Belgrade has been a wonderful surprise. I’m enjoying the experience! I moved from a studio in the Dorćol neighborhood to a loft in more central Palilua. It’s sunny, comfortable, and most importantly close to everything. The renovated building has high ceilings and an antique open-cage elevator!
Belgrade has festivals every week and many museums and galleries to explore. I’m slowly making my way through attractions of interest. The friendly apartment owner provided valuable info on special activities and performances.
After traveling since October, my brain is on overload again, liong-term trqavel does that to you. I’m taking downtime to explore Belgrade – no rushing. Have had simple, memorable experiences interacting with locals. There’s so much to learn and see! Serbia’s turbulent history is complicated, with interesting stories of its fascinating royal dynasties – Kardjordjević and Obrenović.
This post has brief descriptions of Belgrade neighborhoods. I’ve visited most of them and explore new areas every day. When you look beneath the surface, every building and street has its own unique history and a deeper meaning.
Belgrade’s special atmosphere and way of life is a refreshing change from anything familiar. It’s good for the heart and soul to experience new places and cultures, but takes considerable effort and energy. This is my fifth new place, so far this trip.
Dorćol is a laid-back neighborhood known for its cafés, restaurants, and pubs. The name supposedly means “crossroads”. The area is near the Sava and Danube Rivers and was “a busy trading point during Ottoman occupation”.
Belgrade Bohemian district – Skadarlija – is within Dorćol. It’s best known for reasonably priced Serbian kafana restaurants with attentive waiters. I have a few favorites but am always trying new places. Traditional food is delicious and reasonably priced. Roving musicians play gypsy music while you dine.
Dorćol represents Belgrade’s multicultural history. In addition to Orthodox churches it’s home to the only surviving mosque – Bajrakli Mosque – and is the former center of Belgrade’s Jewish community. Each Orthodox church has a unique story!
Parks and Rivers
Dorćol has Belgrade’s largest park – Kalemegdan – near the confluence of the Danube and Sava Rivers. Known as the “symbol of Belgrade,” the beautiful park includes a two-thousand-year-old Roman Well, Belgrade Fortress, and Nebojša Tower.
They say if you haven’t visited Kalemegdan, you can’t claim you’ve been to Belgrade. I’ve walked through the large park – it was raining that day – and will return. The views are magnificent. The mysterious Roman Well has fascinated many, including Alfred Hitchcock.
New Belgrade – Novi Beograd
New Belgrade has “massive expanses of towering concrete building blocks in a world within itself”. It’s one of the “most populous parts of the city”. Established at the end of the 1940s, Novi Beograd “satiated Josip Broz Tito‘s desire for a huge capital city”.
As in Sarajevo, the blocks with plain and ugly but functional communist-style concrete buildings – also known as Brutalist Architecture – are slightly overwhelming. Genex Tower is a prominent Novi Beograd landmark. In spite of the architecture, some describe Novi Beograd as one of the “most exciting parts of Belgrade”.
Vračar is Belgrade’s smallest municipality and one of the city’s most desirable neighborhoods. The iconic Church of St. Sava, National Library of Serbia (once a brothel), and Beograđanka Skyscraper are located in Vračar.
West of central Belgrade, Kosančićev Venac was “built on the site of an ancient Roman necropolis”. The area was “damaged heavily during World War II” and is Belgrade’s oldest neighborhood. It has cobblestone streets and a “charming mix of architecture, tree-lined paths, and palaces”.
I ventured into Savamala neighborhood. It’s near the Sava River waterfront. Once considered Belgrade’s “cultural powerhouse,” Savamala became inhabited by drug dealers and pimps and was known as the “shabbiest part of the city”. Today, live music, bars, and art galleries have turned the neighborhood into a fun nightlife and cultural center.
Magnificent villas and mansions are characteristic of Dedinje, Belgrade’s wealthiest neighborhood. It’s said that “strolling through Dedinje opens one’s eyes to the riches of diplomats and businessmen involved in questionable actions during the 1990s” Balkan Wars.
Practically the “dictionary definition of a town within a town,” Zemun hugs the banks of the Danube River. People from Zemun are “fiercely independent” and don’t consider themselves part of Belgrade. The neighborhood is known for its restaurants – especially for fish lovers – and lively bars, pubs, and nightclubs.
Zvezdara neighborhood is Belgrade’s forest haven. Its interesting “mass of greenery” is home to local fauna, including rare protected owls and hedgehogs. It’s the neighborhood for hiking, walking, and enjoying nature. Zvezdara forest produces fresh air, includes a “natural underground water reservoir,” and helps prevent pollution from the industrial city of Pančevo reaching the center of Belgrade. It’s known as the “left lung of the city”.
My neighborhood, Palilula, “occupies some of Belgrade’s prime real estate”. It’s close to the city centre but without the traffic and intensity. The neighborhood developed during the Habsburg occupation of Belgrade. It’s an active, desirable location with interesting landmarks, markets, restaurants, and shops.
Rosenberg Trio Gypsy Jazz Swing Band
Rosenberg Trio is a famous Gypsy Jazz Swing Band from the Netherlands. They’ve performed throughout Europe, at Carnegie Hall, and several times at Belgrade’s Jubilee Guitar Art Festival.
Inspired by French jazz guitarist Django Rinehart and considered the “essence of Gypsy Jazz Swing Music” the trio has performed together for over 25 years. It’s a family affair, and the concert features two brothers and an uncle.
Last night I saw them perform at Belgrade’s Kombank Hall as part of Belgrade’s Guitar Festival. The group consisted of founder and virtuoso Štochelo (Štoke) Rozenberg main guitar, Mozes Rozenberg rhythm guitar, and Noni Rozenberg bass guitar.
Štoke is considered one of the best guitarists of all time. He started playing guitar at age 10 and won Guitarist Magazine’s prestigious Golden Guitar Award.
The performance was sold out and the audience went wild for the trio! They performed two encores and ended with a toe-tapping Serbian / Hungarian piece that had the audience squealing with delight. They’re a lovely group with a wonderful vibe and have recorded 26 studio and concert albums. It was a fun, memorable evening.
Next week I have a ticket for an International Piano Competition! I’m enjoying walking tours and have tickets for March ballet and opera performances at the National Theatre.