Niš (pronounced: Nish) is the third largest city in Serbia and one of the oldest cities in the entire Balkan region. The Romans took over the original Celtic settlement of Navissos, called it Naissus and built a fortress and garrison, which indeed became very important.
In the late 3rd century AD the famous emperor Constantine the Great was born here. Today's city center lies in the former suburb of Mediana, where the emperor had built a villa and a private bathhouse. Today you can still see the luxurious mosaics and impressive walls of the imperial house. The old Roman fortress was later extended by the Byzantine Empire and the Ottoman Empire to secure the strategically important city.
Today the old fortress has a popular park, an old mosque and a modern amphitheater. Here you can enjoy an annual jazz festival or a week of rock during the Nisomnia Festival. One landmark is the macabre type: the Ćele Kula, the skull tower, was built by the Ottoman rulers with nearly 2000 skulls by the fighters of a rebellion in the early 19th century as a warning to the population.
Niš is situated on the Nišave river and on important roads to Greece and still follows the ancient Roman Via Militares. From here you can follow the "Road of the Roman Emperors" which takes you to many important archaeological sites in Serbia. The surrounding countryside of Niš is particularly suitable for viticulture, so vineyards have shaped the landscape since Roman times.
In the village of Malca near Niš you can see a demonstration of ancient wine making techniques and a sample of a classical amphora. This goes particularly well with the hearty Serbian cuisine, which you can enjoy in one of Niš's many restaurants. Enjoy your time in Niš, but don't miss your SWISS flight back to Zurich.