Fortress Friday: Smederevo Edition
This Friday, RHOB gets medieval on yo’ eyes with the Smederevo fortress. The fortress was built in 1428 by Đurađ Branković, an “independent ruler” of Serbia who was overseen by the Ottomans and Hungarians. At the time, Serbia was somewhat of a buffer zone between the Hugarians and the Ottomans while the Ottomans were at war with Venice.
When Branković came into power, Belgrade was given back to the Hungarians. Needing a new capital, Branković chose Smederevo in 1426 and started building the fortress two years later, on the confluence of the Danube and the Jezava Rivers. The first settlements were completed in 1430.
The fortress contained the entire city when it was first built. It was expanded by Serbians and, later, Ottomans. It’s the biggest fortress in Serbia and, I think, one of the largest in all of Europe.
Walking through the fortress, it’s tempting to think that the remains were ravaged by time. However, despite numerous attacks from the 15th-18th centuries, the fortress remained relatively intact until 1941. That year, German forces were storing ammunition in the fortress. On June 5, 1941, the ammunition exploded, destroying the fortress and settlements up to six miles away, including the Church of St. George. Allied bombing in 1944 caused additional damage. I’ve read that there is a restoration effort in place, but I didn’t see any evidence of that.
Despite the damage, it’s nice to walk on the winding paths along the river and through the fortress. The fortress is used as a city park and holds concerts in the summer. It felt surprisingly lively on a January afternoon, and I imagine it’s great to be there in the summer. The fortress many have been hastily built, expanded, attacked, and destroyed, but its heart is still beating 580 years later.