While we only had a few days together before moving onto our next destination, our time with them was one of our early highlights from The Hazy Shade of Autumn Tour. During the day, Katarina and Miroslav showed us the city, explaining Belgrade’s tumultuous history and their hopes for the city’s future. And at night, we sat talking around their kitchen table listening to music and eating Katarina’s superb homemade meals.
Below our three places Katarina and Mirolsav introduced us to, which also happen to be free (Ethnographic Museum is free on Sundays). And while we didn’t get to visit the Great War Island during this trip, Miroslav’s enthusiasm about the island’s summer season was all I needed to justify a return summer trip to Belgrade.
One of our favorite things to do when we arrive in a new capital city is to visit its country’s heritage museum. For several hours, we’ll browse the permanent and special exhibitions to help gain a better understanding of the country’s history and culture.
In Belgrade, the Ethnographic Museum is the place to get in tune with Serbian history. Free on Sundays, the museum’s first and third floor contain permanent exhibitions with the former focusing on traditional costumes and the latter lifestyle matters, like living and working during the 19th and 20th century.
Address & Link to Google Maps
For hours of operation and admission prices, click here.
Great War Island
During the summer months, Belgrade sets up a pontoon bridge between the island and Zemun, one of 17 municipalities that makeup the city. The island contains a nature preserve for 196 bird species–many of which are endangered–and is a documented natural fish spawning area, protecting it from commercial development. The island’s beach, Lido, is located on the northern tip of the island and is a popular place for summer swimming and sunbathing.
The Great War Island was given its militant name due to its continued use throughout history as an important strategic location in the conquest or defense of Belgrade, in particular for attacks against Belgrade Fortress. Today, the confluence is considered to be the true heart of Belgrade because it was the site of one of Europe’s first Neolithic settlements.
Belgrade Fort and Kalemegdan Park
Overlooking the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, the Belgrade Fortress is the oldest section of Belgrade’s urban area. For centuries, Belgrade’s population was concentrated within the thick, grey fortress walls. Some of the world’s greatest empires, including the Roman and Ottoman, conquered, occupied and defended the fortress. The fort endured nearly two millennia of continuous sieges before being declared a Monument of Culture of Exceptional Importance in 1979.
The fort and expansive park grounds are free to explore and offer up great panoramas, winding paths and shaded spots with benches. One of my favorite locations inside the fort is the Chapel of Saint Petka near the Rose Church. The chapel was built on top of a spring believed to be miraculous, especially for women. You can drink a cup for free or pay 30 dinar (50 cents) for a bottle.
Additionally, the fortress and park contains an observatory, planetarium, tennis, basketball courts, the city Zoo, Military Museum, and Museum of forestry and hunting.
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