Free walking tour in Belgrade

We decided to forgo the regular free walking tour and instead booked ourselves on the 20th century tour of Belgrade. After all, we had done the city center already on our own and were ready to  explore Belgrade outside of main tourist area. The tour was another free walking tour, just focusing on something different. The meeting point for all tours was the Republic square, a place we already knew. To get there we needed to walk a bit. I especially liked the first crossing from our hotel to the square, because it looked so much like the one from Tokyo (not that I’ve seen that with my own eyes so far).

jaywalking is expressly allowed @Belgrade

The name Republic square came only at the end of WWII, before it was called Theater square. Which made sense, since the theater was just on the other side.

the theater seen from the Republic square @Belgrade

On our tour we passed the first skyscraper of Belgrade. Not just of Belgrade though, but actually from all of southeast Europe. The Palace Albanija was built in the 1930s, on the site of a famous tavern. Our guide told us that the building was hit by a bomb during the Easter bombing of 1944, but that the bomb just fell through until it stopped on a sub-level. The structure of the high rise held and the building itself kept standing. There were pictures of red army soldiers with the Palace Albanija in the back.

Palace Albanija @Belgrade

Next up was the Hotel Moskva, built in 1908, which started out in part as an insurance building for a Russian company. When they went bankrupt during WWI, this beautiful building was completely converted in a hotel and has been one ever since. It is the second oldest one in Belgrade, the oldest is right across called Hotel Balkan (not as beautiful).

Hotel Moskva @Belgrade

Across the main street, called Kralja Milana, of the Hotel Moskva was this monstrosity though. I am not really sure if the guests appreciate this view in the morning.

building on Kralja Milana @Belgrade

From here it was only a short walk up on the Kralja Milana to a black pillar. The monument was erected to remember the five people, who were killed and later hung on the square Terazije without a court case on August 17, 1941. The Gestapo wanted to set an example on how ‘terrorists’ would be treated. The youngest of the five guys was only 17 years old and still in school.

monument to five men killed in 1941 on August 17 @Belgrade

We continued with our free walking tour and passed the House of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia. Here our guide entertained us with the story that according to urban legend WWI started because a Serb killed a little prince of Austria. He forgot to mention that it was the crown prince of Austria. So not so little. But it’s also true that the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand was only a pretext for the start of the war.

House of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia @Belgrade

After a short stop outside the orthodox church of St. Mark we moved on to the local TV station. It got hit by a bomb during the 78 days of NATO bombing in 1999. The administration building took a hit and 16 people died. The building was never renovated and still looks the same as a stark reminder. Right next to it is a small monument for the dead of that bombing.

bombed administration building @Headquarters of Radio Television of Serbia

In the park behind, with a view on the St. Mark’s church, is a small monument for all the children who died during the bombings in 1999. I really have to read up on that since it is so present in the Serbian mind and don’t know anything about it.

memorial for the dead children of the NATO bombings @Belgrade

We passed the Nikola Tesla museum, for which a guided tour is a must. The Church of Saint Sava ended our free walking tour. I had the feeling we had seen the whole city, which of course wasn’t true. But it was definitely a long free walking tour. I quite liked that the guide was unashamedly subjective to his country, so at least we got a view on how a not western country sees things.

After the tour and a short restaurant stop we wanted to see the Tesla museum. But here you really need to come at least 20 minutes before the guided tour starts, otherwise it is full. Unfortunately there is no online booking available for that, so we decided to try the museum on another day. Yours, Pollybert

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