• Spike

Belgrade - Serbia

Updated: Jun 18, 2020

The second stop on my Balkans trip was Belgrade. I was still dealing with tonsillitis at the time, so I was still not in the best of health to make the most out of my time here. However I think Serbia along with Slovenia are my favourite countries in the Balkans.

I knew very little about Serbia, as with most of the other countries I visited on this trip. The majority of the Balkan countries are not major tourist destinations like the rest of Europe, so it felt very new to explore. It's nice to be able to visit somewhere with no real expectations, but to be pleasantly surprised by the beauty and culture of a place.

There was a lot to do in Belgrade, and even the free walking tour I joined took two and a half hours. The longest free walking tour I've ever joined. A slight note on free walking tours, I highly entourage you to join them when in a new city with limited time. You'll get to see a lot of the city and learn a lot about the each of the sights. You can then tip the guide at the end if you felt it was informative and fun. I've had mixed opinions of walking tours, some good and some bad, but the one in Belgrade I'd certainly recommend!


If you're travelling around various countries in the Balkans, then you'll likely hear a lot about the Balkans War. It was quite recent and it's scars remain fresh in both the citizens minds, and even physically on various buildings.

What's very interesting here is that you'll hear different sides to the horrors from the different Balkans countries. Serbia is often seen as being the perpetrator, but there were many horrors and atrocities directed at Serbia which I feel shows there was no right or wrong side.



Belgrade Fortress

I've visited several castles and fortresses on my travels, and to be honest, they usually bore me unless they are ruins I can climb, or they have a myth behind them, such as Dracula's Castle in Transylvania. Well, Belgrade Fortress was a breath of fresh air. It's the most popular tourist attraction in the city, and free of charge to enter, although the majority of the castle is out in the open.

It's well maintained, but with some parts in ruins, which are fun to scramble over. It was an interesting and pretty sight to explore, with some gorgeous views of the city.

At sunset many locals will sit on the castle walls to watch the sun set over the river. I attempted this too, however the weather was too cloudy to see a beautiful sunset, but it was still calming and delightful to sit and watch the day turn into night.



Kalemegdan Park

A large and beautiful park in the capital with lots to explore. It's here that you'll find Belgrade Fortress, in fact the park and fortress blend into one.

You'll also find a clock tower, various monuments and a zoo. There's plenty of green space here to play sports, or sunbathe, or just to take a stroll around. There are also reports that many scorpions can be found in this park, and although they can sting, won't do too much damage. I can't say that I witnessed any scorpions myself, but I wasn't really looking for them.



Victor Monument

With a sword in his right hand and a falcon in his left hand, this gentleman overlooks the confluence of rivers Sava and Danube from a tall plinth. The statue is actually inside the fortress, but it can be seen from quite a distance away.

It was built to commemorate Serbia's victory over the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Empires during the Balkan Wars and the First World War.










Skadarlija

Skadarlija is one of the most interesting and historical streets in Belgrade. Nowadays it's mostly lined with restaurants, which serve traditional Serbian food.

It's a very scenic area, you will often see acting and singing groups dressed in traditional costumes, performing and informing people about the history of the street.

I remember still suffering from tonsillitis at the time, whilst eating in a traditional restaurant. I then had a group approach me and play the accordion. Although it was enjoyable, it was a little embarrassing as I wasn't too sure how to react, so I just smiled and applauded, which seemed to lead to them playing to me for longer. In the end I tried to ignore them so they would move onto another table, which seemed to work.



Church of St Sava

This was in my opinion one of the prettiest buildings in Belgrade. It's a little further away from the more central sights, being around 30minutes walk away. I would highly encourage walking to the church, as you'll pass through different neighbourhoods and see some beautiful architecture along the way.

It's a fairly recent building, in fact it's not quite 100% complete yet. I only viewed it from the outside, which is stunning, especially when the fountains are working leading up to the church. But I believe the interior is also quite a sight and I regret not going inside to take a look.



Republic Square

When I visited the square was under reconstruction, but this was fully completed in November 2019. On the square you'll find the National Theatre and the National Museum. The museum has been closed for many years but I believe it's finally open again.

Situated in front of the National Museum is a statue of Prince Mihailo, a former prince considered to be the most enlightened ruler of Serbia.



Branko's Bridge

One of the war stories I heard in Belgrade touched me and has stuck with me. During the Balkans War, the US got involved and began to bomb Belgrade, attempting to take out all of the bridges in the city. After losing many bridges the citizens had finally had enough, so they gathered on Branko's Bridge with bullseye T-shirts in a bid to stop it being destroyed. The US not wanting to be responsible for the death of so many civilians would try again the next day. Thereafter, every day this bridge became a gathering point for hundreds of people. Many parties would occur here to attract more people and as a result it was always full of people, therefore the US would not destroy it. It worked and the bridge still remains to this day.


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