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Niš (Serbian Cyrillic:Ниш) is the city of southern Serbia and the third-largest city in Serbia(after Belgrade and Novi Sad). It is the administrative center of the Nišava District. According to the 2011 census, the city has population of 183,164, while urban area of Niš (with adjacent urban settlement of Niška Banja included) has 187,544 inhabitants; the administrative area has a population of 260,237.
It is one of the oldest cities in the Balkans and Europe, and has from ancient times been considered a gateway between the East and the West. It was founded by the Scordisci in 279 BC, after an invasion of the Balkans. The city was among several taken in the Roman conquest in 75 BC; the Romans built the Via Militaris in the 1st century, with Naissus being one of its key towns; it is also the birthplace of Constantine the Great, the first Christian Emperor and the founder of Constantinople, and Constantius III and Justin I. It is home to one of the oldest churches in Serbia, dating to the 4th century, located in the suburb of Mediana. The Balkans came under the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire. In the 6th century, Slavs started settling the Balkans, while the town was held by the Byzantines until the 9th century, when it came under Bulgar rule. The town switched hands between the two, before being given by the Byzantines to the Serbs in the 12th century. Niš served as Stefan Nemanja's capital. It was conquered by the Ottomans in the 15th century, becoming the seat of a sanjak initially in Rumelia Eyalet (1385-1443, 1448-1846), laterly in Niš Eyalet(1846-1864) and finally in Danube Vilayet (1864-1878). It was liberated by the Serbian Army in 1878 during the Serbian–Ottoman War (1876–78).
Niš is one of the most important industrial centers in Serbia, a center of electronics industry , industry of mechanical engineering, textile and tobacco industry. Constantine the Great Airport is its international airport. In 2013 the city was host to the celebration of 1700 years of Constantine's Edict of Milan.
|POPULATION :||• City Increase 183,164 |
• Urban Increase 260,237
• Metro Increase 373,404
|FOUNDED :||First mention 2nd century AD|
Liberation from Ottomans 11 January 1878
|TIME ZONE :||• Time zone CET (UTC+1)|
• Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
|RELIGION :||Serbian Orthodox 85%, Catholic 5.5%, Protestant 1.1%, Muslim 3.2%, unspecified 2.6%, other, unknown, or atheist 2.6%|
|AREA :||• City 597 km2 (231 sq mi)|
|ELEVATION :||195 m (640 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||43°19′09″N 21°53′46″E|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 48.88%|
• Female: 51.12%
|ETHNIC :||Serbs 243,381 |
|AREA CODE :||018|
|POSTAL CODE :||18000|
|DIALING CODE :||(+381) 18|
- Čegar – The place where Battle on Čegar Hill took place on May 19, 1809.
- Crveni Krst concentration camp – One of the few preserved Nazi concentration camps in Europe. It is located on '12 February Boulevard'.
- Memorial to Constantine the Great – built in the city centre in 2013, in commemoration to Constantine the Great who was born in the city, on the anniversary of the Edict of Milan.
- Bubanj – Monument to fallen Yugoslav World War II fighters, forming the shape of three clenched fists. The place where 10,000 civilian hostages from Niš and south Serbia were brutally murdered by German Nazis.
- Kalča, City passage and Gorča – Trade centers situated in Milana Obrenovića Street.
- Memorial Chapel in the memory ofNATO bombing victims - The chapel was built by local authorities while the monument was built by the State government in 1999. They are situated in Sumatovacka street nearNiš Fortress.
- Niš Fortress - The remaining fortification was built by the Turks, and dates from the first decades of the 18th century (1719–1723). It is situated in the city center.
- The fortress-cafes - They are situated near Stambol gate (the main gate of the fortress).
- Mediana - Archeological site, an Imperial villa, from the late Roman period located on the road leading to Sofia near EI Nis.
- Niška Banja (Niš spa) - A very popular spa during the summer season. It is located at 10 km (6 mi) from city center on the road leading to Sofia, in the bottom of Suva Planina Mountain.
- Tinkers Alley - An old urban downtown zone in today's Kopitareva Street, built in the first half of 18th century. It was a street full of tinkers and other craftsmen, but today it is packed with cafes and restaurants.
- Skull Tower (Ćele Kula) - A monument to the Serbian revolutionaries (1804–1813). A tower made out of skulls of Serbian uprisers, killed and decapitated by the Ottomans. It is situated on Zoran ĐinđićBoulevard, on the old Constantinople road leading to Sofia.
- Spa of Topilo
The Niš Tourist Organization has two Tourist information centres as well as a website. In the tourist information centres one can get information related to tourism in Niš. They also sell maps, brochures, souvenirs and postcards. The website is quite comprehensive and detailed (available in both English and Serbian).
