The Golubac Fortress
The Fortress Restoration
The Fortress is undergoing restoration since 2014, which besides construction, conservation and restoration activities is including archeological excavations and development of the complex’ touristic potential as a unique offer within Danube region. For the project “Revitalization of The Golubac Fortress” a total sum of 9.55 million euros has been allocated, initially within National IPA Programme for the Republic of Serbia for 2011, continued with support of the Republic of Austria, and finally within the funds of National IPA Programme for 2016. The aforementioned funding ensured the reconstruction of the Fortress itself, the tunnel drilling which enabled the relocation of the highway using to pass through the fortress, and the construction of a roundabout, visitors’ center and banks. With additional funding of The Ministry of trade, tourism and telecommunications, the ship port was built.
During the works on the restoration of the Fortress and its suburbs, important archeological findings have been discovered. In the western suburb the remains of a Roman object from 4th century AD were found, as well as the remains of a Turkish hammam from the 15th century. Artifacts belonging to the Bronze and the Iron Age, then the terracotta of the Flavian Fourth Legion which held Singidunum, even Roman frescoes were found as well. In two towers of the Upper city, out of which one had a chapel during the Middle Ages and a weaponry, 6,800 arrows were found. The towers also carry the traces of bullet melting. However, the best-preserved object is the Turkish hammam, one of the oldest in Serbia built by Koca Mehmed Pasha, the great commander and the protector of scientists and poets.
Considering that the Fortress is a historical heritage and a cultural monument of great value, its reconstruction proved very complex due to archeological and conservational activities which influenced the dynamics of works and expenses as well.
European Union has recognized the cultural and historical importance of The Golubac Fortress through specificity its reconstruction and the development of touristic potential brought, and willingly offered a continuous support through several financial perspectives.
The Golubac Fortress
The city of Golubac bore various names in its long history. On medieval maps it was inscribed as Galambas, Galambocz, Colombazo, Columbaz, Columbarum, Taubersburg, Tawbenstein, Peristerin, Giwerdzinlik. All these names have one thing in common – the word golub – dove.
One of the stories associated with the origin of the name of this magnificent medieval city-fortress is a legend about a girl named Golubana. An Ottoman Pasha fell in love with her, but as she refused to enter his harem, he tied her up to a rock where she died, scavenged by birds. In her memory, the city was allegedly named after her.
The other legend says that Byzantine empress Helen was held captive in the main tower. Due to her solitude, she kept doves as pets who carried her messages.
In historical sources, Golubac is mentioned for the first time in 1335 as a fortress with Hungarian army belonging to Hungarian king Ludwig the First. The city of Golubac was the part of Prince Lazar’s state, which used to give out its surrounding villages as metochions to monasteries. After The Kosovo Battle, weakened Serbian armies abandoned the fortress under an invasion of Hungarian king Sigismund the First.
However, Hungarians did not stay in the city for too long, as they had to flee before the invasion of Turks. Soon after that, in 1403, Hungarians reclaimed Golubac and King Sigismund gave it away to his vassal, Despot Stefan Lazarevic, as a feud.
After Despot Stefan’s death in 1427 the Fortress was supposed to be reclaimed by the Hungarian state and Djordje Brankovic was supposed to be recognized as a legitimate heir of a Serbian Despot title. However, the commander of the Fortress, Duke Jeremija asked 12000 golden coins to surrender the Fortress. King Sigismund refused to pay, after which the Fortress was given to Turks which turned into in Pasha’s residence.
According to Segedin Treaty of 1444 Golubac was incorporated in Serbian territories. After the death of Despot Djuradj Brankovic, it was conquered by Turks. Hungarians succeeded to win it over in the next few years, but their reign upon Golubac lasted shortly. The Fortress is finally conquered by Turks for the next few centuries, during which it is losing its military significance and is developing as a civilian settlement.
By the end of the 17th century Golubac is shortly conquered by Austrian. Equally short was the rule of Serbs upon the Fortress during the Koca’s Frontier and the First and the Second Serbian Uprising. The Golubac was surrender to Prince Mihailo Obrenovic in 1868.
After the WW1, a tunnel for a highway was drilled through a rock on which the Fortress is standing. After the hydroelectric power plant Djerdap was built, the level of Danube was raised this led to the submergence of the Fortress’ lowest segments.
Research and conservation activities on the Fortress started off in 1969, and ended in 1987. The beginning of the 21st century saw Fortress left on its own.
Because of its historical importance and architectural value, The Golubac Fortress was proclaimed as a monument of great importance in 1979.
The Look of the Fortress
The Golubac Fortress is located on the right bank of Danube, 4 kilometers downstream of a nowadays settlement. It is situated on high cliffs, on the very entrance to The Iron Gates.
The Fortress was built on a spot where the width of Danube is circa 7 kilometers and reminds of the sea. It is cut into a rock which acted as an obstacle to enemies attacking from the north. It was equally hard to reach the highest points of the fortification, the eastern and the southern one, due to a rocky terrain, whereas the most accessible route was on the west. The front rampart which consisted of an outer water-filled canal connected to Danube acted as the defense on this side.
The Fortress is fan-shaped and has 3 parts – the front, the back, and the upper city connected with 10 towers and ramparts. Originally, there used to be 9 towers, but after Turks conquered the Fortress they built one more. The oldest is the Donzon tower with octagonal base, from which the circular peak raises, and which has a square interior. The remaining towers have the square base, and were built before the gunpowder appeared in the area. With the appearance of fire guns, towers suffered corrections in order to accommodate gunmen.
The front city consists of an upper and lower part, which used to be separated by the wall connecting the fourth and the seventh tower. The entrance is located in the lower part, and opposing it is the gate leading to the back city. At the end of the city is the tower built by Turks, which used to control the passage through Danube and the access to the city port. The gate leading towards the upper city is placed on the wall separating the upper from the lower part of the front city.
The back city is separated from the upper city by narrow cliffs circa 4 meters high. A building, which probably served as storage and a military barrack, can be found by the fifth tower. The gate was leading to the upper city and further to a citadel. Within the rock where the first tower is located, a water reservoir is carved in.
The Golubac Fortress is famous for its Donzon tower, named The Hat Tower by Fenix Kanic due to its shape. It was built as the last frontier and defense, and the view from it of Danube and Djerdap / The Iron Gates is a unique experience.