12 things to do and see in Belgrade and 2 not to do

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Valery Aloyants
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Belgrade
12 things to do and see in Belgrade and 2 not to do

Belgrade? And what are you going to do there? In case you find yourself faced with this objection, the answer to give is only one: “it is a pity, however, not to have thought of it before”. Yes, because the Serbian capital is a city waiting to be discovered, even more so today that political instability is behind us and there are no more impediments of any kind. Which then, from a historical point of view, it is precisely the different dominations, the falls and subsequent rebirths that explain the charm of the city. History counts a lot but also geography. In fact, Belgrade is not only the confluence of two important rivers such as Danube and Sava but, from a geopolitical point of view, it is to act as a leader hinge between central Europe and northern Europe, obviously without forgetting the secular role of port of the Balkans. In short, a complex city that does not allow itself to be discovered at first sight but which then, inevitably, conquers the attentive visitor. Below we see together the main attractions of Belgrade. Happy reading.



1 Republic Square

Republic Square (Trg Republike in Serbian) is the natural start point of a visit to Belgrade. It is here, in fact, that the residents usually meet, whether it is a social event, a political demonstration or a sporting victory. The actual meeting point is the equestrian monument dedicated to Mihailo III (Mihailo Obrenović) the sovereign who most worked for the liberation from the Turks. Among other things, he ordered the construction of the Teatro Nazionale with the bricks of the disused walls built during the Ottoman rule. In 1866, three years before the completion of the National Theater, the building was also demolished Stambol Gate, symbol of Austrian domination, for centuries the main entrance to the city. This is to reiterate theimportance of the square in the historical, political and cultural affirmation of the Serbian identity in opposition to the various foreign dominations. But Piazza della Repubblica is also important from a logistical point of view. A few minutes on foot divide it from almost all the main tourist attractions of the city, starting with Skadarlija, Knez Mihailova and Kalemegdan.



2 Knez Mihailova

Knez Mihailova, the road that connects Piazza della Repubblica to the Kalemegdan Park, is one of the main attractions of Belgrade. Entirely pedestrian, this road is a real one natural shopping center where there are bars, restaurants, shops, historical and cultural buildings. Due to the enormous testimonial value it is protected by law: many of the buildings present, in fact, date back to the master plan of 1867, a measure of break with the Balkan architectural tradition to the advantage of an alternative style. Trend that in the early 900s increased with the appearance of several buildings in liberty style (or art noveaux). Clearly, being a busy street, the architectural details often take a back seat. The advice, therefore, is to cross it at least once in the early morning, in order to deepen what has only been mentioned so far. Furthermore, theSerbian Academy of Arts and Sciences, just in front of the Delijska Fountain, one of the most famous in the city.

3 Kalemegdan Park

So far we have mentioned Austrians and Turks, but woe to forget Celts and Romans. There Belgrade fortress (see photo), which has long been one with the park below, was built by Forget (celts) e Romans who built the legion of Singidunum. For centuries, the fortress was a military garrison, only to be ceded to the city at the end of the XNUMXth century, thus becoming part of the Kalemegdan park. This park was also strongly desired by Mihailo III, who wanted to give the city a new look by erasing the traces of the Ottoman period. This operation was only partially successful, considering that its name derives from the Turkish words "Kale", which stands for "Strong", e "Megdan" which instead means "field". Apart from the etymology and the historical notes, the Kalemegdan Park is one of the places that the inhabitants of Belgrade are absolutely most fond of. A'huge green area in the city center, surmounted by the remains of an ancient fortress, give a good idea of ​​the total interpenetration between nature and culture. Not surprisingly, inside the park there is the Military Museum, the City Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments, the zoo, a amusement park for children and obviously, sports fields, restaurants, bar, etc. To be seen!



4 Skadarlija

There are conflicting opinions on Skadarlija. There are those who argue that the bohemian charm of the road has now evaporated and therefore we can do without visiting it. On the contrary, there are those who believe that even a fleeting visit to Belgrade cannot be separated from a tour around here. We join the second "party". If it is true, in fact, that the Skadarlija inns have lost the exotic aura that characterized them, and indeed have become among the most expensive in Belgrade, it is also true that cobbled street of the neighborhood (Skadarska Ulica) and the alleys all around are still places full of charm. Charm built on two different moments: the first, dating back tonineteenth century (even before), when the neighborhood was frequented by gypsies, Turks and Roma that often the evenings ended in drunkenness and furious fights; the second, instead, dates back to the early Nine hundred, when after the redevelopment project of the urban fabric inaugurated by Mihailo III, the shacks and inns of Skadarlija gave way to more dignified homes that attracted to the city artists, poets and writers from all over Serbia. A bit like what happened with Montmartre in Paris, so much so that the parallel is often drawn between the two districts. History aside, Skadarlija has kept thatinformal and friendly atmosphere which is still the basis of its tourist fortunes today. To be seen!



