2018 Bucharest to Amsterdam

Europe » Serbia » West » Belgrade
July 18th 2018
Published: October 3rd 2018
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7-18-18 Wednesday. Belgrade, Serbia, former capital of Yugoslavia. We docked on the Sava River just off the Danube below the Belgrade Fortress, 400 feet above. Our bus tour of the city took us first to the Museum of the History of Yugoslavia, where in the House of Flowers lies the crypt of the dictator Tito along with artifacts from his rule. Tito was an enlightened despot who would not allow political opposition; was not under the control of Moscow; and as head of a non-aligned nation allowed the citizens contact with and travel to the West and allowed Westerners to visit Yugoslavia. He was beloved for providing a decent standard of living to his citizens with free health care, free education, full employment and affordable housing. But after his death the country slowly disintegrated into chaos and a civil war after the Berlin Wall fell. Later Belgrade was damaged by the NATO bombings in 1999 because of the Serbian ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, but it has been rebuilt except for a few places left as a monument to the war. Seems the Serbs still feel that they were the victims and not the villains in that war and that they should still have Kosovo.

We were taken to the inside of the fortress which is a large park with views of the merging Sava and Danube Rivers, a small mausoleum of an Ottoman hero, a bronze statue of a nude male atop a tall column which caused a controversy in the early 20th century, much historic military artillery, a collection of dinosaur statues. The fort is a testament to the site’s importance to the Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, Serbian and Austrian empires.

Adjacent to the fortress is the city center where we were let loose to do our own exploring. The main square is surrounded by charming old buildings. A nearby narrow “bohemian” street where the old buildings have new cafes, clubs, murals and galleries.

Later Simon and I returned to the fortress and went around to the back side where a small Orthodox church is built into the fortification wall. It had a barrel vault ceiling covered with murals. Down a few flights of stone steps is a smaller church that has walls and ceilings covered in beautiful mosaics which for some reason we were not allowed to photograph. We did photo some mosaics on the exterior.

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