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

Belgrade’s Lost Monuments

As a city which went through significant turmoils in its modern, post-Ottoman history – from brutal occupations in WWI and WWII to major political changes in 1903, after WWII and in 2000 – Belgrade has had its fair share of monument destructions, however mostly at the hands of its occupiers. Unsurprisingly, removal of monuments to the recent past happened most immediately after the Partizans took … Continue reading Belgrade’s Lost Monuments

An African-American Star in 1920s Yugoslavia

In April 1929, Josephine Baker was the first African-American star to visit Belgrade, while she was on her tour around Central Europe on the Orient Express. The visit came during her peak popularity in Paris, just before she made her hit „J’ai deux Amours”, and while she was still shunned in her native US, despite entrancing everyone with her dance and skimpy exotic outfits. She … Continue reading An African-American Star in 1920s Yugoslavia

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

Sećanja Gojka Garčevića na II zasedanje AVNOJa u Jajcu

Ovu priču o putovanju između Kolašina i Jajca na drugo zasedanje AVNOJa 1943. kao i utiske sa samog zasedanja, zapisao je moj deda, Gojko Simata Garčević, koji je bio jedan od delegata koji su tamo predstavljali Narodno Oslobodilačko veće Crne Gore i Boke. Moj deda je rođen u Nikšiću, 1902 godine u trgovačkoj porodici, a umro je u Beogradu 1967. Pre rata, on je studirao … Continue reading Sećanja Gojka Garčevića na II zasedanje AVNOJa u Jajcu

Hidden Belgrade (40): National Assembly’s Grand Interior

Built in 1936, on the spot of the former Batal mosque, and just across the road from the royal place complex, the National Assembly building, was built to impress the power and ambitions of the ill-fated Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The outdated, Belle Epoque grandeur of its exterior was based on a design by Konstantin Jovanović in 1892, (later modified by Jovan and Petar Ilkić in … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (40): National Assembly’s Grand Interior

Beyond Brutalism: Belgrade’s Magical Pre-WWII Architecture

Although best known for socialist modernism and brutalism, Belgrade’s architecture is (in)famously eclectic due to the various political twists and turns that shaped the city’s identity (as I’ve written here). Although through much of the 19th century, Belgrade’s foreign and foreign-educated architects were trying to find their feet by copying architecture of Serbia’s powerful neighbours, in early 20th century and arrival of art-nouveau, which embraced … Continue reading Beyond Brutalism: Belgrade’s Magical Pre-WWII Architecture

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

Hidden Belgrade (36): ‘German Bridge’ and its Hero

Belgrade’s relationship with this iconic green-arched bridge, the city’s shortest and oldest continuously standing, started off in the worst possible way during the darkest days of World War II. After Nazi Germany attacked the Kingdom of Yugoslavia on 6 April 1941, the Royal Yugoslav Army blew up all of Belgrade’s bridges on the Sava and the Danube in order to slow down the enemy advance. … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (36): ‘German Bridge’ and its Hero

Hidden Belgrade (35): The Home of Serbian Expansionist Project

On August 10 1889, cannons announced the arrival of the teenage King Aleksandar Obrenovic to an empty plot in Dusanova street. Although cleared for years, the spot at which the young king was standing, held the remains of two empires between which the young Kingdom of Serbia was slowly growing. It used to be “Pirinc-han”: the palace of Eugene of Savoy during the Habsburg rule … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (35): The Home of Serbian Expansionist Project

Hidden Belgrade (34): Rabbi Alkalai, Zemun and Zionism

Although in the past few decades Zemun is best known for its tough guys (read: mafiosi), great lively restaurants a more chilled vibe than old Belgrade, this ancient town has for centuries been a vibrant melting pot of various cultures, drawing merchants and craftspeople to the border of Central Europe and the Orient, which, for centuries lay on the banks of the Danube. Despite many … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (34): Rabbi Alkalai, Zemun and Zionism

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

Hidden Belgrade (32): Eternal Belgraders

Sculptures on Belgrade’s buildings were created in the relatively narrow period of time. Out stone and bronze citizens were all born in the stretch of about 80 years, between the end of the austere Balkan architectural style in mid-19th century (which, following the Islamic custom forbade depiction of people) until the final victory of modernism in Belgrade’s  architecture, when Tito broke away from Stalin and … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (32): Eternal Belgraders