A Very Brief Visit to Belgrade, Serbia

opera singers Belgrade
In the city's main square, we had an Italian opera recital. I'm pretty sure it was an Italian Tourism promotion. But it was very near the Belgrade Opera House, so I expect they thought they could drum up some business among the Serbian opera fans.

The short visit to Belgrade, Serbia, as part of our Viking River Cruise, was a bit unsatisfying. To get to the bottom of Belgrade, one would need a lot more time.

For on the surface, it's gray. Even on a sunny day, the city doesn't offer itself up easily. We ate in a recommended restaurant, we toured the Opera House, we heard Italian opera on the street, and we saw the huge new Saint Sava (the patron of Serbia) church under construction.

We also saw the ruins of the Serbian defense ministry building, which was bombed by NATO in 1999 as part of an air campaign to dissuade the former Yugoslavian government from pursuing its policies of crushing opposition in Kosovo.

But as the Opera tour guide said, Belgrade has been extensively bombed multiple times since the early 20th Century. That leaves a mark not only on the physical ambiance of a city, but also on its more subliminal aspect.

Yes, Belgrade will require more investigation. The question is: what are we looking for?

P.S. Belgrade has one of the most intriguingly constructed bridges in the world, which was just recently completed. Here is a very interesting documentary about how it was done.

altar iconostasis Saborna church Belgrade 2
The Iconostasis, or icon screeen, of the Saborna church in Belgrade.

A bit of color in a gray city. We walked for a couple of hours around the center of Belgrade, Serbia before coming upon the Saborna Church, a Serbian Orthodox gem just up the hill from the Danube. We'd visited the new Saint Sava church, which is under construction and is now pretty much only a formed concrete promise of better things to come.

Yes, Belgrade will require more investigation. The question is: what are we looking for?

P.S. Belgrade has one of the most intriguingly constructed bridges in the world, which was just recently completed. Here is a very interesting documentary about how it was done.

saint sava church Belgrade
The outside of the enormous Saint Sava cathedral. Looks better from this angle.
roof saint sava church Belgrade
The inside of the Saint Sava cathedral is about 99 percent gray formed concrete. According to the guide, it will eventually all be covered with mosaics. He said it will take a long time, “like the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.” Take my word for it, this will never be the Sagrada Familia.
confluence Danube Sava rivers Belgrade
The confluence of the Danube and the Sava rivers in Belgrade. The crossroads nature of the location of Belgrade has made it a location worth fighting over for centuries. Unfortunately for the Serbians.
fortress Belgrade guns
Guns left from about two centuries of wars line the walls of the Belgrade citadel. There are lots more of these all around and above the walls. A grim reminder of what's gone on here throughout history, and even recently.
altar Saborna church Belgrade 2
The Saborna Church wasn't on the tour. We blundered into it ourselves on our walk back to the boat. It was small, but beautiful. More so certainly that Saint Sava, which, if you ask me, is being built to glorify Belgrade rather than its patron.

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2 thoughts on “A Very Brief Visit to Belgrade, Serbia”

  1. We left Belgrade, and Serbia, feeling disappointed as well. I think we’ll wait a few years and head back! I’m not going to say it will be the new “Prague” anytime soon. That award go to Ljubljana!

  2. Wow, thanks for the dizzying heights, amazing documentary on the bridge.

    I love Belgrade and visit there often, more than 10 times in 5 years..

    The best part which is vibrant, is up the top end of the old city, near the massive fortress.
    You need 3 days to feel its pulse and take in its history and beauty and find its cosy reataurants.

    The food is very nice, much nicer than Hungary, across the border, where I live.

    Am off to Belgrade on 5th Jan to celebrate their Xmas, which is 6th and 7th January!

    Thanks again.

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