Republika Restaurant

Tulcea, Romania

Vidin had a mix of architectural styles and some interesting food choices.

Ru

Vidin   The Town

Vidin was big enough to be entertaining but small enough that you could do it all on foot.  Not that we did it all.  I’d like to be able to click my heels together and be back for one more day to explore the park that is on the far side of town. 

Some recent Vidin developments.

The New York Times

June 14, 2013

New Bridge Over Danube Helps Dissolve Old Enmities

By MATTHEW BRUNWASSER

      VIDIN, Bulgaria — The European Union hardly basks in popular favor these days. But in this isolated corner of the bloc’s poorest periphery, leaders and locals on Friday celebrated a tangible benefit of membership — a $340 million bridge spanning the Danube that should help strengthen trade and ties between two impoverished members, Romania and Bulgaria.

     Despite much history and present poverty in common, these two Balkan nations had to be prodded into negotiating the construction of the bridge, which began in 2007. Both prime ministers and the European Union’s commissioner for regional policy, Johannes Hahn, attended the opening ceremony, where Plamen Oresharski, the head of Bulgaria’s new government, joked: “I am sorry that this bridge has such a long history. We heard that the Romans built faster.”

     Romania, population roughly 22 million, and Bulgaria, about 7 million, share a 290-mile border along the Danube that, until Friday, had just one bridge connecting them.

     Under Communism, neither country was rich, but the collapse of their state-run economies deepened the impoverishment on both sides of the river and hastened depopulation. Vidin, which in bygone Ottoman days was a thriving river port, shipping agricultural produce along the Danube, has suffered the worst depopulation in Bulgaria, losing 16 percent of its residents in 2012 alone.

     Across the river, the Romanian town of Calafat, population 18,000, has fared little better. Its central pedestrian street, recently fitted with new paving stones, remains sleepy.

     Yet it took until 2000 for European officials to coax the two very different Balkan nations into talking about the bridge, largely because they could not agree on a location for it.

     Romanians speak a language they prize as descended from Latin roots; Bulgarians are Slavs and in Communist times were derided as being so close to Moscow as to be the virtual 16th republic of the Soviet Union. Each country adheres to its own Orthodox church, and for decades were simply disinterested in each other.

     Their shared status in European development post-cold war has gradually brought them closer, as they have discovered more in common.

     Both joined NATO in 2004, and the European Union in 2007. European Union officials have since criticized both nations, the bloc’s poorest members, for corruption and organized crime — some of which originated in the Vidin region in the 1990s, when criminals helped smuggle oil and other goods into neighboring Serbia, which was under United Nations sanctions for its role in the Balkan wars that broke up the former Yugoslavia.

     “The illusions we created about what enemies the Romanians are and how different they are have disappeared into dust,” Gergo Gergov, the 35-year-old mayor of Vidin, said in an interview in the 15-story, Communist-era municipal building, by far Vidin’s tallest.

     “We have stopped acting like we are locked up alone,” Mr. Gergov observed. “We have seen that there are other people around and have started to get to know them, to interact, trade, travel and work with each other.”

     The bridge, he said, is “the biggest event in the modern history of the region.”

Vidin — which has a population of 63,000, down from 90,000 during the Communist era — could use the help. Its center, replete with decaying architecture from 19th-century glory days, offers some exotic sights for visitors who disembark every summer day from luxurious Danube cruise ships. A balmy river breeze spreads the sweet smell of linden through the city. But Vidin remains the poorest city and region in Bulgaria, the European Union’s poorest member state with average monthly wages of 400 euros, or about $574.

     The common market offered by European Union membership has catalyzed trade and business: trade between Bulgaria and Romania totaled 3.5 billion euros, or about $5 billion, in 2011, up from 900 million euros in 2005, about $1.09 billion at the time.

     Ovidiu Cernatescu, 45, a Romanian from Craiova who started a metal construction business in Vidin two years ago and sells 90 percent of his product in Romania, is confident of further expansion and relishes the protection offered by European Union trade rules rather than capriciously applied local justice. “I’ve been waiting for the bridge like the coming of Jesus Christ,” he said.

     Ten years ago, Mr. Cernatescu said, Romanians had heard only negative news about Bulgaria as a country where former Communists still held sway. Now, Romanians enjoy it as a cheaper, nice place to visit and trade, he said.

     Bulgarian businesspeople in the region like Kostas Grivov, who employs 100 workers in two factories processing nuts and dried fruit, are expecting a short-term boom in tourism, shopping and investment.

     Mr. Grivov, who is also Romania’s honorary consul in Vidin, said the bridge would halve his transport costs and greatly increase the speed and reliability of supplies and deliveries. The sole way to Romania had been an unreliable ferry that crosses only when it fills with cars.

     In Calafat, the deputy mayor, Dorel Mituletu, sits in a restored late-19th century mansion that might be the envy of his Vidin counterparts. He welcomed the bridge, but said he feared merchants in his town would lose out to Vidin, where prices are 20 to 25 percent lower.

     He also voiced concern about what he saw as difficult and complex procedures required to secure European Union financing for local projects — processes that have become stricter because of concerns about corruption and mismanagement.

     “Romanians are not accustomed to begging,” he said. “Despite what the rest of Europe might think of us.”

http://www.nytimes.com/

Interestingly we couldn’t get to Calafat because the ferry stopped running when the bridge was completed but there were no buses across.  You had to take a taxi.  We opted to stay in Vidin instead of making the trip across. 

http://dunavision.eu/  is a story about two people making a change for the better in Vidin.  I’m so sorry we didn’t eat in the café mentioned but I only just read about it now.  But if you are ever in Vidin…..

12 March 2014

The Britons who swap the UK for the poorest part of the EUMatthew Price

By Matthew Price

What’s it like to live in the poorest part of the poorest country in the European Union?

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-26324564

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DoraMac is the orange bit on the water.  We pretty much stayed between the water and the orange line. 

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Chicago hot dog in Vidin Bulgaria.

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Served in a thick sort of pita with fries on top.  Rick and Randal each ate one.  Mary and I took a pass because it was after lunch and too early for dinner and too big for a snack. 

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Thanks to our Alternative Art/Street Art walking tour in London we’re all more supportive of street art.  I found it interesting that the message was written in English.

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There was a EURO store where things cost a Euro.  The building next door was more interesting to me.

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Lots of lovely detail now falling to bits.

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You saw lots of this lovely architecture just waiting for some help.  They need an influx of Yuppies with money from somewhere.

After some walking around it was time for a cold drink break.  Mary ordered a white frappe but Rick, Randal and I ordered iced coffee.

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Amazingly this turned out not to be the strangest iced coffee of the trip.  This was a cup of strong hot coffee with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream floating in it.  So far it is the iced coffee in Silistra that wins the prize; at least as I’m typing now.  That was a blob of frozen iced coffee crystals floating in Coca Cola. A total sugar and caffeine shock.  I had a few bites of the “iced coffee crystals” and Randal drank the rest of the Coke that was served with the “iced coffee.”  Randal had ordered cappuccino but it tasted more like hot chocolate.   You just never know.

There was a small mall with a grocery store in the town center.  We went in for the basics : bread, fruit and vegetables and wine and cookies.  We’ve been eating out more because the dollar is strong against these currencies so restaurants are much more reasonable than they were further west.

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Varieties of what looked like caviar and oddly we bought none.  If we see it again, I will.  At least it looks like caviar?

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City Hall is the tallest building in Vidin.

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Obviously built without central air.

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I think this is the municipal building and the law courts in Bdintsy Square.

Somewhere in here is the Mihalaki Georgiev Regional Library,  but I couldn’t find it. 

The stairwells were dark and each room was closed to the hall way to keep the AC  in.  I walked up all of the flights and finally met a woman who tried to find someone who spoke English/ or wanted to come help.  No one did so that was that. 

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The second part of the word ends in teka and it looks like a book so I guessed the library was inside someplace.

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Some newer buildings mixed with old.  But all of it looks a bit down on its luck though it’s hard to look totally upbeat when it’s broiling hot out.

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Republica Restaurant Barge

Tulcea, Romania

Salut,

We’re really getting close to the end of our passage to the Black Sea.  Tonight we’re in Tulcea, the largest town of the Delta.  This email is part 2 of Vidin, Bulgaria so many stops back now that I’m never sure what country I’m in after a bit.  As I said in the first email, I really liked Vidin. 

Ru

Historic Vidin 

“Vidin was conclusively liberated from Ottoman authority on March 25/April 6, 1878,”  says my Municipality of Vidin Monuments of Culture Guide. 

A bit of Bulgarian history…

“The Bulgars, a Central Asian Turkic tribe, merged with the local Slavic inhabitants in the late 7th century to form the first Bulgarian state. In succeeding centuries, Bulgaria struggled with the Byzantine Empire to assert its place in the Balkans, but by the end of the 14th century the country was overrun by the Ottoman Turks. Northern Bulgaria attained autonomy in 1878 and all of Bulgaria became independent from the Ottoman Empire in 1908. Having fought on the losing side in both World Wars, Bulgaria fell within the Soviet sphere of influence and became a People’s Republic in 1946. Communist domination ended in 1990, when Bulgaria held its first multiparty election since World War II and began the contentious process of moving toward political democracy and a market economy while combating inflation, unemployment, corruption, and crime. The country joined NATO in 2004 and the EU in 2007.

Bulgaria, a former Communist country that entered the EU on 1 January 2007, averaged more than 6% annual growth from 2004 to 2008, driven by significant amounts of bank lending, consumption, and foreign direct investment. Successive governments have demonstrated a commitment to economic reforms and responsible fiscal planning, but the global downturn sharply reduced domestic demand, exports, capital inflows, and industrial production. GDP contracted by 5.5% in 2009, and has been slow to recover in the years since. Despite having a favorable investment regime, including low, flat corporate income taxes, significant challenges remain. Corruption in public administration, a weak judiciary, and the presence of organized crime continue to hamper the country’s investment climate and economic prospects. “

https://www.cia.gov/

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A rose garden behind the lovely sculpture just near the Baba Vida Fortress.

Bulgaria is a major exporter of roses.

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“The Babini Vidini Kuli fortress, also known as Baba Vida Fortress is situated on an area of 9.5 decares on the bank of the river Danube, in the northern part of Vidin.

The fortress was raised upon the remains of the ancient town of Bononia. The construction of the medieval castle began during the second half of the 10th century, but during the Second Bulgarian Empire (the end of the 12th – 14th century) the basic construction was performed. The last Bulgarian king before the falling of Bulgaria under the Ottoman dominion, Ivan Sratsimir (1324– 1397) had lived in the fortress.

According to a legend, Vida had been the eldest daughter of a wealthy Bulgarian boyar. Due to the unsuccessful marriages of her sisters – Kula and Gamza, Vida rejected all of the proposals for marriage, built the castle and remained in it for the rest of her life.

During the Ottoman rule, the warehouse premises for food and ammunition and guard-rooms were separated in the fortress. And after the Liberation (1878) the access to it was forbidden because the site was used by the army.

The first excavations in the fortress from 1956 to 1962 uncovered remains of the Roman, Byzantine, early Bulgarian, late Bulgarian and Ottoman age.

Baba Vida was opened to visitors in 1958 and a museum was arranged in the fortress.

In 1964 the medieval castle was declared a monument of culture, having national significance.

The fortress is surrounded by a moat, which was sometimes filled with water from the river Danube, and the bridge was mobile. Baba Vida had nine corner and intermediate towers with the walls and the towers ending with loop-holes.

The grounds of a chapel from the 13th-14th century were found during excavations in the fortress.

