The second day of the three days I spent in Belgrade I visited the Kalemegdan fortress, which is 2000 years old. For many of them the population is concentrated inside the wall. It's a huge space that includes a Housing footprint of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Orthodox Church Ruzica (it's visited a lot by college kids before their exams), the Observatory and Planetarium, the Museum of the Navy, a sports area ( tennis courts, basketball, etc.), the Military Museum, The Forestry and Hunting Museum, the Monument of gratitude to France. All of which make it a favorite of locals and visitors, as well as a park with rides with geometric bizarre banks, and picturesque fountains and sculptures that review the history of the country. Sculptor Mestrovic. The symbol of the people of Belgrade is on a proud neoclassical column that depicts a soldier carrying a message of peace. The column represents the Serbian army's effort for their release in cooperation with the French army in 1918. It's a sight worth seeing.
This is the Orthodox Church of Saint Sava and Karadore, the Serbian hero who began the revolt against the Ottoman occupation. It's a little away from the centre, but you can get there in about forty-five minutes, walking down wide avenues dotted with stately buildings.
I arrived in Belgrade (Beograd) at night. It greeted me in Cyrillic and said goodbye in Cyrillic. It's really hot. Luckily the streets are filled with fountains and women selling ice cream every few meters. Knez Mihaiolova Boulevard is the heart of Belgrade. It is the most bohemian and romantic of the city. Here came together in the nineteenth century figures of intellectual and cultural scene. Today with street musicians, mimes and fortune tellers. Nearby, on a street that bears his name, is the home of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Ivo Andric. There is no shortage of local fashion and the famous taverns (kafanes) to sample the Balkan drink par excellence: The rakia. This colorless drink is 65-70% alcohol. Sometimes in water bottles (voda). It is essential to know this to avoid bad shots. I was invited to a dinner and thirstily poured myself a glass of "water". That volcanic moment is still remembered (by all except me) as the funniest of the trip.
Not far from the centre of Belgrade (just down the hill), this is the main station that will take you not only to any part of Serbia, but also to Montenegro, Romania, Istanbul, Budapest and even Bulgaria. There aer also buses going to Sarajevo (once a day) or Mostar (two per day). Numerous hotels, restaurants, exchange offices, and banks are available in the station and the surrounding area.
Beograd, the Serbian name for Belgrade means "white wall". So this huge eye named Belgrade engraved in many languages is within the light stone fortress named Kalemegdan. Where does it see? To the Amazon?!? No, but almost. The Danube devours another river of almost the same size called Sabac. In between there is an island where a unique bird species lives, or so I've been told. I wanted to bring a couple back to Spain. But I am new to the subject (in the subject of hunting and procreation) and had no success. There is a park with the city zoo. Until a year ago was the scene of a festival which attracted audiences from all countries of the former Yugoslavia, named Beerfest. But they were forced to relocate due to the growing number of attendees. And perhaps also driven by an unpleasant and inexplicable event where a guy fell into the bear cage ... After this huge eye there is another with more capacity: The spyglass. It worked fairly well and I could take a photo before my camera battery died.
Belgrade is the only city crossed by an international highway, via the Gazela Bridge, the busiest of Serbia. Next in importance is Branco Bridge, one of the most charming tourist attractions of the city. It joins the center with New Belgrade Belgrade. In this new city built in 1959 across the river Šabac are located the most representative buildings of communist period. But the decadent tone and certain dilapidated hotels are offset by the modern neighborhoods, shopping centers and a splendid stadium called Beogradska Arena opened in 2004.
The building was destroyed during the NATO bombing in 1999, and was left so, in memory of perpetual stupidity of every war. Its worth stopping here to see the horrors of war. Even today, the impressive ruins are guarded by the military. The complex was completed in 1963, and the building wanted to remember the deep gorges of the Sutjeska, heroic place of the partisan struggle in 1943.
It's 8pm. It has finally cooled down a bit in the Serbian capital (the thermometer has dropped to 35 º C). While the speakers play Danubius Radio FM, beads of sweat fall onto our heads. Heads whose only thought is to enjoy a well-deserved beer. We go to sit on one of the splavovi (barges). In the mornings, they are restaurants where you have to try the burek(a must if you go to the Balkans, similar to pie filled with cheese or meat, though quite greasy) and a yogurt drink. At night, they become floating nightclubs. They are recognized by the intense colors that light up the night on the banks of the Danube. They have become the most well known part of the festival in Belgrade, Serbia especially in summer when it is warm at night.
