With its turbulent, war-torn past, Belgrade is like a phoenix rising from the ashes to become one of today’s hottest European capitals. Belgrade, home to two million people, is a pretty city sitting at the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers. You’ll want to walk along the river banks, perhaps stopping for a drink or meal at a riverboat that’s been converted to a restaurant before visiting the attractions in Belgrade. The Serbian capital is fast becoming known as a center for international festivals; hosting more than 100 a year, for sure there will be one going on whenever you visit.
Because of its strategic defensive location, people have lived at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers since Neolithic times. Then the invaders moved in, first the Celts and later the Romans, who built a palisade here, followed by the Huns and the Goths. It was a Serbian leader, however, in the 15th century who really beefed up the fortifications here. The fortress is remarkably intact, occupying a large chunk of the area. Besides the fortifications, the official fortress area includes a church, a museum and several popular parks.
Temple of Saint Sava:
With a 134-meter (440-foot) high dome, the Temple of Saint Sava dominates Belgrade’s skyline. To make it even taller, the dome is topped with a gold cross almost 12 meter (40 feet) high. The largest Orthodox church in use today, it is dedicated to Saint Sava, an important medieval personage who founded the Serbian Orthodox church. It is located on the Viacar Plateau, where Saint Sava is thought to be buried. Construction on the white marble and granite church started in 1935, halted during World War II and resumed in 1985. Though it is still under construction today it is already one of the most popular attractions in Belgrade.
Ada Ciganlija is an island cum artificial peninsula in the Sava River/Lake that runs through central Belgrade. With its pretty beaches and sports facilities, Ada draws upwards of 100,000 visitors a day during the summer. Nicknamed “Belgrade’s Sea,” Ada’s peninsula is filled with thick forests that resemble a wilderness area, so you might see deer, rabbits and fox. Houseboats, a weekend retreat for Belgrade residents, can be found at the northern end. Ada Ciganlija is an athlete’s dream with dozens of sports facilities ranging from tennis to rugby to rowing, with artificial facilities for alpine skiing and snowboarding.
You will come across all kinds of grilled meat, sarma (stuffed cabbage, minced beef and pork with rice enveloped in pickled cabbage or vine leaves), stuffed peppers, Serbian beans, podvarak (roast meat in sauerkraut), musaka (minced pork or beef mixed with eggs and potatoes and then baked), gibanica (pastry leaves).