Having two full days in Belgrade to sight-see, you would think that we would have taken it easy on our first day. For some reason though, we ended-up seeing almost all of Belgrade in one day – so much so that by the end of the day, we really didn’t know what we would do tomorrow. While we were tired after all of the walking, there really isn’t too much to see in Belgrade, so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.
Some of the pictures bellow are from Dave – thank you Dave!
We started our day at the Kalemegdan Citadel. This place is the sightseeing hub of Belgrade in my opinion: sweeping river views, old gates, a war museum, churches – and even a zoo! We spent more than a few hours wondering around.
The first church that we visited in the Citadel gave us teaching #2 (see here for teaching #1, or keep reading, as we encountered it again today!) about how Serbian Orthodox Churches differ from the rest: a bloody past. The Rose Church (which had stunning frescoes) has massive chandeliers made out of bullets and swords. How gruesome is that? Pictures were not allowed, but I couldn’t resist snapping a few shots when no one was looking.
The second church we visited in the Citadel was the Church of St Petka, a tiny church filled with stunning mosaics. Unfortunately pictures were not allowed inside, and the church was filled with people. It’s really worth the detour though!
Boys being boys we headed to the Military Museum. This one is actually quite big, filled with weapons, uniforms, maps and anything else related to the long history of Serbia, Yugoslavia, the Balkans and the region in general. It was actually quite a good value for money!
At the end of the museum there is a section dedicated to the recent war with NATO. There are loads of weapons from the Kosovo Liberation Army, Serbian forces and NATO forces. It does have a certain bias to the exhibit, with them trying to gain some pity for Serbians. Clearly they still haven’t realized that they were in the wrong, but regardless countless of lives were lost on both sides, which is quite unfortunate.
After the museum we headed to the old town, or stari grad as they call it, for lunch. We then walked around the old town, and decided to keep walking to Sveti Sava.
Sveti Sava is Serbia’s holiest church. It is also one of the largest churches in the world. What we had missed upon reading about Sveti Sava is that after 150 years, it is still under construction. As such, we were disappointed when we got there as the inside of the church is still extremely bare. It really is massive though, and one day I’m sure that it will be stunning inside.
In Sveti Sava I was allowed to take pictures, as there really isn’t anything too holy around in the construction site. Still, people came in droves to pray. I was able to catch a few pictures from teaching #1: making wreath out of twigs.
Right next door to Sveti Sava is another Serbian Orthodox Church, which is probably there as the interim church until Sveti Sava gets completed. This church was much smaller and filled with colourful murals.
There we learned difference #3 with Serbian Orthodox Churches: decapitated heads. Indeed, there were a lot of decapitated heads in the paintings, and (speaking from the future, as this post is post-dated), this was to become a theme for churches around town.
So, to sum up what makes the Serbian Orthodox Church different:
1. Twigs and hay cuttings on the ground
2. A dark history on display
3. Decapitated heads
Fun, no? (As another note from the future, item #3 does show up a lot around the Balkan states, but it is especially on display in Greek churches. Who knew?)