Archaeological evidence shows neolithic settlements in the city and area dating from 5,000 to 2,000 BCE. A notable archeological site is Humska Čuka. The ethnogenesis of the Thracians started in the Iron Age, and one of their chief towns was Aiadava, the Roman Remesiana; specifically, the Triballi dwelled in this region, mentioned as early as 424 BC. In 279 BC, during the Gallic invasion of the Balkans, the Scordisci tribe defeated the Triballi and settled the lands, at which time the city was known as Navissos. At the time of the conquest of the Balkans by Rome in 168-75 BC, Naissos (Latin: Naissus) was used as a base for operations. Naissus was first mentioned in Roman documents near the beginning of 2nd century CE, and was considered a place worthy of note in the Geography of Ptolemy of Alexandria.
The Romans occupied the town in the period of the "Dardanian War" (75-73 BC), and set up a legionary camp. The city (called refugia and vici in pre-Roman relation), because of its strategic position (the Thracians were based to the south ) developed as an important garrison and market town of the province of Moesia Superior. In 272 AD, the future Emperor Constantine the Great was born in Naissus. Constantine created the Dacia Mediterranea province of which Naissus was the capital and also included Remesiana of the Via Militaris and the towns of Pautalia and Germania. He lived at Naissus in short periods from 316-322. In 364 AD, Imperial Villa Mediana, 3 km (2 mi) from Naissus was the site where emperors Valentinian and Valens met and divided the Roman Empire and ruled as co-emperors.
It was besieged by the Huns in 441, devastated again in 448, and again in 480, when the partly rebuilt town was demolished by the Barbarians. Byzantine Emperor Justinian I restored the town but it was destroyed by theAvars once again. The Slavs, in their campaign against Byzantium, conquered Niš and settled here in 540. About 987, the town was taken by the Bulgarian Emperor Simeon I. In the 11th century Byzantium took control over Niš and the surrounding area again.
During the People's Crusade, on 3 July 1096, Peter the Hermit clashed with Byzantine forces at Niš. Manuel I fortified the town, but his successor, Andronikos I, could not hold it, so Niš was seized by the Hungarian king Béla III. The town was in Greek hands for some time again, then, in 1185, it came under Serbian control. By 1188, Niš became Nemanja's capital. On 27 July 1189, Nemanja received German emperor Frederick Barbarossa and his 100,000 crusaders at Niš. When describing Serbia during the rule of Vukan in 1202, the mentioning of Niš shows its special status. In 1203, Kaloyan of Bulgaria annexed Niš. Stefan Nemanjić later regained the region. The fall of the Serbian state, conquered by Sultan Murad I in 1385, decided the fate of Niš as well. After a 25-day-long siege the city fell to the Turks. It was returned to Serbian rule in 1443. Niš succumbed to Ottomans rule again in 1448. and remained thus for the following 241 years. In the period of Ottomans rule, Niš was one of the seats of Turkish military and civil administration. In 1689, Niš was seized by Austrian army during Great Turkish War, but Turks regained it in 1690. In 1737, Niš was seized again, but this time by the Austrian army, in their campaign against the Turks. The Turks retreated and the Austrians reconstructed the Fortress. However, in that same year, the Turks advanced again, and Niš fell to the Turks without resistance.
During the First Serbian Uprising, Serbian revolutionaries attempted to liberate Niš in 1809 when the famous Battle of Čegar took place. After the defeat of the Serbian forces, the Ottoman commander of Niš ordered that the heads of the killed Serbs were to be mounted on a tower to serve as a warning. The tower is known as the Skull Tower (Ćele Kula). In 1821, the Ottomans arrested the Bishop of Niš Milentija and 200 Serbian patriots on charges of preparing an uprising in the Niš area, in support of the Greek War of Independence. On 13 June of that year, Bishop Milentija and other Serbian leaders were hanged in public. In the 19th century the area was one of the centres of Bulgarian National Revival. The French Jérôme-Adolphe Blanqui, when traveling across Balkans in 1841, describes the population of the Sanjak of Niš as Bulgarians. In 1870, Niš was included in the Bulgarian Exarchate. The city was also stipulated the area to be ceded to Bulgaria according to the Constantinople Conferencein 1876. Serbian author Milan Savic in his book "History of the Bulgarian people until the end of its state" issued in Novi Sad wrote, that at his time (1878) Nis and environs were Bulgarian populated. Niš was finally liberated during the Serbo-Turkish War. The battle for the liberation of Niš started on 29 December 1877 and the Serbian Army entered in Niš on 11 January 1878 and Niš became a part of the Serbian state.
