Occupation in 2-6 Pictures (2): Strahinja Janjić – a traitor’s traitor

On July 28th  1942, 36 year old Strahinja Janjić was taken to the infamous Banjica camp, on the charge of planning to assassinate Milan Nedić, the head of the puppet government that was helping the Germans control “German occupied territory of Serbia”. Banjica, ran in tandem by the Gestapo and Nedić’s government, claimed more than 3,800 lives and was the place where anti-fascist Serbs, Jews … Continue reading Occupation in 2-6 Pictures (2): Strahinja Janjić – a traitor’s traitor

Hidden Belgrade (64): The Cursed Ghost Ship

Having been in a bit of a wedding frenzy over the past few days, I thought about the history of what I thought was one of the most beautiful and doomed wedding presents in Serbia: the “Dragor” river yacht, which I once read was a belated gift of the Romanian royal family to their daughter Marija on the occasion of her marriage to King Aleksandar … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (64): The Cursed Ghost Ship

Homosexuality in Serbia through the Ages

One of my first encounters with the concept of other sexualities was when, as kid visiting my grandmother`s tiny summer house in Montenegro I was walking around the yard and pointed to a far-away house on a land neighbouring ours and asked who lived there. „That was cousin M.`s house…“ she said, somewhat darkly, unlike her eager explanations of who else lived in the 20km … Continue reading Homosexuality in Serbia through the Ages

Hidden Belgrade (63): Finding Vračar and Belgrade’s holiest mound

On May 10 1594, the Ottoman rulers of Belgrade decided to make sure to make the point to their Serbian subjects that any resistance to their rule is futile. The reason was the first massive uprising against the Ottoman rule in Banat, which erupted in the spring of that year, motivated by the victories of Habsburg forces against the Ottoman army, which 73 years before … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (63): Finding Vračar and Belgrade’s holiest mound

Hidden Belgrade (62): The End

My first memory of cemeteries were incessant visits to my grandad’s grave at Belgrade’s New Cemetery what I was a little boy. My grandad passed away at the age of 65 in the middle of the greatest economic crisis in Serbia in 1993 and, even though I was five, I remember my grandma trying to honour his memory by making sure we properly arranged a … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (62): The End

Occupation in 2-6 Pictures: Beginning

On this day 80 years ago, 6 April 1941, my great-grandparents’s flat in Vuka Karadžića street in Belgrade was torn in two by the Nazi bombs. On the same day, their relative, who was a child at the time was almost killed in the debris the Stukas made of an air-raid shelter by the Ascension church. A few days later, as the Kingdom of Yugoslavia … Continue reading Occupation in 2-6 Pictures: Beginning

Belgrade Erotic Epic

Given it is Spring and the birds and bees and slowly appearing, here are a few (in)famous places in Belgrade, which shaped the sex life of the city. Oriental allure One of the best books about the life of sex workers in early to mid 19th century Belgrade is undoubtedly “Kata Nesiba i komentari” by Ivan Janković. Janković, a famous Belgrade activist and legal scholar … Continue reading Belgrade Erotic Epic

Hidden Belgrade (61): Old School Belgarde

Ever since the First Serbian uprising in 1804, education was a major component in building the nation, as well as its identity, in large thanks to the two major personages of Serbian Enlightenment: Dositej Obradović and Vuk Karadžić. The first major educational institution was the Great School, which was operational between 1809 and 1813. It was devised by Obradović and attended by Karadžić and was … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (61): Old School Belgarde

Hidden Belgrade (60): The sacred tree of Bulbulder

Ever since the ancient times, some trees and plants were regarded as holy by the Serbs and all other Slavs. Although Serbs were mostly Christianised in the 9th century, many of the old customs remained and were incorporated into Christian holiday rituals – such as burning of an oak tree branch on Christmas eve – especially after St Sava secured autocephaly (autonomy) of the Serbian … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (60): The sacred tree of Bulbulder

Hidden Zemun

A vibrant city for itself for much of its history, Zemun is chock-full of history and quirky places, from its underground tunnels to a rather eerie stairway made of gravestones. Although settled since pre-history, it first entered recorded history as Taurunum when it was founded by the same Celtic tribe which founded Belgrade, Scordisci in 2nd BC. It was settled due to its great strategic … Continue reading Hidden Zemun

