Serbia borders Hungary to the north, Romania to the northeast, Bulgaria to the southeast, Kosovo, Macedonia and Albania to the south, Montenegro to the southwest, Bosnia & Herzegovina to the west and Croatia to the northwest. Northern Serbia is dominated by the flat, fruitful farmland of the Danube and Tisa valleys. The scenery varies from rich Alpine valleys, vast fertile plains and rising and falling green hills to bare, rocky gorges as much as 1,140m (3,800ft) deep, thick forests and gaunt limestone mountain regions. Belgrade, the capital, lies at the flowing together of the Danube and Sava rivers.
Kalemegdan (or the Belgrade Fortress) is a gem of a park directly neighboring to downtown Belgrade. Historically, Kalemegdan, hovering on a hill at the coming together of the Dunav (Danube) and Sava Rivers, served as a critical military settlement and fortress. Its position, at the crossroads of the East and the West, has been much loved across the centuries, making its history defined by numerous overthrows and conquests. Celts, Slavs, Austrians, and Ottomans all occupied the fortress complex at least once in its varied past. Today Kalemegdan is simply a city park, but it is still a very desirable location for locals and visitors alike. The park’s several twisting walking paths, under the trees benches, charming fountains, random statues, mammoth historical architecture, and incredible river views are inviting.
As Belgrade’s tourism industry is still in its infancy you won’t find hordes of guided tours traipsing through the park. This definitely has its advantages, as you can experience the park at your own pace without annoying mobs passing you by and blocking the best views. On the other hand, there is so much history to the statues and structures within the park, a simply stroll through will leave you with little understanding of significance of this incredible place.
Nikola Tesla is one of Serbia’s most famous sons for the pioneering progress he achieved in the fields of physics, wireless technology, and electrical engineering. Worldwide however, Tesla has still never received the recognition that he ought to have for such inventions and innovations as the long-distance transfer of electric current and wireless transfer of electric signals. The highlight of the interactive exhibits though is the huge power generator that creates crackling forks of lightning and used the wirelessly-transmitted electricity to power fluorescent tubes in the hands of museum visitors.
For an exciting day trip away from the coast, and a dose of Montenegrin history, head to Mt Lovcen. The mountain is a national park, and at its summit, reached after a brisk hike is the mausoleum of Petar II Petrovic Njegos, a famous ruler of Montenegro. Then, head to Cetinje, about 15 miles away. Once the capital of Montenegro, Cetinje is a historic and picturesque town. The most imposing building in the city is the former palace, now the State Museum. Opposite is the former house of Cetinjes prince-bishop, built in the 19th century. The Cetinje Monastery, founded in 1484 and rebuilt in 1785, has a treasury of artifacts, including a collection of liturgical songs printed in 1494. Overnight accommodations can be found in a couple of hotels, including Grand and Zicer. Budget accommodations are available at a Student Hostel. Montenegro cuisine cam be sampled at restaurant Opera.
The Yugoslav National Museum has an outstanding collection of Serbian and Yugoslav art, plus a fine collection of works representing realism and impressionism by renowned Europen artists. Also of interest is an extensive archaeological exhibit dating to the Greek and Roman periods. Also at the Republic Square is the National Theater, where fine operatic and other performances are offered at extremely affordable prices.
Ada Ciganlija is what Stanley Park is to Vancouver and Golden Gate Park to San Francisco, Belgrades loveliest park, is Ada, as its locally called, is an island in the Sava River just upstream from the city and the locals much loved spot for recreation. Swim (theres an area for skinny dipping), rent a bike, sip a cold beer from one of the cafes, or just hike up and down the banks of Yugoslavias longest river, Sava.
Palace of Princess Ljubice is an authentic, fully-furnished Balkan-style palace. This is the former residence of the princess Ljubica, wife of the famed prince Milos, the organizer of the second Serb uprising and first ruler of a semi-independent Serbia. A Turkish style wooden house, with an exhibition of 19th century furniture, collected from different Belgrade houses.
The oldest parts of Belgrade are in the immediate vicinity of Kalemegdan.
Kosancicev venac is located on the plateau overlooking the Sava River just below the fortress and it was here that a Serbian settlement took shape in medieval times. This gradually evolved into a community with a church and a cemetery. At the beginning of the 19th century, this area became the core for the expansion of Belgrade. Today, a few quiet cobbled streets and some interesting buildings still show glimpses of the Belgrade of better days.
The most important building was, and still is, the Holy Archangel Michael’s church. This was built by order of Prince Milos Obrenovic on the location of an earlier church dating from 1728. The new building, designed by Kuarfeldt is in classical style with Baroque elements was completed in 1840. Particularly important is the church treasury with ancient icons and richly adorned works of 17th-20th century goldsmiths.
If the Belgrade Fortress is the number one visitor attraction, Prince Mihailo’s Street is number one with the locals. This pedestrianised street is at the very core of Belgrade, stretching from the main entrance to Kalemegdan Park to the Terazije. It bears the name of the 19th century Serbian ruler, Prince Mihailo Obrenovic, a great military commander and builder of cultural edifices.
For generations it has been a promenade and meeting place and it remains so today. Everyone who wishes to be seen by others or wishes to see others comes here. This is a good enough reason for the visitor to check it out but there are also many art galleries, libraries, bookshops, shops, restaurants and institutions of importance to Serbian history and culture to add to the appeal.
The street is a strange blend of architectural styles with old edifices mirrored in the glass facades of modern buildings. In Roman times, it is believed that Via Cardo existed more or less in this location but over the years random winding roads were built during Turkish times. After the Austrians captured Belgrade in 1717 they began the reconstruction of the town and this street divided the town into Serbian and German parts, then later the Turkish and Serbian sides.
Today’s Prince Mihailo’s Street was designed in 1867 by the first city planner, engineer Emilijan Joksimovic. In 1987 it was reconstructed and pedestrianised.
As you walk along, check out the cafe known as the ‘Russian Emperor’ at Number 7 which was once the most elegant in the city and home to all the writers and artists. Other buildings worth noting are the Prometna Bank Palace at number 26 which was built in 1912, the Foundation of Nikola Spasic (No. 33