In the following years, the city saw rapid development. The city library was founded in 1879, and its first clerk was Stevan Sremac. The first hotel, Europe, was built in 1879; shortly after a hospital and the first bank started operating in 1881. In 1878, the first Grammar School (Gimnazija), in 1882 the Teacher Training College, and in 1894, the Girls' College were founded in Niš. In 1895, Niš had one girls' and three boys' primary schools. The City Hall was built from 1882 to 1887. In 1883, Kosta Čendaš established the first printing house. In 1884, the first newspaper in the city Niški Vesnik was started. In 1884, Jovan Apel built a brewery. A railway line to Niš was built in 1884, as well as the city's railway station; on 8 August 1884, the first train arrived from Belgrade. Since 1885, Niš was the last station of the Orient Express, until the railroad was built between Niš and Sofia in 1888. In 1887 Mihailo Dimić founded the "Niš Theatre Sinđelić." In 1897 Mita Ristić founded the textile factory Nitex. In 1905 female painter Nadežda Petrović established the Sićevo art colony. The first film was screened in 1897, and the first permanent movie theater started operating in 1906. Hydroelectric dam in Sićevo Gorge on Nišava was built in 1908; at the time, it was the largest in Serbia. The airfield was built in 1912 on the Trupale field, and the first airplane arrived on 29 December 1912. City Museum was founded in 1913, hosting archaeological, ethnographic and art collections. During the First Balkan War, Niš was the seat of The Main Headquarters of Serbian Army, who led the military operations against the Ottoman Empire. In World War I, Niš was the wartime capital of Serbia, hosting the Government and the National Assembly, until Central Powers conquered Serbia in November 1915, when the city was ceded to Bulgaria. After the breakthrough of the Thessaloniki Front, First Serbian Army commanded by general Petar Bojović liberated Niš on 12 October 1918.
Yugoslavia and World War II
In the first few years after the war, Niš was recovering from the damage. In 1921, Niš became the centre of the Region (oblast), governed by a grand-župan, appointed by royal decree. From 1929 to 1941, Niš was the capital of the Morava Banovina of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The tram system in Niš started to run in November 1930. The national airline Aeroput included Niš as a regular destination for the route Belgrade—Niš—Skopje—Thessaloniki on 1930. During the time of German occupation in World War II, the first Nazi concentration camp in Yugoslavia was located in Niš. About 30,000 people passed through this camp, of whom over 10,000 were shot on nearby Bubanj hill. On February 12, 1942, 147 prisoners staged mass escape. In 1944 city was heavily bombed by the Allies. On October 14, 1944, after a long and exhausting battle, the 7th German SS Division 'Prinz Eugen' was defeated and Niš was liberated by Bulgarian Army, and Partisans. The University of Niš was founded on June 15, 1965. On May 7, 1999, the city was the site of the NATO Cluster bombing of Niš that resulted in many civilian casualties.
The road running from the north down the Morava River valley forks into two major lines at Niš: the southern line, leading to Thessalonica and Athens, and the eastern one leading towards Sofia and Istanbul.
Average annual temperature in the area of Niš is 11.9 °C (53.4 °F). July is the warmest month of the year, with an average of 22.5 °C (72.5 °F). The coldest month is January, averaging at 0.6 °C (33.1 °F). The average of the annual rainfall is 580.3 mm (22.85 in). The average barometer value is 992.74 mb. On average, there are 134 days with rain and snow cover lasts for 41 days.
Climate data for Niš
|Record high °C (°F)||21.7|
|Average high °C (°F)||5.0|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||0.6|
|Average low °C (°F)||−2.2|
|Record low °C (°F)||−23.7|
|Source: Republic Hydrometeorological Service of Serbia|
Niš is situated at the 43°19' latitude north and 21°54' longitude east, in the Nišava valley, near the spot where it joins the South Morava. The main city square, the city's central part, is at 194 m (636 ft) above sea level. The highest point in the city area is "Sokolov kamen" (Falcon's rock) on the Suva Planina (Dry Mountain) (1,523 m (4,997 ft)) while the lowest spot is at Trupale, near the mouth of the Nišava (173 m (568 ft)). The city covers 596.71 square kilometres (230 sq mi) of five municipalities.
The city of Niš is the administrative, industrial, commercial, financial and cultural center of the south-eastern part of Republic of Serbia. The position of Niš is strategically important, located at the intersection of European highway and railway networks connecting Europe with Asia. Niš is easily accessible, having an airport – Niš Constantine the Great Airport and being a point of intersection of numerous railroad and highway lines.
It is in Niš that the trunk road running from the north down the Morava River valley forks into two major lines:
- the south one, leading to Thessalonica and Athens, along the VardarRiver valley,
- and the east one, running along the Nisava and the Marica, leading towards Sofia and Istanbul, and further on, towards the Near East.
These roads have been widely known from ancient times, because they represented the beaten tracks along which peoples, goods and armies moved. Known as 'Via Militaris' in Roman and Byzantine periods, or 'Constantinople road' in Middle Ages, these roads still represent major European traffic arteries. Niš thus stands at a point of intersection of the roads connecting Asia Minor to Europe, and the Black Sea to the Mediterranean.
