The second day of the three days I spent in Belgrade I visited the Kalemegdan fortress, which is 2000 years old. For many of them the population is concentrated inside the wall. It's a huge space that includes a Housing footprint of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Orthodox Church Ruzica (it's visited a lot by college kids before their exams), the Observatory and Planetarium, the Museum of the Navy, a sports area ( tennis courts, basketball, etc.), the Military Museum, The Forestry and Hunting Museum, the Monument of gratitude to France. All of which make it a favorite of locals and visitors, as well as a park with rides with geometric bizarre banks, and picturesque fountains and sculptures that review the history of the country. Sculptor Mestrovic. The symbol of the people of Belgrade is on a proud neoclassical column that depicts a soldier carrying a message of peace. The column represents the Serbian army's effort for their release in cooperation with the French army in 1918. It's a sight worth seeing.
This is the Orthodox Church of Saint Sava and Karadore, the Serbian hero who began the revolt against the Ottoman occupation. It's a little away from the centre, but you can get there in about forty-five minutes, walking down wide avenues dotted with stately buildings.
I arrived in Belgrade (Beograd) at night. It greeted me in Cyrillic and said goodbye in Cyrillic. It's really hot. Luckily the streets are filled with fountains and women selling ice cream every few meters. Knez Mihaiolova Boulevard is the heart of Belgrade. It is the most bohemian and romantic of the city. Here came together in the nineteenth century figures of intellectual and cultural scene. Today with street musicians, mimes and fortune tellers. Nearby, on a street that bears his name, is the home of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Ivo Andric. There is no shortage of local fashion and the famous taverns (kafanes) to sample the Balkan drink par excellence: The rakia. This colorless drink is 65-70% alcohol. Sometimes in water bottles (voda). It is essential to know this to avoid bad shots. I was invited to a dinner and thirstily poured myself a glass of "water". That volcanic moment is still remembered (by all except me) as the funniest of the trip.
Not far from the centre of Belgrade (just down the hill), this is the main station that will take you not only to any part of Serbia, but also to Montenegro, Romania, Istanbul, Budapest and even Bulgaria. There aer also buses going to Sarajevo (once a day) or Mostar (two per day). Numerous hotels, restaurants, exchange offices, and banks are available in the station and the surrounding area.
Belgrade is the only city crossed by an international highway, via the Gazela Bridge, the busiest of Serbia. Next in importance is Branco Bridge, one of the most charming tourist attractions of the city. It joins the center with New Belgrade Belgrade. In this new city built in 1959 across the river Šabac are located the most representative buildings of communist period. But the decadent tone and certain dilapidated hotels are offset by the modern neighborhoods, shopping centers and a splendid stadium called Beogradska Arena opened in 2004.
Beograd, the Serbian name for Belgrade means "white wall". So this huge eye named Belgrade engraved in many languages is within the light stone fortress named Kalemegdan. Where does it see? To the Amazon?!? No, but almost. The Danube devours another river of almost the same size called Sabac. In between there is an island where a unique bird species lives, or so I've been told. I wanted to bring a couple back to Spain. But I am new to the subject (in the subject of hunting and procreation) and had no success. There is a park with the city zoo. Until a year ago was the scene of a festival which attracted audiences from all countries of the former Yugoslavia, named Beerfest. But they were forced to relocate due to the growing number of attendees. And perhaps also driven by an unpleasant and inexplicable event where a guy fell into the bear cage ... After this huge eye there is another with more capacity: The spyglass. It worked fairly well and I could take a photo before my camera battery died.
The Orthodox Church of Valjevo, which is recently built, stands beside the Kolubara river that crosses the city. It is also located next to the daily market, which sells clothing and food. Some young people from the city tell me that given the significant increase of the city and its surrounding areas, the old church is now really small and therefore at the time they decided to build a new one, much bigger. Not only is it bigger but it is also impressive to see it as you arrive in the city by bus. Its white, slate-colored domes and three golden crosses make it special. Once inside I was shocked to see that nothing was painted. They have just enough believers to make their prayers and put their candles. It is still worth a visit.
This is one of places that most impressed me on my visit to the central-western part of Serbia, in the Kolubara district. This is Petnica cave, close to the village of Petnica. It is a dark cave which is divided between the top and bottom. About 600 meters of tunnel, and many rooms. You can take the tour free of charge, and you can get lost if you are alone and there isn´t enough light. Here they found the oldest evidence of life in western Balkan country and also as a result of many excavations the bones of cave bears, hyenas , etc. were discovered.. . they discovered weapons and material used in the Neolithic times. When you get there, after a walk through the forest , you notice quickly that you´re in a special place. The day there were young people climbing the steep rocks of the cave . Another feature is the river that runs below the cave and can see outside when continuing. It's a good idea to go out of the city of Valjevo. You can eat at the restaurant right next to the cave, with good prices. A guide must be in front or flashlight, wear good footwear and pay attention to the slippery floor of the cave.
