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Morava Style: Medieval Serbia’s Majestic Swan Song

When I first laid my eyes on Ravanica’s Church of Ascension last spring, it became apparent why medieval Serbia’s first and last autochthonous architectural style inspired so many artists through the centuries, from the graceful architecture of Branko Tanazević to the subtle poetry Vasko Popa. That cold April morning, I could not peel my eyes from the intricate rosettes and writhing mythical animals, which enlivened … Continue reading Morava Style: Medieval Serbia’s Majestic Swan Song

The Many Charms of Yugohotels

Hotels and resorts of Socialist Yugoslavia got a lot of press in the past few years (two examples here), especially as every summer more and more foreign tourists are heading to its coasts and cities over the summer. This recent fascination with ‘Yugohotels’ is more than just due to the trendiness of the Eastern Adriatic coast in the past few years, or the hipsterish love … Continue reading The Many Charms of Yugohotels

Northern Macedonia: (Quint)essential Balkan Country

Stunning scenery, beautiful historic sites and friendly faces are what you can find almost anywhere in Northern Macedonia. During both of my recent trips to the country, I was in equal measures surprised by the how wonderful many of its sites are – from the ruins of Marko’s Fortress in the dramatic hills over Prilep to the bustling Bitpazar market in Skopje – and shocked … Continue reading Northern Macedonia: (Quint)essential Balkan Country

Brief Histories of Favourite Balkan Foods

While foreign rule and power struggles often brought havoc to the Balkan peoples, it also left behind a diverse cuisine in which various influences merge and make the best use of the region’s fertile lands. While some regional specialities do not cross borders, the limits between the national cuisines in the Balkans tend to be blurry, with many nations enjoying same foods, albeit claiming them … Continue reading Brief Histories of Favourite Balkan Foods

Four Places You Need to Visit in Serbia in 2019

In the past few years, tourism has been booming in Serbia thanks to the country’s better connectivity with the rest of the world. According to the Serbian Statistical Office, between January and September almost two million people visited the country, a growth of about 11 per cent compared to the same time period in 2017. While most of those visiting the country stay in its … Continue reading Four Places You Need to Visit in Serbia in 2019

To the Holy Mountain: A Pilgrimage to Hilandar

For anyone who has had any kind of brush with the Serbian education system or the Serbian Orthodox Church, Hilandar is etched in the memory as the place where the glory of medieval Serbia survived almost intact for more than eight centuries. Hilandar was founded in 1198 by Stefan Nemanja, the first ruler of the Serbian medieval Nemanjic dynasty, and his son, Archbishop Sava, who … Continue reading To the Holy Mountain: A Pilgrimage to Hilandar

SpomenikDatabase: How an American Helped Preserve Memories of Yugoslav WWII Memorials

About a decade ago, Yugoslav WWII monuments were almost forgotten at home but started capturing people’s imagination around the world when Jan Kempenaers, a Belgian photographer, created his ‘Spomeniks’ (‘Memorials’) series, which included images of striking monuments at Kosmaj in Serbia, Podgaric in Croatia and Tjentiste in Bosnia and Herzegovina. His eerie photos of oddly-shaped memorials in dramatic settings attracted the attention of design and … Continue reading SpomenikDatabase: How an American Helped Preserve Memories of Yugoslav WWII Memorials

Best Three Places to Visit If You Are Planning a Staycation in Belgrade

Belgraders are often restless to escape the congested streets of the capital. Thankfully, they need not go far: there are plenty of hidden gems within reach to sate your wanderlust if strapped for time or money to venture further.   Grocka’s Archeological Treasures  A 40-minute drive east from central Belgrade, spread over hills above the Danube, Grocka has been a popular place for Belgraders to … Continue reading Best Three Places to Visit If You Are Planning a Staycation in Belgrade

National Museum of Serbia, preview

On this rainy day, I had the privilege of being allowed to see a preview of the National Museum’s new permanent display. As the old one was removed 15 years ago, the Museum for me is a vague memory, conspicuous by its absence. It was a place where I can’t take my visiting friends, it contained artworks that I, alas, cannot see, and was proof … Continue reading National Museum of Serbia, preview

Pokretači #31 Donald Niebyl – Spomenik Database / Illinois, USA

Donald Niebyl founded and manages Spomenik Database, a website dedicated to monumental Yugoslav WWII memorials. Donald not only travelled up and down former Yugoslavia visiting monuments (or ‘spomeniks’ as they are called in local languages), but he also researched and wrote detailed history of many of them, soon to be published as a book – ‘Spomenik Monument Database’ (pre-order on Amazon). Notes Spomenik database on … Continue reading Pokretači #31 Donald Niebyl – Spomenik Database / Illinois, USA

Zagreb: a Belgrader’s take

Despite being named as the best destination in Europe by travel guide publisher Lonely Planet in 2017, Zagreb was the target of a scathing and, at points, hilarious review in the German weekly news magazine Der Spiegel last July. The review not only claimed that Zagreb is the most boring capital in Europe, but also said that its highway to Croatia’s famed Adriatic coast was the best thing … Continue reading Zagreb: a Belgrader’s take

Finding Count Vronsky in Serbia

In 1878 Leo Tolstoy somewhat abruptly ended the story of desperate and broken Count Vronsky in Anna Karenina by sending him to Serbia to fight in the Serbo-Turkish War of 1876-1878, where he sought adventure, or even death, as penance for his famously ill-fated affair. A century and a bit later, this slightly inelegant end to the story of one of the protagonists of this … Continue reading Finding Count Vronsky in Serbia