Nis had always been a relatively developed city in the former Yugoslavia. In 1981 its GDP per capita was 110% of the Yugoslav average.
Niš is one of the most important industrial centers in Serbia, well known for its tobacco, electronics, construction, mechanical-engineering, textile, nonferrous-metal, food-processing and rubber-goods industries.
Niš Tobacco Factory was built and opened in 1930 at the present location at Crveni Krst. Its basic production is that of tobacco, cigarettes, filters, the elements of tobacco machinery and equipment, adhesives, etc. In 1995 a scientific-research institute was built. The Institute selects, produces and protects tobacco, and creates and designs new products. During Operation Allied Force the company was destroyed, allowing Philip Morris to purchase it for a low price. In August 2003, The Philip Morris Corporation purchased the Niš Tobacco Factory (DIN) through the privatization process. Philip Morris' total investment of EUR 580 million makes it the single largest foreign investor in Serbia of the Year 2003.
The city of Niš consists of five municipalities. The first four municipalities are located in the urban area of Niš, while Niška Banja is a suburban municipality.
Municipalities of Niš include further neighborhoods:
|Medijana||Palilula, Niš||Pantelej||Crveni Krst||Niška Banja|
|Center||Palilula||Pantelej||Crveni Krst||Niška Banja|
|Marger||Staro Groblje||Jagodin Mala(partly)||Beograd Mala||nas. Nikola Tesla (broj 6)|
|Trg Kralja Aleksandra||Crni put||Durlan||Jagodin Mala(partly)||Jelašnica|
|Bulevar Nemanjića||Suvi Do||Somborska||Medosevac||Prva Kutina|
|Bulevar Djindjica||Apelovac||Vrežina||Radikina Bara|
|Duvanište||Kalač Brdo||Kurča Greda||Donja i gornja Studena|
|Brzi Brod||Gabrovačka reka||Kurča Greda|
Prices in Niš
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||€0.45|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||€3.25|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||€12.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||€23.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||€|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||€3.25|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||€1.25|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||€1.05|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||€2.50|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||€2.40|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||€0.14|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||€2.00|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||€0.85|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||€42.00|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M)||1||€21.00|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||€61.00|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||€0.50|
45 € per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- meals in cheap restaurant
- public transport
- cheap hotel
90 € per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- mid-range meals and drinks
Transportation - Get In
Niš is an important crossroad between central Europe and the middle East, and assumes the central position in the Balkan peninsula. It is situated in southeast Serbia, with the coordinates - Latitude: 43° 19' 29 N, Longitude: 21° 54' 12 E. It is located in Niš Valley and surrounded by a number of mountains, two rivers, two beautiful gorges, and numerous sites of historical importance from various periods. Some approximate distances: Niš - Belgrade 240 km, Niš - Sofia 150 km, Niš - Skopje 200 km, Niš - Thessaloniki - 400 km. Niš is a must see historical city for any traveler passing through on his way to Greece or the Middle East.
The streets of this university city with 1/4 million residents are buzzing with life.
The European motorway E75 routes through Niš. From the north, you may use any highway from the Hungarian border over Novi Sad and Belgrade to Niš. From the northwest, you can travel over Austria, via Slovenia and Croatia to Belgrade and then to Niš. These are all modern highways, including the section Belgrade-Niš. It is a fast road with six lanes and 120km/h speed limit, which locals seldom observe as the road is in a pretty good shape. Beware of the police, though. At this speed, travel time from Belgrade is usually two hours.
The highway continues for another 10km towards the Bulgarian border, and then turns into a narrower mountainous road to Sofia. Caution is advised here, especially along the 20 kilometres of the beautiful Gorge of Sicevo, starting just after the end of the highway on the outskirts of the city. The other extension of the highway branches to the south, towards Macedonia and Greece. The fine motorway continues for another 60km south of Niš and then narrows down into a normal road, entering the Gorge of Grdelica, where caution is also advised.
Tolls are paid for highways Niš - Belgrade and Niš - Leskovac (south towards Macedonia and on to Greece), while using the road to Sofia is free of charge.
Train station (2Km east of the main square, a good half hour's walk.). trains to/from Skopje, Ljubljana, Zagreb, Istanbul, Vienna,Sofia and Budapest. All northbound international trains passedBelgrade. Another important railway link is the one to Bar, Montenegro, which connects Niš with the Adriatic sea. The trains are slow, not very clean, and still in the seventies style, but tickets are cheap, the scenery is sometimes beautiful, and sleeping cars are usually an option.
- Bus station (Autobuska Stanica) (a couple of blocks north of the river. The quickest route from the bus station to the main square (Trg Kralja Milana) is to go left down the side road past all the market stalls and the covered market. This takes you to the fortress entrance from where you can cross the river and head towards the obvious Ambassador hotel.). Almost all buses traveling from the northwest into Bulgaria or further southeast to Turkey will stop in Niš. All buses traveling between Belgrade and Greece or Macedonia will stop in Niš. An average bus ride from Belgrade (three hours), but make sure you opt for a 'direct' bus from Belgrade central bus station, as some buses will stop in a dozen towns on the way, sometimes getting out of the highway, and prolong the ride considerably.