In Novi Beograd (New Belgrade) the Belgrade Beer Fest has been held in the grounds of USCE for the last six years. It lasts for four days each August. Hundreds of thousands of people, most from the countries of the former Yugoslavia, visit the festival each year. The union of beer and live music is a pretext to attract people ve once shared the same nationality. Traditional groups, whose songs are hummed by all, played the quintessential Balkan instrument, the trumpet, always with the immediate effect immediate effect of feet starting to move. I met Dine Šabac for whom it was an honor to buy me a beer (CESCO) from his hometown. He says that he wish he can delete the pictures broadcasted on TV that depict Serbia is unsafe. He wants people to come and see how wonderful his country is. He tells that it is very difficult for him to leave as it is very difficult to get a visa.
When someone in Belgrade says that they'll meet you by the statue, you can be assured that they're talking about Piazza della Repubblica, in Stari Grad, the nerve centre of the city. This is where the pedestrianised shopping street of Knez Mihajlova begins, leading to the Fortezza, and the beautiful surrounding park. This is where public demonstrations and events take place, overlooked by the Theatre and the National Museum. The famous statue is a monument to Prince Mihailo III. Just one hundred metres away is another important city square, Piazza Terazije.
It is perhaps the most spectacular and impressive building of the whole city, and is fully lit at night. Its construction, in Neo-Renaissance and classicist, began in 1907, and continued until 1936, a demonstration of great political instability of the city and the country over these decades. Most people will remember on television images of protesters surrounded the building in 2000, to demand an end to the power of Milosevic. Today the building is part of the Parliament of the Republic of Serbia, and is used for institutional ceremonies.
The ruins of the radio and television headquarters caused by the NATO bombing of 1999 has become a memorial: the headquarters of the new station was constructed next to the old, which was destroyed by bombs. In front, in a green area, there's a plaque with the names of 16 journalists who lost their lives on that tragic night of April 23.
Next to the Orthodox cathedral and the patriarchal palace, and one of the most interesting examples of civil architecture of the nineteenth century. It was built between 1829, and 1831, by Prince Milos who never lived there to consider it too dangerous for its central location. He moved his wife Ljubica and their two children there. Today, the building is surrounded by a beautiful green garden, it's an interesting museum with two floors, where you can admire furniture with oriental influences and other clearly European inspiration, showing the mixture of styles in a bourgeois house.
It's the only remaining mosque in the city. I don't need to explain why, as the oldest church building in the city, as well as the most important mosque. Its name means flag: to indicate to other towns mosques during prayer time, a flag was hoisted on its minaret. It was built between 1660, and 1688, and looks like a small and externally bare building without the characteristic portico. Tickets can be purchased in an office across the street.
Skadarija is the most picturesque street in Belgrade, and certainly one of the liveliest. Full of quaint shops and restaurants, it's a lovely area dominated by the old beer factory, now adorned with attractive murals.
Belgrade market isn't too big, and the first part, dedicated to poor quality clothes, isn't really worth a look. The better part is further in, where you can find vegetables, homemade herbal teas, and nice seasonal produce.
The list of what to do in Belgrade starts with the Cathedral of Sveti Sava. It's one of the most iconic things to see in Belgrade, the Serbian capital. Currently, it holds the title of being the world's largest Orthodox church. The main attraction is its white marble facade made of granite.
For museum lovers, the National Museum of Serbia, one of the top attractions in Belgrade, contains one of the finest collections in the city and, most probably, the country. The Palace of Princess Ljubica meanwhile, home of the Museum of the City of Belgrade, remains virtually untouched since it was built, and is a paradigmatic example of the Balkan Baroque, as well as one of the many things to do in Belgrade. The Royal Palace stands out for its rooms, decor and gardens. It's located in the upper area of the city and is one of the most romantic places to visit in Belgrade.
Kalemegdan is a heavenly viewpoint. From the height where it stands, it seems to control the city. From its distinguished views you can see the flowing rivers that cross the metropolitan area. Today, an old fortress stands here with a well kept park.
Before our trip of the stuff to do in Belgrade comes to an end, Ada Ciganilija awaits us. This is one of the main points of leisure, where locals come to spend the day at the beach with friends and family. It's known as the Sea of Belgrade and has seven miles of swimming areas. There are also sports facilities and hiking trails to complete the experience. Finishing in Skadarlija, the bohemian neighborhood is one of the top Belgrade attractions where street performers will delight visitors with their Belgrade activities.