and is considered one of Belgrade’s best scenic viewpoints. The existing walls are originating from the 14th and the 15th century. The fortress was built as part of the Hungarian project of restoring or building fortresses on their southern borders, including today also ruined but surviving Kupinik and Slankamen, as a response to the incoming Ottoman invasion.

Gardoš had a major role in 1456 Siege of Belgrade, when Hungarian forces headed by John Hunyadi repelled the Ottomans, and 1521 Siege of Belgrade, when the Ottomans, under the leadership of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent conquered both Belgrade and Zemun. The entire garrison stationed at Gardoš Fortress, headed by the Šajkaši troops, was killed in the fighting and the fortress was the last stand of the entire battle. A 1608 miniature by Maximilian Prandstatter shows the castle fully preserved, complete with the roof. Representations of the Zemun skyline in the later 17th century, however, show only ruins.

The medieval Zemun fortress is preserved in the remains of the citadel, which was known as the Little Town. The citadel is built in the Gothic style. The square castle had four round towers, one on each side. The walls were made of broken stone pieces, with brick covering in limestone plaster. For the most part, only sections of the outer walls are preserved, so as three towers, up to 2 m (6 ft 7 in) high.

The fortress was never properly reconstructed since the 17th century. The elements, further military excursions and local population which took stones from the walls to build their own houses, damaged it further. The fortress was placed under the state protection in 1948. By the 21st century, the neglect of the fortress became obvious. The outer layer of the plaster completely fell off the brick walls, because of the subsiding terrain, the southeast tower collapsed, threatening the houses below the fortress. Additionally, the illegal construction of the buildings nearby damaged the fortress further.

Saint Nicholas Church is dedicated to Saint Nicholas (Nikolajevska crkva) is located on the eastern slopes of the hill. It is actually devoted to the Translation of the Relics of Saint Nicholas from Myra to Bari, commemorating the 22 May 1087. Today is considered the oldest church on territory of urban Belgrade. It was mentioned for the first time in the 1578 diary of German theologian Stephan Gerlach who wrote that Serbs had a small church in the “village of Zemun”, partially roofed with straw and wooden planks. A modest temple dedicated to Saint Nicholas was built from 1717 to 1731. Modern church was built from 1745, when the Austrian authorities granted a permit, to 1752.

Baroque iconostases from 1762 is the work of Dimitrije Bačević, while some of the interior ornaments are even older, from the 17th century. Wall paintings are not classical frescoes, the al secco technique was used instead – oil paints on wall plaster. The church was reconstructed from 2007 to 2020. The statics of the building had to be repaired, as the walls began to crack and the pond was created under the foundations. By 2010, when the conservatory works began, the concrete ring girder was built on the outside, the counterweights were placed on the inside and the object was dried.

The church holds pieces (čestice) of several valuable relics: Saint Andrew the First-Called, Saint Nicholas, Saint Petka, Saint Nectarios and Saint Stephen.

Saint Demetrius Church dates back to 1874 – 1876, the church dedicated to Demetrius of Thessaloniki was built in the Serbian Orthodox section of the Zemun cemetery. On the bequest given by his wife Marija, the church was built by the wealthy merchant Grigorije Hariš, originally from Novi Sad. Marija came from another affluent merchant family, the Zemun’s family Pavlović whose family patron was the Saint Demetrius. After her death, Hariš and their sons, Dimitrije and Konstantin, built the church which is colloquially styled by the Zemun’s resident as the Hariš Chapel. The church was completely reconstructed from 2017 to 2020.

There are five official parks in Zemun, though there are much more green areas in general. The largest and the oldest is the City park (Gradski park, opened in 1886). There are also the Kej Oslobođenja park (on the quay, renovated in November 2007), Kalvarija, Jelovac and Army park.

There are also five official forests: three along the highway (Autoput Forest, Belgrade-Zagreb Highway Forests and Nacional Forest), which cover 54.18 hectares, Bežanijska Kosa Forest, also along the highway, and Great and Little War Islands (1.9 square kilometres).


Several important roads of Serbia run through the municipality. The Belgrade-Zagreb highway, the old (Batajnički drum) and new (highway) road Belgrade-Novi Sad, the still in construction starting point (Batajnica-Dobanovci) of the future Belgrade beltway (Batajnica-Bubanj Potok), Belgrade-Novi Sad railway, etc.

From Belgrade by car: 33 min (10.5 km) via Cara Dušana and Bulevar Nikole Tesle.

Main information

Area: 99.4 km²

Coordinates: 44°51′N 20°24′E

Population: 168 170

Languages: Serbian

Time: Central European UTC +1 (summer +2)

Postal code: 11080

Area code: +381(0)11

Car plates: BG

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