- Constantine the Great International airport (code: INI) (The airport is 5km away from the city centre (much closer to the town than in most European cities, but still not suitable for walking to your hotel). Apart from taxis, there are buses taking passengers from the airport to the city on regular basis (every 15 minutes from early morning till midnight on workdays).). Currently there is one plane a day to Podgorica (Montenegro), which can be used to connect to major European capitals. Seasonal flights to Turkish, Montenegrin and Greek resorts are offered during the summer.
Transportation - Get Around
Downtown area is easily accessible on foot from the bus or train stations, and most hotels and hostels. For a walk across the whole city in any direction, be prepared to spend at least two or three hours. Note that Niš is located in a small valley, but is surrounded by hills. It is not as bad as in Belgrade, whose central part virtually lies on a number of hills, but in Niš, too, as soon as you get away from broader downtown area, you may find yourself climbing.
There are a number of small taxi companies. Expect the fare of between 150 and 300 dinars, depending on distance (start - 95 dinars + 45 dinars per km). Make sure the taxi driver turns on the taximeter, just in case. Taxis are available practically on every street, and are also reachable by phone - the local 'taxi' phone numbers cover the range from 9701 to 9721 - if you call from your cell phone, don't forget the country and area code +381 18. Pay phones with instructions in five languages are available throughout the town - a phone card must be purchased in any newspaper shop if these are to be used. Most drivers will speak at least basic English. If not, just write the name of the place/site/hotel/street you are going to and it will be fine. Niš is relatively small and all taxi drivers know all the streets by heart and do not need to consult maps. Taxi rides out of the town (including to Belgrade airport) may be agreed on with the taxi driver (sometimes in a private arrangement, at a much reduced price), but some caution is advised here.
If you come by car, using hotel or hostel parking lots is advised. Car theft is not very common, but foreign license plates and unsecured vehicles parked downtown may be attractive to petty criminals, especially at night. Parking is charged in two zones in downtown area, at about €0.25-0.35/hour. There are clear traffic signs marking the two zones (red - Zone 1, up to 1 hour; green - Zone 2, up to 3 hours, Monday-Friday 7AM-9PM, Saturday 7AM-2PM). This can be paid with a small card purchased in any newspaper shop, where the driver is expected to tick the date and time and leave the card under the windshield of the car so that the traffic warden can see it. Alternatively, you may pay using your cellphone (send an SMS with your license plate number to 9181 for Zone 1 or 9182 for Zone 2 - for instance, NI123456). Failure to pay may result in a €12 fine.
There are a few rent-a-car services in the city. You may check out Euroturs Nis (http://www.euroturs-nis.co.yu/english.php?page=4),InterRent-a-car (http://www.rentacarnis.rs) or http://rentalex-rentacar.com/Rentalex rent a car Nis.Rentalex - Rent a car Nis is a young agency to rent a car from Nis. Currently in its offer at attractive prices, we offer cars from the Volkswagen family. Cars have gasoline engines from 1.2 liters to provide extremely low power costs to be more economical. Expect prices ranging from €20-50 a day, depending on the car type and length of lease. The cars are usually fully ensured, but make sure the clerks you talk to have made this clear prior to any arrangement. Rent-a-car is a good option for sightseeing, as there are many interesting things to visit in the 100km vicinity of Niš in all directions. The roads are getting increasingly better, but be prepared for possible surprises outside main highways leading to Belgrade, Thessaloniki, or Sofia.
If you decide to use city buses, Niš has well established bus lines. Most buses have clear signs stating their directions, and almost all will at one point stop at the central city square, near the Fortress, or five minutes from it, at the King Alexander Square, near the School of Law and Army Headquarters building. Have in mind that you will be obliged to pay the fare, as there are ticket sellers in the buses. A single ticket, valid for one ride from point A to point B, inside the city zone now costs 40 Serbian dinars. Weekly and monthly tickets are also available at discount prices in small ticket shops near most bus stops.
- BEST RATED -
- BEST VALUE -
- Market (Between the fortress and the bus station). the lively market is worth a visit. You can get almost anything you can imagine, and hundreds of local smallholders sell their fruit and veg in the covered market. Also farm made soft cheese.
- Forum shopping mall.the biggest shopping mall in Niš. It is a huge, three-storey building, with virtually all kinds of shops: clothes, shoes, music, stationery, computer equipment, unlocked mobile phones... you name it. There are also several bars, coffee shops and one or two restaurants where you can refresh yourself after your spending spree.
- Mercator Centar (2km from the city centre. Catch a taxi to get there.).which has a nice selection of shops and supermarket with a lot of foreign food products. Since the opening of Forum some shows had to close in Mercator due to competition.
