As kids there were times when we were not allowed to go close to the Victor and enjoy the best views of Belgrade. The reasons were different – the landmark of Belgrade, was under conversations, the hills were crumbling into the Danube, the tiles were in need of re surfacing. Different reasons which would leave the best corner of Belgrade Fortress closed for months, with insincere faces in tight uniform and miserable faced sitting on the side making sure you didn’t go behind the lines. There were rumours going around Belgrade that the section of the fortress around the Victor was a military base and when there were military exercises the whole area was cordoned off.
Then after communism fell, there were a few changes of regime and Kalemegdan Fortress was less off limits. You were allowed to go behind the any lines at any time or day without any restrictions.
A few years ago I was part of a walking tour of Belgrade which took part of Kalemegdan Fortress and just before we were going to take photos of Belgrade’s famous landmark, we were asked by the guide to turn right and go through a small, heavy, rusty door set into a small hillock. I wasn’t keen, but obeyed. We went down steep steps into a well-lit, long, narrow corridor. We passed empty rooms with heavy doors like submarine doors, and then we went up into a bunker. The celling was low and some of us, including me, felt the lack of oxygen but the story we heard was worth any discomfort. No one knows when the bunkers were built but they were used intensively after WWII during the Cold War. The position of the bunkers is very strategic over the confluence of the Sava and Danube Rivers which explains why their existence was secret. According to records which were opened recently, the Yugoslav army was stationed here, secretly, soldiers on a two-months-on and two-months-off basis. The question was how did they manage to sneak into the bunkers unnoticed next to the most touristy area of Belgrade without anyone noticing? Now the story about “conservation, restoration and hillslides” comes to light to explain the real reason. The area was closed off for the army and supplies to get into the bunkers.
If you are in Belgrade try to book a walking tour of Belgrade to learn about Roman, Ottoman, Austro Hungairan empires and communist lies which all left a mark on the Belgrade Fortress.