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"Kafana" - where the Serbs feel as if it was their second home

Updated: May 6, 2021

There you can wine and dine, daydream or fall asleep, love dearly or sob and drown your sorrows . There you can have the honor to be a godfather to a newborn baby or make wedding receptions. In kafana you can make friendships, say farewell to somebody dear to your heart and to your former companions. There you can forge alliances, take political decisions or organize formal balls. In it, emotions tend to be truly genuine, pure and bare to its core. The greatest poets, singers and writers have sought inspiration in it, for many it is either a sight for their sore eyes or sadly the venom for the heart.

Here it all began...

Did you know that the first tavern in Europe was established in Belgrade's municipality Dorćol? History tells that in Belgrade, in 1522. The first kafana was founded. It was founded by the Turks, in an old building on the Lower Dorćol, in which only coffee was to be had. Hence, the etymological meaning of the word café’ is the place that serves coffee to customers. However, its purpose, importance and beauty of the kafana seems to have defined its meaning by far. The official historical documents go to say that the capital city, at the turn of the century every 50th resident ran a tavern.

The greatest impact on the development of these duly named cultural institutions is believed to have been made by precisely the presence of people of different personal and multicultural tradition and heritage. When Belgrade, in the 16th century was recognized as a significant trading capital - Serbs, Turks, Greeks, Jews, Armenians and other nations have brought along a touch of their own culture. Until 1881, it registered almost 230 kafanas.

Today, there is a number of different synonymous terms for the kafana- pub, a bar, birtija, tavern, restaurant, café’. But the cafe is still associated to the good old days and the times deprived of any woes and worries and no prejudice against anybody’s family background, or assumptions that a person might be your foe plotting devious plans against you, but the belief that all people of all nations and nationalities are connected together to share their stories, adventures, to sing and sob along in unison and forge friendships and alliances. Kafana is there to connect and bring about reconciliations.

Tavern Sokolovic

Tavern Sokolovic, photo source: