** Belgrade** Overview
As the capital of Serbia, ** Belgrade**'s name means White City, which doesn't really do justice to a city that's so full of colour. Although not pretty in the traditional sense of olde-worlde charm than many European cities possess, Belgrade has its own plucky style that makes it one of Europe's most adventurous cities.
Although the city's past is somewhat chaotic, its incredible history goes right back to around 7000 B.C.. One of Europe's most prominent prehistoric cultures, the Vinča culture, began in the area. The city later became home to Thraco-Dacians until the Celts took over in 279 BC. During Emperor Augustus' reign, the Romans conquered the city. Next came the Slavs before the city passed through several more occupations, finally falling to the Ottoman Empire. The Austro-Ottoman wars saw the destruction of much of the original city, but in 1841, Belgrade became the capital of Serbia. When Yugoslavia was created in 1918, the city became its capital until its 2006 dissolution.
Today, Serbia's capital is heading towards a bright future. Socialist traces are still evident among otherwise art nouveau architecture and what's left of the Habsburg and Ottoman legacies. With the Sava River flowing into the Danube in the city, visitors enjoy pleasant parkland and cityscapes along with traditional culture blending with modern living.
Knez Mihailova is a vibrant pedestrianised boulevard where visitors admire its historical buildings that line the route to the ancient city fortress. Savamala district is Serbia's new creative headquarters and a fascinating bohemian district to visit. There are also many museums to indulge in, portraying the country's cultural, religious and military history.
Serbia's capital is known for having a strong Slav spirit and is a welcoming place for everybody. Popular annual events include the Summer Festival and the famous International Film Festival. The city also boasts annual Theatre and Jazz Festivals as well as a Book Festival.
Things to Do
Known for a genuine and unique local spirit, cultural and art scene and a fascinating history, Belgrade is brimming with places to visit and things to do.
Must-See Belgrade Sights
The Fortress is a must-see with its lovely old buildings, museum and park. Also, don't miss The Gardos Tower with 360-degree views of ** Belgrade** and the Danube and Sava rivers. St Sava Temple is an impressive, large building with a fascinating crypt and lovely arches, paintings and mosaics. Finally, there's the fascinating MuzNikola Tesla Museum where visitors can learn about the genius Tesla and learn about his life, experiments and inventions.
The USCE Shopping Center is one of the city's prime spots to shop and can rival the top shopping malls in many major European cities. Shopping, food and refreshments are all under one roof in this spacious, modern and clean environment! Therefore, visiting is a must in this energetic retail atmosphere with the city centre just a 10-minute drive away.
Belgrade marks a new dawn for nightlife in Serbia! Clubs including Vanilla, Hill and Stefan Braun are popular with locals as well as visitors from outside of Serbia who flock to enjoy the DJs behind the decks in many buzzing settings. Some of the best clubs in the city are on the banks of the Sava and Danube rivers and these are Dragstor, Acapulco, Bollywood and Blaywatch.
A Taste of the Local Markets
Grab a shopping bag and discover Belgrade's markets. In the city centre lies Zeleni Venac; it's a short walk from Republic Square and offers a nice selection of local produce including cheeses, meat and bakery products. Kalenic market is the city's biggest open-air market with delicacies like grilled lobster and kajmak, conjuring a local atmosphere. Finally, Bajloni Market is one of the best places to buy fruit, vegetables and cheese, and it connect with the locals.
Belgrade restaurants boast a wide selection of food at very affordable prices. You can sample world cuisine such as Greek, Italian, Chinese, Indian, Thai and Mexican. There's something for everyone to enjoy! Some of the best restaurants are Lovac, Ambar, Sofa Restaurant, Panta Rei and Voulez-Vous. Making a reservation is advisable, especially during the busy season.
Calendar of Events
Belgrade hosts some of the world's finest festivals, embracing every aspect of the arts. All art forms are well represented, including music, theatre, cinema and visual arts, all celebrated in a series of annual events.
Belgrade Jazz Festival. Founded in 1971, the Jazz Festival runs every year at the end of October and is held at various locations across the city. As Serbia's oldest jazz festival, it's also one of the most well-established internationally and is now part of the European Jazz Network. The festival highlights the top jazz artists of the year and unites global jazz cultures. Its programme attracts new talent as well as established jazz musicians from all around the world.
Belgrade Book Fair. The book fair also takes place at the end of October every year and is an eight-day event. Many top publishers attend as well as booksellers, wholesalers, librarians and best-selling authors promoting their books. The event showcases works of fiction and non-fiction as well as many other genres such as religion, theology, practical and computing books and various periodicals.
The International Film Festival. This famous festival celebrates cinematic art achievements in the film industry and runs from late February to early March. Attracting some 4,000 visitors, this is one of Europe's top film festivals and it's not uncommon to see around 3,800 international films on the programme, most of which will be enjoying their national premiere.
** Belgrade** Summer Festival. From July to August every year, ** Belgrade** comes alive with its annual Summer Festival, encompassing the performing arts, visual arts and music. Many cultural institutions collaborate with talented individuals and artists who perform before packed audiences. The Summer Festival tells the story of the city and its all-embracing and communicative urban essence, which is what makes it so unmissable.