Golubac Castle

Golubac Castle



Location 4 km downstream of modern Golubac Map

Constructed: 14th century


Description of Golubac Castle

Golubac Castle is situated 4 km downstream of modern Golubac.  Golubac Castle was constructed by Hungarian kings in the 14th century on a strategic location overlooking Danube River that was previously occupied by ruined Roman fortress. Hungarian king entrusted defenses of the castle to Serbian despots Brankovich and Lazarevic. The defenders contained a modest military garrison of soldiers that could not prevent its fall. In 1427 Golubac Castle was taken by the Turkish Sultan Murad II. Hungarian king Sigismund attempted to retake the Golubac citadel, but failed to so.  His grand army of Hungarian, Poles, Italians and Wallachians was defeated. Among the dead was famous knight Zavis Black. It is one of the most interesting and impressive medieval fortifications in Serbia. However you will need great stamina and endurance to explore all its corners. Take plenty of water if you will travel to this castle in the hot summer months.


Landscaping the fortress
Golubac Fortress City is located on the right bank of the Danube, in the municipality of Golubac, at the entrance to the Djerdap National Park. The entrance gate of the fortress is the main entry point to the national park on the west side, and east of the ramparts of the fortress is the nature reserve Golubac.

The base of Golubac town is irregular, consistently adjusted to the configuration of the terrain. Cut into the rock, it certainly represented one of the most difficult obstacles to the enemy's incursion from the north. The highest points of the fortifications, east and south, were difficult to reach due to the rocky terrain, and the easiest possible access is from the west. There was a connection between the walls and the tower, and from each tower it was possible to go out to the defensive wall (Simić, 1983). Golubac was dangerous with nine towers, mostly square in shape. In front of the lowest part of the fortification was a water moat, over which the bridge, through the gate, entered the city. There were internal and external fortifications in the city.

Golubac is fan-shaped and consists of three parts: the front, the back and the upper part (with a citadel). It consists of a total of 10 (9 + 1) towers and two large car gates. The towers were later strengthened by the Turks with cannon openings and the addition of another tower (10th) around 1480. In front of the city is the front wall (I) which forms the outer wall of the trench, which was probably full of water because it is connected to the Danube which probably filled it. The city is connected with a heavy chain to the Babakaj rock (which still protrudes from the water in the middle of the Danube), so that it completely controlled both road and river traffic through the Djerdap Gorge. There was a civilian settlement in front of the fortress, which is evidenced today only by some, partially investigated buildings.

Front town
The front town consists of an upper and a lower part divided by a wall connecting the 4th and 7th towers.

In the lower part there is the entrance (II), which is guarded by the 9th and 8th towers, which is reinforced with an opening for the cannon. At the end of the city is the 10th tower, which was added by the Turks, as a low artillery tower. It controls the passage through the Danube and the approach to the city port (which was probably located between the 5th and 10th towers), and is connected to the 9th tower by a low wall. The low wall connects the 5th and 9th towers, while the branch to the 10th tower was added by the Turks. Opposite the entrance was a car gate leading to the last town. There were no buildings in this part, with the exception of the remains that are connected to the 8th tower and which were probably connected to it as a whole. Along the road, parallel to it, there is a canal 0.5 meters wide and 0.75 meters deep, from which a steep slope begins.

On the wall that separates the upper from the lower part, there is a gate (III) through which you go to the upper town. There are no buildings in the upper part and there is a path leading to the gate (IV) that leads to the upper town and is located in the wall, at a height of 2 meters from the ground to which the stairs lead, next to the 3rd tower. The wall connecting the 6th and 7th towers is climbed by steps (V), while the wall between the 6th and 3rd towers is climbed through the 6th tower.

The last city
The last city is separated from the upper one by a wall (which connects the 2nd and 4th towers) and a sharp rock 3 to 4 meters high. On the wall, above the car gate, you climb the stairs (VI). Next to the 5th tower there is a building (VII) (which was probably a warehouse and a military barracks) which led to a wall that stretches from the 5th tower parallel to the river and leads almost to the rock on which the 2nd tower is located.

