Serbia Diaries Part 1: Belgrade - the City That Reminded Me Why I Love Travelling

28th Feb 2019
Photo of Serbia Diaries Part 1: Belgrade - the City That Reminded Me Why I Love Travelling 1/1 by Nancy Johri
Church of Saint Sava

“Madam, I am telling you for the last time that we cannot let you fly to Serbia,” the airport security told me firmly, but I didn’t lose hope.

I had really earned this trip. I faced innumerable twists and turns just to fly from Delhi to Serbia. It took nearly two days and five boarding passes to finally reach the Balkan Country. Some of the obstacles included getting offloaded at the Delhi airport and not being allowed to fly (it took me two hours to convince the security personnel), missing the connecting flight at the Mumbai airport for Dubai, again getting questioned by the security official, spending a sleep-deprived day in Mumbai (next available flight was to Abu Dhabi which had to depart at night), and more.

A lot happened as a result of which, I arrived in Belgrade (the capital city) like a zombie. But still, I was so excited that that those painful 48 hours felt nothing in front of what I just faced Thanks to my lucky stars that want me to travel far and wide!

A week spent in Serbia was a lifetime of magic. The capital of the southeast European country, Belgrade, was my first stop. I reserved two days to stroll around this beautiful city.

Church of Saint Sava is the pillar of Serbian faith. Not only the largest Serbian Orthodox Church, but it is also the largest Orthodox place of worship in the Balkans and one of the largest in the world.

Grandeur of this christian splendour

• The total height of this church is 82 meters. The majestic dome is at the height of 70 meters and the main gold plated cross gives it an additional 12 meters height.

• The central dome is 4,000 ton heavy and lifting it took about 40 days.

• The bell towers comprise of over 49 bells. There are more than 18 gold plated crosses on its domes.

• The temple has the capacity for 10,000 people at any time. It also has huge galleries on the first and second floor.

• There is the Church of Saint Lazar seven meters below the Church of Saint Sava.

The Church has enormous importance in Serbian history. It is a symbol of faith and freedom, and is an extraordinary place of worship.

P.S. Here, I understood the basic differences between a Catholic and an Orthodox church.

Located in the Belgrade municipality of Stari Grad (old town), Skadarlija is a vintage street where you can observe the ambience of the traditional urban architecture. It is the old, romantic and bohemian quarter of Belgrade. Time stops at this street!

It was my favourite place in the capital city. You have to visit this street if you want to truly experience the beauty of Belgrade. It is a magical part of Serbia where the stone-paved roads are adorned with lanterns on the trees, flowers, cute cafes and taverns where you can spend a pleasant evening. There are galleries, antique shops and souvenir shops as well. You can also enjoy the traditional Serbian cuisine. I visited here twice because once was definitely not enough!

Also known as the Square of the Republic, this is an urban neighbourhood and central town square of Belgrade. You can see some of the city’s most recognisable public buildings here, such as the National Museum, the Army House, the National Theatre and the statue of Prince Michael. Apart from that, there are cafes and fast food restaurants where you can savour different specialities. It is also the place to experience fine dining and enjoy Serbian liquors. This place is alive all the time.

Day 2

This monumental fortress stands as the symbol of Belgrade. It is built on a white ridge above the confluence of two big rivers, the Sava and the Danube. Destroyed and rebuilt numerous times, it was constructed during a long time from the second to the eighteenth century. You have to see it with your own eyes to conceive the beauty and historical significance of this place. Each footstep you take here comprises layers of history left by Romans, Serbs, Turks and Austro-Hungarians.

Don’t forget to enjoy the view of the city from the rivers Danube and Sava. It’s spectacular.

The vast field in front of the Belgrade Fortress named by Turks is the Kalemegdan Park. Earlier a field where battles were fought, it is the most lovely and spacious park in Belgrade today. It lies on a 125-meter-high cliff overlooking the Sava and Danube confluence. It was the site of the medieval and Turkish era Belgrade and the ancient Roman city of Singidunum. Converted into a park in the mid-nineteenth century, you can now see here a number of galleries, museums, cafes, etc. There are many ruins, archaeological sites and statues, the most important being the statue to the Victor.

It is an urban neighborhood of Belgrade. It is a major historical landmark that is popular for its tower and preserved old architecture. Lined with chic restaurants and offering the view of the River Danube, I spent my evening sitting on the shore and enjoying the silence. It was the perfect way to end my wonderful journey in Belgrade.

That is how I spent two mesmerising days in Belgrade. One thing I noticed was that the Serbians are very attractive, men and women alike. Also, they are quite welcoming and friendly. And yes, everyone smokes (everywhere). You may smell like an ashtray while crossing a street.

The public transport is also very good here. Talking about the streets, the city is beautified with the street art.

From the next day, I started my road trip with someone who had been to Serbia three times earlier. We drove across Fruška Gora, Novi Sad, Zlatibor, Tara National Park, Potpeće, and more. He also showed me Bosnia and Herzegovina (of course, from a distance. I was amazed!), River Vrelo (one of the shortest rivers in the world), and most importantly, Snow (my one of the major reasons to travel to Serbia). He told me the interesting facts of every place along with its history. We also spotted a red deer and a fox on the way. A road trip with him transformed my thinking about travelling to a great extent. The drive on those scenic roads was like meditation for me. A lot of fascinating incidents happened on the way about which I will be telling you in my next blog. Till then, keep travelling!

It’s Serbia, not Siberia (a vast Russian province). Even after returning from there, my friends were under the impression that I went to Siberia. No, I went to Serbia, the incredible visa-free southeast European country!

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