Do you also sometimes have a feeling like you are a tourist in your own city? I am always feeling like that! People even told me I look like a tourist on my pictures. Every time I go downtown I am amazed by all of it. The buildings, the architecture, by nature, the rivers, and every time I stop to take a photo.
For me it is exactly the same when I am in my own town and when I travel abroad. Always acting as I know nothing and I see everything for the first time, and it is so much fun!That is exactly why I am writing this detailed Belgrade guide. It can help you can see the beauties of it, feel its great spirit and enjoy as much as I do. I did not want to just write where to go because you can see google maps for that. Therefore I wanted firstly to tell you a little bit about Belgrade history. And after what you can see, visit, try or do.
Ready for the Belgrade guide? We are taking off!
1. GUIDE THROUGH HISTORY OF BELGRADE
For starters I would like to tell you some history facts about Belgrade which you did or did not know. Moreover it is good to remind yourself or learn at least a little bit about every city you visit. Belgrade is one of the oldest cities in Europe, but because of its great geographic position it was often a target of wars, bombing and conquests.
EARLY SETTLEMENTS IN BELGRADE
The earliest settlements were found in municipality of Belgrade named Vinca. They date from 7000 year BC. Around 600 BC this region had been populated by the Scythian and Thracian-Cimmerian tribes. So we heard about Singidunum for the first time in 279 BC. Celtic Tribe known as the Scordiscs built Singidun, which under the Romans got the name Singidunum. Word dun means settlement, fence or fort. For the word Singi it is believed that it represents the Thracian tribe Singa or the Celtic word singi which means round. The rest of Celtic settlements were at the place of today’s Belgrade neighborhoods Zvezdara and Karaburma.
ROMANS AND BELGRADE
Romans started their conquest of this place in the 1st century of new era. The conquest lasted for 4 long centuries. Great flutter of this city under Romans happened in the year 86 when first stone fortification was built on the Upper town of Kalemegdan park – Castrum. Main republic square was located on the today’s place of the National bank of Serbia in the Kralja Petra street where also the main temple lied.
Furthermore Roman forum, surrounded with baths, was located in the place of today’s Students park. Also Singidunum had 3 huge necropolis, and it is well-known that their remains exist in the place between Kosancicev venac and Rajiceva street. We do not have many facts about Zemun, todays municipality of Belgrade, but once it was a city for itself called Taurunum. Same as Belgrade, it had a lot of different names through history.
One known thing is that there was a bridge between Singidunum and Taurunum across the Sava river. At the time it was one of the most important roads that connected Roman provinces Moesia, Dacia, Pannonia and Dalmatia. This military road called Via militaris went from west to east and connected towns Sirmium (Sremsku Mitrovicu), Singidunum (Beograd), Viminacium (Kostolac) to Byzantium. The road was protected by forts that existed in the area of today’s Belgrade. Some of them were: Mutatio ad Sextum (Mali Mokri Lug), Castra Tricornia (Ritopek), Mutatio ad Sextum Militare (Grocka), and others.
FIGHTING OVER BELGRADE
Roman empire clashed and in the year of 395 and separated into eastern and western part. Belgrade, same as Taurunum, was lying in the eastern part of Roman Empire which later became Byzantine Empire. The end of Roman empire brought to the invasion of Barbarian tribes such as: Huns, Ostrogoths, Gepids, Sarmatians, Avars, and Slavs.
Serbian settlers came to this area around 630 and the name Belgrade (White fortress) was firstly mentioned in 878. In the next 2 and a half centuries there was no information whatsoever about Belgrade. The name was not seen again before the 9th century. During 9th and 10th century 3 great forces were fighting over this place: Bulgarian Empire, Kingdom of Hungary and Byzantine Empire. Serbian reign over Belgrade starts in 1284, when Serbian people started to settle here intensively. Also the influence of Serbian Orthodox Church was getting stronger every day.
