Belgrade (The White City) is everything but not white. It’s surrounded with grey buildings from communist and socialist era in so-called “blocks” which are made of big ugly apartment buildings. But don’t worry that isn’t all that this town can offer. The downtown of this ‘white city’ tells a different story. Various types of buildings can be seen throughout Belgrade from all eras that this city went through. Knez Mihailova Street, Temple of Saint Sava, Skadarlija – those are all amazing landmarks of Belgrade, but there is one that really stands out with its massiveness and beauty. It’s the Belgrade Fortress – Kalemengdan! It’s located on the confluence of the rivers Danube and Sava in an urban part of modern Belgrade.
Although this post was not supposed to be about history of Kalemegdan, I will share a little bit of its story with you. The city was first mentioned when it was founded, around 3rd century BC and it was named Singidunum by the Celtic tribe Scordisci. All this time that it existed, the city/fortress changed many “owners”.
The name Kalemegdan comes from two Turkish words – “kale”, which means fortress and “meydan”, which means battlefield – literally “battlefield fortress”.
From Romans to Byzantine Empire, Slavs, Bulgarians, Hungarians, Turks Austrians and finally Serbs. The life of the fortress/city was mostly lived inside its walls and until the recent times it equals the Belgrade history itself. The name Kalemegdan comes from two Turkish words – “kale”, which means fortress and “meydan”, which means battlefield – literally “battlefield fortress”.
When you enjoy Sunday afternoon at this beautiful fortress you will notice lots of people. Kids in groups with their teachers, foreigners not wanting to miss out the beautiful monument and locals enjoying chess, views, sharing kisses… But, then again, when you meet people you hear interesting stories.
The Victor (Pobednik) is probably the oldest occupant of the Fortress with an amazing story. He was built to commemorate Serbia’s victory over Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Empire during the Balkan War and the First World War. It was sculpted in 1928 by Ivan Meštrović and it’s one of the most visited monuments in Belgrade. Make sure to check it out when you visit the city.
He was built to commemorate Serbia’s victory over Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Empire during the Balkan War and the First World War.
If you are visiting Belgrade, Kalemegdan is something you don’t want to miss. I was astounded to see how many foreigners actually come to Kalemegdan even during the winter. I haven’t been in Belgrade for a long time and I don’t remember it being so open to strangers. When you walk the Kalemegdan fortress, Knez Mihailova Street or anywhere downtown you can hear so many languages! Awesome, right?
I was checking out some souvenirs to bring back home (I collect magnets and buy them wherever I go, I also accept them as gifts if you want send one 😉 ) so I ran into this little shop. I had a nice chat with this man and I must say he had the nicest souvenir shop I have ever seen! The magnets are also realy beautiful, they show photos of old Belgrade and how it used to be, which is a very nice touch. He told me that his wife makes those magnets but when I tried to find out how she applies those images to the wood, he couldn’t tell. Maybe he is keeping secrets of the trade to himself.
The Lonely Ones
To be honest I have seen quite a number of people just enjoying their time alone. Sitting on the bench smoking a cigarette, walking, feeding pigeons or looking at the river… Maybe they are thinking about the new ideas that come to their mind, or have many problems and just come to relax or they just love this fortress and enjoy its greatness. As Douglas Coupland would say: “The time you feel lonely is the time you most need to be by yourself.”
You can see Kalemegdan is full of couples. Well, the Fortress is kinda romantic place despite the fact that in its history there were lots of battles here. It is a place where many had their first date, first kiss and, who knows, maybe a first breakup. Lets just hope that didn’t happen to the couple I ran into while I was walking back to my room. I noticed this just married couple, being happy and smiling. I went for a shot and they noticed and smiled. Never thought of being a wedding photographer, but hey, who knows….
And many more…
There are many more stories of people on Kalemegdan. There are the guards, keeping Kalemegdan safe, street cleaners, guides and many more that make this place so special. I’m sure you have your own story or experience you had at Kalemegdan so why not share that experience in the comments section below?