After seven weeks of pure joy roaming through Bulgaria and Romania, I was hoping that Serbia would be just as enjoyable. Over the past sixteen years of traveling in Europe, I had heard both good and bad things about Serbia. Of course, the Balkan war helped form my personal opinions of Serbia, but I knew I had to see the country in order to form a more accurate view based on personal experience, rather on what I was told or read. In addition, I was working with the Serbian Ministry of Culture during my nine days in country and I wanted to approach my trip with an acute eye on everything I experienced.
My goal was to see as much of the country during my nine day stay as humanly possible. I did not want to turn into a checkbox traveler, but I did need to provide the ministry with a diverse group of photos. Therefore, my plan was to visit Belgrade, Zemun, and Novi Sad. Strangely, things don’t always go according to plan.
I arrived in Belgrade via train from Timisoara, Romania. The train ride was tolerable; it only lasted around three hours. Once I arrived, the heat was imposing. It was extremely hot and I knew right away that this would be a challenging assignment. I was a bit spoiled by spending the last three weeks in the Transylvanian mountains; which kept the climate cool and comfortable. It felt like I was constantly in a microwave oven. Luckily, my private room at Manga Hostel had an AC unit.
Where I stayed.
My week in Belgrade was an amazing experience thanks impart to the amazing staff at Manga Hostel. The entire staff are friendly, welcoming, and extremely helpful.
Manga Hostel is ideally located in the center of the city. It’s right across the street from Saint Mark’s Church and only a few blocks away from the Palace of the Assembly of Serbia.
Saint Mark’s Church
Saint Mark’s Church was built in-between the first and second world wars.* Construction on the church began in 1931 and it was completed nine years later in 1940. The church is situated at the edge of Tasmajdan Park.
I visited the church during my first few days. There is no cost to enter the church and pictures are allowed without flash. During my visit, there were hay bails scattered throughout the church. People were kneeling and creating crowns out of the straw. I slowly approached someone and asked them what they were doing. She told me that creating a crown would bring love and peace into your life. How sweet is that?
The church was beautiful and I am glad I had a chance to take pictures and pray during my visit. From Saint Mark’s I walked over to the Palace of the Assembly of Serbia. Although I had a press pass, I still could not go inside to take photos.
Cathedral of Saint Sava
Saint Sava Cathedral is a good 20-25 minute walk from the hostel. Simply head south on Kralja Milana Street and you will soon see the huge dome of the cathedral The cathedral is the largest orthodox church in the world. Saint Sava was the founder of the Serbian Orthodox Church. The interior of the church is under complete renovation and will not be completed any time soon.
Another amazing place worth visiting in Belgrade is the Kalemegdan Fortress. The fortress is situated in the north part of the city and is about a 30 minute walk from the Manga Hostel. Due to a pretty serious calf muscle injury, I was not able to walk around the city for two days and during my time at the fortress the injury began to hurt again. I know… I am getting old!
After my calf healed I visited a military museum and the history museum. I recommend visiting both museums. The history museum had an exhibition on foreign photographers who worked for visiting dignitaries. I viewed hundreds of photos and saw dozens of videos which interviewed the photographers asking them how they approached each of their assignments.
Behind the history museum is the House of Flowers, where the former leader of Serbia and the former Yugoslavia is buried. Tito was a larger than life character and was respected by leaders throughout the world. He loved his country and visited hundreds of countries promoting his homeland.
My week in Belgrade was enriching. I stayed at a very cool hostel and was able to work for the Ministry of Culture by providing them with photos. My plan was to go to Novi Sad from Belgrade, but I decided to head south to Nis. Therefore, my next post will be on the historically rich city of Nis.
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