Belgrade: Europe’s Capitol of (beautiful) grit and graffiti 

belgrade graffiti

Graffiti. It’s [almost] everywhere in the old Yugoslavian capital. Whimsical, rude, artistic, cunning, almost every building surface is covered with at least a few scribbles.

Graffiti upon graffiti in the [up-and-still-coming] arts district of Savamala by the river. One person said that graffiti in Cyrillic tends to be more nationalist. Hostels too are everywhere – most of them mentioned nowhere in the guides and described to us by one resident as “urban holes”.

(L) Erdem and a smattering of divergent architectural styles. The city was randomly bombed twice in WWII (at the beginning by the Nazis, at the end by Allied forces trying to drive out the Nazis), destroying over 60% of the historic buildings. They were rebuilt in the 1950’s for practicality, not beauty of adherence to existing architectural styles. (R) One of many, many pub/cafe/resto bars in the city

Serbian restaurant

Though it consists mostly of meat and potatoes (and borrowings from the Ottoman Empire), Serbians are extremely proud of their national cuisine and assume everyone wants to try it, hence the prominence of ‘ethnic’ or ‘national Serbian’ restaurants everywhere. Thankfully there are not yet enough tourists that any of the establishments serves tourists alone.

belgrade

Many, many of the buildings in Belgrade are in desperate need of restoration or even basic repair – at least on the outside, for the buildings may house perfectly sound shops or beautifully decorated apartments on the inside.

Not graffiti, but bright external advertising for a ‘Rakija’ bar. Rakija (another mark of Serbian pride) is the national drink, a brandy made from plums or other fruit and delivering an extremely hard punch.

Downtown belgrade

Downtown Old Belgrade on the Right bank of the River Sava, with it’s narrow streets and jumble of architectural styles, is a complete contrast to the leafy boroughs and straight-line Soviet-style apartment blocks spreading across the left.

Belgrade Graffiti

“Punishment for Police Cattle” Few in Belgrade fully trust the state, believing mafias from the Balkan wars still wield too much power behind closed doors.

belgrade graffiti door

Graffiti on the doors, because they apparently ran out of space on the walls.

skadarlija

Restaurant at the end of Skadarlija Street (the Bohemian-touristy street full of cafes, pubs, and restaurants); apparently one of the worst in town.

Serbian meat

Meat at Sesir Moj, another (but better) Skadarlija restaurant. You can’t tell from the photo, but each of these was bigger than one of my hands. And it cost $6.

Looking down Skadarlija Street. Once upon a time this was a merchants and manufacturers streets – workshops made and sold such items as hats, textiles and other basic goods. Then one day a Czech businessman came in and opened a beer factory at the end of the street. Merchants soon began buying his beer and selling it in their shops to attract more customers (why go to a hat shop without beer when you can go to a hat shop with beer?), and then realized that they would make more profits from ceasing manufacturing and just selling beer (or so the story goes), and thus today’s street of Kafanas (pub/tavern/reataurant/wild dance and music halls) was born

Skadarlija; to the L is the old beer factory (and now a strip club)

Skadarlija, belgrade

Where Skadarlija meets the Ottoman part of Old Town (Dorcol)

Man bought me a camera for my birthday)) Then, of course we split camera and map duty and man followed me around taking photos all day.

Skadarlija on a cold and rainy Tuesday afternoon

Skadarlija

Old and New in Skadarlija

Skadarlija. On the weekend evenings the town’s teenage punks hang out here with big discount litre bottles of beer.

Apparently the sign to the right points to all other bohemian streets scattered around the world. Though personally, I found Skadarlija a little touristy and more crowded with restaurants trying to beckon the next customer than raw ideas or original art.

Yet another restaurant beckoner, standing outside the steps with menu in hand.

Serbian bakery

“Pekara” is Serbian for Bakery and this particular one, though on the end of a very touristy street (Skadarlija) has wonderful streudel with fresh cranberries for a friendly price of 80 dinar (about $0.75)…along with bread bowls of green slop-looking goulash for 200.

Belgrade – derelict-looking downtown. It’s almost a matter of national pride how so many buildings are in bad condition, emblematic of the Serbian’s endurance and joyful perseverence through the times – multiple wars, multiple bombings, Nazi takeover, strife in the 90’s and the ensuring spiraling crime rates, political and economic fallout…and yet they’re still standing.

  
  
  
  
  

  

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  

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