5 Terazije

If Piazza della Repubblica is the starting point for a visit to the city, Terazije is the beating heart of Belgrade. Suffice it to consider that the civic numbers of the city start right from this square. And to say that until 1830 there was little or nothing in the area: some gardens, some fountains and a complex water supply system which pumped water into some towers from which it then went up towards the city fortress. From one of these towers (terazi in Turkish) derives the name of the square that began to take shape on input from Mihailo III. It was the prince of Serbia, in fact, who ordered blacksmiths and coppersmiths to leave the historic center, where they lived together with the Turks, and to move to this part of the city. To encourage the operation, the administration began to give away the plots of land that had in the meantime been fenced off by those who accepted the invitation. Starting from this intuition, Terazije all 'early XNUMXth century it was already the center of the social life of Belgrade. Shops, bars, restaurants, cinemas and hotels lined the square, with numerous Renaissance and Art Nouveau buildings. The two world wars and the long Communist dictatorship of General Tito have upset the architecture of the place. Of the many buildings that arose in the early 900s, only the historian survived Moskva hotels (in liberty style, see photo) which, together with the Terazije Fountain built in place of one of the towers previously mentioned, it represents the most important building in the whole square.

6 Tashmajdan

After Terazije the journey continues to discover the Imperial Belgrade, the part of the city born in the XNUMXth century. Among the many things to see in this area it is worth a stop Tashmajdan, one of the most beautiful city parks in the Serbian capital. Ideal for doing sport, stroll along the paths or simply to relax on one of the many benches with the omnipresent background of the church of San Marco. In addition to the landscape aspect there is the historical one to consider. In fact, Tashmajdan was one stone quarry and, not surprisingly, it is said that all the buildings that arose in the area during the nineteenth century were built using the material extracted from this (former) quarry. Quarry which later was also used as cemetery except, then, in 1901, be consecrated to park. Not far from Tashmajdan is Serbian television, sadly famous for having been bombed by NATO in 1999. In that circumstance several journalists lost their lives, "guilty" of doing their duty only. Side effects of the war, which fortunately today is behind us, to the advantage of the tourist use of a park and one area that is nice to photograph especially in the evening, indulging in some long exposition complete with a tripod. To be seen!

7 Palace of the Parliament

Gotov je! (trad. "It's over!"). With this cry the Serbian opposition took to the streets on October 5 2000 to protest against the decision of the Constitutional Court to partially cancel the presidential elections which took place on 24 September. On the one hand, in fact, the sentence acknowledged, albeit implicitly, the existence of fraud; on the other hand, however, there was the suspicion that the decision taken was just a way to stall, thus giving Slobodan Milosevic the time to organize internal repression in view of new elections. From this fear arose the decision to take to the streets with thefinal assault on Parliament to give the regime a push. It must be said that the failure of the Belgrade army and police to react played a decisive role in the whole affair, effectively sanctioning the end of Milosevic. Therefore, the Serbian Parliament, within walking distance of the parks of Tašmajdan and Pionirski, is a historical place. A palace in neoclassical style with a temple facade and a huge central dome, integral part of the Monumental Belgrade so far told. Individual visits are carried out every first Saturday of the month upon request to theBelgrade Tourist Organization [tel: +381 (0) 11 2635 622].
More information on Official site: www.parlament.gov.rs (English version available).

8 Temple of San Sava

Le green domes of the Temple of Saint Sava are a fixed visual reference the sky line of Belgrade. Moreover, since it is the largest orthodox church in the world, it could not be otherwise. A majestic building in which, at the explicit request of the patriarch Varnava Rosić, all of it had to be represented history, life and events of the Orthodox Church of Serbia. The appeal is present in the notice of 1926 which described the guidelines which should have been followed in the construction of the building. The first call of 1904 was not followed up due to the First World War and, in truth, the second also encountered many obstacles. First of all, the new world conflict from 1940 to 1945, but also the subsequent ostracism of the Yugoslav communist dictatorship which agreed to the resumption of work only in the mid-80s of the last century. Hence enormous difficulties which, however, did not discourage the Serbian church from pursuing an enterprise that had very strong historical and symbolic motivations. Indeed, the decision to erect a temple in honor of Rastko Nemanjić (Sava of Serbia) it originated from a terrible affront perpetrated by the Turks who, in the 500s, annoyed by the pilgrimages of the local population to the saint's relics, decided to burn them publicly. For all these historical, cultural, political and identity reasons, the Temple of San Sava is a must see place of Belgrade. Moreover, after the works that at the beginning of the millennium redesigned the exteriors with fountains and public parks, the visit is even more beautiful. More information on the architecture of the church on Official site: hramsvetogsave.rs (English version available).

