Belgrade from both sides of the Sava

Belgrade Travel Blog

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St. Sava

I awakened to a bright, sunny, and warm day……yeah!

It was Monday which meant, in general, most of the museums would be closed. I had read about two exceptions, The Museum of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Museum of Contemporary Art. I also wanted to enjoy my afternoon at the Fortress.

I set off for St. Sava, the large white temple near to Slavinja Square. Its near the hostel so, I was there in less than 15 minutes. It’s a beautifully symmetrical Byzantine styled church with a bit of park area around. The interior is not complete.

St. Sava is located in the eastern part of Svetosavski Trg. The construction preparations have lasted for a very long time, ever since 1894. At the second open competition in 1926 the architectural design of the architect Bogdan Nestorović was selected, with later incorporation of several elements of the project of the architect Aleksandar Deroko.

I gave a donation to the guy on the far left for the displaced children of the war with Kosovo.
The consecration of the foundations was made by Patriarch Varnava on September 15, 1935, and when the works have moved ahead, Patriarch Gavrilo consecrated and placed the charter in the altar, next to the cornerstone on May 27, 1939. Further construction was interrupted by the German attack on Yugoslavia on April 6, 1941.

 It was not until the summer 1984 that the state permission was obtained to continue the construction works, so on April 30, 1985, the temple, desecrated by war and human negligence, was consecrated again by Patriarch German in the presence of all Serbian hierarchs, and the charter on continuing construction works in new historical circumstances was laid again. Branko Pešić, an architect and university professor was appointed protomaster of the construction. Although still under construction, this monumental temple represents an organic part of modern vivid image of Belgrade, being one of its main features.

Upon leaving I was approached by a guy who was collecting money for the children of Kosova. Many had been made orphans and even more had been displaced, made homeless by the war. I can only hope that he was honest with his professed cause. I gave him a donation as I have a soft spot for the suffering of the Kosovars.

From what I had read, the Orthodox Museum was to be here……..wrong. I was mistaken as it is near the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral. It did give me a chance to visit St. Sava which I had not on my previous trip.

From there I walked down to the river and along it to reach the last bridge before the Danube. I crossed the Sava River, here, stopping to take many pics from the differing points. The fortress complex and the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral were very visible and prominent from here.

Upon reaching the other side of the Sava, I climbed down to river level and walked along the banks.

There is a nice path with even bike lanes along the park. There are many barges used as night clubs during the nicer months. I’m sure that it’s a picturesque and festive spot late at night with such a dramatic view across the river. I should visit in the Summer.

There was a guy playing with his dog. Throwing a stick into the river and the dog, happily, jumped in and swam after it.

I walked to the point where the Sava and the Danube meet. The view of Belgrade Fortress is best from here. I headed a bit inland to find the Contemporary Art Museum but, after quite a walk through the park, I was disappointed to find that it was under reconstruction….and from the looks of it, it would be some time before it would reopen.

So……I walked back to and crossed the bridge. I aimed for the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral and its museum. I reached it to find that carpets were being replaced and there was no admittance. So, that’s a no go on both of my museum desires for the day.

I walked to the Fortress……It would not be closed. In walking the pedestrian area, to reach it, I found an old Yugo with a cart attached. In the cart was a white sculpture of a very large, overweight man. It was a strange sight…..a pic was a must.

Some history of Belgrade Fortress:                                                                                                                 

High above the Sava and Danube confluence, on the rocky ridge which opens the view of Novi Beograd, Zemun and wide plains of Pannonia, there is the Belgrade Fortress with Kalemegdan, the former historical and urban center of Belgrade.

View of Belgrade Fortress from park in New Belgrade
This spatial complex consists of: The Fortress, divided into Upper Town and Lower Town, and the Kalemegdan park, the most popular promenade for Belgrade citizens.

Because of its exceptional strategic significance, at the end of the I century A.D. the Romans built a fortress here - Roman castrum, as a permanent military camp of the IV Flavius' legion. After its destruction by the Goths and Huns, it was reconstructed in the first decades of the VI century. Less than a hundred years later, it was destroyed by the Avars and Slavs.

Along the fortress on the hill above the Sava and Danube confluence, the ancient Singidunum has been raised up, and, at the same place the Slavs made their Beograd.

At the bend where the Sava and Danube rivers join
The mediaeval town has developed for centuries in the Fortress area, searching for safety within its thick walls. The Belgrade Fortress has been destroyed and renewed for many times. Above the Roman walls there are the Serbian, and above these the Turkish and Austrian fortifications. In the XII century, the Byzantine Czar Manuel Comnenus erected a new castle upon the Roman ruins. In the first decades of the XIV century, this small stronghold on the hill was expanded to the river banks.

As a new center of Serbia, under the rule of Despot Stefan Lazarević, Belgrade has been fortified with wide forts of Upper and Lower Towns. At the old castle, despot's palace has been built, and a war port has been built on the Sava. Within the walls, a prosperous mediaeval town has been developed. From 1521, when it was conquered by the Turks, until the XVII century, the Belgrade Fortress has not been significantly expanded.

A new period began with the Austrian-Turkish war. Having been the key fortress in the center of war actions during the XVIII century, it has been reconstructed three times. The old castle has been demolished, and a large part of mediaeval walls was covered by new fortifications.

