Zvečan Fortress

Zvečan Fortress

Zvečan is the significant Roman, Byzantine and Medieval town and fortified stronghold in Kosovo and Metohija, close to the settlement of same name, north of Kosovska Mitrovica, that was regarded as the strongest fortification of Nemanjic Kingdom. Zvečan Fortress is located near the mouth of the Sitnica River into Ibar River, on the top of the extinct volcano vent that rises for 800 meters above the Ibar River. An extraordinary panorama spreads from towers of the Zvečan fortress, to the Ibar River Gorge, Kopaonik Mountain, Rogozna Mountain and the plain of Kosovo, while during the clear day it is possible to view the Metohija area, surrounded with show-peaked Šar planina. Thanks to its location on the rocky hill, Zvecan Fortification dominates the valley in which once important caravan roads used to cross – towards Kosovo and Metohija to the South, along Ibar River to the Valley of Morava River towards the North and to Bosnia towards the West, with the aim to protect Mines of Trepca. Mitrovica is among the biggest and the most important cities in Kosovo. After the war, the city has been divided to the northern part with Serbian, and southern part with Albanian majority. The northern part is an economic, cultural and academic center of Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija.

It is not exactly known when Zvečan Fortress was erected. There are records on existence of the fortification even in the prehistorical and ancient periods. Many rulers used to possess the Fortification of Zvečan but it is first time mentioned as the border of the Serbs and the Byzantine solders on Kosovo Fields between 1091 and 1094. In 1093 Zvečan Fortification was the border fort of the Grand Duke Vukan /end of the 11th century/ who used to start his invasion to Kosovo, which was at the time part of the Byzantine and started the peace talks with the Byzantine Tsar Alexio I Komnen, just in the Zvečan fortress. The Zvecan fortress came again under Serbian rule in 1170, after the Pantin Battle. There is the inscription to testify that Stefan Nemanja after the victory over Byzantines in 1170 ordered the prayer in the Church of St George in Zvecan Fortress in order to commemorate their successful outcome of the battle. Today one can hardly find ruins of the Saint George Church on top of the Zvečan fort, where Stefan Nemanya prayed before the Battle of Pantine, as it is fully covered with grass. One of the Royal courts of the Nemanjide Dynasty was located within the Zvečan Fort where King Stefan Decanski ended his life on 11 November 1331 in very mysterious way. Son of Tsar Dusan, King Uros granted Zvečan Fortress to the Duke Musa, the son in law of Prince Lazar. Prince Vojislav Vojinovic /about 1355 – 1363/ forced him in 1363 to overtook Zvečan Fort for the Town of Brvenik on Ibar River, so it was in his possession, i. e. in possession of his successor, the Grand Duke Nikola Altomanovic /1366 – 1373/ after what is became the part of the state of Vuk Brankovic. Turks took the administration over the Fortification of Zvecan just after the Battle on Kosovo Field /1389/ so there was their solders until the 18th century, when Zvečan Fortress was abandoned and left to ruining of time. Zvečan used to be under the Turkish rule until the end of the 17th century during the period of Austrian penetration to the Balkan Peninsula which lasted until 1689 when Austrians with the assistance of rebellion Serbs and lead by the Colonel Picolomini advanced to town of Skopje.The base of Zvečan Fort is adjusted to the terrain and has an irregular elongated shape. The town of Zvecan consisted of the fortified Upper Town on the highest part of the hill where there are remains of the Church of St George and cistern and the main Donjon tower of the octagonal shape surrounded with five towers. The Church of St George had the base of the inscribed cross and the small apse and the dome over the central part of it. The special value of the Town of Zvečan was performed by two springs on the slopes of the hill that were connected by the secret roads with the Citadel on the top. The lower part consisted of the walls fortified with towers while the surrounding wall encircled the southern slopes and the foothill.

The Lower Zvečan was protected with the small wall on the south-western slope where there were some objects whose aim is not clarified. The walls on this part of Zvecan had stronghold of massive towers and on the western edge there was the main entrance to the Fortification. In the northern part of Zvečan was found the underground canal that used to come to the spring in the lower part of the hill on which the Zvečan fortification was built. Remains of possible exit from the underground tunnels were found. Some archaeological excavations and conservation works were carried out in the period between 1957 and 1960. Nowadays Town of Zvečan is mostly in ruins but you can judge on its imposing structure by appearance of its towers and remains of the walls on the top of the lonely and secluded hill. Zvečan Fortress was declared Monument of Culture of Exceptional Importance in 1990, and is protected by Republic of Serbia. Zvečan Fortress represents one of the oldest Balkan medieval fortresses. Zvečan Fortress is Monument of Culture of exceptional importance and is protected by Republic of Serbia.

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