Belgrade: A Serbian Sojourn: Part 1 ©Sangeeta Venkatesh

As I had written previously, that one can write reams on Belgrade, the capital city of Serbia, has a rich and complex history that dates back over 7,000 years. We spent the Day 1 and the last two days of our ‘Serbian Sojourn’ in Belgrade.

Belgrade, in its Serbian form means White City (Beo-grad), a name vividly evoked by the old fortress as seen from the banks of the two rivers Sava and the Danube, which meet below its white walls. Serbia has seen so much of tumultuous events with its history that can be traced back to 7,000 years. The area around two great rivers, the Sava and the Danube has been inhabited as early as Paleolithic period. Remains of human bones and skulls of Neanderthals, found in the stone-pit near Leštane, in a cave in Čukarica and near the Bajloni market, date back to the early Stone Age.

Belgrade is the gateway to the Balkans, and history has it that this town, lying in the path of all armies and several wars and has been destroyed and rebuilt some 40 times in the 200 years since 1 AD. It was bombed last time in 1999, when the government was in the hands of Slobodan Milesovic, the only remaining communist leader in south-eastern Europe. NATO airstrikes on major electrical power plants blacked out Belgrade and large areas of Serbia. The power was out from the city of Nis in the south to Sombor near the Hungarian border in the north, affecting millions of people. Michael Turtle in his blog says, “ For two and a half months the attacks from the NATO forces continued across Yugoslavia – particularly in Serbia. Nobody knew where the next bomb would fall. You can only imagine the terror of citizens trying to lead a normal life with American fighter jets zooming overhead.” I think knowing at least a broad history of a city or a country is extremely important as a visitor.

As we visit each landmark, we encounter a different part of Serbian history. On Day 1, we set out from our service apartment ‘Feel Belgrade’ – a very comfortable 2-bedroom apartment with a living and dining area and a spacious kitchen. We meet with Nikola, our guide for the first time and he gives us an elaborate account of the history of Serbia which is so closely intertwined with the capital city Belgrade.

As we drove around the city, we got to see some buildings of national importance. These are all located close to the city centre – Trg Republic or Terazije. This drive was done after we visited the Republic Square and the Kalmegdan Fortress on foot, which I will share subsequently.

Building of Ministry of Defence General Staff bombed in 1999: Severely damaged by the 1999 bombing, the building has not been repaired for over a decade and is Belgrade’s most famous ruin. Since 2005, it has been the protected monument of culture, symbolizing the 1999 NATO bombing and suffering of Serbia.

Building of Ministry of Defence General Staff bombed in 1999
View of the damaged building
Central Post Office, Belgrade

The Central Post Office: The Central Post Office in Belgrade is located at the following address: Trg Republike 5, Beograd. It is a historical building that was built in the late 19th century and has been serving as the main post office of Belgrade ever since. It is situated on Republic Square, one of the most important squares in Belgrade’s city center.

The building itself is an impressive example of Secessionist architecture with elements of Baroque and Neoclassicism styles. Inside the building, there are several rooms where various postal services such as sending letters and packages, buying stamps or phone cards, etc., can be found. There is also a small museum dedicated to postal history inside the post office.

National Assembly of Serbia

The National Assembly of Serbia: This impressive building is the unicameral legislative body of the Republic of Serbia. The National Assembly of Serbia is an important institution that plays a crucial role in shaping the country’s political landscape, and as Serbia continues to develop and evolve, the Assembly will undoubtedly continue to play a central role in shaping the country’s future.

Stari Dvor – The Old Palace

Stari Dvor- The Old Palace: You find this building as you drive eastwards from the Terazije. Across this building is the Novi Dvor or the New Palace and they face each other amongst immaculately landscaped gardens.

The American Embassy, Belgrade

We also chanced upon the American Embassy on our way to the Josep Broz Tito museum. Well, the American Embassy always draws a lot of attention in any country 🙂 !! Doesn’t it? Let me know, what you think. Stay tuned for the rest of Belgrade that we saw on foot.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s