Enjoy the rhythm of Belgrade
TRAVEL & DESTINATION
By Shamlal Puri | April 24th 2016
Once at the heart of serious political and ethnic war in the then Yugoslavia, Belgrade, the modern capital of Serbia, has recovered and is among the most sought-after destinations by travellers keen to explore the undiscovered Eastern European cities.
Its amazing features simply set it apart from many European cities. With a population of 1.6 million, Belgrade is not considered a big city but there is lot to see.
The best thing about Belgrade is that is all the major attractions are close to each other that you can actually walk to the next point.
Belgrade Fortress is an interesting attraction that will help you get acquainted with the tales and myths of this city.
Enjoy the unique experience of walking around the old remains of the 600-years-old fortress and picturing life in those days — battles, tough soldiers in trenches and in high towers and horses galloping around with the riders bringing good and bad news to the rulers.
Located on a ridge overlooking the confluence of two iconic European rivers — the Danube and the Sava, the fortress defended the city when it was invaded over 100 times.
These days it is a huge city park which stays open around the year.
Military buffs can take a tour of the recently-opened military bunker that highlights the mid-1960s and the Cold War.
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Enjoy at Knez Mihailova, a lovely pedestrianised street, which not only is the epi-centre of history and culture but also one of the main shopping areas selling brand names, cafes and restaurants.
If you want to party in an old-fashioned Serbian way, head for the Bohemian area of Skadarlija where you will enjoy the true rhythm of Belgrade with plenty of good food, live music and lot of Rakia, the national drink.
This cobbled street is a popular part of Belgrade but ladies should make sure they do not wear high heels because of the uneven pedestrianised area.
Belgrade often gives a constant reminder of the war with its ruins as a result of the NATO bombings of 1999. The city bore the brunt of attacks on its infrastructure.
There is an interesting story about the busy Slavija Roundabout which connects seven streets and boulevards. It is considered fastest, busiest and the craziest roundabout but miraculously there have been no accidents there.
The 269-foot high St Sava Temple, a Serbian Orthodox Church is among the largest religious buildings in the world. It is built on the location where the remains of Saint Sava, founder of the Serbian Orthodox Church were burned by Turkish rulers.
Construction of some parts of the temple is still going on as the work is financed by public donations but there is access to see most of the building.
Some four kilometres from the centre of Belgrade is Ada Ciganlija, an island near the confluence of Sava River and the Danube. This place, full of greenery with meadows and forests, is a popular weekend retreat resort.
TUNNELS AND PASSAGES
Belgrade’s traditional open-air green markets attract many locals keen to buy directly from the growers. The city has more than 30 markets including Palilula and Kalenic.
The oldest of them all — the 169-year old Zeleni Venec was recently renovated. It has over 100 stalls which sell mainly fruit and vegetables and also house-hold goods and clothes at bargain prices.
Though most visitors prefer to walk around Belgrade, you can take a seventy-minute open top bus tour which will help you discover more parts of the city in greater detail and also get to know more about the important areas such as Yugoslav History Museum, Republic Square, Kolemegdan Lower Town, Branko’s Bridge and the Usce Shopping Mall among other parts of the city.
Visitors are also fascinated to take a peep into what is called Underground Belgrade. It hides over 100 caves, channels, tunnels and passages dating back to the Roman era.
Interesting tales are told about the what went on in the tunnels, including activities of the former Yugoslavian President and Revolutionary Josip Broz Tito, political games and spy stories from the Communist era.
The two-hour tour of the underground Belgrade is a real eye-opener.
With European summer just around the corner Belgrade will soon be live with a blast of weekend open air electronic music and dance festivals turning these events into unique party and a magnet for music lovers.
There are many shops and supermarkets offering a good choice of clothes, souvenirs. Usce Shopping Centre is the largest in Serbia. It is set close to the rivers and natural surroundings.
Here you will find a good selection of designer wear, electronics, jewellery, leather goods and the popular Idea chain supermarket. The Delta City Shopping Centre, ranked among the oldest, is popular with those interested in local and international fashion.
All the main shopping centres have multiplex cinemas, children’s playrooms, cafes and restaurants.
Zemun Park, set in the countryside just outside Belgrade, is a perfect place to get away for a pleasant day out with the family. Children can enjoy in the largest playground with a lot of activities to keep them busy.
Belgrade offer plenty of restaurants specialising in every cuisine — Mexican, Chinese, American Indian, Italian, Japanese, Greek and not forgetting fast food joints.
Serbian food is largely meat-based and rich in fat. Its cooking is influenced by Turkish, Austrian, Hungarian and Mediterranean cuisines.
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