- Underground passage. another trademark of Niš, virtually an entire street under the central city promenade. It throngs with small shops of all kinds. They can be a bit cheaper since they often fail to pay VAT.
Following the fashion in all Europe, the Balkans, and Serbia, Niš now hosts a variety of grand shopping malls and hypermarkets located on all outskirts of the city, where practically all goods can be purchased. The malls are usually a bit cheaper than small shops and visiting them is advisable if you should need supplies for a longer period of time (food, clothing, stationery, equipment...). Major streets contain numerous signs directing a traveler to one of these (Mercator Center, Tempo, Metro, Interex, Impex Mega Market).
Souvenirs are available in small shops in the Fortress, in the central squares of the city, or in shops near historical locations.
The local currency is dinar (€1 = approx. 110 dinars). The Serbian law does not allow that you pay in euros, dollars or any other currency in the shops, so, if you use cash, you must convert the money into dinars. Fortunately, this may be done in any bank or exchange office, and there are many in the city centre (including some automatic exchange machines in the very core of the city). In addition, a variety of credit cards are now welcome in most city shops. Vendors are legally obliged to provide fiscal stubs after any transaction. In practice, many places such as hotels will accept euro notes (often at a nominal rate of €1=110 dinars) and give change in dinars.
Niš is a food paradise. It is said that Niš produces the best Burek, a sort of greasy, phyllo dough pastry filled with cheese or ground meat that is popular throughout the Balkan peninsula. It resembles a cheese pie, but contains more fat and has stronger flavour. Also, by general consent, it is much more delicious. Some vendors sell other varieties such as apple, spinach or pizza burek (frequently just a combination between the meat and cheese Burek). Traditionally, you eat burek with yoghurt.
The Shopska salad is another phenomenal, yet simple, dish to be found in Niš. It consists of chopped up tomato, cucumber, onion, oil, a little salt and a generous topping of a domestic feta-like cheese. The local feta is usually less sharp than feta typically found in the west by a considerable margin. Most websites with recipes simply call it a brined sheep cheese and the French are known to make a similar feta. Another local trademark is the 'Urnebes' salad, literally translated as 'chaos' or 'pandemonium' - basically cream cheese in oil mixed with ground peppers, garlic and sometimes sesame.
Pljeskavica, sometimes referred to as the "Balkans Burger," is ubiquitous. Typically it contains a concoction of spiced ground beef, pork and lamb. It may be served in a bun, pita bread or by itself on a plate depending on where you get one. It usually is accompanied by onions, a paprika based sauce and in the case of the fast-food-esque vendors you'll have a variety of sauces and toppings to accompany it.
Chevapchichi (usually spelt with accented "c" instead of "ch", i.e. ćevapčići) is similarly made from spiced ground beef, pork and lamb. The mixture is formed into a 2-to-3 inch long sausage and served with onions and a paprika based sauce. Sometimes it will be served in a pita bread for easy, "on-the-go" consumption.
Other favorites include pizza, of which the Serbs do a splendid job, and various pasta dishes.
For those who do not wish to experiment too much, there are numerous traditional bakeries and pastry shops, and the inevitable McDonald's on the central city square.
Vegetarians had been almost totally neglected in Serbia until recently, but now most restaurants will have some options for them, too. Vegans might encounter more problems, although most are usually solved with the help of kind local restaurant owners. Note the traditional fasting periods, especially in April before Orthodox Easter holidays, when many restaurants offer fish and non-animal food, including some specialties.
Coffe & Drink
Tap water is drinkable in Niš. Locals like to boast that, in addition to Vienna, Niš has the best water in central and southeast Europe. Although this claim can probably be contested, the water from the central supply system is drunk by most residents. More cautious visitors are advised to buy bottled water in any shop: a variety of brands are available, and Serbian mineral waters are very good, especially Knjaz Miloš, Vlasinska Rosa, Mivela and Heba. You can also try Jamnica and Jana which are imported from Croatia.
There is a throng of cafes in downtown Niš, most of which serve various coffee drinks, beers and liquors. Some specialty bars serve a more limited scope of beverages. There is also a branch of Costa Coffee on the central square.
Local wines are usually not the best of quality. The more expensive the better. International brands are offered in most bars.
Rakija, a powerful brandy made from various fruits (usually plum or apricot), is a local favorite. Attention: some kinds may be pretty strong for a newbie.
Sights & Landmarks
Niš is packed with historical sites worth visiting, dating from various periods.