     At the moment two of the towers are accessible for visiting. There is a prison in the fortress, in which torture devices can be seen. The figures of an executioner and a prisoner with which the tourists often take pictures are attractive. Cannons and gallows are exposed on one of the terraces.

     Baba Vida is among the most preserved medieval fortification constructions in Bulgaria, which is why it is not accidentally often chosen as a set for shooting movies. The summer theatre of Vidin where concerts, theater performances and other shows are conducted, is also situated in the fortress.

     Post cards, souvenirs and information materials can be bought for a memory of the fortress.

http://bulgariatravel.org/en/object/21/Krepost_Baba_Vida

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Lots of stairways up and dark stone spiral stairways down.

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Captain Randal in armor with his shield and trusty steed.

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Who could resist?

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We made a guess that the holes  were made by the prisoners counting days and maybe even months or years! 

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Pretty gruesome display though the Bulgarian travel website describes it as ‘attractive.”

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Stambol Gate

     “Stronghold walls “Kaleto”

“Because of the necessity of additional strengthening for the town of Vidin that after 1718 became a borderline territory for the Ottoman Empire, for a period of 30 years (1690-1720) the so-called “Kale” was constructed – stronghold walls surrounding the town at all sides. They are a semi-circle with a diameter of 1600 meters along Danube river and double stone wall facing the river. A ditch was dug at the side of the shore with depth of 5-6 meters and width of 18 meters, faced with stone and filled with water in the past. “Kaleto” had 9 entrance gates (doors). The preserved equipments today are parts of the stronghold doors, the Northern half of the ditch and small part of the walls. The preserved gates are Florentin gate, Enichar gate, Pazar gate and Stambol gate (the main gate of the Vidin Kale). They are arched passages with guard premises inside the walls. They used to get closed with two-leaf gates of oak girders cased with iron. One could pass above the ditch along wooden bridges as one part of them was mobile. The exit to Danube river was also possible via other 5 doors: Aralak gate, Top gate, Saray gate, Telegraph gate and Syurgyun gate (the first and the last of them are bricked up). The stronghold wall is preserved next to Telegraph gate.

After “Kaleto” was constructed Vidin has never been conquered by an enemy during whatever military actions.

“Kaleto”, together with the preserved gates (doors) is a cultural monument of national significance.“

http://www.culturaltourism-ipa.eu/portal/?q=en/3.5.7e

The Osman Pazvantoglu mosque with the arrow instead of the crescent…..

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Two men were just starting afternoon prayers so I didn’t enter the mosque though they invited me to join when they noticed me looking in. 

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“The town’s heyday was in the 14th century when, under the name of Bdin, it was capital of the principality of the same name, but it fell to the Ottomans in 1396.  The Turkish feudal lord Osman Pazvantoglu took it as his own personal fief from 1793-1807.

……..If you visit the town be sure to see the interesting mosque and mausoleum-like library (ca.1800) of Osman Pazvantoglu, who had rebelled against the Sultan.  The mosque is built in typical oriental style but instead of the crescent moon that normally tops the dome, here it is an arrow-head – eloquent  testimony to the builder’s insubordination.”  JPM Danube Guide

“The struggle of the Bulgarians for a church independent from the Greek clergy was crowned with success in 1868.  Later on 1872, Antim, the Bishop of Vidin, was elected the first Bulgarian exarch in the second half of the 19th century.”  Municipal of Vidin Monuments of Culture booklet

The Metropolitan Complex including Saint Nikolai Mirlikiiski Church

The full name of the church is “St. Nikolai Miracle Worker”. It was built in 1926 after the design of arch. Kosta Nikolov, who also managed the construction works. The church was erected in the place of an old bell-tower and an extension to the “St. Panteleimon” Church. That extension had been used as “St. Nikola” temple”. /1799/. Today “St. Nikolai” Church is part of the complex including: the “St. Panteleimon” Church/1634/, the residential building of the Metropolitan of Vidin /1924 /, the mausoleum of Antim I /1934 / and the eparchial school /1926 /. It is of the three –nave cross-vault type of churches, with one apse, narthex and towers. Besides a rear gallery for the people, it also has two side galleries. The walls are all painted.   http://vidin.bg/?page_id=691&lang=en

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“The main religion in Bulgaria is Bulgarian Orthodox. There are also Roman Catholics, Muslims,

Protestants, Jews etc.  Around twelve percent of the people are Muslim.

The Eastern Orthodox Church emerged as a result of disagreements between Greek speaking

eastern churches and Latin speaking western churches over doctrine and ecclesiastical authority.

During the Ottoman rule it was placed under the jurisdiction of the patriarch of Constantinople.

However, with the demise of the Ottoman empire many independent churches emerged in eastern

Europe. Remaining in communion they retain their independence. “  http://www.bulgarianembassy-london.org/

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Just across from the main square.

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Happily some things don’t change!

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Municipal Theater  :  Vladimir Trendafilov Drama Theater

Vida Charity Theater Society was established in 1879. The first performances were held at the National Cafe in the Bolyarska neighborhood. The Vida Theater was built in 1891 with funds collected by a steering committee. This is the first building in Bulgaria that was built to be used as a theater.

Today, the Vidin Drama Theater has an extensive repertoire and has performances two seasons every year.

State Puppet Theater  (Very sorry not to have seen any performances.)

The Vidn Puppet Theater was established in 1976 as a section of the Tsvyat Community Center. In 1980 it became a state theater under the Ministry of Culture. Since 2000, the puppet theater is co-financed by the Municipality of Vidin and the Ministry of Culture. At present, the staff is 24. The actors are 9, with their own director, art studios, technical staff and administration. The performances are mostly for children but there are some for adults as well. 3 to 4 new performances are staged every year. Annually, the theater has about 200 performances in the city and the neighboring communities, as well as all over the country.

The actors utilize different systems of puppets but show a consistent interest in the theater of shadows.

The Vidin Puppet Theater is the only Bulgarian theater that is a member of the Art for Children and Youth European Association in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The Vidin Puppet Theater has participated in many national and international meetings and festivals and has been awarded many prizes, such as: first prize of the National Puppet Acacdemy; the Special Award of the Jury at the International Puppet Festival in Botoshani, Romania (1996); the Most Theatrical Team Award at the International Puppet Festival in Subotitsa, Yugoslavia (1997); the award of the Dutch Embassy and the Projects: East West Dutch Foundation at the International Puppet Festival in Pleven (1999 and 2000).

The Vidin Puppet Theater has successfully performed in Germany, Austria, Yugoslavia, Mongolia, Croatia, Romania, Hungary and Albania.

http://www.vidin-online.com/eng/cluture-and-art/

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Konak or Town Hall  Closed when we stopped by.) The top of the building is hidden behind the tree and in the haze. 

     “The building is a unique architectural and cultural monument of local significance. It was built up in the 18th century and served as a (Turkish) police station. Because of the good visibility the central tower part served as a fire-tower.

After the Liberation from the Ottomans it was reconstructed and Bulgarian Renaissance architecture elements were introduced. It has been a museum since 1956.  The exposition traces back the history of the Vidin region from the remote past to the Liberation.

     The foundations of the museum activity in Vidin region were laid in 1910 when the Archaeological Society was established and the first museum collection was arranged.  When the wars from the mid 20-ties of the 20th century were over Bononia Archaeological Society activated its collecting activity and under the guidance of the teacher Vasil Atanasov arranged an exposition of numismatic materials and Bulgarian embroideries in the old Turkish post-office building.

     Vidin history museum has strengthened its positions in the national museum network by its successfully arranged museum expositions, structuring of the departments and achievements in the science and research domain.

http://museum-vidin.domino.bg/eng/index2.htm

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Town Hall Stairs

As soon as we arrived in the town center, this dog joined us for our entire walk.  Thankfully it didn’t follow us back to the boat because it was so sweet I would have had a hard time not getting “too involved.”

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Art Museum, a 5 minute walk from DoraMac so I took myself one day.  When I got there, the posted hours said it would be open but it was closed.  I looked around for a bit and peered into the window and then started to walk away.  A man called to me and then walked over and unlocked the door and flipped on the lights.  It was really sad.  The building smelled musty and the floor was uneven as if it had been flooded and dried badly.  I found maybe 100 paintings on the walls and didn’t see any way to go anyplace other than the first floor.  No one came to check on me and the signage was all in Bulgarian.  So my experience definitely doesn’t match the description below.  They need to have someone from the wonderful art museum in Silistra come and help them.  But I’m sure, like the Synagogue, it’s partly a matter of money.  And I believe Silistra is a good deal larger and supports 2 “5 star” hotels.  It definitely looked to have more money. 

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The Regional Art Gallery in town of Vidin was founded in 1962 by the initiative of the local cultural and public figure Angel Budev. The current name Nikola Petrov is since 1976, when was the 60-year anniversary of the death of the great Vidin artist - Nikola Petrov. The gallery is housed in a building dating-back to 1892 (former Military Club), which has very beautiful and exquisite architecture and is located near the Danube Park. In the courtyard of the gallery are placed several beautiful stone sculptures and a monument of Nikola Petrov, whose name bears the gallery.

In the Art  gallery Nikola Petrov are exposed more than 1300 works of famous Bulgarian and foreign artists, arranged in three specialized divisions: Graphics, Painting and Sculpture. Among the most famous Bulgarian artists are Zlatyu Boyadjiev, Ivan Mrkvicka, Vladimir Dimitrov - Maystora, Nikola Petrov, Sirak Skitnik, Svetlin Rusev and others.

Besides its permanent exhibition the gallery houses temporary exhibitions from Bulgaria and abroad.

http://visit.guide-bulgaria.com/a/573/art_gallery_nikola_petrov.htm

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I don’t know the artist or the subject but it seemed so life-like and the hands seemed 3 dimensional.  But it looks as if the canvas is deteriorating.

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I liked this painting too and a couple others.

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Braila, Romania

Salut = hello in Romanian

   We checked out of Bulgaria and into Romania yesterday, both longer processes than elsewhere along the way.  No problem,  just longer waiting while everyone who needed to authorize our exit and entrance - authorized, signed and stamped everything that had to be authorized signed and stamped.  Rick and Randal went off to get this all done and Mary and I stayed on the boat where it felt like an even longer process.  That always happens when you are just waiting.  Last night we stayed overnight in Hirsova after a long 124 kilometer day which included the check in and check out stops.  Tonight we’re in Braila.  In this email I’m back in Vidin, one of my favorite stops in smaller places.

   I have to say that moving along fairly rapidly has made my head spin about.  That’s partially due to my wanting to understand and then pass along enough past and current history to understand why life is as it is in Eastern Europe.  Some of these Vidin emails contain lots of text along with the photos.  I thought it was all interesting.

Ru

Vidin Bulgaria

Poor but not downtrodden is how I would look at Vidin.  Downtrodden were the people in the Philippines we saw.  The Bulgarians seem upbeat.  The women dress up.  People are out and about.  But the library and art museum all need a huge infusion of municipal money. 

      Meeting Emilia and the young women from Sofia University “Saint Kliment Ohridski” was a real treat.  A high school student we met while out in the city was quite self-possessed as he told us about his summer internship working with computers.  He too was quite positive about America.  People in general seemed friendly. 

    I want to tell those who could to invest in Serbia and Bulgaria, because for many historic and recent global economy reasons the area is an economic mess.  Hopefully the economy will improve; you just have to root for the people. 

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Checking into Bulgaria in Vidin

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Tied up to a restaurant barge. 

