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The 3rd largest city in Serbia (after Belgrade and Novi Sad), it is the hub of the Nisava District. One of the oldest cities in the Balkans and Europe, Nis was founded in 279BC when the Balkans invaded. The Romans hammered them in 75BC and built "Via Militaris" in the 1st Century. The birthplace of Constantine the Great, Nis is home to one of the oldest churches in Serbia - think 4th Century. Over run by the Byzantines until the 9th Century, they then passed the city onto the Serbs in the 12th Century. Conquered by the Ottomans in the 15th Century, it was then liberated by the Serbian Army in 1878. So historically, this is one city that has been through a lot of comings and goings, giving it a woven dense texture of history.
An industrial enclave of Serbia especially in the field of electronics, it also has industries in tobacco, construction, mechanical engineering, textile and rubber goods. Nis sits at the intersection of the European highway and railway networks connecting Europe with Asia - the ancient roadways of "Via Militaris" built by the Romans or known as the "Constantinople Road" during the Middle Ages.
You can indulge in a bit of culture at the National Theater or check out Tinkers Alley in the old urban downtown area built in the early 18th Century. There is a memorial to Constantine the Great in the center of the city to gawk at, the Nis Fortress built by the Turks (1719-1723) to explore, a plethora of cafes to wander into when hunger pangs strike and if it is summer, a spa to wallow in. For the history buff there is the Mediana Archeological site from the late Roman era to walk through.
If you are into all things gruesome then make sure you get to the Skull Tower. Composed almost entirely of human skulls from Serbian revolutionaries of the early 1800s, the tower is 3 meters high and originally had 952 skulls embedded in rows on all 4 sides. If that appeals to the blood lust and war imagery in your brain, then head to the Bubani Memorial Park where there is a monument to the Yugoslav World War 11 fighters in the shape of 3 clenched fists. This is also the place where 10,000 civilian hostages were brutally murdered by German Nazis. A visit to the Crveni Krst concentration camp that is one of the few preserved Nazi concentration camps in Europe will leave you in tears.
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