Exploring Europe: Belgrade – The Capital of Fun

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Nightlife

Skadarlija: what used to be a focal point of writers and painters is now a focal point of actors, musicians, and everyone else who wants to have a good time in the cobblestone street paved in the midst of renowned, traditional bars and restaurants. The Montmartre of Belgrade is located in the urban-bohemian borrow of the city. Don’t expect to walk out of there sober. It’s been a must-go-to spot for countless worldwide celebrities for decades.

“Kafanas” (traditional Serbian pubs) and “splavs” (river clubs) are the places to be if you want to experience the famous hospitality of the Serbian people, adrenaline-spiking trumpet melodies, and hangovers that last for a whole week.

Communist Relics

Belgrade’s history is rife with turbulence. The Romans, Ottomans, and Hungarians, and naturally, the Serbians, are just some of the great nations that have shaped the city and left numerous marks and scars on it that make it what it is today.

But, a lot of foreign visitors are most fascinated with the city’s most recent historic period – the Yugoslavian Era. Unlike most communist countries of the time, amid the Cold War, Yugoslavia sided with no one and did their own thing. It was a bridge between East and West.

Unlike with most ex-communist countries, the socialist era of Yugoslavia inspires a gamut of positive memories and emotions among many of its former citizens. The unique Yugoslavian take on communism was even branded Coca-Cola Socialism. Its uniqueness is sure to spark wonder and curiosity, regardless of what you think of the ideology.

The best part? Unlike with most historic museums, at the Museum of Yugoslavian history, you actually get to see what the people were like back in the day. For a truly surreal experience, visit the attraction on the 25th of May when waves of “Yugonostalgic” pilgrims visit the president’s mausoleum located within the museum.

The brutalist architecture of Belgrade is like no other. You’re in for a treat if you appreciate seeing concrete behemoths. New Belgrade, one of the city’s boroughs, is relentlessly modernist. The epic, monumental, space-age inspired buildings of the communist era resemble stars, rockets, and flying saucers made of nothing but steel and concrete.

Festivals and Award Shows

No matter what you’re into, you’re likely to find a refreshing, Slavic, take on your favorite interest. It’s all made possible by brilliant Serbian enthusiasts who have made Belgrade the cultural hub of the Balkan’s. Whether we are talking about contemporary art exhibitions and film festivals, or more niche events and Berlin-esque parties, Belgrade has it all.

One such niche event was the AskGamblers Awards that took place in January 2019. The award show was organized by the world-renowned game of chance info portal AskGamblers. Instead of handing out awards arbitrarily, as can often be seen in the industry, they asked their players to chose the best slots, game providers, etc. Point being: the town has something for everyone but presented with a new twist.

The city even has its own mini version of Burning Man called Dev9t that takes place among factory ruins and junkyard cars turned into authentic contemporary art pieces. But what makes these events so great?

The answer lies in the ingenuity and creativity of the country’s people. Serbia’s economy was devastated in the nineties and the country was left isolated from the rest of the world. But, not to be left behind, the Serbian youth managed to find cost-effective ways to keep up with the zeitgeist. As a consequence, Belgrade has many talented individuals who rely on their gut, creativity, and resourcefulness, instead of the purchasing power of their wallets. They have managed to turn Belgrade in a true, authentic capital of culture.

Orthodox Churches

Belgrade offers something different to those who have grown tired of baroque and gothic cathedrals of European capitals. St’ Sava Temple is one of the biggest Orthodox churches in the world and the biggest one in the Balkans.

The construction of the temple began in 1935. Similarly to Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia, the construction is incomplete, but the temple is still an awe-inspiring sight, both inside and out. The dome can be seen from almost every corner of the city.

There’s also the cavernous Neo-Byzantine St.Mark’s Church. Its sublime wall of religious paintings and icons will make you feel like you’re in the glory days of the Eastern Roman Empire.

Conclusion

Belgrade is without a doubt one of the coolest places for budget travelers. The city’s historic resilience has shaped it into a diverse, yet one-of-a-kind European capital. The blend of East and West, socialism and consumerism, historic and modern, leaves no one indifferent.