For the Ottoman Empire Belgrade was standing on the way to the conquest of the Western Europe. After the fall of another Serbian city named Smederevo in 1440, Turks were trying to take over Belgrade for one whole century and finally succeed in 1521. The main pillar of Christianity and the key for conquering Kingdom of Hungary finally fell into the hands of Ottoman Empire and the city was burned and destroyed once again.
During 17th and 18th Century Turks and Austrians were constantly fighting over the rule of Belgrade. Therefore, today you can see the affection of both nations in Belgrade architecture. Turkish is mostly in the center of the city and Austrian mainly in Zemun. In the year of 1801 Janissaries took over the city after which came a period of anarchy.
The peak of these happenings was the event of the slaughter of Serbian rulers and famous Serbs. This event brought to 1804 and First Serbian Insurrection under leadership of Karađorđe Petrovic. Finally in 1807 Belgrade was liberated, but unfortunately already in 1813 Turks got to rule the city again. So this time it brings us to the Second Serbian Insurrection in 1815. At the end of 17th century, after 167 years of peace, plaque devastated Belgrade. After came the rebellions of the Janissaries, so once more it becomes the target of war affairs.
Belgrade got a lot of important things in 19th Century: Big school, National theater, Konak Kneginje Ljubice, Cathedral church. Furthermore, Topcider court, government, ministries. Then first high school, press, electricity, many important buildings. But most importantly, the fact that Turks were finally leaving Belgrade alone. And this was a step to its greater and faster development, and cultural prosperity.
20TH CENTURY – WORLD WARS IN BELGRADE
In 20th century Belgrade got a Railway station and boat dock. Alas, new troubles were now on the horizon galloping towards this unfortunate city. World War I started in 1914 and Belgrade was constantly bombed for 4 months at the beginning of the war. Then again 7 days and nights at the end of the war. During these long 4 years Serbia lost 28% of its population, and Belgrade was among the cities that suffered the most. The city centre neighborhoods Dorcol and Savamala were burnt to the ground.After the liberation, Belgrade becomes a capital of Kingdom of Serbs, Croatians and Slovenians. Therefore it started constructing, renovating and spreading towards Zemun, Avala, Cukarica, Sava and Danube.
Not long after, Germans bombed Belgrade in 1941 and World War II started. For those, again 4 long years, Belgrade itself lost 50 000 people. Belgrade lost all the bridges on Sava and Danube, National library was burnt to the ground, a lots of buildings were damaged like General Staff, Old Court, Post Office.. Bombs dropped even on the Republic Square and Palace Albania, airport, plants, shipyard, refinery, Terazije square, Faculty of Law, Bajloni market… Unfortunately also a maternity hospital when 22 mothers and babies lost their lives. The damage was huge and priceless.
After the second war Belgrade finally gets on his feet so it becomes a capital of new Yugoslavia. Despite the poverty people started renovating, and the expansion and development of state and residential buildings. Unfortunately this was not the end of destruction of Belgrade. In 1999 NATO forces again bombed Belgrade for 78 days. Again a lot of military, state and residential objects, cultural monuments, hotel Yugoslavia, several hospitals, Avala tower, and many more buildings were damaged or destroyed, and again, many lives lost.
From the beginning of time this city was bombed, burnt and destroyed 44 times and run over with 115 wars. However every time it resurrected and renewed with the same love and passion by its people. More detailed info on the city history you can find on this site, here also and also there is a summary of Important Years in city history.
2. BELGRADE GUIDE
LETS START WALKING
The guide of one city should start from the beginning so I will start from the city center. Todays center of Belgrade has several neighbourhoods: Kosančićev venac, Dorcol, Skadarlija, Terazije, Vracar… One of the most famous Belgrade meeting spot is Republic Square. On the square there are also the monument of Knez Mihailo, National museum and National theater. Furthermore, there are two fountains in front of which you can see Cultural center of Belgrade and Russian emperor building. Nearby is also monument to Branislav Nusic in the park of Dr. Zoran Djindjic, as well as one of the most famous bohemian quart Skadarlija.