The upper town is entered through the gate (IV) and from there the path leads, parallel to the wall between the 1st and 3rd towers, to the entrance (VIII) in the citadel. Below that path there are several buildings, between which the path descends through the gate (X) to the 2nd and 4th towers and the wall above the last city. In the rock on which the 1st tower is located, a water tank (IX) was carved, which was filled with rainwater. On the wall, between the 4th tower and the gate (IV), there is a protruding terrace.

The citadel itself has a rectangular, almost square base through which, between the outer wall and the rock on which the 1st tower is located, a path leads to the last stronghold of the Donjon tower (1st tower). The last part of the road (XI), less than a meter wide, is bordered by sharp cliffs, which on one side fall into the interior of the citadel some 5 to 6 meters below, while on the other side they fall a few tens of meters lower almost to the Danube level. The special charm of that crossing is given by the wind that constantly blows, because it is turned towards the Djerdap gorge, especially when baskets fly out of the gorge.



The towers in the fortress have wooden floors and steps inside, while the steps leading to them are made of stone. The width of the steps is less than 60 centimeters. Half of the tower is made of stone on all sides (1,2,4,5,10), while the others are made of stone on three sides, and the fourth side, which faces the interior, does not have (3,6,7,8,9, ).

the tower is Donjon. It has an octagonal base from which rises a circular peak in the center of which is a square interior. It is entered through a door (XII) leading to a terrace protected by parapets, from which one enters (XIII) the round part of the tower. Through the tower, around the square interior, lead stone steps that lead to the top.
the tower has a circular shape and is made of stone on all sides.
the tower has a square base, while its weak side faces the Donjon tower, and on the top floor it has a terrace overlooking Djerdap.
the tower has a square base. It has an entrance in the ground level, while from one of its higher floors there is an exit to the wall that connects it with the 3rd tower, where the gate (IV) is located. The Orthodox chapel is located on the ground floor, as evidenced by the niches for the altar, deaconry and proscomidia, which are facing east, and were built with a tower. they were not added later.
the tower is of regular square shape. The only door leading to it is located on the wall, which connects it with the 4th tower, to which the stone steps (VI) lead.
the tower has a square base, but is reinforced on the outside with an irregular hexagonal base. Stairs lead through it to the wall that connects it with the 3rd tower.
the tower has a square base but is reinforced on the outside in the shape of a circle.
the tower has an irregular four-sided base and is slightly lower than the others.
the tower has a square base, while the outside has an octagonal reinforcement.
the tower is low (it has only one floor), with openings for cannons. Its base is eight-sided and is almost identical to the three towers that were added to the Smederevo fortress with the same purpose (as artillery towers).

The past of the fortress
Medieval Golubac was built on the remains of an older Roman fortress. From 803 to 1018, the area belonged to the First Bulgarian Empire, the Byzantine Empire from then until 1193, and the Second Bulgarian Empire until 1257. Medieval builders also recognized a good strategic position, and used the foundations of older fortifications to build new fortresses. It was built on the bank of the Danube at the very entrance to the Djerdap gorge, on the cliffs of the Radan hill. The Roman fortress Vico Cuppae was located on this place, and in the Middle Ages a new fortification was built here as a military fortress for the fight against cold weapons and an important strategic stronghold. Based on historical, architectural and archeological data, it is believed that the city was founded in the second half of the 13th and the beginning of the 14th century and that it was built by Serbs. Over time, the basic appearance of the fortress changed, as it was extended many times and adjusted to the needs of artillery, but it got its present appearance at the end of the 15th century.

Golubac is first mentioned in Hungarian sources dated 1335, 1337 and 1342, respectively (Deroko, 1950). According to these sources, the fortress is associated with the Hungarian King Louis I. However, it is not known when and who built it, but its basis, ie. "Gornji grad" was built by a Serbian or Orthodox nobleman, as evidenced by the Orthodox chapel within the fourth tower. The city was then expanded (to the "back" and "front city") during the Serbian or Hungarian rule, although it is not excluded that it was initially built in this size. The last phase in the construction was carried out by the Turks, strengthening the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth towers and adding a low artillery tower (10th) in the extension of the outer rampart, which monitored the Danube and protected the gang port next to it.

