Dan and I have been doing lots of walking around Belgrade. One night last week after Dan finished work, we strolled (with hundreds of other people) to the Fortress. It was the first good weather day in weeks here, and it was as if people were celebrating its arrival. The best place to enjoy Belgrade on a good weather day is at the fortress (Kalemegdan). In Serbian, the city is called Beograd which means "white fortress." The fortress sits high above the confluence of the Sava River and the Danube River. There has been a fortress city on this site since the 3rd century BC. It has been occupied by Thracian, Dacian, and Celtic tribes. It was conquered by the Roman Empire and was later invaded by the Goths and Huns. Possession of the Fortress has flip-flopped between the Byzantines, Avars, Slavs, Bulgarians, the Byzantines, and back to the Bulgarians. In the 12th century, the Fortress became part of the new Serbian state. The fortress was still not permanently in Serbian hands. It fell to the Ottoman Empire and mostly remained with the Turks until 1867 except for a brief stay by the Austrians. The fortress suffered damage in both the first and second world wars.
The Fortress is now a park which contains a zoo, several museums, open air art shows, restaurants, chess tables. It is probably the most visited site in all of Belgrade.
On Saturday, we walked to the not yet finished St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Cathedral. We visited the Cathedral in 2011 and wanted to see what progress had been made. The exterior has been finished since 2009. It is the largest Orthodox Church in the world and will be able to hold 10,000 worshipers.
St. Sava is the founder of the Serbian Orthodox Church. This cathedral is built on the location where St. Sava's remains were burned in 1595 by the Ottomans. In 1935 with the laying of the cornerstone, construction began at this site 340 years after the burning of St. Sava's remains. Construction continued until the WWII invasion and bombing of Yugoslavia by Germany in 1941. In 1985, construction of the building was finally revived. The cathedral is funded only by donations and building is accomplished when money is available. A taxi driver told us that Vladimir Putin has promised to help the Serbian people finish the cathedral.
Progress has been made on the interior. Many of the stone walls have been carved with complex decorations. The finished carvings and stone walls are mostly wrapped in plastic to preserve them while the rest of the interior construction continues. The dome and many of the walls will eventually be covered in mosaics.
Saturday night was Museum Night meaning that most of the museums were open until about 2 am. For about $5 USD, your ticket gave you access to all of them. Museum Night was originally set for May 17, but was postponed because of the May flooding. Three months of rain came down in just two days. Some 2,000 people are still in shelters.
And, we ended at The Victor monument at the Fortress and the view of the city. The statue, The Victor -Protector of Belgrade was installed in 1928. He holds a falcon in his right hand and a sword of war in his left hand. He is gazing toward the horizon keeping watch for the next invaders.