Valjevo is the capital of the Kolubara District of the midwest of Serbia. It is located At about 90km from Belgrade and near an area of natural interest, rural areas. The river crosses the Kolubara i Gradac, which became the cleanest river in Europe. It isn't a tourist city, though there are plenty of monuments, churches, and streets to visit. Of particular note are two churches, the new and the old. The new church is fantastic, and is possibly the best thing to see here. The old church, though, is very small, and it is found in a garden right in the middle of the city. Freshly painted and refurbished, it is very beautiful and the inside walls and benches are a blue color with accents of gold. A few monuments can be found as well, which were dominated by war heroes like the monument and tomb of an ancient hero Croatian WWII. Highlight the main street of Ottoman origin that gives life to the city with many bars, restaurants and pubs. In summer it is surprising to see the environment that forms, coinciding with a cultural festival in August. Also very nice River Gradac area, on the outskirts of the city. That's very common to bathe in cold water and it can also be a good area to walk around on foot. I found a city attractive enough to be visited, and also close to other sites of interest varied.
The building was destroyed during the NATO bombing in 1999, and was left so, in memory of perpetual stupidity of every war. Its worth stopping here to see the horrors of war. Even today, the impressive ruins are guarded by the military. The complex was completed in 1963, and the building wanted to remember the deep gorges of the Sutjeska, heroic place of the partisan struggle in 1943.
It's 8pm. It has finally cooled down a bit in the Serbian capital (the thermometer has dropped to 35 º C). While the speakers play Danubius Radio FM, beads of sweat fall onto our heads. Heads whose only thought is to enjoy a well-deserved beer. We go to sit on one of the splavovi (barges). In the mornings, they are restaurants where you have to try the burek(a must if you go to the Balkans, similar to pie filled with cheese or meat, though quite greasy) and a yogurt drink. At night, they become floating nightclubs. They are recognized by the intense colors that light up the night on the banks of the Danube. They have become the most well known part of the festival in Belgrade, Serbia especially in summer when it is warm at night.
In Novi Beograd (New Belgrade) the Belgrade Beer Fest has been held in the grounds of USCE for the last six years. It lasts for four days each August. Hundreds of thousands of people, most from the countries of the former Yugoslavia, visit the festival each year. The union of beer and live music is a pretext to attract people ve once shared the same nationality. Traditional groups, whose songs are hummed by all, played the quintessential Balkan instrument, the trumpet, always with the immediate effect immediate effect of feet starting to move. I met Dine Šabac for whom it was an honor to buy me a beer (CESCO) from his hometown. He says that he wish he can delete the pictures broadcasted on TV that depict Serbia is unsafe. He wants people to come and see how wonderful his country is. He tells that it is very difficult for him to leave as it is very difficult to get a visa.
When someone in Belgrade says that they'll meet you by the statue, you can be assured that they're talking about Piazza della Repubblica, in Stari Grad, the nerve centre of the city. This is where the pedestrianised shopping street of Knez Mihajlova begins, leading to the Fortezza, and the beautiful surrounding park. This is where public demonstrations and events take place, overlooked by the Theatre and the National Museum. The famous statue is a monument to Prince Mihailo III. Just one hundred metres away is another important city square, Piazza Terazije.
It is perhaps the most spectacular and impressive building of the whole city, and is fully lit at night. Its construction, in Neo-Renaissance and classicist, began in 1907, and continued until 1936, a demonstration of great political instability of the city and the country over these decades. Most people will remember on television images of protesters surrounded the building in 2000, to demand an end to the power of Milosevic. Today the building is part of the Parliament of the Republic of Serbia, and is used for institutional ceremonies.
The ruins of the radio and television headquarters caused by the NATO bombing of 1999 has become a memorial: the headquarters of the new station was constructed next to the old, which was destroyed by bombs. In front, in a green area, there's a plaque with the names of 16 journalists who lost their lives on that tragic night of April 23.
Next to the Orthodox cathedral and the patriarchal palace, and one of the most interesting examples of civil architecture of the nineteenth century. It was built between 1829, and 1831, by Prince Milos who never lived there to consider it too dangerous for its central location. He moved his wife Ljubica and their two children there. Today, the building is surrounded by a beautiful green garden, it's an interesting museum with two floors, where you can admire furniture with oriental influences and other clearly European inspiration, showing the mixture of styles in a bourgeois house.