Today was my second day in Belgrade, and as usual I was up early. I decided to do a mini-walking tour up to the bohemian district (near the Old Town area), hitting a couple of the sites I’d noticed on the tram along the way back to the hotel yesterday.
First up, St. Mark Orthodox Church, located in Tasmajdan Park. It’s one of the more sparse Serbian Orthodox churches I’ve seen, but it did have an interesting exterior and statues.
Up next, I stumbled upon the National Assembly of Serbia, which predictably had protest propaganda out front. I also passed the “The Observation Post of the Serbian Army High Command on Kajmakcalan” which is an observation point used in World War I that has now been transitioned to a memorial. I also passed the Old Palace (the new palace sadly only allows guided tours on Saturdays, or else I would have visited!).
Then, I continued my wandering towards to the bohemian quarter, Skadarlija. The architecture along the way was a fascinating mix of takes on brutalism. I especially enjoyed one building that appeared to be a concert hall.
Then, bursting out of the brutalism was the bohemian quarter (quite literally – in some cases, the “bohemian” part was the only part of the building that even remotely appeared non-brutalist.
Interestingly, there was a Sebilj, a traditional Ottoman fountain (the only remaining one in Sarajevo is packed with tourists day and night). Turns out, this one was a gift to Belgrade from the city of Sarajevo in 1989 (which feels like a sadly ironic twist given how poor relations would be between Serbia and Bosnia just a couple years later).
After the bohemian district, I stopped at what was the second most amazing church of the morning: the Church of St. Alexander Nevsky. I lit my requisite candle here – and got the fabled Serbian dinar coins in change (hilariously, they come in the 1, 2 and 5 denomination from what I received – for reference of how worthless these are, my overpriced hotel cocktail is ~600 dinar, and my Michelin-rated lunch yesterday (~$27!) was about 3500 dinar. I’m truly unsure where you’d ever use these coins, but they’re a cool souvenir.
The church itself was incredible – the frescoes were absolutely stunning, and the vibrancy of colors was impressive.
Then, I wandered up to my primary stop of the morning: Kalemegdan Park, which houses several attractions including the Old Fortress, a “Russian” church, the medieval torture museum, a clock tower, Roman ruins, the Victor statue (victory during Balkan wars against the Ottomans), as well as a variety of other attractions including a zoo and a very amusing “Dino Park” (with a ton of dinosaur statues). It also houses the military museum, which has an impressive collection of hardware including a rocket launcher.
The “Russian” church was both amazing and hilarious. At first, it seems like your typical Serbian Orthodox spot – and then, upon closer inspection, you realize that the chandeliers are made of bullets.
There was also a second chapel in the church complex, this one covered in beautiful mosaics.
After that, I wandered for lunch, stopping in at a place called “Hometown Foods” which sadly only offered non-Serbian foods, with the exception of horse meat. Not feeling especially adventuresome, I decided to stick with what I knew and ordered the Serbian equivalent of a hamburger, which ended up being ~2/3 the size of a dinner plate. Sadly it wasn’t great, so it ended up being a relatively disappointing meal.
I tried to go to the Tesla museum on the way back from lunch, but sadly they only offer tours every hour on the hour and I’d arrived at 1:03pm and was turned away (in fairness to me, their tour policy is not published anywhere I could see). Then, I headed back to the hotel. I think after so much traveling in the past two weeks, I just need a break, so I watched some tv and movies while planning for the remainder of my time in Europe and doing on-boarding for work, and am just taking it easy before my 4am departure for Romania tomorrow!