We had power  and water.  To get water we had to attach our hose to the faucet in the restaurant kitchen.  Even turned on full force it took a good while to fill our boat.  But they were very accommodating about it.  Rick had to figure out how to get it all attached and I had to hunt around under our settee for the bag of clamps Randal said were there.  I found the clamps and Rick rigged the hose up to the faucet and it all worked.

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Lines and steel beams held the barge in place.

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We had to climb off DoraMac onto the barge and walk through the “outdoor” cafe to get to the street.  The owner of this barge also was a partner in the restaurant barge just down river from us.

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A park promenade ran along the waterfront.

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Some enchanted foxes in the park.

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You can see where their ears have been rubbed: I know I rubbed them. 

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An even slower way to get water; but clever.  Several straws were jammed together extending from the fountain to the empty bottle.  You can safely drink from all of the fountains in Eastern Europe and Turkey too.

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Not sure what this building is but we passed it on our way to the Synagogue which was on our way to Baba Vida Fortress.

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The Synagogue

The second biggest synagogue in Bulgaria and once considered the most beautiful. Now it’s derelict.  Emilia said many Vidin residents are ashamed of its condition.  But there’s no money for the library or schools which I think need to come first if there’s ever to be enough money for the extras such as the synagogue or art gallery.  Rather than try to rebuild it I think they should clean out all the debris and anything dangerous and just turn it into a restful green area like they did in London with Saint Dunstan  in the East. 

“Built in 1894 in the neo-Gothic style Vidin was Bulgaria’s second largest synagogue, a testament to the wealth and pride of the local community that had flourished for more than five centuries after its arrival from Spain in the fifteenth century. The synagogue contained a narthex, prayer hall. And lofts all of which were decorated with a combination of classic architectural forms and ancient Jewish decorative symbols, illuminated by stained-glass windows.

Today, the Vidin Synagogue with its four towers stands as a ruin, roofless and forlorn. Seized by the communist government in the wake of WWII, the synagogue was subsequently appropriated by the state. During the 1970s the Ministry of Culture and the National Institute of Monuments developed a plan to restore the building. Work began in 1983 and continued until 1989, when the collapse of the communist regime lead to the abandonment of the project, just as workers had removed the roof. Exposed to the elements for more than a decade the synagogue is now a ruin. Complete photo documentation of the synagogue and its interiors took place prior to the restoration attempt and could be used as the basis for a new restoration program. The Bulgarian national Jewish organization, now the owner of the site, wishes to see the building restored as a concert hall for use by the community, and also as a monument to its forebears.

Last update: 2004”  http://www.wmf.org/project/vidin-synagogue

A Ministry Letter Slowing Down Restoration of the Vidin Synagogue

Author: Tsvetomir Tsvetanov, Lilia Dimitrova, Plamen Kotsev

Source: BNR, Radio Vidin, 07.03.2013

http://severozapazenabg.com/

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That could be framed and saved with some kind of historical explanation.

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Part of the barbed wire fence had been pushed open so we crawled through. There was somewhat of a beaten path but it was mostly overgrown waist-high brush. 

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Photo in the small museum in the Fortress shows it had once been surrounded by a low stone wall.

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This is the first street artist I have found who had painted an image of the local synagogue.  The street artist in Budapest we saw had none of the Great Synagogue and most tourist offices had nothing.  Interestingly Slovakia, Serbia and Bulgaria seemed more proud of their synagogues and had information in the tourist offices. 

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A memento of the synagogue that one day might not be there

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Monument, raised by the Jewish community of town Vidin, Bulgaria

It’s in Bulgarian so I’ve only been able to find bits about it but the nuber 49,000 is engraved in the text.  That’s about the number of Jews who were sved by the Bulgaria during WW 2.

May 14, 2002

Salvation of the Bulgarian Jews during the last world war

Beatriz Rosanes de Samuilov

http://www.raoulwallenberg.net/saviors/others/salvation-bulgarian-jews/

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Hotel Drustar

Silistra, Bulgaria

  добро утро  dobro utro = Good Morning

We’ll spend today in Silistra mostly to stock up on “fizzy water” from the supermarket and a few other things, see about checking out of Bulgaria this afternoon (or have to wait until we leave tomorrow depending what the officials say.)  Our next stop will be Cernovoda in Romania.  This email is about final night in Serbia.

Ru

Negotin  Serbia (just near the Djerdap 2 dam) our final stop in Serbia just before our final lock of the river trip

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The small town/yacht club nearby was too shallow so we tied up here.  A guard told us we couldn’t.  We said we had no place else to go.  Two fishermen told the guard we had no place to go.  So he let us stay for the night.  Randal sent Mary with some beer for the fishermen.  They spoke no English and we no Serbian but it all worked out.  There really was no place else to go and no one else needed the dock, so logic and common sense won out.  And good will.

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Down this road was a small restaurant.

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Kafé bar Laguna located 10 km from Negotin on the banks of the Danube, on Kusjak beach just  near (but not too near) the hydropowerplant “Djerdap II.”  They also run a guest house.  You can borrow a boat for fishing on the Danube.  And it’s located on the international bike route that follows along the Danube. 

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Grape arbor

Randal and Rick ordered white wine.  When asked if they liked it, the owner said he’d made it himself!  Maybe from these grapes.  Randal wasn’t so fond of it though managed to drink several glasses.  Rick liked it.  I tasted it and thought it was pretty good actually.

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We were early

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Laguna’s owner posing with us

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The woman standing was originally from Negotin and was back visiting family.  She has a brother who lives in Chicago.

Derdap 2 OUR FINAL LOCK OF THE JOURNEY!!!!!!  From Vlissingen in The Netherlands until Derdap  2 near the Serbian/Bulgarian border we’d done about 57 of then.   Praise the inventor of the floating bollard where you tie on and it does the work rather than Mary and me chaning hooks the whole way up and one lock that went down. 

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I didn’t draw this but it’s certainly how I felt!  It was on the side of the floating bollard chamber.

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Life jackets became mandatory in Austria so we continued to wear them the rest of the way.

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Checking out from Serbia: we showed up but no one was there.  Finally someone called us and said they would be back to the office as soon as they’d dealt with the big barge ahead of us. 

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Hotel Dustra

Silistra, Bulgaria

добър ден  dobŭr den Good Afternoon

   Randal and I explored a little of Silistra this morning, one place being the Art Museum which was WONDERFUL.   Price of admission was 1 lev = $.68.  The catalogue of the permanent collection with English text as well as Bulgarian text was 5 lev.  I took a bunch of photos of the current exhibition which I’ll share when I write about Silistra. 

This email is about our passage along through the gorges of the Danube to Iron Gate.  Really dramatic scenery. 

Ru

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From its headwaters in Germany’s Black Forest, the Danube winds its way through ten European countries to drain into the Black Sea. For much of its course, the river moves lazily through wide valleys, but as it enters the border region between Romania and Serbia, its banks narrow into a series of high cliffs. Here, the river carved a passage through the lower Carpathian Mountains to its north and the Balkan Mountains to its south, creating a series of four steep gorges. These gorges are known as the Iron Gate. Within the last of the four gorges is the Danube’s second iron gate: the Iron Gate Dam. Both of the Danube’s Iron Gates—the lower gorges and the dam—are shown in this image, taken by the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA’s Terra satellite.

Much of the image is red, where plants and trees cover the land. Tan rocky outcrops snake along mountain tops too high in altitude to support trees and emerge in the steep cliffs that line the river. Signs of human habitation are visible, too; the silver area on the north shore of the river is the Romanian town of Orsova.

The Danube cuts a wide, blue ribbon through the center of the image. The river’s narrowest point as it passes through the gorges is at Great Kazan gorge, shown on the left side of the image. Within the gorge, the Danube shrinks to 150 meters in width and is flanked by limestone cliffs that reach to about 300 meters. The cliffs are a darker shade of red on the east bank of the river and are accented with dark shadows. After exiting the gorge, the river widens again as it enters the Orsova Valley. A “u” bend brings the Danube into the last gorge, the Sip Gorge. Though the land’s wrinkled appearance suggests rugged terrain, the cliffs here are not nearly as severe as in the Kazan gorge.

The Danube is a major waterway for international trade, but the Iron Gate gorges created rapids and whirlpools that made navigation difficult. Control over this section of the Danube was gained with the construction of the Iron Gate Dam in the Sip Gorge. The dam, the white line across the river on the right side of the image, began operation in 1972. As the Danube deepened behind the dam, its expanding waters covered at least seven towns, including old Orsova and the island town of Ada Kaleh, a Turkish enclave.

Apart from Orsova and a few very small towns, which form tiny silver dots on the north shore of the river, the region is notably free of signs of human habitation west of the Iron Gate Dam. The square grids of vegetation created by agriculture are missing, as are sprawling silver cities. The land on both sides of the river is protected. Djerdap National Park lines the south shore of the river in Serbia, and Portile de Fier National Park forms the Romanian shore in the north. Both parks protect the natural environment as well as significant cultural and historical sites ranging from Neolithic settlements to a medieval fortress.

http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=6819

The Djerdap National Park is the largest national park and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Serbia. It was established in 1974 to protect and improve the unique natural and cultural values of the area. 

The Djerdap National Park stretches along the right bank of the Danube River, spreading over 640 square kilometres. The Danube forms a huge part of the Djerdap National Park. The main attraction of the Djerdap National Park is the Djerdap gorge - the famous Iron Gate - the dramatic gateway of the Danube through the Carpathian mountains. At 100 km, this is the longest gorge in Europe. The cliffs of the canyon here are 300 meters high while the riverbed in this part is narrowed down to 150 meters.

     The territory of the national park is filled with a series of other important features: abundant animal and especially plant life, attractive surroundings and landscapes, including a lake formed by the building of the hydroelectric power plant "Djerdap" (Iron Gates).

http://danube.panda.org/wwf/web/search/details.jsp?pid=13

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Golubac Castle

It is situated in one of the most beautiful parts of the Balkans where the Danube is the widest and nature is the greenest. It is believed to have been built in the early 13th century as a border stronghold of strategic importance. It consists of irregularly shaped narrow walls that connect nine massive towers. Octagonal Hat Tower, formerly used as a pier of the Fortress, nowadays is the symbol and trademark of Golubac. Archaeological research revealed over a hundred ceramic artefacts, iron tools, axes, scraping irons, pick axes, door latches and spears, which are proof of the rich past of the Golubac fortress.

There are many interesting legends about the origin of fortress name. According to one of them, once upon a time, a gorgeous princess Golubana lived in a palace. She had refused Turkish pasha’s love and thus was chained to Baba Kaj rock and left to die. After pasha’s screams: “Babo, pokaj se” (“Women, repent”), the rock was called “Baba Kaj” and town was named Golubac after Golubana. With the aid of strong chains, town was connected to Baba Kaj rock allowing total regulation of water and road traffic through Iron Gate.