Then from there you can go into the main Belgrade street Knez Mihailova which is surrounded by Terazije and Kalemegdan from one side, and Kosančićevog venca and Dorćol from the other side. This is a pedestrian street with lots of beautiful old buildings such as: Palata Albanija, Ruski car, Grčka kraljica, Delija fountain, lots of galleries, endowment and the passage of Nikola Spasic, house of Hristina Kumandi where is famous restaurant Snezana, renewed mural from 1984 right accross Rajiceva shopping mall, and both are located before Kalemegdan.
In the street of Vase Carpica wich goes paralel with the main street you can seeEtnographic museum, Students park i monument to Dositej Obradovic, Akademic plato and monument to Petar Petrovic Njegos, Yugoslav cinematheque, Kolarac endowment etc.
OLDEST PART OF THE TOWN
One of the largest parks in Belgrade is Kalemegdan, which consists of Upper and Lower town, park and the fortress. I must say Kalemegdan has one of the most beautiful sunsets and view and it is most visited sight of all because every day 5000 people goes to see it. You can take a walk in the park, chill while looking to the river or see some cultural monuments like: Pobednik,Roman well, Fountain of Mehmed Pasa Sokolovic, Military museum, National observatory, Natural history museum, church Ružica and church Sveta Petka,Dino park, Zoo and Amusement park. Kalemegdan has many gates and towers such as: Stambol gate, Nebojša tower, Sahat tower, Vidin gate, King gate, Baroque gate, Dark gate, Despots tower etc..
For more info on Kalemegdan check my other post about Belgrade.
GUIDE THROUGH BELGRADE CONTINUES
If you would go out of Kalemegdan at the place called Little steps you would be right at Kosancicev venac. Here you can see church of Archangel Michael best known as Cathedral church, then the oldest tavern in Belgrade Question mark, Konak kneginje Ljubice, house of Krsmanovic family where is embassy of Austria today, home of Mika Alas, remains of the old National library… Also in this place between Kosancicev venac and Knez Mihailova street there are many more famous historical and cultural buildings, while Obilicev venac and Kosancicev venac streets are, not long ago, also made pedestrian streets.
Beneath Kosancicev venac there is a port where you can go by Big steps and then Brankos bridge, after which you can see Sava promenade and neighbourhood Savamala where currently Belgrade on the water is being built. Below Knez Mihailova street there is a lot of famous city center streets where you can see Cukur fountain, Vuk and Dositej museum. All of these are a part of famous old city neighbourhood named Dorcol which goes to Danube where you can take a walk on Dorcol promenade.
MORE AMAZING SIGHTS IN BELGRADE
At the other side from Knez Mihailova street is Terazije square where you can see Palace Atina, Hotel Moscow, Terazija fountain, park Terazijska Terasa, one more House Krsmanovic, building of Ministry of justice of Serbian Kingdom.. On the other side there is Nikola Pašic square with his monument, and nearby are History museum, National Assembly, Pionir park, Main Post office, park Tasmajdan where is also church of St. Marco..
If you go from Terazije square further by street of King Milan, you would also see: Ministry of Education, Old court i City government, Girls park and Andric venac across from each other, New Court, Museum of Ivo Andric, most famous building which got the name by the city – Beogradjanka, Student cultural center, Flower square and monument to Borislav Pekic, Yugoslav drama theatre, Park Manjez, park Mitic hole and finally Square Slavija which got a beautiful fountain not long ago.
