Nis is a crossroads of 2 important roads-one leading to Sofia and Constantinople, known for ages as ’’Via Militaris’’, and the other leading to Salonika ’’Via Egnatia’’. As the city on the crossroads, it couldn’t avoid any military conquest, any invading appetite of an occupier, so in its millennium’s existence it had been conquered, destroyed and devastated countless times. It also couldn’t evade the NATO bombing in 1999. that took lives of many innocent men, women, and children, and destroyed many buldings. The monument in front of the Fortress is a memorial of this great tragedy. The Nisava river quietly flows through the city and its quay is perfect for recreation and pleasure. Today, Nis is a modern city, which skillfully combines modern tendencies with the spirit of the past epochs. It is an important industrial and university center, the city of young people reflecting a unique spirit of its inhabitants, the people of specific southern temper, natural-born jesters,hospitable, cheerful and benevolent. They cherish the spirit of the past tradition, distinctiveness, the talent for entertainment, singing and dancing. Everything they do, they do with pleasure/merak. They often say that: ’’Merak nema cenu!/Merak is priceless!’’. The best Serbian comedies testify about the spirit of the city, since many writers and poets lived and worked in Nis, and found inspiration for their work in it. Nature was very generous to this city, and the people wisely used this benefit for pure pleasure. The surroundings of Nis are wonderful, especially Sicevo gorge, where the docile Nisava incised its watercourse towards Sofia between Svrljig and Suva planina mountains. The high rocks of the Svrljig mountains are convenient for climbing and paragliding ( due to favorable winds and climate conditions , World and European championships in Paragliding take place here), as well as rafting; from the nearby Sicevo village, one can see the entire Sicevo gorge. The road along the river leads to Sofia and further to Middle East. The gorge guards 2 hydroelectric power plants from the beginning of XX century, of which one is still in order providing Nis with electricity; St. Parasceva and the Holy Virgin monasteries are eagerly visited by tourists. In addition, the authentic gem in Nis surroundings presents Jelasnica gorge, although very small, it was proclaimed a special nature reserve, due to its enchanting beauty and endemic plants. The extraordinary rocks in the gorge are suitable for free climbing, so many trainings and championships of this increasingly popular sport occur there. The gorge is one of the favorite picnic spots of many Nis citizens. Nis also prides of magical beauty of Niska Banja spa, which dates from the time of Hadrian’s rule (II century). Situated on the wooded Koritnik mountain, 808 m high, it’s an oasis of verdancy and fresh air, ideal for recreation and long walks. Thermal springs rich in radon gas are used in treatment of many diseases, so the spa is extremely well visited. Bojanine vode is also eagerly visited by Nis citizens, especially climbers, because of the sun and fresh mountain air, and it spreads on the northern side of Suva planina mountain, with its peaks: Sokolov kamen, Mosor, Devojacki grob, and the highest summit-Trem (1810 m). We should also mention the hill of Kamenica on the slopes of the Svrljig mountains. From this hill you can enjoy the panoramic view on the entire city. In this area you can visit Cerje cave whose end hasn’t been discovered yet. It is considered to be 2 million years old, abundant with extraordinary speleothemes that can be seen only at this place. Nis is an open-air museum, since its inhabitants incessantly built monuments as permament memorials to suffering of both the people and the city. Bubanj memorial park is a hill near Nis where 15 000 people, brought from ’’February 12th’’ concentration camp, were shot during WWII. The concentration camp is one of the rarely preserved Nazi camps in Europe, from which 105 brave inmates succeeded to flee. Bubanj memorial park is dominated by a mounument in the shape of 3 clenched fists of different size, symbolizing a man, a woman and a child. With its very favorable position, at the beginning of WW I it was the war capital of Serbia, and the building of Banovina was the headquarters of Serbian government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This is also the place where arrived the official declaration of war on Serbia by Austria-Hungary on July 28, 1914, in the form of a telegram, which was typical in diplomatic relationships. The very core, i.e. the monuments in the downtown of the city are raised as memorials to Serbian kings-king Aleksandar,remembered for his idea to unite Serbs, Croats and Slovenes into a common state, and king Milan, the commander-in-chief of the Serbian army who liberated Nis from the Ottomans. This city couldn’t avoid the destiny of all Serbian cities which didn’t resist the attack of the Ottomans. They invaded it in 1386, so until its liberation in 1878, it developed according to the rules of the Ottoman empire. Many monuments witness to this fact, and the most outrageous of them all is the Skull Tower, unique in the entire world, situated on the old Constantinople road. In the famous battle on Cegar hill (May 31, 1809.), Serbian insurgents commanded by duke Stevan Sindjelic, experienced their greatest defeat. In order not to be enslaved by the Ottomans, the duke shot the barrels with gunpowder and killed his comrades including himself and a number of enemy soldiers. In memory of perished Ottoman army, their leader Hurshid pasha commanded that the heads