First Years of Modern Belgrade

A century and a half ago, on April 6 1867, the last Ottoman soldiers left the Belgrade fortress, the northernmost post of the sprawling, if crumbling, empire. That day, celebrated with much pomp in Kalemegdan, marked the beginning of modern Belgrade. Under Ottoman rule, Belgrade was known as Dar al Jihad (House of the Holy War) and in the 17th Century it was one of … Continue reading First Years of Modern Belgrade

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

Pokretači 2.05 Ivan Brkljač/Mokrin House, Mokrin

Gost je Ivan Brkljač, čovek koji stoji iza projekta Mokrin House. Mokrin House je inovativni co-living i co-working prostor koji se ne samo trudi da ponudi jedinstveno mesto za digitalne nomade iz celog sveta, već i da oživi bivše najveće selo u SFR Jugoslaviji na samom severo-istoku Srbije. U našem razgovoru, Ivan je podelio priču o svom dugom putu od Novog Sada do Mokrina – … Continue reading Pokretači 2.05 Ivan Brkljač/Mokrin House, Mokrin

Hidden Belgrade (29): Voždovac’s Surrealist Church

From the outside the Church of St Constantine and St Helen in the suburb of Voždovac looks like a slightly more elegant standard-issue Serbian Orthodox church, with a demure grey façade and a prominent bell-tower. The current structure, an update of the church built in early 20th Century and damaged in WWII was designed by Dragomir Tadić, a renowned Serbian church architect of the late … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (29): Voždovac’s Surrealist Church

Serbia and Albania: Know Thy Neighbour

In October 2017, I went to Tirana for a conference about relations between Serbia and Albania, jointly organised by the Albanian Institute for International Studies and the European Movement in Serbia. One of the topics of the conference was the public perception of the relationship between the two countries, which made me instinctively shudder. Despite the recent displays of friendship between the Albanian Prime Minister … Continue reading Serbia and Albania: Know Thy Neighbour

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

“Serbsplaining” the West

From the early days of modern Serbia, and arguably before, Serbian perceptions and expectations of ‘the West’ were in many ways inextricable from how Serbians perceived themselves. Serbian uprisings against the Ottomans were from the outset imagined as a way for Serbia to re-join and catch-up with its Christian brethren from the West, who were expected to embrace it with open hands. After the last … Continue reading “Serbsplaining” the West

Why are Serbians not outdoorsy?

As we were climbing around the ruins of Machu Picchu, feathery clouds clung to peaks covered with thick emerald forest. Rain, which pounded from the morning, stopped and allowed sunlight to shyly caress the sheer black cliffs above the foaming river. Around us, hundreds of tourists were jostling with selfie sticks to capture these magical scenes. My chain-smoking Belgrade-born-and-bred mother slowly moved uphill, panting. Once … Continue reading Why are Serbians not outdoorsy?

Hidden Belgrade (27): Old headquarters of women’s movement in Belgrade

Although women were not barred from pursuing education in early 19th Century Serbia, in line with the global mores of the day, there was a lot of debate whether education will make them leave the family hearth and neglect their traditional roles, and of course whether mixing with men is at all appropriate. However, in the beginning of modern Serbia, when it achieved an autonomy … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (27): Old headquarters of women’s movement in Belgrade

Poverty and Politics in Serbia

I only became aware of inequality and class division once I moved to a country which is almost synonymous with them: the UK. At both university and work, my British friends frequently dissected levels of “posh-ness” in themselves and others, assessing how appropriate it was to play rugby or vote Conservative, given their background. I was, of course, dumbfounded. In Serbia, discussing “class” and inequality … Continue reading Poverty and Politics in Serbia

Hidden Belgrade (26): Slavija’s strange history, from MacKenzie to McDonald’s

Hated by drivers, and considered the ugliest square in Belgrade, Slavija’s riveting history ironically started off as an attempt to introduce British-style urban planning to Belgrade. The development of the square began with Francis Mackenzie, an enterprising Scottish missionary who moved to the city in 1876 in hope of making Belgraders devote more time to the Bible, rather than smoking and drinking. In 1879 he … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (26): Slavija’s strange history, from MacKenzie to McDonald’s