From this place when you go to Bulevar oslobođenja you would come to the biggest and most famous Orthodox church in Balkan temple of St. Sava on the Vracar Plato where are also placed monuments of Saint Sava and Karadjordje, but also National Serbian library, and right across are Karadjordje park and park of Milutin Milankovic. Nearby are also placed museum of Nikola Tesla, Park of Cirilo and Metodije, monument to Vuk Karadzic, Botanical garden Jevremovac…
OTHER COOL PLACES IN BELGRADE
Except of the city center Belgrade has a lot more sights to be visited like Novi Beograd which has the most beautiful quays by rivers Sava and Danube, then Great war island, Ada Ciganlija and Ada Medjica which are river islands, and quay behind old fair, and about these things you can find more info in my previous post about Belgrade.
Also make sure not to miss famous Taurunum – Zemun and Glavna street. Muhar and Gardos neighborhoods where is also the most beautiful Millennium tower and that place is also the origin of Taurunum, and it is known as Gardos kula.
If you have more time you can visit viewpoint on Bezanija and ski-run in Kosutnjak park, which same as Gardos have the best viewpoint, then park Topcider, and you can also go the mountain nearby named Avala. For more on these sights check the other posts about Belgrade.
3. BELGRADE GUIDE: WHERE TO GO, WHAT TO VISIT, TRY, SEE, EAT?
So first part was about the sightseeing, but here I want to make a little summary for you guys of things to see, try, visit, etc.
Clubs, bars, pubs and cafes
They are really all over the city but here are some parts where you can find the most of them:
Restaurants of national cuisine
Tri sesira, Mali Vrabac, Dva Jelena, Sesir moj, Durmitor, Trpeza, Milošev Konak, Kovač, Velika Skadarlija, Frans, Careva cuprija, Mala fabrika ukusa, Stara srpska kuća, Reka, Tabor, Stara Hercegovina…
Fast food in Belgrade
As well as cafes and bars these are also all over the town, but there are 2 famous streets in Belgrade that have a lot of fast food stands and among people they are called The Food Avenue and The street of the hungry: Bulevar Zorana Djindjica and Goce Delceva streets.
Food and drinks you need to try
- Karadjordjeva *rolled veal or pork steak, stuffed, breaded and baked (or fried)
- Cevapi *minced grilled meat famous in Serbia
- Pljeskavica *famous Serbian burger made out of minced meat
- Sarma *minced meat rolled into cabbage leafs, this is the most famous Serbian dish
- Burek *pastry dish made with cheese or meat, or it can be empty
- Ajvar *made of peppers it is like a salad or you can just put it on bread like jam
- Gibanica *it is like a pastry dish made out of eggs and cheese
- Kajmak *something like a sour cheese cream, you can put it on bread like jam
- List of museums by categories
MORE USEFUL INFO
Currency = dinar (rsd)
You can check todays course on the web site of National bank of Serbia
- Daily costs in Belgrade – check this site
Prices of the meals start from 200 dinars and can be even a couple of thousands of dinars depending on where are you eating. However it depends on the location too. For example so city center is of course more expensive than the rest of the city. Also cafes and pubs are cheaper than bars. But of course this is not a strict rule.
- Prices of drinks in taverns and clubs you can check here
- Malls work from 10 to 22h usually.
- Shops in the city center work until 20-22hrs.
- Convenience store open between 7-10 and work until 20-23hrs, sometimes even midnight.
- Furthermore, some small private shops and even large markets like Aman, Maxi, Idea, Roda, Tempo even work 24hrs.
- Cafes and pubs open from 7 to 12, depends on the type.
- Bars and clubs usually open from 20-24hrs and close from 1-5am, and Belgrade has a lot of those that work every single day.
- use app Lako Parkiraj and Parking Service websites and applications
- Here is a drivers guide through Belgrade
- If you are traveling from Belgrade you can check here how far is any city from Belgrade
- Here you can find more info about the airport
- Train station is located in the city centre in Savamala district along with main bus station.
- Bus/tram/trolley tickets prices check on BusPlus and GSP web sites
- Taxi – here you can see start prices
- CarGo – aplication similar to Uber, more info you will find in this post