A walk through the bohemian, cobbled streets of Belgrade
After a conscious uncoupling in 2006 from Montenegro, Serbia has stood alone as an independent state, but its capital is often overlooked.
Though it isn't considered a 'Beta' city, rather than Europe's mega cities like Paris or Milan, Belgrade has enough architectural, culinary and cultural charm to be paid a visit.
Paris has the Left Bank; New York has Greenwich Village and Belgrade has Skadarlija. Whilst gentrification has turned the two former mentioned districts into high-end shopping areas or streets filled with overpriced restaurants, there is still an endearing sense of early 20th century Bohemianism to Skadarlija. Along cobbled streets, you will be greeted by modest but chic bars and eateries that serve wholesome Serbian cuisine.
The cobbled streets of Skadarlija
A proponent of the area's movement in the 20s, Djura Jakšić, a local poet, still has a presence in the neighbourhood as his house is still intact and poetry nights and other types of performances often occur nearby.
The area's Bajloni market is also a pleasant way of spending a morning or afternoon and sells a great range of fresh meats, fruits and vegetables. Those looking for dinner during a night time stroll will surely be enamored by the lively and welcoming atmosphere of the many bars and eateries that line the main street. Favourites include 'Sesir moj' - a restaurant that offers delicious local food and excellent hospitality, as well as Ima Dana - a cosy tavern, or 'Kavana', in the heart of the quarter.
Bars and taverns are a common feature in Skadarlija
Architecturally speaking, Belgrade shouldn't look as stunning as it does. It was heavily bombed in 1999, but luckily managed to retain its key features and bounce back from the devastation that was caused. Luckily, one of its oldest areas, the Belgrade Fortress, wasn't affected by the blasts and took hundreds of years to complete - even changing hands over this time, too.
The fortified area, which is located in the urban area of the city, starting being built in 535 by Byzantine Emperor, Justinian I and is currently the number one top place to visit on Trip Advisor. It consists of four main areas: Donji Grad, Gornji Grad, Mali Kalemegdanski Park and Veliki Kalemegdanski park. These sections are comprised of historic architectural structures and designs that stretch from the 2nd century all the way up to the 1800s.
In Donji Grad, for example, Ružica Church has seen many changes in its history. From being destroyed by the Ottomans in 1521, to the damage it suffered during the First World War it is still standing. In many ways, it's a testament to the resilient nature of the city.
The church is masked with greenery
More recent times have seen the implementation of Kalemegdan Park, a plateaued area that was repurposed into a park from a section of the fortress that would have aided soldiers in seeing approaching combatants. These days, rather than foes, the park offers an enchanting view of nearby rivers Sava and Danube and is also home to sculpted works of art, a gallery and even a zoo.
Kalemegdan Park's hilly nature is very distinctive
Today, due to their spectacle, the grounds are often used to open outdoor events, and have played host to musicians such as Iron Maiden, Green Day and the late Amy Winehouse.