Golubac fortress is under protection of the National Institute for Protection of Cultural Monuments since 1948 and in 1979, it has been categorized as the cultural heritage of exceptional importance.

http://www.serbia.sab.travel/fortresses/golubac-fortress

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“Along the Golubac Klissura or Gorge (km 1040-km 1026) a plaque at km 1036 commemorates Baross Gabor.  As Hungarian minister of transport from 1886 to 1892 he introduced the necessary adjustments for the dangerous Danube rapids. “

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Not all of the landscape along the way is protected

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Km 1016 The fortress (ruins partly visible in the middle of the river) was built by Hungarian Kingdom in 15th century. It was flooded by the Iron Gates I Dam’s waters

http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?p=98440248

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Tunel through the mountain

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A fairytale farm

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Teepee shaped haystacks

Our overnight stop was Poreka Reka where we anchored for a quiet night away from noise, music, bright yacht club/restaurant security lights…

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“Porecka Reka rural property for rent 113

Porečka Reka rural tourism Donji Milanovac - PANACOMP rural property for rent 113

Should you seek for the pure nature, birds’ songs and peaceful ambiance, this is the best choice for you : the house is located in the Porec River Bay, close to the Danube waterway and the beautiful river beach, 2 km far from Donji Milanovac. The house enables full privacy and comfortable vacations providing accommodation on two floors. There is one three-bed apartment with equipped kitchen and additional bed, bathroom and the balcony over the Porec River Bay. The second apartment includes two bedrooms with two beds each, equipped kitchen, a bathroom and the balcony overlooking the Danube River. The house is surrounded with broad garden full of greenery comprising the place for grill and cooking facilities for unbeatable fish-soup of freshly caught fish.

Places of interest : Rajko’s Cave, Lepenski Vir archaeological site, Djerdap National Park, Veliki and Mali Kazan/ Great and Small Basin/, "Hajducka vodenica" natural oasis, Golubac Fortress, Vratna Canyon, Danube Iron Gate. “  http://panacomp.net/

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Randal washing down the chain and anchor which was covered with thick mud

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Km 967 Mraconia Church

     “In western Romania there is a place where the Danube cuts a beautiful gorge into the mountains as it crosses into the country. The area is called Cazane, which means The Cauldrons, and it is the site of the huge hydroelectric plant called The Iron Gates I. The plant was built in the 1960s, and is right now the biggest hydro power plant on the Danube. Building it has taken a lot of sacrifices: the geography was changed and many communities wiped out.

     The best-known example is Ada Kaleh, an island surrounded by the waters of the river, inhabited by a flourishing Turkish community, which was forcibly evacuated from the now underwater island. Another building which was swallowed by the rising waters was an old monastery called Mracunia. Now a new monastery stands not very far from the original site bearing a variation of this name, Mraconia. It lies 15 km away from the town of Orsova. Father Viorel Vladucu, a spokesman for the Severin and Strehaia Bishopric, told us about the history of the place and the new monastery.

     Father Viorel Vladucu: “Mraconia, or Mraciunea, means ‘secret place’. It has had a troubled history, being plundered by invaders and having to pay tribute to foreign rulers before its final demise when it was covered by the water. It was destroyed during the Russian-Turkish-Austrian war of 1787-1792, rebuilt, and once again razed in 1968. Even though this place of worship has been destroyed several times along the centuries, we now find it once again, and it is beautiful. In 1967, as the Iron Gates hydro plant started being built, the old place was demolished, and its ruins are now covered by the Danube. As the monastery could not be built in the same place, after 1989 the Metropolitan Bishopric of Oltenia took the initiative of restoring it in a new location.”

     The old monastery was first mentioned in historical records in 1452, the year of the fall of Constantinople, when the monks of Mracunia took refuge in Orsova, as mentioned in a chronicle of the time. The church was subordinated to the bishopric of Varset in 1523 by Nicola Garlisteanu, the governor of the border region of Caransebes and Lugoj.

     Father Viorel Vladucu: “The church at that time was dedicated to St. Elijah and chronicler Nicolae Stoica of Hateg wrote in a chronicle dated 1829 that fleeing Turks, after the unsuccessful battle in Varna and after the fall of Constantinople, the monks of Mraconia had taken refuge in Orsova. The monastery decayed in time, but it was still inhabited in 1788 and its interior plaster was still visible around 1800. In 1823 they found among its ruins the stamp seal of the old church with an interesting inscription in Slavonic. Another interesting discovery was made in 1835 when an icon of the Virgin Mary was found, which was later displayed in an exhibition in Vienna by a painter from Munich. The first plans to rebuild the monastery date back to 1931, but the works did not start until 1947.”

     This time, the new monastery only lasted for 20 years. However, in 1995, the Bishopric of Oltenia made the decision to rebuild the monastery close to its original site. Located on a cliff close to the Cazane gorges on the Danube, the church was very difficult to reach in the past. Things have changed in recent years, as father Viorel Vladucu explains.

     Father Viorel Vladucu: “While access to the church was very difficult in the past, now there is a road linking Orsova to Moldova Noua, a picturesque road running along the Danube, so many pilgrims can now visit this place easily. A large number of pilgrims have been coming to the church in recent years, also because the Cazane gorges is one of the most beautiful places in Romania. Besides, Mraconia Monastery today lies on the site of a former observation and guiding post, from where navigation on the Danube used to be monitored. The strait is very narrow allowing for the passing of only one ship at a time.”

     Several tourist sites are close to Mraconia Monastery, such as the statue of Dacian king Decebalus carved in stone, as well as an inscription reading TABULA TRAIANA, which is actually on the Serbian bank of the river, reminding of a time in ancient history when the invading Roman troops crossed the Danube on their way to the former kingdom of Dacia.

http://www.rri.ro/en_gb/the_mraconia_monastery-16542

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km 967 Decebalus Head at Mraconia – The Romanian Mount Rushmore

     “If your steps take you to Mraconia, about 15 km West of Orsova, be sure not to miss Decebalus’ head, considered to be the tallest sculpture in Europe. It is carved directly into stone and it represents the last king of the Dacians, the indigenous people that lived in the territory of modern Romania before it was conquered by the Romans, and one of the forefathers of this nation.

     Decebalus’ head stands 55 m tall and, inevitably, reminds of the famous Mount Rushmore from the United States of America. The eyes are 4.3 m long, the nose is 7 m long and 4 meters wide. This dimensions and its almost inaccessible position are arguments why so many people come to admire it every year. Some calculations reveal that it is only 6 m shorter that the Statue of Liberty and 8 m taller than Jesus’ statue from Rio de Janeiro.

      The place of the statue was not accidentally chosen, because on the other side of the Danube, on the Serbian shore there is an ancient inscription, carved in stone, named “Tabula Traiana”, celebrating the Roman’s army march against the Dacians and emperor Trajan’s victory against king Decebalus in 105 A.D.  This section of the Danube’s course, called Cazane (between Dubova and Ogradena, including, of course, Mraconia) was always considered one of the most dangerous and spectacular. Dangerous because the river’s crossing between the mountains caused the appearance of water swirls that had claimed many sailor lives, spectacular because the landscapes and the experience of fighting the waves are truly breathtaking. Mraconia itself is a testimony as the name can be translated as ”hidden place”, or ”dark waters”.

     Just as the monument from the USA, Decebalus’ head dates from modern times, extremely recent actually. The initiator of this project was Iosif Constantin Dragan (1917 – 2008), a wealthy Romanian businessman, who was very much in love with the Tracian and Dacian civilizations and who wrote a couple of books about them, asserting that their role in universal history was more important than that from the official versions. His ideas are still controversial, but no one can deny that investing more than a million Euros to realize Decebalus’ head was an extraordinary gift to the Romanian people. Of course, he had to take as much the credit as it can be for this – at the base of the monument it is carved `Dragan Fecit – Dragan made it`.

      He had also promised to the mayor of Cluj that he will build an identical replica of the Column of Trajan from Rome, that depicts the story of the war between Dacians and Romans. His death in 2008 left this promise unfulfilled.

      The sculpture was executed between 1994 and 2004, by a team of 12 men, led by the Romanian sculptor Florin Cotarcea.  As a comparison, Mount Rushmore took 14 years (1927 – 1941) and 300 men, until it was revealed to the public. The rock where Decebalus’ head stands now is a place only accessible by boat. Dynamite was indispensable and not very sophisticated eqiupments could be used, and they were carried to the top by foot, in bags of almost 50 kg each. The climbing sculptors worked in two shifts every day, from March until October every year and had to face the incredible heat of the summer, the danger of falling into the deepest waters of the Danube and the menace of the vipers. One worker was bit by such a creature one day, but was immediately taken care of.

     Decebalus’ nose was the trickiest part of the project, as one big piece of rock fell apart, and the Dacian kings’ nostrils had to be straightened with iron armature and concrete.

http://romaniaonyourtravellist.blogspot.com/

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km 965 Tabula Trajana

http://www.panacomp.net/tour-packages?mesto=srbija_tabula%20traiana

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“On the right bank, look out for the weathered marble Trajan’s Plaque (km 965) set here in AD 101 in honour of the Roman emperor. In a few unpretentious words, it commemorates the construction of Trajan’s Road along the Danube, a great feat for the time.  The plaque was actually moved a little further up the bank from its original position when the reservoir was built.”

JPMM Danube Guide

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We went through a double chambered lock here at the big dam

Abstract

The Djerdap 1 and Djerdap 2 Hydro Power and Navigation System (HPNS), also known as the Iron Gate HPNS, are among the largest in Europe. Its purpose is to utilize the considerable hydropower potential and improve the conditions for navigation in the formerly very dangerous section of the Danube. During operation period HPNS has completely fulfilled its intended purpose. The average hydropower production per year is 13 TWh, and covers an important share of power demand in Serbia and Romania. Also, a permanent solution to the centuries-long problem of navigation along the Iron Gate stretch of the Danube River is provided. The Iron Gate HPNS generated considerable modifications of the natural river regime and raised a number of questions concerning water management decisions, such as: the reduced sediment transport capacity, followed by sediment deposition; the raising of the groundwater table, the endangerment of many communities and industrial, municipal and transportation facilities, as well as agricultural production in the riparian belt; the inadequacy of the existing flood control structures; the decrease of the ice transport capacity at the end of the backwater zone; etc. Over 40 years of system operation, most of the initially recognized water management problems were addressed by comprehensive protection works and measures. The environmental impacts and effects of the protection measures were investigated within the scope of a multidisciplinary and complex monitoring program, conducted by Jaroslav Cerni Institute. It is composed of 9 sub-programs, which thoroughly investigate all the possible river impoundment impacts and consequences for the social situation and the environment. This paper gives an overview of the activities and results of the Iron Gate HPNS monitoring, carried out by Jaroslav Cerni Institute on behalf of the Iron Gate Company, between 1974 and 2012. http://www.wrmjournal.com/

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Hotel Drustar dock with wifi

Silistra, Bulgaria

   This is my last email of the evening.  We left Belgrade and stopped at Smederevo.  Here’s the story.  The city center is charming; the Fortress fun, the newer parts of the city hopeful, but the older parts show that the economy of Serbia is still struggling. 

Ru

Smederevo http://www.smederevowelcome.com/index.html

We arrived in Smederevo just about noon time and tied up at the one restaurant barge that could accommodate our size.  Rick and Mary had stayed there previous trip along the Danube.  But no one was about.  Thinking the restaurant next along the Danube might have some knowledge of our restaurant as well as a lunch menu we walked there.  No info and no food, just drinks.  So we tried the next place.  No info, no food.  We were pointed along to the final restaurant.  They had no info but they did have food.  We killed a few hours between finding some food and eating it.  It was a hot day, as most of them now are.  Really too bad this trip can’t be done in the fall when the weather is cooler, but the Danube and Black Sea freeze, and though we’ve been called an “ice breaker,” we’re not.  When we returned we noticed a man in the restaurant, the same person Rick and Mary had dealt with previously.  We could tie up, have no water or power for 30 Euro.  That was really too much compared to everyplace else we’d stopped.  Randal told him 20 and that was fine.  He warned us there would be a private party lasting until the early hours of the morning.  But there was no other choice.  Too loud and too awful but the river seems to attract disco restaurant barges.  This was a problem in the Philippines, Malaysia, Israel  and Marmaris too.  Thankfully in Marmaris we have AC so we can close up the boat and muffle the noise somewhat.  Along the rivers we’re not using the AC so need to keep hatches and portholes open for the cool air.  We only stayed the one night though the town deserves more if you ever go.

