A walk at the sunrise in the Balkan metropolis discovering its beauties and secrets.
Sara Gigante and Marco Giambattista – The ideal impact with a city like Belgrade, rich in history and in culture and with a controversial recent past, is the sunrise, when the night leave the place to the day and the buildings and the streets are colored with a mild, pale red.
Steps are tired, the legs too because of the trip , the city still has not properly waken up from the night’s rest. The windows reflects the weak light, a car driven by a sleepy driver hiccups on the desert street.
Belgrade is not a simple city, it is not possible to translate it easily with words, it escapes the schemes.
Its complicated structure was formed during the centuries, characterized by the turn over of dominators and conquerors, Belgrade has known the oriental as well as the western world, it was destroyed and then rebuilt several times, it has a more troubled past in comparison with many other European cities but notwithstanding it is full of happiness, sense of humor and vitality.
No matter how many times you have been in Belgrade: you will always find something to discover.
You don’t need so much time to understand that the center of the social life, the place in which it is possible to speak about any subject- from business to football to everything- in which contracts are signed and relations are built is the KAFANA.Each inhabitant of Belgrade has his/her beloved Kafana, the place in which he prefers to go and in which he feels like home.
The tour of Belgrade, even if it is only 6 o’clock in the morning, cannot begin but from the very famous street Knez Mihailova. The”Knez” is the elegant street per antonomasia, pedestrian area and commercial center. The street took the present-day shape in1867, after the emanation of the regulator plan by Emilijan Josimović. In 1870 the city authorities decided to give the name Kneza Mihaila to this street. Beside the very elegant shops, during this walk you can meet buildings of a relevant importance: the Hotel “Srpska Kruna”, Marko Stojanović´s house, the Hotel Rusija.
Terazije is without any doubt one of the most fascinating squares of Belgrade. It took the present day shape in the XX century when it was the place in which you could find the fanciest hotels, the most refined restaurants and the most expensive shops. The most solemn is the Hotel Moskva, built in 1906.In 1936 the new hotel Balkan was built on the ruins of the old one and the square started to be like nowadays in 1947, when the fountains and the tram rail line were built.
Then you arrive to Trg Slavija ( Slavija square), that till 1880 was nothing else but a place where the inhabitants of Belgrade used to go haunting wild ducks.
Walking through Belgrade it is easy to find yourself in a nice green park. The most beautiful and the most vivacious is surely Kalemegdan in which you can visit the Belgrade Fortress that dominates the confluence point of the river Sava and the river Danube.
From the height of the walls, the sight is surprised by an not ordinary landscape compared to the one my curious visitor’s eye got accustomed. The majesty of the rivers and their slow flow, the boats that move lazy, the greyish green of the thick vegetation.
But the “green” heart is Ada Ciganlija, the “beach” of Belgrade, the place in which the inhabitants go to relax and to enjoy the sun during the hot season. The island on the river is equipped with several sportive infrastructures, from golf to volleyball fields, and it is impossible to resist to the cultural events of bohemian tradition that have as protagonists writers, actors and groups playing all the kind of music.
Kralja Petra I, one of the several names that this street have had, is one of the most ancient streets in Belgrade, in fact it is a common idea that it was built in the Roman time, between the I and the II century A.C. Here you could find the most important buildings of Belgrade’s life- for example the first pharmacy and the first city hotel- and today it is the headquarter of the ecumenical patriarchate of the Serbian- Orthodox church and the Cathedral.
Trg Nikole Pasica is the youngest among the squares of Belgrade because it was rebuilt several times between the two world war; in 1800 the square was known because there was the biggest mosque in the city, the mosque Batal, destroyed in1869. The present-day shape was given in the Second World War when the old buildings were destroyed and the square was renamed Marx e Engels.
Trg Republike is located among “Gradska kafana”, the cinema “Jadran” and the National Theater. The present-day shape of the square was traced starting from1800 when, in 1868, Istanbul door was destroyed and in the following years the National Theater was built. After some years it was built the monument to the Prince Mihailo and then the National Museum that replaced the famous restaurant Dardanelli- meeting point of intellectuals and artists. After the bombing of the Second World War were built the “Press Agency” and the “International Press Center”.
After all these steps and a bit of stiff neck caused by walking with the nose towards above the great Belgrade’s night life is waiting for me, with its colors, its music and noisy happiness. The Balkan metropolis with its kafanas, clubs and all kinds of entertainments open every day all night long.
Advice: do not miss the clubs on the banks of the river Sava (splavovi) and do not forget to have a walk during the night in Skadarlija, where the artists met in XIX and at the beginning of XX century.