Once a separate town, Zemun has been a municipality within the city of Belgrade since 1945. People have settled the area of Zemun as far back as the Neolithic, using the favourable position of the banks of the Danube and the Sava.
The toponym Zemun arose with the arrival of the Slavs, based on the dugouts (“zemunice”) the first settlers lived in. The history of Zemun as a town in the contemporary sense of the word originates in 1717 with the arrival of the Austrians and its joining the Habsburg Monarchy. It became a significant fortification against Turkey and developed as an economic and trading centre located at the border. This improved the position of Zemun as a cultural nexus with special impact for the Serbs still living under Turkish rule at the time.
Zemun had a population of 17,000 in 1910. Most were farmers, but a quarter of the population was employed in crafts and industry. Zemun had more than 30,000 citizens around 1920, with varied national composition. Just under half were Serbs, nearly a third Germans and a fifth were Croatians.
The Zemun Fortress is the oldest building in Zemun, mentioned as early as the 9th century. The current remains are from the 15th century. The Millenium Tower stands at the centre of the fortification. It was erected by the Hungarian authorities in 1896 and was renewed in 1962. It is also known as the tower of Sibinjanin Janko (John Hunyadi).
The sundial house in Dubrovačka Street 2 was constructed during the early 19th century in a classical style with elements of baroque. The renowned Serbian writer and public official Jovan Subotić spent the last days of his life there.
The house of the Karamata family in Matije Gupca Streeet 17 was built in 1764 for the wealthy merchant Kuzman Jovanović, only to be purchased by Dimitrije Karamata in 1772. His descendants still live there. The house interior with its household, period furniture from the 18th and 19th century and family portraits, stands preserved to this day.
Ičko’s house, at the corner of Bežanijska and Svetosavska Street, was erected in 1793 in a transitional style between baroque and classicism. It was home to the famous merchant and diplomat of Insurgent Serbia Petar Ičko.
Spirta’s house, in Main Street 9, is a rare example of a residential building from the second half of the 19th century, designed by a Viennese architect in a neogothic style. The house was built for the Aromanian family Spirta. It currently houses the Memorial Museum of Zemun, founded in 1955.
The house of Dimitrije Davidović, in Main Street 6, was built during the second half of the 18th century in a classicist style, as a single-story civil house. It is the birthplace of Dimitrije Davidović, founder of Serbian newspapers, secretary to Prince Miloš Obrenović, a statesman and a diplomat.