Leaving Belgrade, the first town of significance reached by heading east along the Danube is Smederevo, a port and industrial town of about 117,000 inhabitants.  http://www.smederevowelcome.com/

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Republic Square

“Republic Square represents the central part of the contemporary town fabric of Smederevo. With its historical continuity, triangular urban form and representative heritage, it shows the identity of the town itself and together with the Fortress expresses its recognizable profile.

     It was established in the first half of the 19th century, after the Second Serbian uprising, on the place where the Big Market connected the Serbian and Turkish part of the town. During the time of Knez Miloš, in 1837, was made the Plan of Development, with which the shaping of this space as a central town square began. With the building of the church of St. George in 1854 was the basics of the further development defined. With this religious building, the dome, around which the whole town gravitates, was also the center of Smederevo itself definitely founded.

     New buildings were raised: in 1888 the Prefecture and in 1926 the City Court, which with their architectural and stylistic expression tell of the creation of an ambience of a European town center. Thereby was the shape of the square finally regulated. The homogenization and shaping of the spatial structure contributed, in the time between the world wars, to the building of several objects in different styles and with different functions: The Ninić hotel building (today the Town Gallery), and immediately next to it, a business-apartment building that has been shaped to fit in, the building of the former pharmacy Pantazijević which solved the problem of the corner at the entrance to the Square; the building of the former library (today Historical Archives).

     During the Second World War, the most valuable objects on the square were badly damaged and renovated more recently. After the war, new urbanistic projects as a rule did not respect the peculiarities of the ambience, so that in certain segments the spatial unity destroyed, especially by new building.

     With the beginning of the new century, a more positive way of handling this space came about. Reconstruction and ground-floor arrangements were done with the aim of making both the functional and the aesthetic values of the square more contemporary and making them stand up. Dominated by the Temple of the Holy Great Martyr George the Victorious and there are a monument to fallen soldiers in World War I, County Administration Building, the Gallery of Modern Art and the famous fountain, a meeting place, rest and entertainment among city’s youth and senior citizens.”

http://www.smederevowelcome.com/republic-square.html

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Church of St. George

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The Old City Hall and a city map: notice the river here is called the Dunav

“The building of the former city hall was raised between 1926 and 1928, as a project of the Russian architect Nikolaj Krasnov in the spirit of eclecticism.

The edifice is built in an angle – it is in the shape of the Cyrillic letter “g” (Г). The facade is vertically divided, dominated by 22 massive pilasters horizontally adjoined, between which there are large, arched openings at the ground-floor, and at the first floor along the right-angled openings. A characteristic of the building are four richly draped sculptures personifying justice, work, science and culture, which are placed on the balustrade above the roof wreath.”

http://www.smederevowelcome.com/the-building-of-the-old-city-hall.html

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The Gallery of Modern Art has been operating as a part of the Museum in Smederevo since 2005. It is located on the main town square, the Republic Square, and has a representative exhibition area. Expert services of the Gallery, with the help of the gallery Art Council, create programs every year filled with rich and varied exhibitions in the field of contemporary art.

   The art framework of the current program of the Gallery of Modern Art in Smederevo, which tends to develop in the future, covers a wide range of different forms of contemporary artistic expression, from (post)conceptual approach and radical language attitudes, through traditional mediums of paintings and sculpture, which are experimented upon, to classical forms of artistic expressions of a higher quality (mosaic, collage, photography, drawing…).

http://www.smederevowelcome.com/gallery-of-modern-art.html

It was open in the morning and evening but we were there in the afternoon. 

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Some older neighborhoods between Republic Square and the Fortress

Smederevo history and the Fortress:

     “Smederevo began life as a Roman settlement on the route from Singidunum to Viminacium. In 1427, it became the new Serbian capital, when the Hungarians took over Belgrade again following the death of Stefan Lazarević. The castle is triangular in shape, with five gates, 25 large towers, double ramparts and a moat. At one end of the complex is a smaller stronghold that consists of a place and a citadel, which has its own moat and four bastions. On one of the bastions is the date of the building, 6938, the numbers of years reckoned by the Orthodox Church to have elapsed since the world was first created, which corresponds to the date 1430 in the Roman calendar. Considering that the castle was erected very quickly, within a year from 1429-30, its dimensions are hugely impressive: the walls of the keep at the north of the inner fortress are about 5m thick, and the total distance around the perimeter is about 1.5km.

The castle’s construction was by order of Đurađ Branković, son of Vuk, who was despot at the time. The notion was to provide an impenetrable barrier to the Turkish advance that was taking place during this period. One legend states that the impoverished peasants who built the castle were obliged to provide thousands of eggs to mix with the mortar in order to firmly secure the stones, while another asserts that it was Branković’s tyrannical Greek wife, Jerina (known by her subjects as ‘Damned Jerina’ and said to bathe only in milk), who gave the order for the castle’s construction. Either way, it is undeniable that a great deal of forced labour had to be recruited to build such an extensive and imposing structure in such a short time.

The Turks eventually arrived to subdue the fortress but it took them more than 20 years to do so. Smederevo Fortress was finally surrendered in 1459 to Sultan Mehmet I, which marked the final victory of the Ottoman Turks over Serbian territory. Immediately, the Turks made the castle the headquarters of their pašalik in the region and it remained in Turkish occupation, with the exception of a brief period of Austrian control, until 1805 when Karađorđe formally received its keys following his initial success with the First National Uprising. Having survived the medieval period more or less intact, the fortress suffered considerable damage in far more recent times when a German ammunition depot blew up part of it in 1941 claiming more than 5,000 lives, and then later in 1944 when it was bombed by Allied forces.“     http://www.smederevowelcome.com/history.html

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For Peter and Jane, the lock on the castle gate

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Once upon a time

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A moat with water

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Looking down river to the new port facilities

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Old and new

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Hotel Drustar dock

Silistra, Bulgaria

Belgrade first and last evenings

Ru

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Tied up alongside Restoran Vodenica  just across the road from the lower edges of the Belgrade Fortress.  The restaurant/barge was a family business and the owners were very helpful.  There was power and water for DoraMac.  We would climb off DoraMac, walk through the outdoor seating area, through the restaurant and out the front door.  Thankfully it was not a “music blaring restaurant” and most diners were gone by 11 pm though I think the quiet Serbian conversations just outside our portholes lulled me to sleep.

“The first raft restaurant in the old Belgrade anchored at the mouth of the river Sava and the Danube below Belgrade Fortress Kalemegdan-, near the Nebojsa Tower and only 200 m away, as the crow flies, from the monument ,, Winner ".     (The Victor monument.)

     Name a fish restaurant ,, VODENICA "resulting from an authentic and warm interior of the old oak beams, taken from more than 370-year-old Serbian mills.”

www.restoranvodenica.co.rs

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We had a lovely dinner our first night:  grilled catfish and more potato with Swiss chard.

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Our final night we walked across Belgrade to meet a longtime work colleague of Rick’s.  We passed through some charming older neighborhoods with cafes and art an art gallery. 

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Randal managed to withdraw money from the corner ATM while the light counted down to 0 at which point the red man would turn green and we could cross.  It had started at 90 seconds, Randal began the transaction at 50,  and there were about 20 seconds still left when he finished. 

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Restaurant at the corner

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These symbols were embedded in the sidewalk

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The cigarette is circled in red but there’s no line through it implying that you could smoke indoors!

Nikola Tesla Museum

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We stopped at the Teslar Museum just in time for the last tour of the day.  I really knew nothing about Tesla and know pretty much nothing about how electricity works, but the tour guide did a great job so made it interesting and fun.  Wish I’d had her for a science teacher.  She reminded me of the TV Mr Wizard but with a sense of humor.

The museum is quite underfunded, the public toilets were out of commission and the show and tell equipment had to be coaxed and jerry-rigged into working. 

“In the middle of 1882 he travelled to Paris to join Edison’s Continental Company, and in 1883 moved to Strasbourg and made the prototype of the induction motor. In 1884 he travelled to USA to start working in Edison’s company. In 1885 he left Edison, founded his own "Tesla Arc & Light Co." and started producing motors and generators for polyphase alternate currents.

http://www.tesla-museum.org/meni_en.htm tells much more about Tesla, his discoveries and his collaboration with Westinghouse.

Nikola Tesla Museum is located in the central area of Belgrade, in a residential villa built in 1929 according to the project of Dragiša Brašovan, a distinguished Serbian architect. The building was used for various purposes until December 5, 1952, when Nikola Tesla Museum was founded in accordance with the decision of the Government of the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia.

     The material for the Museum arrived in Belgrade according to the decision of the American court, which declared Mr. Sava Kosanovic, Tesla’s nephew, for the only rightful heir. In 1951, in accordance with Tesla’s last wish, Mr. Kosanovic transferred all the documents and Tesla’s personal things in Belgrade.

http://www.tesla-museum.org/meni_en/nt.php?link=tesla/t&opc=sub1

Nikola Tesla was born on July 10, 1856 in Smiljan, Lika, which was then part of  the Austo-Hungarian Empire, region of Croatia. His father, Milutin Tesla was a Serbian Orthodox Priest and his mother Djuka Mandic was an inventor in her own right of household appliances.  (Her father also had been a Serbian Orthodox Priest.)

http://www.teslasociety.com/biography.htm

Why Belgrade you ask? Below is from a visit Tesla made to Belgrade in 1892:

    “- I feel much more than I can say. Please do not measure the extent of my feelings by the weakness of my words… If I am fortunate enough to fulfill at least some of my ideals, that will do good for the whole of mankind. If that is achieved, I will be glad to say that a Serb has done it. 

     Then he took a specially decorated horse carriage to the Imperial Hotel which used to be near Captain Misha’s Building (today the Rectorate of Belgrade University). On June 2, he was received by the young Serbian King, Alexander Obrenovic. Tesla told the Serbian King that Belgrade will need to introduce electricity. The King was fascinated by Tesla’s words and demonstrations. Belgrade, at that time with a population of 60,000 people, got electricity the following year (1893). It was a huge and widely celebrated event. 

    The King wanted to award Tesla with the Medal of St. Sava for extraordinary contribution to science. But, since Tesla was legally a citizen of the United States of America, the medal was sent to him later on, via diplomatic postal service. The then US Secretary of State John Foster approved the action and Tesla got the medal of the Serbian King on January 27, 1893 - on Saint Sava Day.

http://www.teslasociety.com/serbia150.htm

In the third room of the Museum, in the gold-plated sphere on the marble pedestal is the urn with Tesla’s ashes. After death Tesla was cremated and the urn was transferred to Belgrade in 1957.

http://www.tesla-museum.org/meni_en/nt.php?link=tesla/t&opc=sub1   (I took no photos as I thought the guide said that would be disrespectful.)

A fight over Tesla’s ashes:

Inventor and scientist Nikola Tesla, whose ashes are to be moved from the museum bearing his name.

A furious dispute has erupted between Serbian scientists and the Orthodox church after it was announced that the remains of the inventor Nikola Tesla will be reburied in a church…….