- Mediana (on the road Niš - Niška Banja (Spa)). (4th cent.)- Birthplace of Emperor Constantine the Great. This ancient historical site is a testimony of the wealth and glory of the imperial Naissus . The remains of imperial palace, together with peristyle (range of surrounding columns) have been discovered. Luxury villas with mosaic floors, sacral objects (baptistery room), farming buildings with pithos, Roman bathrooms, water tanks, fort remains etc testify about Naissus culture and wealth from the times of Emperor Constantine the Great, who was born in Nis. Constantine is best remembered in modern times for three great achievements: the Edict of Milan in 313, which fully legalized Christianity in the Empire, the Council of Nicaea in 325, which made the Trinity the orthodox teaching, and the founding of Constantinople, today's Istanbul, in 330.
- Skull Tower (Cele kula). Skull Tower was built (19th cent.) by the Turks from the skulls of the Serbs killed in the battle of Cegar, near Nis, in May 1809. It is of rectangular shape, about 3 m high and was built from quicklime, sand and the skinned skulls, upon the order of Khurshid Pasha who had first sent the skulls filled with cotton to the Sultan in Istanbul. Each side of the Tower has 14 rows with 17 openings where the skulls were embedded. There were 952 skulls, but today only 58 have remained. The rest were pulled out to be buried or were lost in time. In 1892 a chapel was built around the Tower, according to the design of the Belgrade architect Dimitrie T. Leko. The skulls are situated inside the small chapel consisting of four glass walls. Europe came to know about this horrible monument of Serbian martyrdom from the work "Voyage to the East" by the French poet Alphonse de Lamartine (1790 - 1869).
- Niš Fortress (On the Nišava riverbank). over the remains of a Roman military camp, then Roman town called Naissus, and finally the remains of a destroyed Byzantine fortification, the Turks built a strong fortress at the beginning of 18th century. The construction of this fortress lasted from 1719 to 1723. It was built with the help of local laborers, Istanbul stonecutters and bricklayers. Beside those well saved walls and gates, numerous facilities remain from various periods, such as the armory, Turkish steam bath, Turkish post station, Bali-mosque, powderroom and prison.
- Rusalia Church. Church of Holy Trinity of Rusalia is located above the village of Gornji Matejevac. Rusalia is the most attractive ancient structure in Niš. The church was built after the order of a local Byzantine dignitary in the first half of 11th century.
- Kazandzijsko sokace (Tinkers alley), Kopitareva Street. This is an old urban quarter. It was built in the first half of 18th century. It was a street full of tinkers and other craftsmen, together with their houses coming from Turkish period. Unfortunately, only some of those are preserved today and protected by the state. The street has recently become packed with cafes, a favorite site for the visitors.
- Serbian Wartime Parliament Building - Birthplace of Yugoslavia. The building of the "Youth Home" Restaurant was erected in 1890. At first, the "Bulevar" restaurant was situated in the building. The Army General Staff bought the building in 1903 and turned it into an Officers' Home, which remained there until 1941. At the beginning of World War I this building was in the focus of public attention as the centre of the political life of Serbia. On December 7, 1914 a war session of the National Assembly was held there. On that occasion the Assembly made the "Niš Declaration", which explicitly stated the military objectives of Serbia - to fight for the liberation and unification of the Balkan peoples. On May 6, 1915 the Yugoslav Congress was held in this building. The Congress issued the "Niš Resolution" which once again emphasized the need for national unity.
- Red Cross Concentration Camp (in the city centre, close to the central bus station.). The first Nazi concentration camp in the former Yugoslavia, constructed in 1941. One of the few fully preserved concentration camps in Europe, almost intact since 1944, 'Lager Nis' was the venue of the dramatic escape in February 1942 when about 100 prisoners managed to flee .
- Holocaust memorial on Bubanj hill (On the hill of Bubanj, south of the city centre). a monumental sculpture representing three enormous fists was erected in honor of 10,000 people, mostly Serbs and Romanies, but also about 1,100 Jews, executed in this place during World War Two. The monument is the work of sculptor Ivan Sabolic and was erected in 1963.
- Mausoleum of Count Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky - lover of Anna Karenina (in Gornji Adrovac (municipality of Aleksinac)). The Holy Trinity Church near Nis was built (19th cent.) in commemoration of the death of Nikolai Rayevsky. Rayevsky was celebrated as Count Vronsky in Tolstoy's famous novel Anna Karenina.
- Niška Banja (Niš Spa) (a couple of kilometers to the southeast). There is a large park and some restaurants to accompany the nice view out over the valley. The spa is famous for its mildly radioactive hot water springs which help treat rheumatic disorders. Heart conditions are also successfully treated in the vicinity. 5km away from the spa, one reaches Sicevacka and Jelasnicka Gorges, state-protected natural reserves with intact scenery, ancient monasteries, and endemic species.
- Villa of the "ill" Prince George (in Gornja Toponica). In 1926, the heir to the Serbian throne, Prince George Karadjordjevic, was committed to the mental hospital on grounds of insanity by his younger brother, Alexander, who was then crowned king. The prince was kept in the spacious villa locked within the mental hospital for 15 years. After World War Two his family were declared state enemies by the communist regime but George was allowed to retire in Belgrade as the only member of the Royal family in the country.
