Belgrade is one of the most full of personality European capitals. While still recovering after its turbulent recent history, marked by was, its spirit is stubbornly making its way through the present and future, in a continuous process of transformation and rebirth. One of the most hectic and vivid cities, Belgrade has a lot to offer to its visitors. It is not yet among the top-list touristic spots – which is a pity, because it can easily compete with any other capital in Europe -, but it seems that the grape vine is very efficient and the news run fast: Belgrade is worth being known in detail and an increasing number of tourist are taking this piece of information for granted. Here are a few other suggestions for you to take into consideration when you come and visit this great city:
Take a stroll through Kalen Market
There’s no better place where you can come into contact with the real lifestyle of the locals than Kalen Market, where Serbs buys vegetables and fruit directly from producers. You expect to see here the usual seasonal merchandise, cold meats and cheeses, but you can also buy traditional delicacies such as Sir (cheese) and Kajmak (an unripened cheese, similar to a thick cream). Vendors are offering you their products to taste and are proud to show you the highest quality merchandise. In the market you can find bakeries, pastry shops, restaurants and small shops and a flea market which is held daily, where you can buy any imaginable souvenirs.
Explore the Savamala District
Savamala has undergone radical changes since the 19th century, when it was the commercial center of the city, thanks to its proximity to the Sava River and the central station. During the Second World War, most of its historic buildings, including those raised under the Ottoman Empire, were destroyed by airstrikes, and what remained untouched, has been neglected in favor of developing the new Belgrade, on the far shore . Only in recent years, Belgraders have realized the potential of this area as a center of creativity. The new cultural initiatives, such as the “House” House, an artistic location and exhibition space, where every year in June, there is a festival taking place, or KC Grad, where they organize debates and workshops; these two spots have gained an increasing importance by bringing cultural value of the area.
Spend an afternoon in historic Kalemegdan Park
Before having been transformed into a tranquil oasis of greenery, Kalemegdan Fortress was part of Belgrade – a battlefield where they killed millions of people in an attempt to defend the city from enemies. The park began to take shape after Serbia’s release from the Ottoman reign; trees have been planted, paths cleaned and monuments have been raised, including the statue of Victor ( ‘Pobednik’) and the French Thanksgiving Monument. Nowadays, the locals come here to relax and sail along the Sava River. Nearby you will find the Belgrade Zoo, famous for its rare species of albino lions and tigers, kangaroos and the famous Muja alligator, where he has been living since 1936, and managed to survive both World War II and the NATO bombing.
Admire the architecture of old town Zemun
Former town on the outskirts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Zemun became officially part of Serbia’s territory, ending the First World War in 1918. The tower fence, built by Hungarians on the site containing the ruins of a medieval fortress, is the most famous symbol of the Old Town, and from here you cana dmire the panoramic view of the whole city. Zemun boasts the best preserved architecture in the whole Belgrade and it is a delight to explore these places by foot. Zemun quay connects Zemun and New Belgrade, where you will encounter the famous splavovi – traditional floating clubs and restaurants, which offer the ideal setting for a romantic dinner and an unforgettable evening on the Danube.
Take a tram ride
Tourists usually choose double-decker buses to admire the city’s attractions without consuming too much energy. But Belgrade has two alternative means of transport for those looking for a more authentic experience. “A Streetcar Named Belgrade” is the name of a city tour organized twice a week (on Fridays starting at 20.00 and Saturday at 18.00) with a guide on board telling the story of the city while the tram passes across tourist attractions. An original concept is the “Yugotour” which takes the passengers on a journey theme, in a red vintage Yugo car, and which presents the tourists – in exchange of 45 euros – the past of Belgrade during the communist period.
All these and many more are awaiting for you to enjoy in this amazing city that is slowly but surely coming back to life.
Photo source: Picture 1: myportfolio.ucl.ac.uk; Picture 2: en.wikipedia.org; Picture 3: agropress.org.rs; Picture 4: datourinfo.eu; Picture 5: wikimapia.org; Picture 6: skyapartmani.com; Picture 7: mojabanjaluka.info