Beograd or Belgrade, what is the meaning of this word?
Legend says that at the beginning of the 7th century, descending by boats on the Danube from the north of Europe, the Slavs suddenly saw a white stone fortress illuminated by the rays of the midday sun overlooking the confluence of two big rivers. Impressed by the sight, they sighed and exclaimed: “What a beautiful white city …”. In Slavic language, white is “Beo” and a city is “grad“. And so Beograd – ‘the white city’ got its name, which together with the Slavic inhabitants, has survived to this day.
Ancient legend says that during the search for the Golden Fleece, Jason and the Argonauts stopped to rest at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers. Sometime later, the Dacians and Celts built their fortifications at the same place. In the 1st century, the mighty Roman 4th Legion known as “Flavia” made its permanent residence in the area of present-day Old Town and Belgrade Fortress.
Surrender to a joyful exploration of the city, guided by an experienced private tour guide, writer and lecturer Srdjan ‘Serge’ Ristić, founder of Explore Belgrade!
For Belgrade opening your heart is required, too. In that way, you will scratch the surface and the city will embrace you.
Reasons to discover Belgrade
Rare are those visitors who leave Belgrade indifferent. The Lonely Planet has several times ranked the city among the world champions of nightlife. Clubs and cafes are at every turn, with free internet and a great atmosphere. Belgrade is known for international music festivals (Belgrade Beer Fest), concerts, fairs, and cultural events (BITEF, BELEF). People in Serbia love film art, and our renowned international film festival (FEST), which attracts world-famous actors and directors every spring, will celebrate half a century of existence next year. Art lovers will enjoy numerous galleries and antique shops, and recently renovated museums.
The fact is, “The Crossroads of the Worlds” is a place to explore if one wishes to grasp different essences of European civilizations. I recognize at least three different faces of Belgrade: one was more shaped by Byzantium, Ottomans, and the Orient, the other by Austria-Hungary, Vienna, and Budapest. The third face is more modern, but with special colours that come from the time of Tito’s Yugoslavia and “brutalist” socialist architecture.
Many armies were constantly fighting for the city. A British study found that history has recorded a total of 126 battles for Belgrade to date. Only in the 20th century, the city was bombed 5 times.
But why this constant turbulence? Well, that is the ultimate question about our corner of the world that occupies the minds of many researchers.
Belgrade is an old and wise city with an unusually young soul full of unbridled freedom and mischievous energy. The most important brand of Belgrade is certainly its inhabitants: open and emotional, talkative and a bit stubborn, good looking and proud. You will easily start a conversation with them and make friends.
Ten years ago, inspired by the unusual destiny of a city that lives and lasts in a place where tectonic plates of East and West collide, where Islam too has woven the strings of its interests, at the crossroads of natural paths of the Balkan Peninsula, where the endless Pannonian Plain – “an open gate to Europe ” begins, I wrote the following words:
I believe there are just a few places in the world that reach so far to distant past, and even less that had been subjected to greed and power of many rulers for thousands of years. The strategic importance, magic, and beautiful geographical position of this city have been an inspiration for centuries, often attracting those who wanted to possess it and who waged wars against it.
However, Belgrade remained, grew mature, and gathered wisdom. It met many cultures and heard dozens of languages.
This ‘Crossroads of the Worlds‘ strongly attracted people from different quarters, to settle down for good, and they created the city’s unique cosmopolitan spirit that gladly embraced all those differences.
Today, a charming and open soul of Belgrade constitutes Serbia’s gate to the world. Aware of its inner beauty, and uniqueness, Belgrade gladly offers hospitality to all who come for visit.
We’ll be your local friend who knows the secrets of this unique city and strives to make your visit memorable. Contact us, and we will do our best to adjust tour programs to your interests, specific needs, and personal pace.
We are looking forward to welcoming you in Belgrade!