A Facebook campaign, Leave Tesla Alone, started almost immediately after the announcement was made and has already gathered more than 30,000 supporters on social media who want to see Tesla’s ashes stay where they are.

http://www.theguardian.com/

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I couldn’t have explained this but I found a blogger who could -

“Next they demonstrated the wireless transfer of electricity using a generator and fluorescent tubes filled with neon gas. They asked for volunteers to hold the tubes, and the other people were all a bit nervous so I volunteered. A couple of guys followed. The guide switched on the generator, and as little sparks of lightning shot out the top, the fluoro tubes – which we were holding a metre from the generator – all lit up like lightsabers.”

http://curiouscatontherun.wordpress.com/

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Our group had lots of volunteers.  Unfortunately my tube lit up bright white, too hard to see in the daylight.  But you can see that your hands could limit the color change but I don’t remember why.

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Put your finger near the lower part of the round spindle and you would get zapped.   If you actually touched it, nothing happened.  I tried this too.  You definitely heard the zap more than felt it. 

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Under her photo are the words “Very little is known about May Cline,” and annoyingly that seems to be true if you’re limited to the Internet for information.  But I was interested in her because of her watercolors.

“May Cline (? – ?)

This is the woman who wrote the greatest amount of letters to Tesla. There is scarce information about her, i.e. her letters to him are not well-known because they were not explored. The archive of Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade keeps about 2500 her letters and different papers (newspaper articles, drawings, natal charts…), which tells us she wrote to him very often, almost every day. She exchanged letters with Tesla between 1891 and 1942. She lived in New Jersey. There are two of her books in Tesla’s library: “The Principles of Bird Flight“  (published in 1905) and “Trailing Evolution“.  She was a member of New York Academy of Sciences. There are no copies of his letters to her, so we do not know whether and how often Tesla answered to her. Many things about their relationship are still mysterious, and the mystery is greater because a long time will pass until her letters are deciphered, because she had very unreadable handwriting.  https://ru-ru.facebook.com/

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From the museum we went off to meet Rick’s friend for dinner. 

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Rick, Mary, Predrag and his wife Dr. Markovic who is a family practice doctor

Rick and Predrag are longtime work colleagues as well as friends.  We met at Pedrag’s computer software company after the Teslar Museum and then all went to dinner.  We all drove back to DoraMac for a brief visit.  I should have written down Dr. Markovic’s first name but I’m afraid I’ll mangle it as neither Rick or Mary is absolutely sure of the spelling. Draga perhaps?  They have a son studying engineering  and a daughter still in high school who is interested in art.

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Hotel Dristar dock

Silistra Bulgaria

добър вечер  dobŭr vecher = Good Evening

     It is 8:30 pm and it has been a long day.  We left Ruse at 8:30 am, made a quick stop for water at a restaurant dock, and arrived at Silistra about 4:30.  We relaxed at the hotel restaurant patio and then hiked off for the grocery store.  Rick vaguely remembered from 3 years ago where the market was, but it must have moved as we didn’t find it.  But a school kid on a bike lead us part of the way and then two “older ladies: were tickled at the question when they understood and pointed us further along.  No one understood supermarket or grocery store but when I asked for Lidl they all knew what we wanted.  Lidl was “an arms wave far away” but they did point us to a Kaufland which I like better than Lidl.  I had a half dozen people helping me get my cucumbers “do it yourself” weighed and stickered but the авокадо no one could find among the fruit and vegetable images on the scale.  Finally I looked at the авокадо bin and guessed it was by piece and not weight and that’s what one woman told me in Bulgarian and a man told me in German and I understood both because I knew what they must be saying.  Guess what авокадо is?  They are green and the base for guacamole.

This email is the next to last of the Belgrade series.  But they are mostly photos and very little text. 

I had no preconceived notions about Serbian people, or Eastern European people in general.   My impression is that I like them though the meetings were very brief.  Usually tour guides, some Belgrade friends of Rick’s  or Emilia in Vidin. 

Ru

In the Fortress and Kalemegdan Park

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Pals taking a double selfie on the Fortress  wall overlooking the Sava River.

Readers in the park.

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Chess tables were set up in the park

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Ping pong table too.

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Smiling at my camera?

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Tending the roses in the park

Knez Mihailova Street :   Prince Michael Street

The place to go if you want to shop.  We didn’t, so didn’t spend much time there.  We basically walked through on our way to Republic Square for the start of our walking tours.  I do wish they’d had a tour of Knez Mihailova Street because the building architecture overshadowed by all of the shop windows and advertisements were lovely.   

“Prince Michael Street is the main walking street in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. It is a pedestrian zone and shopping center, protected by law as one of the oldest and most valuable landmarks of the city. It has a large number of impressive buildings and mansions built at the end of the 1870s 

    Today Knez Mihailova is a common meeting point for Belgraders. The street has been named one of the most beautiful pedestrian zones in Eastern Europe and is a constant buzz of people and tourists. Thousands of people stroll along the street every day as it is the shortest path from Terazije to Kalemegdan park and fortress.

     History of Area : The street follows the central grid layout of the Roman city of Singidunum.  During the time of Turks, there were gardens, drinking-fountains and mosques along its lengths. In the middle of the 19th century, the upper part of the street bordered the garden of Knez Aleksandar Karađorđević. After the implementation of the regulation plan of Belgrade (1867), by Emilijan Josimović, the street soon gained its current look and architecture. Houses were built there by the most influential and wealthiest families of Belgrade society. In 1870, city authorities officially named this street - Ulica Kneza Mihaila (Prince Michael Street).” 

http://www.balkansgeotourism.travel/

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Remember that great youtube video when everyone comes out to join the street musicians?  That didn’t happen here, but lots of people stopped to listen.

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I had no small bills or change so sadly had nothing to put into his case.  He was quite brave but really needed more practice.

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A drinking fountain and a pigeon bath.

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Pop-up book and record shop.

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Nothing seemed to disturb him. 

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The City Library on the left

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At the entrance to Knez Mihailova Street

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The city swallowing the country

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http://www.telavivhummushouse.com/?lang=en

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Yacht Club Ruse

Ruse, Bulgaria

Здравей   zdraveĭ  Hello

    I have never been so glad to finally finish an email as I am about this Belgrade evening walking tour story.  Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic so there was a lot to take in.  Some went in and stayed, lots went in and parts stayed, and some probably never made it in at all.    There’s lots of text in this email.  But the stories and history are really more important than the buildings and monuments.  The Balkans really are the story of the people and what a mess politics has made through much of the history.  But, you just have to root for the Serbian people.  I really liked them.  We all did. 

   I’ll do one following email about Belgrade but it will be mostly photos from when we just wandered around so not so mostly photos and little text. 

I’m ashamed to admit that while researching these emails about Croatia, Serbia and next Bulgaria, I wonder where my mind was in the 90s while all this was happening.  I know there were horror stories about Bosnia and Kosovo but I couldn’t tell you the players or what sides they were on.  Now when the news mentions these places I will think of the people we met there. 

Ru

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Our guide Dusko (sp) who said he has lost about 18 kilograms since he’d started leading the free tours.  That’s almost 40 pounds!  He also works for an NGO in Belgrade something about social structures in society or something like that.  Notice the orange umbrella…I think at least his third as they tend to get lost.

Discover the dark and mysterious side of Serbian history. Learn about the country’s dynasties, its Communist era, Tito, the rise and fall of Slobodan Milosevic, the bombing of Serbia and much more… See where the free masons left their hidden symbols embedded on buildings of national importance and together we shall solve all the hidden enigmas that lay within. Acquaint yourself with Serbian Orthodox tradition and the politics that molded this country.

•Old Palace

•The National Assembly building

•Tasmajdan Park

•Saint Mark’s Church

•Flower Square

•Slavia Square

•Saint Sava Temple

3 bridges and human shield / concert

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This was a great tour with an extremely knowledgeable guide.  I can only remember about 1/3rd of what I was told.  Thankfully Randal and Rick remembered stories I didn’t.  Basically this walk took us through the end of Turkish rule, WW1, WW2, the Cold War, Breakup of Yugoslavia and the disastrous rule of Slobodan Milosevic.  Our tour guide pointed out what are said to be symbols of the Freemasons in Belgrade which fascinated him, but I’m still not so sure what the big deal is with that.  The tour lasted almost 3 house and we had a 30 minute walk to the walk and a 40 minute walk back to DoraMac at the end of the tour.  Sometimes though, instead of taking photos I should be taking notes.  So I’ve pieced together information that covers the history of Serbia connected to the places we visited on our walk.  Some of the sites, originally in Serbian, have “colorful” translations but that’s all that I could find using only the Internet and Not A Real Library.

Modern Serbia (1804-1918)

Serbian resistance to Ottoman domination, latent for many decades surfaced at the beginning of 19th century with the First and Second Serbian Uprising in 1804 and 1815. The Turkish Empire was already faced with a deep internal crisis without any hope of recuperating. This had a particularly hard effect on the Christian nations living under its rule. The Serbs launched not only a national revolution but a social one as well and gradually Serbia started to catch up with the European states with the introduction of the bourgeois society values. Resulting from the uprisings and subsequent wars against the Ottoman Empire, the independent Principality of Serbia was formed and granted international recognition in 1878.

This period was marked by the alternation of two dynasties descending from Djordje Petrovic - Karadjordje, leader of the First Serbian Uprising and Milos Obrenovic, leader of the Second Serbian Uprising. Further development of Serbia was characterized by general progress in economy, culture and arts, primarily due to a wise state policy of sending young people to European capitals to get an education. They all brought back a new spirit and a new system of values. One of the external manifestations of the transformation that the former Turkish province was going through was the proclamation of the Kingdom of Serbia in 1882.

Petar I Karadjordjevic

Prince Miloš Obrenović 

Prince (later King) Milan Obrenović

Queen Natalia of Serbia.  First a princess than an exiled Queen then a Regent for her son and then an exile again dying in France in 1941 having outlived her husband, son and daughter-in-law. http://royalmusingsblogspotcom.blogspot.com/

During Natalie’s reign she had her palace refurbished with several underground passages (necessary with all European court intrigue.)  Her daughter-in-law refurbished the palace ultimately blocking some of the passages, one in particular with a heavy armoire.  This redecoration had disastrous results. 

Mihailo Obrenović (1823-1868, Prince of Serbia). The son of Prince Miloš and Princess Ljubica, he first came into power following the death of his elder brother Milan (1839). The sultan confirmed him to be an elected, but not a hereditary prince. Toma Vučić initiated an uprising in August 1842 and forced him into exile, bringing Alexander Karageorgevich to the throne. He spent six years outside the country and during this time assisted many Serbs working in literature (Vuk Karadžić, Đura Daničić, Branko Radičević and others). When Miloš returned to Serbia in 1858 Mihailo accompanied him and took over high command over the army. Regained the throne once more after the death of Prince Miloš in 1860. Established a national army with approximately 50,000 soldiers in 1861, aiming to finally rid Serbia of the Turks. Expecting war with Turkey he made alliances and agreements with other Balkan states – Montenegro, Greece, Bulgaria and Romania. Having finalized the preparations for war, he was assassinated during a walk in Košutnjak in 1868.

Two of the more interesting characters were Aleksander and Draga

Aleksandar Obrenović  :  The only child of Prince (later King) Milan (reigned 1868–89) and his consort, Natalie, Alexander ascended the Serbian throne on March 6 (Feb. 22), 1889, after his father had abdicated and named a regency council for the youthful Alexander. On April 13 (April 1), 1893, Alexander dismissed the regency council and assumed active control of the government.

Draga Lunjevica was born in 1861 to a wealthy and prominent Serbian family. Draga means “dear” in Serbian. She was married to a engineer named Svetozar MaÅ¡in at fifteen and widowed at eighteen. Draga served as a lady-in-waiting to Queen Natalia of Serbia. While working for Queen Natalia, Draga grew close to her son King Alexander. Rumor had it they met when she saved his life when he almost drowned in a fountain in the palace gardens.

