Belgrade: Top 10

(continuer en français) – Published: November 5, 2022

At the strategic junction of the Danube and the Sava, Belgrade is the capital of Serbia, at the crossroads of cultures. It was a land of conflict between Christians and Muslims, but also a land of confrontation between East Slavic and Western Europe. A certain roughness remains, required to overcome these centuries of struggles.

01. Kalemegdan Fortress

The fortress is at the origin of Belgrade and Serbia. From the first century, fortifications existed here, which were expanded and rebuilt many times after the numerous conflicts. Since the middle of the 19th century, the military structures have been used as a setting for the peaceful Kalemegdan Park. There are cultural sites and many monuments inspired by the country’s history (more).

02. Pobednik Monument

The sculpture of the Winner can be seen from afar. The monument was built in 1928 to celebrate several historical events, including the final victory over the Turkish troops. It is located on a platform of the fortress and overlooks the Sava River and part of the capital. It has become a very popular monument and is often used to represent Belgrade.

03. St. Sava Basilica

The large Orthodox church is nearly finished. Started in the 20th century, its construction was suspended for a long time and resumed after the end of communism. The plan is inspired by that of St. Sophia in Istanbul and is intended to be grandiose. Inside, vast mosaics cover the domes and walls, created by dozens of Serbian and Russian artists.

04. St. Mark’s Church

The Orthodox Church is located in the city centre, close to the main buildings housing the political authorities. Built in the 20th century in the traditional style of the region, it also serves as a mausoleum for a Serbian emperor. There are many icons and according to Orthodox practice, there are no seats, the worshipers attend the services standing.

05. House of Flowers

In a residential area with several embassies around, the House of Flowers serves as a mausoleum for President Tito, who ruled the former Yugoslavia from 1945 to 1980. Around the house, a well-kept garden displays sculptures received as gifts. A long building displays other gifts with personal belongings. Entrance fee is charged.

06. Stari dvor

The Old Royal Palace dates from the end of the 19th century. It was the royal residence and the setting for official functions. Its decoration was inspired by the Victorian and Napoleon III styles in vogue at the time. Occupied by the Belgrade Assembly, it can be visited. On the other side of the garden, the New Palace, which succeeded as the royal residence, is used by the President of the Republic.

07. National Assembly

The monumental building built at the beginning of the 20th century is inspired by the international style of the time, continuing to favour the Greco-Roman architectural heritage. The bicameralism introduced in the constitution when the project was conceived made it necessary to review it. The Assembly is once again unicameral with 250 members elected for four years, in a parliamentary system.

08. Republic Square

Belgrade’s central square occupies the site of the former main gateway into the Ottoman walled city. The National Theatre and the National Museum are located here, with the equestrian statue of Prince Michael in front of it. The Prince took part in the fight against the Turks and with his hand seems to point them in the direction of Constantinople.

09. Prince Michael Street

Kneza Mihaila, Prince Michael Street, runs through the old city centre to the Kalemegdan Park, forming the main shopping street, which is a pedestrian zone. It is home to the major international retailers in late 19th century buildings. An old Turkish fountain is reproduced here, where riders used to water their horses, the water is drinkable.

10. Belgrade Waterfront

BW, in short, is a vast and very controversial urban planning project on the bank of the Sava. While it offers a positive image of the city, the project has provoked criticism with foreign funding, suspicions of corruption and law-breaking. It is a good summary of the country’s overall situation, eager to move forward without having overcome all its demons.

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  1. Well, here’s a list that really piqued my attention, as I spent nearly a couple of years living in Belgrade. Your list covers most of the big-hitters for first time visitors. The fortress deserves top spot I think, it really is an incredible beast and well worth deeper exploring. Most people only go to the main viewpoint of course, with many even taking the electric buggies. Can’t even be bothered to walk the trail to the top, which is hardly strenuous. The waterfront is an endless construction zone that feels like it will never be finished. They have done a decent job with it, in parts, but the overall drilling, trucks, cement mixers etc undermines the whole experience. And yes, as you say, the politics behind the whole thing are very depressing. Thanks for this piece, it has reminded me that I have only published a section of my Belgrade chronicles. One day…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was expecting your feedback and thank you for your comment Leighton. I could have added other places like the Museum of Modern Art or the Stefan Nemanja monument and the old railway station, but I had to make a choice. It’s true that the fortress and its gardens deserve an article of their own. I read with interest your articles on Belgrade and I hope you will be able to write more one day.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Despite having a tumultuous past, Belgrade looks like an interesting place to explore. I love the idea of creating walking paths and parks along the waterfront for all to enjoy. It’s too bad there was a lot of controversy surrounding it though.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Still many demons to overcome in the whole Eastern Europe I guess, but glad to hear about the willingness to move forward. That’s what we do at the end of the day, isn’t it🙂 A beautiful city to explore, and the waterfront looks pretty (despite the controversy).

    Liked by 1 person

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