Your visit of Belgrade won’t be complete in any way without at least half a day spent in this town. Although it makes a part of Belgrade city, it still maintains its separate identity of a typical small town.
Looking at the Google map, it’s only 8 km from the Belgrade city center. If you decide to take a walk from city center, it will take you approximately an hour of most pleasant stroll along the famous Danube River quay.
Zemun through history
Talking about the history of this city, it’s not surprising why this city stands out from Belgrade by many things. However, historically this town was not even in the same state as Belgrade.
Until the First World War, Zemun was a town of its own, the last border of the Austrian-Hungarian empire. After the WWII, New Belgrade was built between Old Belgrade and Zemun.
In effect, it has become a part of the Serbian capital only since 1934. Nearly for two centuries, it was part of the Habsburg Empire, while Belgrade was a border city in the Ottoman Empire.
Today Zemun makes a part of Belgrade but still different in spirit and its architecture better preserved than in the rest of the capital.
The most pertinent symbol of Zemun’s period under Austro-Hungarian rule is its iconic sight – the tower (Kula Sibinjanin Janka), better known as Gardoš.
This tower bears the name of Hungarian hero who died here after defending Belgrade from the Ottoman siege in 1456. Gardos tower was built in 1896 to indicate the 1000th anniversary of Hungarian community in this part of Europe.
Visiting Zemun this brick made tower provides the most beautiful views of Belgrade across the Danube.
Through its history, Zemun was always a multi ethnic community. The mixture of different ethnic communities is still visible in many places of worship.
Zemun lower town still bears traces of former cultural diversity, with its main Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant and Jewish churches. Most of them are all located not far from each other.
Zemunski Kej (Zemun quay) along the bank of the Danube is the famous walking promenade. It stretches all the way along the right bank of Danube all the way to of the confluence of the Sava into the Danube.
On the opposite side of the Danube is Banat (Vojvodina province), and in the middle is the Great War Island. Zemunski Kej is the main landing area for numerous boats. But, another attraction on the Zemun promenade are swans.
Swans have found a quiet place here for life and in recent years attract many promenade walkers.
If you have time, take a walk along the quay and enjoy the view of these beloved inhabitants of the Danube river. Swans have no fear and freely approach the river bank, proudly posing in front of the cameras.
I lived in this small town over 17 years. I assure you that taking a stroll along the riverside is definitely the best thing to do. This is particularly evident during the summer days when the locals move from city center to Danube river bank.
Apart from Zemun’s architecture and its unique riverside promenade, the best way to experience town atmosphere, is to jump to local market.
Zemun market is considered to be one of the best in Belgrade. It offers a great variety of local dairy and meat produce which the merchants will allow you to taste.
This market is also famous for fish vendors (whether sea or river fish). If you are hungry, take a snack of tasty fried sea smelts (przene girice).
Zemun - best place to eat fish
When Belgraders want to eat fish they will come to one of many restaurants lining the Danube promenade(Zemunski Kej). There they can feast on either sea or river fish dishes.
One of the most delicious dishes is ‘riblja čorba‘ (fish broth) , a gourmet treat for those who like spicy stuff.