Alexander had become King as a teenager when his father unexpectedly abdicated the throne for personal reasons. Alexander was guided by regents until he dismissed them and declared himself an adult at age seventeen. His father had sought the hand of a German or Austrian Princess for him to marry to secure the throne. But Alexander didn’t want to marry a Princess; he wanted Draga.

Draga was fifteen years his senior, had been married before, and though high ranking, was a commoner. Needless to say, she was unsuitable. It didn’t help that Draga’s family was known to be ambitious. She actually has a bit in common (in regards to background) with Elizabeth Woodville, another royal woman I’m researching for a post.

Draga was considered very intelligent. She spoke four languages, and was a member of the Serbian journalist society. She had edited and written for Serbian newspapers during her time as a lady-in-waiting. She was very well-read and interested in poetry.

Draga and Alexander were married in 1900. She was thirty-eight; he was twenty-three. The marriage was incredibly unpopular. There were protests and riots, and Draga was widely seen as unsuitable to be Queen. The Serbian people had also been hoping for a foreign marriage to a member of a royal dynasty. Alexander’s mother disapproved and refused to accept that there had been a marriage at all. Alexander had her banished for it. The public outcry was soothed slightly when Czar Nicholas II of Russia sent the couple congratulations, indicating he approved of the marriage.

Though rumors of a pregnancy were widespread, Draga was privately known to be infertile. Because of her family’s aspirations in place of a child of her own, Draga tried to have her younger brother named heir to the throne. Naturally, this was incredibly unpopular and the idea of a member of Draga’s family sitting on the throne made the people furious.

Alexander was also unpopular because he had disbanded the Serbian constitution twice and replaced it with whatever he wanted. Many of Alexander’s problems were blamed on Draga; popular opinion had him as a weak and delusional young man being controlled by an evil temptress. Draga was terrified her enemies would poison her and had all of her food tasted.

Draga and Alexander’s marriage began having problems only a year into it. His mother and other relatives were pressuring him to divorce Draga and marry someone more suitable. For her part, Draga thought Alexander was being corrupted by power and cared only for himself. But their marriage survived, partly out of Alexander’s problems with his parents’ separation when he was a child. Rumors were spread that Draga was trying to get her sister to have a baby and pass it off as her own. There was also a story that she had killed her first husband.

Things came to a head in March, 1903. There was widespread rioting around royal residences, and a growing anti-monarchist movement throughout Serbia. Draga and Alexander became increasingly paranoid as they found many of their friends and supporters abandoning them.

On June 10, 1903, Draga and Alexander dined with courtiers and members of Draga’s family at the Old Palace in Belgrade. That night, a riot formed and the crowd was lead by military leaders to the palace.

Draga and Alexander heard the crowd approaching and, terrified, hid in a cupboard in Draga’s bedroom. Draga’s sisters and most of the court were murdered as the mob stormed the palace. Draga and Alexander hid all night holding each other and trying to keep themselves quiet.

Alexander and Draga had been looking for Natalie’s secret passage but the cupboard had been built obscuring the passage.

They were found in the early hours of the morning and murdered. First they were shot at, and then they were stabbed and mutilated. Their bodies were thrown out the windows onto a pile of manure, and much of the palace was looted.

http://persephonemagazine.com/  is a more feminist version of Draga

The assassination of Austrian Crown Prince Franc Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914, served as a pretext for the Austrian attack on Serbia that marked the beginning of World War I. The Serbian Army bravely defended its country and won several major victories, but it was finally overpowered by the joint forces of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria, and had to withdraw from the national territory marching across the Albanian mountain ranges to the Adriatic Sea. Having recuperated on Corfu the Serbian Army returned to combat on the Thessalonike front together with other Entante forces comprising France, England, Russia, Italy and the United States. In world War I Serbia had 1.264.000 casualties - 28% of its population (4.529.000) which also represented 58% of its male population - a loss it never fully recuperated from. This enormous sacrifice was the contribution Serbia gave to the Allied victory and the remodeling of Europe and of the World after World War I.

Serbia as a part of Yugoslavia (1918-1991)

Serbia was part of Yugoslavia from 1918 to 1991. This can be devided down to the following periods:

1918-1941 - The Kingdom of Yugoslavia

1941-1945 - The WWII

1945-1991 - SFR Yugoslavia

1991-1995 - The breakup of SFR Yugoslavia

The Kingdom of Yugoslavia (1918-1941)

With the end of World War I and the downfall of Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire the conditions were met for proclaiming the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians in December of 1918. The Yugoslav ideal had long been cultivated by the intellectual circles of the three nations that gave the name to the country, but the international constellation of political forces and interests did not permit its implementation until then. However, after the war, idealist intellectuals gave way to politicians and the most influential Croatian politicians opposed the new state right from the start.

The Croatian Peasants’ Party (HSS) headed by Stjepan Radic, and then by Vlatko Macek slowly grew to become a massive party endorsing Croatian national interests. According to its leaders the Yugoslav state did not provide a satisfactory solution to the Croatian national question. They chose to conduct their political battle by systematically obstructing state institutions and making political coalitions to undermine the state unity, thus extorting certain concessions. Each political or economic issue was used as a pretext for raising the so-called "unsettled Croatian question".

Trying to match this challenge and prevent any further weakening of the country, King Aleksandar I banned national political parties in 1929, assumed executive power and renamed the country Yugoslavia. He hoped to curb separatist tendencies and mitigate nationalist passions. However the balance of power changed in international relations: in Italy and Germany Fascists and Nazis rose to power, and Stalin became the absolute ruler in the Soviet Union. None of these three states favored the policy pursued by Aleksandar I. In fact the first two wanted to revise the international treaties signed after World War I, and the Soviets were determined to regain their positions in Europe and pursue a more active international policy. Yugoslavia was an obstacle for these plans and King Aleksandar I was the pillar of the Yugoslav policy.

During an official visit to France in 1934, the king was assassinated in Marseilles by a member of VMRO - an extreme nationalist organization in Bulgaria that had plans to annex territories along the eastern and southern Yugoslav border - with the cooperation of the Ustashi - a Croatian fascist separatist organization. The international political scene in the late 30’s was marked by growing intolerance between the principal figures, by the aggressive attitude of the totalitarian regimes and by the certainty that the order set up after World War I is was loosing its strongholds and its sponsors were loosing their strength. Supported and pressured by Fascist Italy and nazi Germany, Croatian leader Vlatko Macek and his party managed to extort the creation of the Croatian banovina (administrative province) in 1939. The agreement specified that Croatia were to remain part of Yugoslavia, but it was hurriedly building an independent political identity in international relations.

World War II and its effects (1941-1945)

At the beginning of the 1940’s, Yugoslavia found itself surrounded by hostile countries. Except for Greece, all other neighboring countries had signed agreements with either Germany or Italy. Hitler was strongly pressuring Yugoslavia to join the Axis powers. The government was even prepared to reach a compromise with him, but the spirit in the country was completely different. Public demonstrations against Nazism prompted a brutal reaction. Luftwaffe bombed Belgrade and other major cities and in April 1941, the Axis powers occupied Yugoslavia and disintegrated it. The western parts of the country together with Bosnia and Herzegovina were turned into a Nazi puppet state called the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) and ruled by the Ustashe. Serbia was occupied by German troops, but the northern territories were annexed by Hungary, and eastern and southern territories to Bulgaria. Kosovo and Metohija were mostly annexed by Albania which was under the sponsorship of fascist Italy. Montenegro also lost territories to Albania and was then occupied by Italian troops. Slovenia was divided between Germany and Italy that also seized the islands in the Adriatic.

Following the Nazi example, the Independent State of Croatia established extermination camps and perpetrated an atrocious genocide killing over 750.000 Serbs, Jews and Gypsies. This holocaust set the historical and political backdrop for the civil war that broke out fifty years later in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina and that accompanied the break-up of Yugoslavia in 1991-1992.

The ruthless attitude of the German occupation forces and the genocidal policy of the Croatian Ustasha regime generated a strong Serbian Resistance. The Serbs stood up against the Croatian genocidal government and the Nazi disintegration of Yugoslavia. Many joined the Partisan forces (National Liberation Army headed by Josib Broz Tito) in the liberation war and thus helped the Allied victory. By the end of 1944, with the help of the Red Army the Partisans liberated Serbia and by May 1945 the remaining Yugoslav territories, meeting up with the Allied forces in Hungary, Austria and Italy. Serbia and Yugoslavia were among the countries that had the greatest losses in the war: 1.700.000 (10.8% of the population) people were killed and national damages were estimated at 9.1 billion dollars according to the prices of that period.

Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (1945-1991)

While the war was still raging, in 1943, a revolutionary change of the social and state system was proclaimed with the abolition of monarchy in favor of the republic. Josip Broz Tito became the first president of the new - socialist - Yugoslavia. Once a predominantly agricultural country Yugoslavia was transformed into a mid-range industrial country, and acquired an international political reputation by supporting the de-colonization process and by assuming a leading role in the Non-Aligned Movement. Socialist Yugoslavia was established as a federal state comprising six republics: Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Montenegro and two autonomous regions - Vojvodina and Kosovo and Metohija. The two autonomous regions were at the same time integral part of Serbia. Because of such an administrative division and due to historical reasons, the Serbs - the most numerous of the Yugoslav peoples - lived in all six republics and both autonomous regions. The trend to secure the power of the republics at the expense of the federal authorities became particularly intense after the adoption of the 1974 Constitution that encouraged the expansion of Croatian, Slovenian, Moslem and Albanian nationalism and secessionism.

The breakup of SFR Yugoslavia (1991-1995)

Between 1991 and 1992, Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina forcibly seceded from Yugoslavia, whilst Macedonia did so peacefully. The break-up of Yugoslavia was endorsed by the international powers that recognized the right of self-determination to all nations except the Serbs which generally wanted to continue living in Yugoslavia. The secessionist republics were quickly granted recognition by the international community in clear breach of the principle of inviolability of international borders of sovereign countries and without fulfilling the criteria that a given state has to meet to be recognized internationally. Serbia and Montenegro opted to stay on in the federation and at the combined session of the parliaments of Yugoslavia, Serbia and Montenegro held on April 27 1992 in Belgrade, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was passed thus reaffirming the continuity of the state first founded on December 1st 1918.

The dissolution of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro (2006)

In February 2003, Republic of Serbia and Republic of Montenegro adopted a new Constitutional Charter that transformed FR Yugoslavia into the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro. The Charter gave rights to both member states to hold a referendum in three years and decide whether they would remain in the State Union. The Republic of Montenegro exercised this right in May 2006 and by popular vote decided to leave the State Union and declare its independence. On June 5, 2006, National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia passed a conclusion that the Republic of Serbia is a state and a legal successor of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro.

http://www.serbiaembusa.org

Republic Square and the end of Slobodan Milosevic.   This should have been our final stop rather than the first one, but the tour met in Republic Square and our guide pointed out this balcony that Rick and Randal remembered as the site of a speech after the revolution.  “Which revolution?”  I asked.  Neither was sure but they were pretty sure it was recent times.  Maybe the speech after the end of Milosevic. 

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Balcony and clock in Republic Square

In more recent past, Republic Square was unofficially renamed Freedom Square. Starting from 1991 and for the next ten and more years, opposition (to Milošević’s regime and later anti-democrats) held their rallies there. The first rally was held on 9th March 1991, when demonstrators requested change of National television director. Soon this protest escalated into a clash with police, which tried to prevent it.  http://www.belgradian.com/

Slobodan Milosevic, 64, Former Yugoslav Leader Accused of War Crimes, Dies

MARLISE SIMONS and ALISON SMALE   Published: March 12, 2006

     PARIS, March 11 — Slobodan Milosevic, the Communist leader whose embrace of Serbian nationalism set off almost a decade of Balkan warfare, was found dead early Saturday in his cell at the United Nations detention center in The Hague, where he had been since 2001. He was 64.