Hidden Belgrade (59): Yugoslavia’s Crib

Due to many destructions brought upon Serbia, there are a few houses that have been standing long enough and have been important enough to tell the story of the country’s history (and various incarnations). Thankfully however, one of them is located bang in the heart of Belgrade, at Terazije. One of the first works by one of Serbia’s first starchitects, Jovan Ilkić, this Neo-baroque house … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (59): Yugoslavia’s Crib

Making an entrance, Belgrade style

Entrances to buildings in Belgrade used to be stages where architects showed their utmost creativity in the interwar period. They were designed to woo potential tentants to buy or rent by making a block of flats look like a private castle, or to impose the serious nature of a company or official building. Some of my favourites were built while Belgrade modernism (local variant of … Continue reading Making an entrance, Belgrade style

Hidden Belgrade (58): Boosting Belgrade’s Economy, Ottoman Style

Although the idea of building malls and hotels to boost Belgrade’s economy seems very contemporary, however it has a long pre-history. A bit more than fifty years after Belgrade was conquered by Suleiman the Magnificent, between 1572 and 1578, the Grand Vizier Sokollu Mehmed Pasha (known in Serbia as Mehmed-paša Sokolović), who was immortalised in Ivo Andrić’s “the Bridge over Drina” decided to boost Belgrade’s … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (58): Boosting Belgrade’s Economy, Ottoman Style

Hidden Belgrade (57): Friends in need… or how Czechs and Slovaks shaped Belgrade

In the past few years much is made about Serbia’s alliances, whether old (albeit tumultuous) ones like those with Russia and France and or relatively recent ones with China and the UAE. Despite many memorial events in the past few years related to 80th anniversary of the start and 75th anniversary of the end of WWII, it is remarkable that no one decided to mark … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (57): Friends in need… or how Czechs and Slovaks shaped Belgrade

Hidden Belgrade (56): Prehistoric Belgrade

As the world seems to be teetering on the edge of a catastrophe in the past few years, many are looking back to pre-history for answers, whether it is in terms of diet (paleo!) or socio-political hot takes, from evolutionary psychology-based recommendations to (the very controversial) Bronze Age Mindset. No stranger to political controversies in more recent times, Belgrade (and Serbia) is the for pre-history … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (56): Prehistoric Belgrade

All The Belgrade Olympics That Didn’t Happen

Ever since their modern re-incarnation, the Olympics are an opportunity for countries to show off their wealth, might and cultural sophistication, all under a pleasant guise of global unity, fair play and athletic achievement. They are certainly the most enduring and spectacular pinnacle of Belle Époque intellectual trends from increased importance of sports in individual and social development (e.g. the Sokol movement), globalism, international competition, … Continue reading All The Belgrade Olympics That Didn’t Happen

Hidden Belgrade (55): Easy Urban Hikes

Given that this summer it will be more difficult and stressful for Belgraders to leave the city for their preferred coastlines of Greece, Croatia and Montenegro, we will be forced to be creative during our staycations. Thankfully, thanks to its geography, in Belgrade you are never too far away from places to escape the heat, have a nice hike and even see some of its … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (55): Easy Urban Hikes

Hidden Belgrade (54): A death and a riot which changed Belgrade’s history

Back in 1862, Zerek, was a warren of streets and gardens in still very much Ottoman Belgrade. Hugging the fortress which still held an Ottoman garrison lorded over an Ottoman Pasha, it was the home of the remnants of the Muslim Ottoman population, nestled within the crumbling city walls above one of the main cross roads at Dorćol and the Jewish quarter of Jalija and … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (54): A death and a riot which changed Belgrade’s history

Hidden Belgrade (53): Belgrade’s Most Storied Church

Church of the Ascension (Vaznesenjska crkva) lacks the glitz of Cathedral Church of St. Michael the Archangel (Saborna crkva), the grandeur of St. Mark’s and St. Sava’s, or romance of Ružica and Topčider church, but there are few churches, in the city who witnessed as many dramatic and glorious events in the city’s history. That was maybe its fate from the beginning given that it … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (53): Belgrade’s Most Storied Church

Hidden Belgrade (52): Rise, Fall and Rise Again of Belgrade Zoo

Belgrade Zoo was opened in July 1936, by its modernising mayor and wealthy industrialist Vladmiri Ilić, who donated the animals. Nestled in Belgrade fortress, it brought a whiff of exoticism to the city and attracted its elite, as well as the Royal Family, then officially headed by teenage King Peter II. It was part of the grand plans of beautification of Belgrade Fortress and Kalemegdan … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (52): Rise, Fall and Rise Again of Belgrade Zoo