Festivals and events
Niš is the venue of a number of national and international festivals.
- Nisville international jazz festival is held every August on the Summer Stage of the Fortress. With numerous international participants, it has been the trademark of the city for two decades, and has become especially prominent in recent years. (http://www.nisville.com/)
- Nis Choral Festival is an international festival of choral music, held on the Summer Stage biennially (in July).
- Nis Acting Festival is an international festival of film acting, once the biggest film festival in the former Yugoslavia (along with the Pula festival, now Croatia), today with a growing international reputation. It is traditionally organized in the last week of August, every year. (http://www.fsnis.org.yu/ - in Serbian)
- Nimus is the classical music festival held in late autumn (October-November). Nis is also a centre of classical music in this part of Serbia, with the growing Academy of Arts and the second-by-size Philharmonic Orchestra in the country. The classical music festival includes performances in the Symphony Orchestra building and the National Theater building, with concerts, chamber, symphonic music, and opera. (http://www.nimusfest.com/, in Serbian)
- Nisomnia popular music international festival is organized in September.
Nightclubs in Niš are somewhat different than those typically found in Belgrade or in other larger cities. Firstly, there is relatively little dancing and most clubs don't feature a dancefloor. Instead, clubs have tables and most people stand at their table and drink, while listening to the music. Tables must be reserved beforehand, though this is usually for free.Secondly electronical dance music is quite rare, with most clubs playing folk music instead. Most clubs have only a Facebook page, so check that to see what they're doing that day.
- Feedback, Davidova (Next to the defunct synagogue). This placed is alternative, playing rock and metal and occasionally electronical dance music.
- Vavilon, Nikole Pašića 36.
- Simphony club, Generala Milojka Lešjanina. Unusual for playing electronical dance music. Also a somewhat "fancy" club.
- Cubo klub, Balkanska 2. Lively atmosphere, and often crowded. They play mostly folk music.
- Diamond, Prijezdina 4.
Things to know
Young people usually speak enough English to communicate. Some speak it extremely well. Professionals, such as hotel personnel, speak English and another foreign language. As Niš is a university centre, if you run into some of its 30,000 students, you will have no problems talking to them.
Other officials, such as police officers, have had some basic English lessons recently, but do not expect miracles.
There can be more problems communicating with the elderly. Still, if you encounter a group of four or five persons, there is a good chance one will know enough English to help you get by.
There are now many signposts all around the city in Serbian Cyrilic script followed by English translation which should help you find your way to hotels, central city institutions and sites. Familiarization with basic Cyrilic script would be a good idea, because, following recent Serbian national laws, this traditional script is encouraged, and Latin script, once all-present in the former Yugoslavia, is getting more rare. The Latin script is dominant on advertisements and in shops, though.
Occasionally, you may encounter individuals speaking German, French or Russian, sometimes Italian or Spanish, but this is not very common.
Safety in Niš
Nis is a very safe city. In summer months, even late into the night, you will see people walking through its streets with no fear whatsoever. In winter months, late at night, and in suburban areas, some reasonable caution is warranted. As with any other travel, keep your money, cell phones, travel documents and other valuables in secure places. As a pedestrian, follow regulations, including zebra crossings and green lights, even when you see locals ignoring them, as traffic wardens may jump out of nowhere and fine you.
In case of an emergency, call 192 (police), 193 (fire), 194 (ambulance) or the European standard 112.
In case of injury or illness, the place to go is the Hitna Pomoc (Emergency Aid Centre) of Nis Clinical Centre. If the urgency is not total, you may ask for help in the state Clinical Centre (follow the white signs with this name in the streets) or any of the numerous small private clinics scattered downtown. Be aware that not all medical facilities are well-stocked or have personnel that speak foreign languages, including English. Cash payment on the spot will almost certainly be required for medical services. Consult the embassy of your country, if possible.
Serbia has a social insurance agreement with most European nations. If you get a form from your local health insurance you can obtain free treatment in the local hospitals. You would first need to go to the national social insurance (RZZO) branch office in Niš to hand in the form and get another form for the local hospital or health centre. Since this procedure is complicated to complete without Serbian language skills it may be easier to visit a private doctor or polyclinic. Prices are very reasonable by European standards, starting from 10€ for a simple consultation with a PD.
Pharmacies are located all over the central city zone. They are marked with green crosses in front of the entrance. Their working hours are 7AM - 9 or even 10PM every day, including weekends. The central pharmacy, located in front of the National Theater building, a 2-minute walk from the central city square, is open 24/7. Serbia is still very liberal in terms of purchasing medication, so you are allowed to buy practically any basic drugs over the counter (painkillers, fever medication). However, for antibiotics a prescription is now required. Prior consultation with a physician would be a good idea, though.