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Clare
Clare

Day 13: Belgrade

We were pretty tired last night after our long day of travelling and adventures trying to get into the apartment, so we had a relaxed start to the day and it was 10am before we were ready to explore Belgrade. The apartment is located quite centrally, but on a street so small that it isn't marked on any of our maps of Belgrade, so we weren't exactly sure which direction to head in to find the main attractions. Luckily within a few minutes of walking we caught sight of this attractive park with a beautiful Orthodox church in the distance.

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It turned out to be the church of Sveti Mark, one of the largest churches in Serbia, and meant that we were on the right track to find the centre of town. Just around the corner from there we found the impressive building of the Serbian parliament. We had seen it lit up last night as we were in the taxi from the bus station to the apartment, but had been too focussed on finding our accommodation to appreciate it.

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Nearby was also the Stari Dvor (Old Palace) which was formerly the royal residence of the Obrenović dynasty and is now the home of Belgrade's city assembly.

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As we wandered through the surrounding streets, passing through various squares and parks, we were impressed by the attractive facades on many of the buildings and by the pretty flower displays. It sounds like a minor thing to remark on, but Macedonia and Montenegro are notably lacking in landscape gardening. There was one place in Skopje where someone had made an attempt at planting a flower bed but they seemed to have bought several hundred identical yellow flowers which, when planted all together, just looked rather garish and definitely weren't going to win any sort of 'Balkans in Bloom' competition! Belgrade looks very cheerful with all its flowers.

Before long we had arrived at the most impressive sight in Belgrade: the Kalemegdan fortress.

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The fortress is located on a hill at the end of the old town, overlooking the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers.

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There have been fortifications on this site since before the Romans, but the present day fortress dates mainly from a period of Austrian rule in the eighteenth century. Nowadays the inside of the fortress is a pleasant park, with lots to explore. We started walking around the edge of the fortress and were impressed by the walls and towers.

 

We also found the little church of St Petka, which is in a beautiful position overlooking the rivers.

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We were so excited by seeing the rivers that we decided to climb down from the fortress and see whether we could walk alongside them. We had to negotiate a rather busy main road and a railway line but we managed it.

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From the river bank we had a great view back up towards the fortress.

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We sat and had a drink in a bar overlooking the river before climbing back up the hill. It felt like a much longer way up than it had on the way down! We were climbing towards the Victory Monument, built to commemorate Serbia's victory over the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires during the Balkan Wars and First World War.

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This photo with me in it gives some idea of the scale of the monument.

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As we walked through the central part of the fortress we also encountered the Monument of Gratitude to France, which was constructed in recognition of assistance from France during the First World War.

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It was also noteworthy that we found the first health and safety notice we've seen all holiday on some of the fortress ruins!

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Leaving the fortress, we spent some time wandering around the rest of the city centre. The architecture is mixed, with some really ugly modern stuff but also some really beautiful streets like this one.

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We were keen to locate the Saborna Crkva, Belgrade's cathedral, which we had caught a glimpse of from the fortress.

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Mission accomplished, we headed back to our apartment to escape from the sun for a bit. Although it had been raining when we woke up, it has turned out to be an exceptionally hot day here and thinking suncream wasn't necessary may have been an error of judgement!




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