Under the Austrian rule, from 1717 to 1739, after the construction of new, modern forts, the Belgrade Fortress became one of the strongest military fortifications in Europe. It was built by the design of the general Nikola Doksat Demorez, the Swiss in Austrian service. His destiny was to be shot right in front of the walls of the Fortress he designed, in a March morning in 1738, because he had lost the Niš battle. All of the new-built fortifications have been destroyed before the Turks returned to Belgrade in 1740. By the end of the XVIII century the Belgrade Fortress got its final shape. In the war destructions during the past decades almost all structures in Upper and Lower Towns have been demolished, while the wall have been considerably damaged.

The Knez Mihailova and Uzun Mirkova streets lead to the Belgrade Fortress.

Jugoslav art
At that direction are the main Fortress gates - Stambol Gate (inner and outer) and Sahat Gate. The entrance to the mediaeval fortress was on the eastern side (near today's Zoo), through Zindan Gate and Despot's Gate of Upper Town. The access to Lower Town is from Bulevar Vojvode Bojovića (Vidin Gate) and from Kara�'or�'eva Street (Dark Gate).

The fortress compound was buzzing with activity, today. Everyone was enjoying the sun and warmth…..even ice cream vendors were out…..a bit early but, everyone has to make a living.

I walked along the Sava side to the Victor Monument. Every bench was taken. Lovers were smooching, Old couples were arm in arm, looking out across the city and the rivers.

Victor Monument - In 1912, Meštrović designed a monumental fountain on the theme of the liberation of Serbia from the Turks which was to have stood at Terazije square.

At the fortress with the Victor monument in the background
The center of the fountain's basin would have contained a five-stepped column representing five centuries of slavery under the Turks and it was intended that the "Victor" should stand on top of this. After the end of World War I the project was given up, so that in 1928 the "Victor" was placed on a column in Kalemegdan as part of the 10th anniversary celebration of the breach of the Thessaloniki Front. This monument is often used as a symbol of Belgrade.

I rounded the bend to meet the Danube side. There were guys running along the upper edge of the upper wall……crazy kids. I exited the most dramatic and intact gate, the Zindan Gate. It’s my favorite.

Making my way around I was in luck that the churches of The Holy Mother of God and St. Petka’s Chapel were open and I was finally able to get a look inside as they were closed when I was here last. No pics allowed…..aarrgghh! I understand and respect their wishes…but, it’s frustrating. Some of these places had walls and ceilings covered in mosaics and colorful stained glass….

I can’t show you, though. It was amazing.

The Holy Mother of God Church (Ružica) is located near north-east walls of Belgrade Fortress, under the Zindan gate. In the time of Despot Stefan Lazarević there was an old church of the same name, which was destroyed when the Turks conquered Belgrade in 1521. What is now the church, was a gunpowder storage in the XVIII century, and turned into a military church in 1867-1869. It was heavily damaged after World War I and renewed in 1925. The iconostasis has been made by Kosta Todorović, and the icons it bears were painted by monk Rafailo Momčilović. The wall paintings were made by a Russian artist Andrey Bitsenko

St.Petka’s Chapel is located in the immediate vicinity of the Ružica Church. It was built next to a "miraculous spring", after 1867. The present chapel was built in 1937 according to project made by the architect Momir Korunović.

Ancient Serbian warrior
Its interior walls and vaults are covered with mosaics, made by the artist Đuro Radulović in 1980-1983.

Ok……quick observation. Many, many times on this trip to Belgrade, people approached me and asked the time. Do people here not wear watches? If not, why?

I finally found a free bench and had a snack while enjoying the courtyard view of the fortress and the people …..just being people.

I decided to head back and made my way across town to the hostel. I was really having a headache….bad.

When I returned, I relaxed a bit with Igor, outside and then went for a lay down. My headache was getting worse. We I went to the bathroom; I looked in the mirror and noticed that I had a red……head. I had gotten sunburned….no wonder I had a headache.  Igor brought me some Turkish headache remedy. He had no idea of what it was but, my head really hurt so I took it.

It helped…..and I saw the world in brilliant colors………just joking!

We had planned an evening out but, I was really not feeling well and his friend that was to join us wasn’t feeling well either. He and I just hung around my room and chatted until it was time for him to get home. I worked on some pictures but, no blog tonight.

Tomorrow….museum day, it would be a regular day for museums and I really wanted to see some good ones.

It spit rain a bit and got a touch cooler…’s ok, I’m staying in, tonight.

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St. Sava
St. Sava
I gave a donation to the guy on th…
I gave a donation to the guy on t…
View of Belgrade Fortress from par…
View of Belgrade Fortress from pa…
At the bend where the Sava and Dan…
At the bend where the Sava and Da…
Jugoslav art
Jugoslav art
At the fortress with the Victor mo…
At the fortress with the Victor m…
Ancient Serbian warrior
Ancient Serbian warrior
Monument with the citys emblem
Monument with the city's emblem
Othodox Cathedral - in Baroque sty…
Othodox Cathedral - in Baroque st…
Alongthe Old Town side of the Sava…
Alongthe Old Town side of the Sav…
Belgrade Fortress
Belgrade Fortress
Where the Sava and Danube meet
Where the Sava and Danube meet
Sava and Danube
Sava and Danube
photo by: EmEm