The town of Golubac was part of the state of Prince Lazar, who gave the surrounding villages as convents to the monasteries. Immediately after the Battle of Kosovo, in 1389, Bayezid I entered it. King Sigismund of Hungary took over in 1392 (Katanić, 1971). The Hungarian city was handed over to the despot Stefan in 1403, when he became a Hungarian vassal. According to the agreement from 1426, the city was to be handed over to the Hungarians after the despot's death (Stefan died in 1427), together with Belgrade. However, the commander of the city, Duke Jeremiah, handed him over to the Turks for unknown reasons. According to the Peace of Szeged, from 1444, between the Hungarians and the Turks, the Serbian despotate was renewed and Golubac became part of it. After the death of the despot Djurdj in 1456, the Turks conquered it in 1458 (Srejović, 1994). The Hungarians, led by King Matthias Corvinus, succeeded in conquering it in 1481, but abandoned it very quickly (Simić, 1983; Deroko, 1951). The Turks have ruled the fortress for centuries. During this period, a civilian settlement developed in front of the fortress over time, and in the 18th century Golubac is described as an advanced city.


From then until the 19th century, the Turks ruled Golubac. It was held for a short time by the Austrians (1688-1690) and Serbian insurgents during Kočina Krajina and the First Serbian Uprising. The Serbs conquer Golubac again in the Second Serbian Uprising. However, the town of Golubac was finally handed over to the Serbs for administration only in 1868. Then, with some other cities in Serbia, the Turks finally handed over to Prince Mihailo Golubac.

Golubac in the 20th century
Immediately after the First World War, through the rock on which the fortress is located, the main road that passes through the fortress was broken, using both car gates in the fortification. The main entrance gate was demolished without any previous documentation. This road is the shortest connection between Serbia and the eastern parts of the Balkan Peninsula, so that trucks often pulled through the fortress, which can hardly pass through the gates. Immediately before the reconstruction of the fortress, a new tunnel was built 20-30 meters further and outside the fortress, while the existing one was closed for use for traffic purposes.

With the construction of the HPP on the Danube, its level near Golubac rose, so that the lowest parts of the city were flooded. In years of great droughts or when a large amount of water is released due to the flood wave of HPPs, it is possible to enter the building standing in a boat in the last city (VII), while at normal water level the boat barely passes through the arched remains of the building. The submerged parts of the walls, together with the tenth tower, provide great opportunities for passionate fishing enthusiasts, who are always in the lowest parts of the fortress.

Due to its historical significance and exceptional architectural value, the Golubac Fortress was declared a monument of exceptional significance in 1979 (Spomeničko nasledje Srbije, 2009). Research and conservation work began in 1969 and was completed in 1987, due to a lack of funding.

At the beginning of the 21st century, all parts of the fortifications above the road, including the moat, were completely overgrown with nettles, blackberries, rose hips and similar vegetation, which made it almost impossible to move through the upper parts of the fort, except for a small narrow path leading to Donjon (1 .) towers. During the spring of 2005, an action was carried out to remove that vegetation from the trench and the front town. In the trench itself, a restored fountain (which until then had been hidden by tall vegetation) was erected in honor of the Polish knight Zaviše Crni, who left his life in Golubac. In the citadel itself, along with blackberries, there are several fig trees.

The fortress is repeatedly endangered by the work of the quarry, the impact of the slowing down of the Danube and the vegetation that destroys the walls of the tower. In an even more unfavorable situation is the suburbs, which are impossible to explore without the dislocation of the main road and the closure of the quarry (Simić, 2000). Until 2010, Golubac Fortress was neglected, the internal wooden approaches to the towers were rotten and dangerous, so watching the fortress was safe only from the outside, and the entrance to the fortress, although possible by climbing the walls, was not recommended for security reasons.

The condition before the renovation can be described through the following statement: The walls, towers and stone stairs are in pretty good condition, but the wooden floors and stairs have long since rotted and turned to dust. In the 5th tower, a door was subsequently installed, which is in good condition, as well as floors with steps that could lead to its top or descend into the darkness of the lower floors. Today, the upper floors are completely collapsed, while the planks that make up the floor and the beams that hold them, at the level of the front door, are rotten and completely unsafe to move. Along the steps (VI), there are the remains of a wooden fence, which has completely rotted, which shows bouquets of flowers left in memory of the girl who died when the fence she was leaning on broke. A similar accident happened on September 27. In 2008, when, during a student trip of students from Mladenovac High School, a part of the fortress material on which it stood fell off under one student, after which it fell from the top of the main gate (II) onto the main road that passes through it. After that, she was transported to the Požarevac Hospital, and then to the Belgrade Emergency Center, and the doctors assessed her condition as very difficult, but noted that the girl was out of danger.


