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The city of Niš

Niš is the administrative center of the Nišava District and the third-largest city in Serbia , given that it has a population of 187,544 in its urban area. At least that is what was indicated by the official census carried out in 2011.

The city of Niš bears the name of the eponymous Nišava River, which flows gently through the city. Back in the day the Celts gave it a name of Navissos as early as the 3rd century BC; the Roman name for it Naissus originates from it further, and then came the terms in its wake - the Byzantine version Nysos and its Slavic version Niš. Legend has it that Niš was established by Prince Nisa. He constructed it using the Humska Čuka gravel and cobblestone excavated from the area located in close proximity . Only later did it get to be referred to as The Emperor's City.

It is one of the oldest cities in the Balkans and Europe . It has been regarded a passageway in between the West and the East for centuries now. Its first foundation stones were put in place by the Scordisci apparently in 279 BC after their invasion of the Balkans. Niš got its settlers in pre-Roman times, but it reached its historic peak during the times of the Empire. The city was amongst the several cities taken over , when the Romans conquered the region in 75 BC; the Romans built the Via Militaris through the city in the 1st century. The city of Niš is where Constantine the Great was born. He was the first Christian Emperor and the founder of Constantinople Constantine the Great (AD 280–337) was born here as were two other Roman emperors, Constantius III and Justin I. It is home to one of the oldest churches in Serbia, going back as early as the 4th century, in the outskirts of Niš, which bears the name Mediana. With the decline and the downfall of Roman Empire, when it was formally split into two parts, the Byzantine Empire assumed power.

According to official historical data, in the 6th century Slavic tribes began settling the Balkans; the town was held by the Byzantines until the 9th century when the Bulgarians assumed power. The rule over the city was continually being challenged until the Byzantines eventually handed the city over to the Serbs in the 12th century. Niš operated as Stefan Nemanja's capital. The conquest of the Ottomans ensued in the 15th century, with Niš becoming the seat of Sandžak initially in Rumelia Eyalet (1385-1443, 1448-1846), then in Niš Eyalet (1846-1864) and finally in Danube Vilayet (1864-1878). Serbian military regained power in 1878 during the Serbian–Ottoman War (1876–78). The Turkish Ottoman rule lasted from 1386 until 1877, regardless of a range of revolts and rebellions by the Serbs; Ćele Kula (Tower of Skulls or the Skull Tower) and Niš Fortress seem to be stark reminders of the then Ottoman reign . Niš regrettably had a troubled and turbulent period during the World War II as well.

Serbia's third largest city is a vibrant little city of quirky contrasts surely as Lonely Planet quote seems to rightly suggest.

A timeless forgotten feel envelopes this oft overlooked little city in Serbia’s down south which is surely a haven for all the ‘merak’ seekers (i.e. ‘merak’ is a local word arguably of Oriental origin which translates as merriment and joy).