Outspoken, adventurous, proud and audacious Belgrade of Serbia, with its gritty exuberance makes it one of the most happening cities in Europe. While it hurtles towards a brighter future, its chaotic past unfolds before ones eyes with the socialist blocks squeezed between art nouveau masterpieces, and remnants of the Habsburg legacy contrast with Ottoman relics. This is where the Sava River meets the Danube, contemplative parkland nudges hectic urban sprawl, and old-world culture gives way to new-world with a bright life.
Some 115 battles have been fought over imposing, impressive Kalemegdan. The citadel was destroyed more than 40 times throughout the centuries. Fortifications began in Celtic times, and the Romans extended it onto the flood plains during the settlement of Belgrade. Much of what stands today is the product of 18th-century Austro-Hungarian and Turkish reconstructions. The fort’s history of blood and only blood, discernible despite today’s jolly cafes and funfairs, makes Kalemegdan all the more fascinating.
Entering from Knez Mihailova and passing through Kalemegdan Park, it is the Upper Town whose attractions include the Military Museum, Clock Tower, Ali Pasha’s Turbeh an influence of Islamic culture, Roman Well and Victor Monument. In the Lower Town, which slopes down towards the river, there is Gunpowder Magazine, Ruzica and Sveta Petka Churches, Hamam which is a old Turkish bath and Nebojsa Tower.
City of history
The array of museam of Belgrade adds to its history. The museaum of Yugoslavia is a must-visit museum houses which has an invaluable collection of more than 200,000 artefacts representing the fascinating, tumultuous history of Yugoslavia and Serbia. Photographs, artworks, historical documents, films, weapons makes Belgrade a city of priceless treasure.
The former Yugoslavian leader Tito’s mausoleum of Belgrade is obligatory. The big man rests in an aptly gigantic tomb in peaceful surrounds. Also on display are thousands of elaborate relay batons presented to him by young ‘Pioneers’, plus gifts from political leaders in the voguish set of the era.
After 10 years of major renovation, the Museum of Contemporary Art is one of Belgrade’s top cultural sights. A treasure trove of 20th-century art from the ex-Yugoslav cultural space, its massive collection is again on display in rotating exhibitions. The modernist building is surrounded by a sculpture park and has great views over the Sava river toward the Kalemegdan Citadel on the other bank.
The man on the 100DIN note Tesla is one of Belgrade’s best museums, where one can release the inner nerd with some wondrously sci-fi-ish interactive elements. Tesla’s ashes are kept here in a glowing, golden orb with debates raging for years between the museum and the church as to whether the remains should be moved to Sveti Sava Temple.
Marshal Tito’s Blue Train
One of the few remaining symbols of ex-Yugoslavia is Marshal Tito’s Blue Train. Nowadays it serves as a museum but can be rented for travel or special occasions like film shoots, conferences, exhibitions or weddings.
The Blue Train which is used to take Yugoslavia’s president-for-life, his wife Jovanka and their entourage to Brijuni islands in Croatia, Tito’s favourite summer playground. It was on this train that he hosted VIP visitors from around the world, from Queen Elizabeth II to Haile Selassie, Yasser Arafat, Jawaharlal Nehru. The train is also remembered for Tito’s last journey in 1980, when it transported his coffin from Ljubljana to Belgrade.The train is stationed at the Topcider Depo.