Smederevo city is one of the largest fortified cities – fortresses not only in Serbia but in Europe and was the last capital of Medieval Serbia, 45 kilometers southeast of Belgrade. The Smederevo fortress has been built in the 15th century on the confluence of the Jezava river with the Danube, during the reign of Despot Djuradj Brankovic, the most distinguished represent of the Serbian ruling family, the wise and generous personality of fatal destiny who is remembered in the history as “the Lord and sovereign of all Serbs”. Djuradj Brankovic was married to Jerina /Irina/, a Greek princess from Peloponnese, whose origin was of the Cantacuzen royal family. The Smederevo fort built by Djuradj Branovic was the last among the ruler’s fortified residences of the Serbian Medieval state.
The Smederevo Fortress is the unique plain-terrain fortification in Europe, which spreads on the surface of 10,5 hectares, with 25 towers, on three sides surrounded with water, and features the form of irregular triangle. The small town of the Smederevo fort has been built from 1428 till 1430 and was the residence of Despot Djuradj Brankovic, separated from the Large town by the water trench. The uniqueness of the Smederevo fortress architecture is evidenced in the Krstata kula tower, on whose walls there is the built in brick inscription of period of construction of the fortress. Dunavsko platno – Danube canvas belongs to the most impressive structures of the Medieval construction in Serbia. There are four stone carved windows with the Gothic and Romanesque arches – biforas. There were the Despot’s residences and the hall for reception of visitors, where the famous Trade contract between Venice and the Serbian Despotate was signed. The Don-jon tower was sanctuary where distinguished persons hided during Turkish attacks, with walls more than 4 meters thick. When the construction of the Small town of the Smederevo fort has been completed, they have continued the building of the Large town, about which there are many legends and folk songs. All the workers’ enormous efforts to built such a huge stronghold were attributed to Jerina, the wife of Despot Djuradj, who was proclaimed “the accursed Jerina”, as understood the ordering party of the works. Within the Large town, in the south-west parr of the fortress, there was a sacral structure, whose remains are visible today. Upon existing finds and discoveries, it is not possible to attribute this structure certainly if it had belonged to the court, or that remains designates the Annunciation church, which is described by the modern researchers. It is assumed that there was another much larger sacral building within the Large town, that might be the Annunciation Church. This shrine was the place where the holy relics of one of four evangelists, Saint Lucas, were kept, who is today considered the protector of the town. When Smederevo fort was eventually seized by the Ottomans, they have demolished this church, and some of its remains were walled in the hamam, and in the Water tower, where the Jezava river joins the Danube River, when they have strengthened it, in order to provide stronger defense of the town.
When the Smederevo fortification has been built, it became the administrative, military, economic, cultural and religious seat of the Serbian Despotate. After the death of Despot Đuradj Brankovic /1456/ and fall of Smederevo to the Turks in 1459, the structures of new rulers were adopted along their needs. Then a hamam was built, within whose encircling walls, remains of the mosque were excavated. When the Ottomans had conquered Belgrade in 1521, the Smederevo fort lost its significance, as became the border fortification with Hungary. During the Austria-Turkish wars in the 17th and the 18th century, Austrians seized Smederevo several times. In the First World War Smederevo experienced artillery attacks from the Danube side, what caused severe destruction of the fortress. In the Second World War the German occupiers turned the Smederevo fort into the ammunition storage. Soon after the occupation, on 5th June 1941 the enormous detonation hit the Smederevo fort, which severely demolished both the town and the stronghold. Then some parts of the walls and towers by the main entrance were destroyed, as were in the center of explosion. The last destruction of the Smederevo fortress happened in the air attacks on cities and towns in the Allied bombing of Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1944.
Today the rich historical and cultural inheritance of the Smederevo fortress is well used for tourist purposes and venue for cultural events and colorful manifestations. Smederevska Jesen Festival belongs to the oldest economic – tourist events in Serbia and for more than hundred years successfully represents the fruitful Smederevo region, with cultural and artistic performances and specialized producers of grapes, wine, fruits, rakia, natural juices…