Hidden Belgrade (25): Belgrade’s lost public baths

Despite the city’s long periods under Roman and Ottoman rule, Belgrade currently does not have a single open public bath probably for the first time in the past 19th centuries. Although neither of them were opulent marble-clad pleasure palaces that can still be enjoyed in Budapest or Istanbul, they would certainly come in handy as atmospheric places to warm up in long winter months and … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (25): Belgrade’s lost public baths

Serbia’s paradoxical affair with history

When pundits look for a culprit for instability in the Balkans, their fingers often point to history, or rather the great fondness the people here have for it. Visitors to Serbia are often baffled by Serbians’ tendency to explain contemporary actions and attitudes by referencing events that happened several centuries ago. For example, it is not uncommon for somebody to explain Serbia’s awkward teetering between … Continue reading Serbia’s paradoxical affair with history

Hidden Belgrade (24): Bežanija airport

2017 marked the 90th anniversary of the opening of the now mostly forgotten, Belgrade International Airport, which was located next to the old Austro-Hungarian village of Bežanija, in what is now New Belgrade. This airport, however, was not the first airfield serving the city. The first airplane to fly from Belgrade took off in Banjica in 1910, close to where VMA, the military hospital complex, … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (24): Bežanija airport

Sarma, Testicles and Kid-roasts: Rural Serbia’s Real Foodies

The global foodie trend made urbanites in Serbia more conscious about their consumption, and even inspired some of them to try their hand at making healthier, or at least, tastier food. In Belgrade, there are now numerous events devoted to producers of anything from Serbian truffles to Serbian tabasco. Although there are some misfires, Belgrade’s Cheese festival, Night Market and Wine Jam constantly deliver a … Continue reading Sarma, Testicles and Kid-roasts: Rural Serbia’s Real Foodies

Start-ups in Serbia: Going Against the Gloom

Serbian entrepreneurs face more than economic and administrative challenges when launching new businesses Trying to make it on your own is nerve-wracking even in the most orderly of countries, but all the start-up Kool-Aid that Silicon Valley serves up nowadays is only slowly seeping into the Serbian water supply. This, of course, is primarily a result of real economic constraints, where few have sufficient capital … Continue reading Start-ups in Serbia: Going Against the Gloom

Pokretači 1.18 Via Serbia

Gosti poslednje epizode prve sezone Pokretača, Aleksandra Cvetković (koju znate iz 12. epizode) i Nemanja Potrebić iz Via Serbia, prirodnjačkog kluba koji stremi povezivanju ljudi u Srbiji, i šire, sa prirodom. Naši gosti su takođe podelili i par saveta o tome kako uživati u prirodi zimi, kao i svoja omiljena mesta u Srbiji (moja su ovde, a i moja drugarica Jelena je napisala zašto treba da … Continue reading Pokretači 1.18 Via Serbia

Serbian New Year: the perfect time to start appreciating Turbofolk

The extended holiday season in Serbia finally ends with a bang and a hangover on Serbian New Year’s day, on January 14. Like our belated Christmas, it is a consequence of the Serbian Orthodox Church’s continued adherence to the old Julian calendar, which lags 13 days behind the predominantly used Gregorian calendar. Unlike Christmas, Serbian New Year’s eve is a very raucous affair and a … Continue reading Serbian New Year: the perfect time to start appreciating Turbofolk

Pokretači 1.17. Burger House Beograd

“Ako uspete u Srbiji, možete uspeti bilo gde drugde” Braća Mirko i Stefan Lazar Larazervić su ljudi iza, po mom mišljenju, najbolje hamburgerdžinice u Beogradu: Burger House-a (FB, Instagram). Pričali su o tajnama iza njihovih preukusnih burgera, ne samo o sastojcima koje brižljivo biraju i često prave sami, već i kako su se od svojih početaka u 2013. marljivo i promišljeno bavili izazovima ugostiteljtva u … Continue reading Pokretači 1.17. Burger House Beograd

Understanding Marina Abramovic

For a nation that takes immense pride in its famous sons and daughters, the Serbian public’s apparent disinterest in Marina Abramovic’s global success as an artist is an aberration. Despite the fact that Abramovic is by far the most acclaimed living artist from the former Yugoslavia, the average Serb would probably not know her name. She is mostly absent from the Serbian press, there are … Continue reading Understanding Marina Abramovic