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Belgrade - the eternal city (1st part)

Updated: May 6, 2021

Welcome to Belgrade - the capital of a small, but wonderful country on the Balkans. Land that has the long and rich history, a country that still hides secrets and legends for all curious people. The official history of Belgrade has lasted for 7000 years, making it one of the oldest cities in Europe.

Kalemegdan Fortress

Belgrade for years is on the list of 50 most important cities in the world. Its location is unique - in Southeast Europe on the Balkan Peninsula, at the ‘’mouth’’ of two big rivers - the Sava and the Danube. Figuratively, it is also called the ''gate'' of Balkans and of Central Europe. Whoever has visited this big city, he felt the hospitality and friendliness of its citizens; they say that Belgrade has ‘’the deep soul that creates the most sincere friendship!’’

The oldest Belgradians, whose descendants for centuries breathe the air of Belgrade, say that their knowledge of the history of this city is only a fraction of what happened in ancient times.

According to legend, the Greek sailors Argonauts on their conquerable march arrived in the former named river Ishtar (Danube). At the point where this great river forked, sailors docked at a huge wall called Kaualak. This reef is today's Kalemegdan fortress. In fact, at the confluence of two rivers, was created the first settlement dating from the period of 5200 to 3000 BC. The Vinca Culture is today one of the most recognizable cultures in the world that tourists want to see when they visit Belgrade. At the beginning, the Vinca had the size and population (5,000) like the first cities that arose later in Mesopotamia, Egypt and the Aegean. The ancient inhabitants were engaged in agriculture, cattle breeding, trade; they had its first copper mine in the world, and they were excellent artists (stunning ceramic sculptures are still carefully keeping in today’s museums).

The Vinca Culture, photo source:

In the fourth century BC, was created the first settlement in Belgrade -Singidunum, where stayed Celtic tribe – the Scordisci. Through Singidunum, the Roman emperors were passing by; also Attila the Hun loved this town, and according to unofficial information, his body after death, ended up in three coffins that were later thrown into the Danube. Then, Goths, Avars and Bulgarians were again demolished Belgrade, Byzantines renewed it, and under the Ottoman Empire was named Beligrad because of white walls that surrounded him.

Attila the Hun, photo source:

One of the most interesting fact tells that on the territory of Serbia were born 17 Roman emperors. From 33 BC until the sixth century AD, Singidunum experienced the greatest development and glory under Roman rule. In that period, Singidunum became a strategic place because it connected fortresses and settlements along the Danube border. The Roman Empire left Belgrade numerous and still unexplored dungeons and hidden passages, which today are big enigmas.

‘’The White City’’ suffered numerous conflicts and wars. For the first time, his original name (Belgrade) was mentioned 878 in the official announcement of Pope John. Byzantine nation was able to lift and restore the ruins of which now forms the basis of Kalemegdan.

The first Serbian government in Belgrade (when it became part of the Serbian state), dates back to 1284, when the dynasty Nemanjic encouraged intensive settlement of the Serbian population in the region and strengthening the influence of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

Despot Stefan Lazarevic, an extraordinary statesman, poet, architect and diplomat during his authority (1402 -1427) succeeded that Belgrade become not only the capital of the Serbian state, but also the most important economic, religious and cultural center (with hospitals, libraries, churches, new fortress), and it’s assumed that the city had almost 50 000 inhabitants.

At the same time, new power seems to have been born - the Ottoman state and Belgrade was one of their main targets. Way back in 1389, was happened the famous battle, named Kosovski boj, which was also the beginning of the five centuries Turkish rule. Numerous Turkish rulers have left their mark during their authority and Suleiman the Magnificent was especially appreciated this city because of its strategic-geographical location.

Ottoman tyranny, photo source:

The first Serbian Uprising in 1804 was also marked as a serious fight against the Ottoman Empire, because two years later Belgrade was finally freed under the leadership of Karadjordje Petrovic, for many, the greatest figure in the history of Serbia.

Karadjordje, photo source:

The inspiration for writing this article, was the book of talented Aleksandar Diklic – ‘’Belgrade - the eternal city’’.

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