of the dead Serbian soldiers be skinned, stuffed with straw and sent to Constantinople to the sultan and that the skulls be built into the tower as a dreadful warning to Serbian people. There were built 952 skulls into the tower, but today remained only 58. The Skull tower represents a disturbing monument to a Serbian heroic destiny and Ottoman artrocities. In the vicinity of Cegar, there is located, as many claim, the most beautiful sacred building in this area-the Latin church, built during the rule of Manuel Komnenos, a Byzantine emperor, consecrated to the Holy Trinity. Although conquered by the Ottomans in 1386, Nis was frequently invaded by other countries wishing to control Belgrade-Constantinople route. The Ottomans understood the importance of Nis, so they erected a fortress to protect it. It is an interesting complex on the left bank of the Nisava river that dominates the city. It comprises: exhibition pavilions, cafes popular among young people, footpaths and cycling paths, sport terrains and courts, playgrounds. The Fortress is also the location of the City Archives, the weather station, the Mountaineering Association, the Memorial ossuary of the Serbs killed by the Bulgarians in WW I. A distinguished place in the Fortress takes the Summer stage, an amphitheater where many summer events and festivals take place, of which the most popular is the Film festival. Harsh life during the Ottoman rule resulted in frequent rebellions and resistence by the Serbs who finally took over the city in 1878, so that year is considered to be the year of new age for Nis which developed and modernized quickly. New, modern buildings of European architecture started appearing: the house of the merchant Andonovic, the Main post office, the National bank (today the City hall), Officers’ house… The best restored part of the downtown is the Tinkers’ ally from the Ottoman period, a favorite gathering point of most of the young people. Medieval Nis was a fortification which many countries attempted to conquer because of its important startegic position. The first time the Serbs took over Nis was in 1183, commanded by the Great duke stefan Nemanja, when it became an elementary entity of the Serbian state. In 1189, in the yard of the church of St Panteleimon, the Great duke Stefan Nemanja met with German emperor Friedrich Barbarossa I who set for the Crusade. Eight centuries later, in the memory of this event, Nis citizens raised a monument in front of the Fortress. According to the acrhaeological sites, in the area of Bubanj and Mediana, it is a common belief that the first settlements in the surroundings of Nis existed back in the Neolithic and Bronze Age. It’s not certain how the city got its name. It was mentioned as Naissus for the first time by Claudius Ptolomy in the middle of II century, referring to it as the largest city in Dardania. Perhaps, back in the ancient days, it bore the name ’’The city of fairies’’ who were coming to the river by night and rebuilding the frequently ruined city. At least, this is the story according to a Celts’ legend. According to the sources, it was raised on the right bank of the Nisava river at the end of I century B.C. as a military fortification. Due to its significant strategic and geographic position, the city developed steadily, so in the time of Marcus Aurelius’ rule, it gains the status of municipium, the city with a certain degree of autonomy. A great progress and glory Naissus attained in the period between 3. and 4. century. At that time, it became a strong economic, military, and administrative center of the Upper Moesia. In addition, Nis was also the birthplace of the famous Roman emperor and commander-in-chief Flavius Valerius Constantinus-Constantine the Great. This wise emperor, ambitious man of war, visionary and Christian loved his birthtown; he built luxurious palaces, richly adorned them, as Mediana archaeological site testifies. He made Naissus recognizable and made it distinguishable by declaring the Edict of Milan in 313, when Christianity became an official religion and ceased the persecution of Christians in the Roman empire. With the declaration of this crucial document started the development of one of the most important religions in the world. Nis citizens have never forgotten him; they built the temple consecrated to his mother and him in St Sava park. Also, each year during the entire June, Nis celebrates the City Feast- St emperor Constantine and empress Helen, in addition, at the popular Film festival of the best acting performances, the best actors are awarded the emperor Constantine and the empress Theodora. In 2013, Nis celebrated 1700 anniversary of the Edict of Milan with numerous events during the entire year. In 441. the city was invaded by the Huns, burning it down, and it started flourishing again during the rule of Byzantine emperor Justinian I. In 615, the city was conquered and inhabited by the Slavs, so the old glory of the city definitely faded away Today, Nis and its surroundings can provide you with everything that you might desire. the mysterious legend about the underground passages says that they are kilometers long below the city. And what is the most stunning in this city are its beautiful girls.
The city of Nis, by all means wonderful and extraordinary has a very favorable geographical position. It is situated in the fertile valley of the Nisava river, and protected and embraced by the ranges of proud Suva planina mountain, the docile hills of Selicevica, the ridges of Svrljig and Kalafat mountains, forming 100 km long, so called, Nis itinerary, providing lovers of nature with memorable experience.