Once one of Europe's most turbulent cities, Belgrade has grown bold and determined, proudly welcoming visitors to explore this unique European capital. The history of Belgrade, originally known as Singidunum, goes back 6,000 years, and is filled with tales of conflict and devastation. Belgrade, however, always bounces back and is currently enjoying a cultural and creative revival.
Belgrade ( in Serbian) is situated where the Sava and Danube rivers meet on the Balkan Peninsula of southeastern Europe. It is not a beautiful city, but rather one layered with the relics of many generations and invaders. Old-world Europe with a hint of the orient, different cultural influences and architectural styles jostle for attention in Belgrade, combining to imbue the modern city with its own unique charm.
The best place to begin understanding the city is at the site of its original ancient settlement, the hill called Kalemegdan, now a fascinating park-like complex of historic buildings overlooking the Old Town (Stari Grad). The Military Museum situated here traces the history of the city's bloody past, from its first conflict with the Roman legions in the 1st century BC to its most recent conflagration, when NATO forces bombed the city for 78 straight days in 1999.
Those who aren't fascinated by history and prefer to enjoy Belgrade as it is today will find a myriad of leisure and pleasure opportunities. From the techno wilderness of its famed nightclubs to the restaurants and street performances of bohemian Skadarlija Street, visitors to Belgrade will feel welcomed by the hospitable and justly proud inhabitants of this indomitable city.
Some of Belgrade's most popular attrations for visitors are concentrated on the rocky ridge of Kalemegdan, site of the original fortified city, which overlooks the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers. The neighbourhood is now split into two beautiful parks, namely the Great and Little Park, and play host to Belgarade's ancient fortress, a zoo, art pavilion, observatory, planetarium, a Roman well, the Military Museum and some lovely walks. Throughout the year, a rand of sporting, cultural and arts events are held in Kalemedgdam and it is a popular attractions amongst Belgraders and visitors of all ages.
The Royal Palace in Belgrade has become a popular tourist attraction, boasting elegant salons, breathtaking artworks and magnificent décor. The palace was built between 1924 and 1929, and was designed by architects Zivojin Nikolic and Nikolay Krassnoff in the Serbian-Byzantine style. Beautiful gardens, pools and pavilions surround the palace, which offer superb views of Koshutnjak Forest and Avala Mountain. Today, the Royal Palace is home to Crown Prince Alexander and the Karadordevic royal family, it is open for public tours.
Dominating the skyline of Belgrade is the massive Temple of Saint Sava, one of the largest Orthodox churches in the world. This remarkable domed building, with its white marble and granite facade, is dedicated to the founder of the Serbian Orthodox Church. The Turks purportedly burnt medieval Saint Sava's remains on this site in 1595. Although construction began in 1935, the church remains incomplete, particularly the interior. Visitors are welcome to view the church, which is set in lovely gardens.
Skadarlija Street is Belgrade's equivalent of Montmartre, the famous bohemian neighbourhood in Paris, and is one of the most popular tourist spots in Belgrade. The pedestrianised precinct is lined with restaurants and pubs, tables and festivity spilling onto cobbled pavements, and is the perfect place to sample the local specialities. Enjoy a good beer and conversation; unearth some souvenirs, art and antiques; or simply soak up the traditional Serbian social scene.
A must for any history buff or art lover, the National Museum of Serbia in Belgrade houses a remarkable collection of more than 400,000 items, from Old Masters to medieval and modern art, ancient coins to architectural models. The artefacts are split into 34 archaeological, numismatic, artistic and historical collections to form the most complete picture of Serbian culture and history you'll ever encounter.
One of few surviving buildings from the first reign of Prince Miloš ObrenoviÄ‡, the stately home of Princess Ljubica was built between 1829 and 1831 as a royal private residence. The building is a a prime example of the unique Balkan architectural style, incorporating some Baroque elements, and the interior has been preserved to showcase the luxurious lifestyle of Belgrade's wealthy in the 19th century. The residence of Princess Ljubica is an important icon of cultural heritage in the city, and is now part of the Belgrade City Museum.
Belgrade experiences a mixed climate, largely a humid subtropical climate with four distinct seasons. Spring (April to May) is short and wet, giving way to warm summers (June to August). Summer is arguably the most pleasant time of year, as peak temperatures reach 81°F (27°C), while daytime lows seldom drop below 68°F (20°C). Autumn (September to November) can have some very warm spells, but brings with it periods of dry, windy weather when the 'košava' wind blows. Temperatures often drop below 30°F (-1°C) in winter (December to February) and snow is a regular occurrence. The wettest months in Belgrade are May and June.
Having a car in busy Belgrade is often more of a liability than an asset as the traffic is chaotic and parking is limited. The best way to get around the city is on public transport, which consists of buses, trams and trolley buses. It is wise to avoid rush hour. Tickets for all types of transportation can be bought from kiosks in the streets. Taxis are cheap and safe, and can be hailed in the street. Ensure that you pick a licensed taxi; these can be identified by the small blue sign featuring the city's coat of arms and a number.
Serbia's capital city is a gritty and vibrant hub of hedonism and history. From the ancient Kalemegdan Citadel and Byzantine churches to the Soviet-era (housing blocks) and art nouveau architecture, Belgrade tells many stories and offers plenty of unique experiences.
Marvel at the Roman ruins, art galleries, or the magnificent Temple of Saint Sava, one of the largest Orthodox churches in the world. Delve deeper into Serbian heritage at the National Museum, and gain some insight into the lives of Serbian royalty with tours of the Residence of Princess Ljubica and the Royal Palace.
There's something for everyone to enjoy at the Kalemegdan, whether it's the ancient fortress, Military Museum, and art pavilion for the culture vultures and history buffs, or the parks, planetarium, and zoo, which will delight the kids.
Visitors can wander the Old Town, admiring the architecture and historical sites, and stroll along the pedestrianised shopping promenade Knez Mihailova. The vibrant nightlife of the capital city is notorious, with endless dancing, live music, and even floating nightclubs.
Skadarlija Street is the bohemian heart of Belgrade, boasting bars, cafés, and restaurants that spill out onto the pavements on balmy evenings. In summer, visitors can join the locals with picnics, water-skiing and sunbathing on the beaches of Ada Ciganlija, an artificial island in the Sava.