The City of Belgrade

Belgrade (Beograd) is the capital of Serbia having about 2 million inhabitants. Belgrade is situated in South-Eastern Europe, on the Balkan Peninsula. It lies at the confluence of the Sava and Danube Rivers in north central Serbia, where the Pannonian Plain meets the Balkan Peninsula. Belgrade is the capital of Serbian culture, education, science and economy. As a result of its tumultuous history, a lot nations have been living in Belgrade for centuries, and Serbs of Orthodox christian religion are the majority of population (90%). The official language is Serbian, while foreigners are recommended to use English in communication.

Belgrade is one of the oldest cities in Europe and since ancient times it has been an important traffic focal point, an intersection of the roads of Eastern and Western Europe. Its history lasts full 7000 years. The area around two great rivers, the Sava and the Danube has been inhabited as early as palaeolithic period.

Ancient sources provide the oldest known name for Belgrade - Singidunum. 6000 years long history - and the first written documents date back to the 3rd century B.C. The name of the settlement was preserved throughout the Roman rule. With the division of the Roman Empire in 395, Singidunum passed over to the Eastern Empire, i.e. Byzantium, and the name of the city gained a Greek sound: Singidunum became Singidon. Favored by the weaknesses in the defense of the Byzantine border, Slavs started frequently crossing the Danube in the 6th century and gradually settled in the area. The stone built fortress rising above the rivers was dubbed Beli Grad (white city). The first record of the Slavic name Beograd dates back to 878, during the rule of the First Bulgarian Empire.

Between the 16th and 19th century Belgrade is referred to with various names in different languages: Alba Graeca, Alba Bulgarica, Bello grado, Nandor Alba, Griechisch Weissenburg, Castelbianco... However, all these names are translations of the Slavic word Beograd.

The History of Belgrade

The first human settlements on Belgrade soil developed as far back as 7000 years ago. The area around two great rivers, the Sava and the Danube has been inhabited as early as palaeolithic period. This is borne out by numerous archaeological sites with material evidence, ranging from the culture of the Old Stone Age and other prehistoric cultures, to the Middle Ages.

Vinča near Belgrade comes among the most important settlements and cultural sites of the prehistoric period. Vinča is a prehistoric tell on the very bank of the Danube, with the remnants of the material culture of the prehistoric man (the Neolithic plastics). There were discovered numerous houses, sod houses with the remnants of material culture of the prehistoric man. Each of the settled prehistoric levels, which mark individual stages of life in Vinča (in the period from around 4500 to 3200 BC), contains real treasures of a wide variety of artifacts: implements and weapons made of stones and bones, earthenware for everyday use, elaborately decorated ritual vases, a great number of anthropomorphic and zoomorphic figurines of exceptionally impressive stylization, jewelry made of different kinds of rare and precious materials, and countless other objects and works of art made in the very Vinča or procured from distant regions - from the Central Europe, the Lower Danube river basin or from the Mediterranean.

The discovered artifacts can nowadays be seen in the National Museum in Belgrade, the Belgrade City Museum, and in the Vinča Collection at the Faculty of Philosophy in Belgrade. Around 4000 BC, the Vinča culture stretched over a territory larger than the territory of any other Neolithic culture in Europe. Some of its settlements had exceeded, by their size and population, not only all the contemporary Neolithic settlements, but also the first towns that emanated much later in Mesopotamia, Aegea, and in Egypt.

Culture in Belgrade

Belgrade has established itself as one of the brightest centres of culture in the whole region, offering a diverse selection of arts, including music, theater, art, photography & film, dance, theater and museums. Approximately 11 000 cultural-artistic programmes are performed annually in Belgrade, while festivals such as FEST, BITEF, BELEF and BEMUS along with the Book Fair have long time ago gone beyond the national lines and become part of European cultural and artistic stage.

The history of fine arts goes back for many centuries, but in the form of religious paintings. Frescoes and iconostases made by known and unknown artists adorn many orthodox churches. The list of important painters who became famous in Belgrade starts with the romanticist Đura Jakšić, who was also a poet and a bohemian. He was followed by Nadežda Petrović and Sava Šumanović and in the second half of the 20th century by Bata Mihajlović, Petar Lubarda and Mića Popović... If you want to see their work you should visit the National Museum.

Ivo Andric, the only Serbian Nobel Prize winner, left a deep trace in the Serbian literature. He wrote his most important works, "The Bridge on the Drina", right here in Belgrade.

Most of Serbia's film industry is based in Belgrade, and one of the most notable films to be made was 1995's Palme d'Or winning Underground, directed by Emir Kusturica. One of the biggest film archives in Europe and the world is located in Belgrade and it is opened for all researchers and scientists who deal with the history and theory of film.

Places to go

Belgrade has a lot of attractions to offer for all ages and tastes. There are a lot of places that you should not just visit, but feel and discover them enirely. Whether you are interested in history and architecture, whether you enjoy strolling through parks or spending nice afternoon in one of the numerous cafés or restaurants, you will always find something relaxing and fun to do in Belgrade.

With impressive views over the Danube and Sava rivers, the Belgrade Fortress and the Kalemegdan Park together represent a cultural monument of exceptional importance, the area where various sport, cultural and arts events take place, and are fun and joy for all generations of Belgraders and numerous visitors of the city.

Belgrade’s main pedestrian street, Knez Mihailova Street, is alive with trendy shops and cafes. This pedestrian zone is one of the best looking streets in Belgrade with many XIX century buildings and the perfect place to go shopping. For a quieter experience, the special attraction is Skadarlija, the bohemian quarter similar to the Montmartre in Paris, where you can find classic taverns (kafana) serving traditional Serbian dishes as musicians roam from table to table.

During the summer, Ada Ciganlija (an island in the Sava) is an ideal place for sport and recreation. It is home to a several kilometer long café-lined beach around its lake, a large number of sport facilities, as well as a lot of clubs that work through the hot summer nights.

With a large number of sport facilities, thriving café and restaurant culture, a passion for the arts and architecture, and famous nightlife, Belgrade offers great value to sophisticated visitors looking for the next big destination in Europe.