Reconstruction of the fortress
The Government of the Republic of Serbia competed with the project for the reconstruction of the Golubac Fortress with the IPA funds of the European Union within the international project "Road of Culture - Fortress on the Danube". The funds were provided through these funds in the amount of 6.5 million euros. The preliminary design of the new fortress was done by the architect Marina Jovin, the expert consultants on the project were Siniša Temerinski and the archaeologist Dr. Miomir Korać. The renovation was expected to take five years.

The reconstruction of the fortress was initiated "from outside". Outside the fortress, in the area of ​​Podgrađe, after the construction of the bypass and tunnel and the removal of the PIM buildings, a parking space was built and a pier for boats and moorings for small vessels opposite the parking lot. In front of the parking lot towards the fortress is the visitor center building, with a sanitary block for visitors, an information tourist point, a hall for exhibitions and presentations, an office, and the other wing is a restaurant with a large terrace facing the water. Between the two wings is an amphitheater for exhibiting the first information about the monument, and from there two paths lead to the Fortress - one next to the water, and the other between the rest area and the archeological park that go. The only PIM facility that will not be removed is a crusher that will be adapted for painting studios, with housing (Municipality of Golubac - Elaborate of Golubac Fortress, 2010). The program is implemented within the cooperation between Serbia and Romania, funded by the European Union (TO Golubac, 2010; Detailed Regulation Plan for the revitalization of the Golubac Fortress, Official Gazette of the Municipality of Golubac 12/2010). The agreement on the realization of the project Revitalization of the Golubac Fortress, which is being realized within the Danube Strategy in Serbia, was signed in April 2014 in the Government of Serbia. The tender for the implementation of project activities was announced in April 2014 by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) for all five planned activities, and is financed from the IPA funds for 2011 in the amount of 6.6 million euros (www.glassrbije.org).

During the construction of the Djerdap traffic highway, a road was broken through the fortress. Then the main gate was destroyed, which could be reached over the bridge, because there was a water moat in front of the fortification. The road passes through a culturally protected area. Before the beginning of the reconstruction, a bypass will be built, which will move the existing traffic corridor from the fortress. During the renovation, it is planned to create contents in the towers in the lower zones of the fortress that can be reached by all visitors, in this part the museum of Golubac City will be located, with more than 100 archeological exhibits excavated at this location. On the towers on the higher elevations, there will be lookouts and contents intended for younger visitors and athletes. The tunnels that exist in the fort will become club restaurants after the traffic is cut off. A large amphitheater will be built on the nearby quarry, next to which there will be painting and ceramics studios. The project envisages the construction of docks for ships, with all the accompanying facilities, as well as the construction of a Visitor Center. In the part between the Visitor Center and the fortress, a pool with filtered Danube water will be built, and along the shore, space is provided for water sports, while in the large field, space is provided for small sports or knightly tournaments. On the slope facing the Danube, nine wooden apartments will be built, designed in the spirit of traditional architecture. Near the fortress, on the Lower Marina, a fishing village will be built, the construction of which will cost 40 million dinars. It is planned to build a small marina for boats and small vessels, a coastal fortification, a road, a fish restaurant, as well as a facility for accommodating guests.

On the occasion of the 590th anniversary of the death of Despot Stefan Lazarević, a poetry evening by Matija Bećković entitled "Poet to the Poet" was held at the Golubac City Fortress on July 15, 2017.

Today, the Golubac town-fortress is very visited, both due to the fact that the main road passes through it, and due to the fact that it is located near Lepenski Vir, so that the two sites form a common tourist unit. The efforts that the municipality of Golubac is investing in this fortification are aimed at affirming the importance of the Golubac Fortress on the tourist map of Serbia and Europe.

In November 2018, it was announced that the renovation of the fortress was nearing completion and that 90 percent of the work had been completed. The renovated fortress was inaugurated on March 29, 2019.