9 Museum of May 25th

Another obligatory stop on a visit to Belgrade is the Museum of May 25th which houses the remains of the general Josip Broz "Tito", for thirty years at the helm of the Federal Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia. The museum, a gift from the city of Belgrade on the occasion of the dictator's XNUMXth birthday, was born with a commemorative intent. Inside, the general himself coordinated the setting up of a museum space in which to arrange the gifts received on the occasion of the countless political-diplomatic meetings around the world. Today these relics find space in a wing of the museum (Old Museum), while another, renamed Museum of the History of Yugoslavia, hosts several temporary exhibitions on the country's history, including the terrible 90s that culminated in the dissolution of the federal republic. Finally, the museum complex is also part of the House of Flowers (Kuca Cveca, in Serbian), the mausoleum which houses the relics of General Tito. As can be easily understood, the name refers to the numerous plants and flowers that surround the tomb (see photo). In short, the Museum of May 25 is a place where historical memory, ideology and nostalgia for the past come together. It is also one of the few places in the whole city of Belgrade where you can buy gadgets and memorabilia from the dissolved Yugoslavia.
For the orari di apertura of the museum see the table.

Days Opening hours 15 Apr -15 Oct Opening hours 15 Oct - 15 Apr
Mon closed closed
Tue-Sun 10:00
20:00
10:00
18:00

For more information on prices, visit methods and history of the museum consult the place: www.muzej-jugoslavije.org (English version available).

10 Ada Ciganlija

An important part of the quality of life of Belgrade passes by Ada Ciganlija, island in the Sava river just 4 kilometers from the city center. Once a marshy and inaccessible area, Ada Ciganlija has been transformed into an area of ​​high environmental value with countless opportunities for sport and leisure. Golf courses, volleyball, basketball, football, handball, rugby, hockey, without forgetting the cycle paths (various rental activities), bars, restaurants and the beach. Considering the two shores of the island, thebeach stretches for 8 kilometers with the possibility of renting an umbrella, sun bed and deck chair at one of the licensed beaches. In short, one multifunctional area (there is also space for naturists) which on summer weekends reaches monstrous numbers of visitors, steadily above 100.000 daily admissions. To be seen!

11 Zemun

There are basically two reasons why it is worth visiting Zemun, the largest of Belgrade's 17 municipalities. The first reason is historical: Zemun, in fact, was Habsburg land. Even today, despite the many changes that have occurred in the meantime, it is possible to grasp the architectural differences from the rest of the city in which the Ottoman influence, however, still bears many traces. Not surprisingly, on the Gardoš hill, the Hungarians built a tower to celebrate the millennial existence of the empire. That of Gardoš was one of the 5 towers built for the anniversary: ​​another 3 were built in as many peripheral points and only one, instead, in Budapest. Today the Millennium Tower (o Gardoš Tower) is, together with the orthodox church of St. Nicholas, one of the most popular tourist attractions in Belgrade. The second reason why it's worth a visit here is there nightlife. Nightlife that revolves around the splav you, boats on which they were made bar, restaurants and clubs of various kinds. The boats on the Zemun riverside are by far the most popular with young people from Belgrade.

12 Novi Beograd

From what has been written so far it is clear that the main feature of Belgrade is the enormous architectural stratification. The Ottoman and Habsburg influence, the numerous Renaissance and Art Nouveau buildings are all signs present at the same time in the urban fabric of the city: some traces are still in good condition; others, on the other hand, show advanced signs of decadence, without losing their charm. For this reason, a visit by Novi Beograd, the district of the city where, during the Tito regime, thesocialist architecture. Although Yugoslavia was a "non-aligned" country, from an architectural point of view there are no major differences compared to what one might see in other parts of Eastern Europe. Also in Novi Beograd are block buildings e squared lattices to draw mainly the landscape. To see, and it could not be otherwise considered the grandeur, I am there Ušće Tower and Federal Building. The first is the tallest skyscraper in Belgrade and housed the headquarters of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia. Heavily damaged by NATO air raids in 1999, today this tower houses, among others, the offices of a bank. The Federal Palace, on the other hand, was the seat of the Executive Council of the Tito regime. A typical example of socialist monumental architecture now converted into a ministerial seat of the Serbian republic.

1 Avoid marches and demonstrations

Belgrade is a safe city. Even in the evening the situation is all in all calm. Social tensions find natural outlet in the curves of the two city teams, Partizan and Stella Rossa. So it is in the stadiums that you have to pay a little attention, or - more frequent for a tourist - during the political demonstrations in Piazza della Repubblica. Should you find yourself in an event of this type, it is best to keep a safe distance. In any case, before leaving it is always advisable to consult the place "Traveling safe" del Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as register in the place "Where we are in the world" always within theCrisis Unit of the Farnesina.

2 Watch out for the Euro (EUR) Serbian Dinar (RSD) exchange rate

There are no problems in the city. There are many money changers and competition is the best antidote to unfair practices. The speech changes around Belgrade where the probability of running into some cunning is relatively greater. As for the banks, while offering the service, they charge higher exchange rates.


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