The AC-DC incident
Belgrade Travel Blog› entry 2 of 9 › view all entries
The city of Belgrade looks so much nicer this morning - it is sunny and fairly warm. I head out walking through the city to what is supposedly the best museum of all of Belgrade and possibly all of Serbia - the Nikola Tesla museum. I get there but I can’t join in on the next tour because it is fully booked by a group of schoolchildren - I don’t get why they are going to museums on a Sunday - but apparently that’s the way it is done in Serbia.
Instead of waiting outside the museum for a bit over an hour I decide to enjoy the nice weather and walk around the neighborhood. Close by is the St. Marko Church it is a quite impressive orthodox church - I would like to have a closer look inside. But unfortunately this is not possible because it is Sunday and there are a mass going on - and for what I know about orthodox masses you should not just hang around until it is finished because that’s most likely going to take several hours. Hence I give the church a miss and continue my walk towards the government district where I pass by the Serbian government district which is home to the National Assembly, the president palace, the parliament and the city assembly all within a few hundred meters from each other.
I have more or less spent my hour of wondering around the city so I head back to the museum. Nikola Tesla is one of the main Serbian hero’s of all time. Hence every time I tell a Serb I never heard about him before I decided to go to Serbia they are very surprised - they all thought he would be world-famous and everybody would know about him. They even named the Belgrade airport after Nikola Tesla.
I get in to the museum and see what the man is all about - and it is pretty clear he is a really smart man. He had a huge number of patentees from all his inventions but unfortunately he was a poor business man and didn’t make much money of it himself. His main achievement was the invention of the induction engine which has had a huge impact on daily life through the 20th century and till this day. But he also invented the first remote control and experimented on radio transmission and X-ray technology.
His engine used alternate currents which brought him into direct conflict with the main man inside electricity at the time - Thomas Edison.
Thomas Edison was using direct current for most of his inventions - hence an introduction of alternate currents would render many of his patents obsolete and hence cost him a fortune. Hence Thomas Edison wanted to prove that alternate currents would be dangerous to use. The way he chose to do this was by using one of Tesla’s patents and makes the very first electric chair for New York using alternate current. The implication being straightforward - alternate currents can kill you.
In the end alternate currents proved to be far superior and we all use it safely today. But despite this superiority Tesla never made a fortune. I leave the museum which is closing by now - its only open till 1. From here it’s just a short walk to the future main church of Belgrade. I stress future because it is still work in progress. The construction in 1935 but have been halted repeatedly - first by the Nazis during the war - then by the communist during this era. And later it was halted by simple lack of funds. If the church is ever completed it will be a very impressive building which should be the biggest orthodox church in the world.
I go from the church towards the fortress of the city. It is a bit of a walk - but walking through the old town for some of the distance make it a pleasant alternative to taking a bus or a tram. I get inside the fortress where I actually just want to stroll around for a bit. But I am distracted by all the tanks at the entrance to the fortress. The tanks are part of the exhibition of the military museum of Serbia and I decide to go in and have a look. There are several things on display - but they are not quite as eye catching as the tanks and gun outside the museum. But the fact of the matter is the main thing you go to the museum to see is the piece of the F117 the Serbs shoot down during the NATO bombing campaign.
It was a bit puzzling at the time how the Serbs manage to shoot down this plane which was invisible on radar. But it turned out the Americans had only tested the plane against modern radar systems - like the one the Soviet Union or Russia would have. But the Serbs didn’t have this kind of modern radar - they had very old radar systems. And these old systems use so much power that even a stealth airplane will not be invisible anymore - and the Serbs could see them.
I head out of the museum and go in and have a look at the rest of the fortress. At the very end of the fortress is a big statue which commemorates the victory in the First World War. The statue should have been placed inside the city but the lack of clothes for the statue meant the good citizens of Belgrade could not accept the statue in the middle of the city - instead the statue is now placed at the very edge of the city - looking away from the city.
I walk down from the fortress passing some old churches and head back towards the old town - unfortunately all good comes to an end and suddenly it starts to rain. I take it as a sign of no more sightseeing today.