The Victor is a monument of triumph installed on the highest battlement of the Belgrade Fortress. It is the work of sculptor Ivan Meštrović, commissioned by the Belgrade Council to commemorate the victory of the Serbian army over the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires in the wars 1912–1918. The original idea to put up the monument in Terazije had to be abandoned, because the public had a negative reaction to male nudity as represented by the sculpture. Finally, it was decided that the monument should be placed in the Belgrade Fortress, rising up above its highest walls. Under Ottoman rule, the Belgrade Fortress was the seat of the Turkish Pasha and to the Serbs, a forbidden city, one they could only enter in chains or on their way to the scaffolds. The Victor monument thus also symbolizes the fort’s liberation, which to Serbs had much the same meaning as the fall of the Bastille to the French. Further, it marks a victory over feudalism, and its nudity suggests an exit from the dark Middle Ages and the beginning of Renaissance. A grey hawk on his arm stands for alertness and watches the defied forces lest they wake up again, with a sword in right hand to predict new triumphs if that should ever happen. The monument was officially unveiled in 1928, during the celebration of 10 years since the breakthrough of the Macedonian Front and Serbia’s final victory in the wars 1912–1918. More than 5,000 tourists walk past the monument daily, making the Victor the most popular and most photographed city landmark.
The Victor Monument in Kalemegdan