Mr. Milosevic appeared to have died from natural causes, but tribunal officials said they would not be able to give a full account until an autopsy and toxicological report were completed. He was found lifeless on his bed in his cell, a court statement said. Mr. Milosevic’s wife, and his partner of almost five decades, Mirjana Markovic, who, like his brother, Borislav, is living in Moscow, was informed of Mr. Milosevic’s death, the court said.

     Death came as Mr. Milosevic’s four-year trial for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide was drawing to a close. A verdict had been expected later this year.

     He was the first former head of state to answer charges of such crimes and his was the longest war-crimes trial of modern times, delayed by Mr. Milosevic’s frequent bouts of illness related to high blood pressure and a bad heart.

     The complex indictment covered the events of three wars — in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo — and almost a decade of bloodshed and vengeance that killed more than 200,000 people and earned Mr. Milosevic the sobriquet "Butcher of the Balkans."

     On the advice of medical specialists, Mr. Milosevic went to court only three days a week. A lawyer by training, he insisted on conducting his own defense, often speaking for hours and summoning witnesses, including, just last month, former President Bill Clinton, who declined. Although Mr. Milosevic had become less blustery of late, his trademark defiance allowed him to act the role of martyr for the Serbian cause until the very end.

     In December, Mr. Milosevic asked to travel to Moscow for medical treatment. The judges in The Hague refused to let him leave, arguing that adequate treatment was available in the Netherlands.

     Fueling Nationalist Grudges

As he rose and then clung to power by resurrecting old nationalist grudges and inciting dreams of a Greater Serbia, Mr. Milosevic became the prime engineer of wars that pitted his fellow Serbs against the Slovenes, the Croats, the Bosnians, the Albanians of Kosovo and ultimately the combined forces of the entire NATO alliance.

     By stirring a dormant but incendiary nationalism, he succeeded in rallying support for himself in the late 1980’s, at a time when Communism in the rest of Eastern Europe was in its death throes.

     Exercising carefully calculated control of the media and operating ruthlessly behind the scenes, Mr. Milosevic established a cult of personality that struck fear into non-Serbs in Yugoslavia.

     The Croats reacted by turning to their own nationalist, Franjo Tudjman, and so the stage was set for a deadly showdown between Yugoslavia’s two largest ethnic groups, whose leaders manipulated centuries of historical differences — the Serbs are Orthodox Christians, the Croats Roman Catholic; the Serbs endured Ottoman rule, the Croats the Hapsburgs — into a brutal civil war that spread from Croatia into Bosnia-Herzegovina.

     There, the Muslim plurality led by Alija Izetbegovic proved powerless to enlist sufficient international support to prevent Mr. Milosevic and Mr. Tudjman from trying to dismember his state. Three and a half years of war ravaged Bosnia, leading to some 200,000 deaths and the eviction of millions from homes in a practice that became known globally as ethnic cleansing.

     The consequences of Mr. Milosevic’s rule for Serbia were devastating. His final confrontation, with the Albanians of Kosovo, provoked a NATO bombing assault in the spring of 1999 that destroyed government buildings, factories and much infrastructure in a land already ruined by years of international sanctions intended to punish Mr. Milosevic for instigating earlier wars.

     As Stojan Cerovic of the independent Belgrade weekly Vreme once wrote, "he turned Serbia into a colossal ruin."

     By the fall of 2000, even Mr. Milosevic’s appeals to nationalism and blatant manipulation of every election he contested were no longer enough to sustain him in power.

     Opposition forces who had mustered huge street protests, in 1991 and 1996, to try to oust Mr. Milosevic finally succeeded in October 2000.

     Security forces, who had helped Mr. Milosevic carve out large chunks of Croatia and Bosnia for Serbs and then served his cause in Kosovo, turned against him and joined opposition forces led by Vojislav Kostunica, who had beaten Mr. Milosevic in a presidential election that the Serbian leader refused to recognize.  …….

      Although he ended his days in a jail cell, Mr. Milosevic carved an indelible mark on the 20th century history of Europe.

       Mr. Babic, the erstwhile Milosevic ally who died just days before his onetime patron, summed up Mr. Milosevic’s legacy when testifying against him in The Hague in 2002. "You brought shame upon the Serbian people," he said. "You brought misfortune on the Croatian people, on the Muslim people" and "orchestrated" the Balkan conflict.

     Indeed, Mr. Milosevic dashed all the joy that came with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the crumbling of Communism across the rest of Eastern Europe.

     "At a time when there was real optimism in Europe, Milosevic almost single-handedly — with help from some Croats and some Serbs — managed to plunge Europe into a profound crisis," said Misha Glenny, a British expert on the Balkans. "Even in Serbia, there will be few people mourning his death because he did great damage to Serbia, as he did to other Yugoslav republics."

http://www.nytimes.com/  has the full obituary which tells a good deal about  Serbia and the Balkans during the time of Milosevic.

If you want to start a peaceful revolution, the person to call is a Serb with a passion for Tolkien. Srdja Popovic is advising rebels in 40 countries. Emma Williams watches him at work and at home…

From INTELLIGENT LIFE magazine, May/June 2012

http://moreintelligentlife.com/content/ideas/a-velvet-fist?page=full

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Terazije Square

Covers the area from Sremska Street to Srpskih vladara Street. Terazije is the most famous square in Belgrade. It started to take shape as an urban feature in the first half of the 19th century. In the 1840s, Prince Miloš Obrenović ordered Serbian craftsmen, especially blacksmiths and coppersmiths, to move out of the old moated town where they had been intermingling with the Turkish inhabitants, and build their houses and shops on the site of the present-day square. With regard to the origin of the name Terazije, the historian  Milan Đ. Milicević (b. Ripanj 1831, d. Belgrade 1908) noted that "In order to supply Belgrade with water, the Turks built towers at intervals along the water supply system which brought water in from the springs at Mokri Lug. The water was piped up into the towers for the purpose of increasing the pressure, in order to carry it further." One such tower was erected on the site of the present drinking-fountain in Terazije and the square was named after it the Turks called their water towers terazije za vodu (scales for water).  Up to about 1865, the buildings on Terazije were mainly single and double storey ones. The water was removed in 1860 and replaced by the drinking-fountain, which was erected in memory of Prince Miloš who had died the same year. During the first reconstruction of the square in 1911, the fountain was moved to Topcider; it did not return to Terazije: until 1976. Terazije acquired its definitive form during its last reconstruction in 1947-48, when its flower beds, fountain and tram-lines were all removed. Later, in 1971, pedestrian subways were built joining the two sides of the square. In 1976, in the space between the Moskva and Balkan Hotels, the old Terazije fountain was installed. This was originally built in 1860, to commemorate the death of Prince Miloš Obilić: from 1911 to 1976, this fountain, one of Belgrade’s most important 19th century monuments, was located in Topčider Park. Benches have been arranged around it, and it is now a favourite place of Belgraders to stroll or rest.   http://web.mit.edu/most/www/ser/Belgrade/trg_terazije.html

“On a place of today’s fountain used to stand one plain fountain, which was replaced by the order of Prince Miloš Obrenović with the existing Terazije Fountain in 1859. This fountain, known after four lion heads (hard to see the heads but they’re there)  from whose mouth flows cold water, is one of prominent symbols of Belgrade.

At one point it was relocated to Topčider Park and forgotten, but after almost 65 years, it was restored and returned to its original location where it stands until today. Terazije Fountain is not just one of main meeting points in the city, but as well a place where people, young and old, exchange stickers for various collector albums during summer time.   (like trading cards only they’re stickers.)

http://www.belgradian.com/belgrade-walks/tram-no.2-walk/

“The building of the Hotel Moscow was the biggest one in private possession in the Serbian Kingdom . Back then the building was named Rosija Palace.  A hundred meters from it, on Terazije, was the King’s castle.

The King himself opened the Palace

    On 16th of January 1908 Rosija Palace – nowadays Hotel Moscow, was opened by the King Petar I Karadjordjevic, with the orchestra.

     In Rosija Palace there was a hotel, café, restaurant, flats to rent and offices of Belgrade branch of Insurance company Rosija

     Under the state protection

The Hotel Moscow was built in the style of Russian secession, with skillfully combined elements of Greek antiquity. In the 20th century, Hotel Moscow became the most famous catering facility in Belgrade. In mid 20th century it was declared a monument of culture under the state protection.  http://www.hotelmoskva.rs/hotel-2/the-history/?lang=en

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Sticker traders

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Old Palace

Former Royal Courts (known as Old and New) lie opposite to Republic Parliament and next to Pionirski Park. Palaces were heavily damaged during both World Wars, which resulted in significantly altered exterior compared to original buildings appearance. Old Court was built in style of academism between 1882 and 1884 and used by Obrenović ruling dynasty. In the time of construction, it was supposed to be larger than any other residence in Serbia.

Even today, Old Court is considered one of the finest and most beautiful examples of academism in Serbia. Unfortunately, Old Court was place of one of the most hideous assassinations in Serbian history. In the night between 28 and 29 May 1903, conspirators savagely killed King Aleksandar and his wife Draga and threw them from the balcony on the second floor to the street. Today, Old court houses the Assembly of the City of Belgrade and the cabinet of the mayor.

New Court was built between 1911 an 1912 by order of ruling family Karadjordjević and it was the official residence of King Aleksandar Karadjordjević. For a certain period, palace served as Museum of Prince Pavle and from 1948, it became official "house" of Assembly of Serbia. Currently, president of Serbia uses New Court as his official office.

http://www.belgradian.com/belgrade-walks/tram-no.2-walk/

While we were at the Palaces our guide Dusko discussed the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Serbian Gavrilo Princip, a member of The Black Hand movement which wanted Serbia free form Austro-Hungarian rule.  This was one of the acts that precipitated the start of WW 1.

“Gavrilo Princip, who happened to be in Franz Joseph Street at a cafe, seized his opportunity, and took aim at Ferdinand from a distance of five feet.  His bullets struck the Archduke in the neck and his wife, Sophie, who was travelling with him, in the abdomen.

Urban drove the car to the governor’s residence at Konak; the couple died soon afterwards.

Gavrilo Princip being taken into custody following the Assassination of Franz Ferdinand, 28 June 1914After the shooting Princip made to turn his gun upon himself but was seized and restrained by a man nearby, aided by several policemen.  He was arrested and taken to a police station.

In total eight men were charged with treason and Franz Ferdinand’s murder.  However under Austro-Hungarian law capital punishment could not be applied to anyone under the age of 20 when the crime was committed.  Gavrilo Princip, whose precise date of birth could not be firmly established at his trial, was therefore imprisoned for the maximum duration, twenty years.  He died however of tuberculosis on 28 April 1918. “http://www.firstworldwar.com/bio/princip.htm

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Tasmajdan Park

“Once upon a time, in the period of the Ottoman rule, there was a quarry in the area of today’s Tasmajdan park.  Hence the name of the park – tas meaning stone in Turkish and majdan meaning a mine. The Tasmajdan caves, recently open to public, have testified to the turbulent history of Belgrade for two thousand years, ever since the Celtic and Roman conquests, Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian and German occupation to these very days. During the siege of Belgrade, in 1806, the leader of the First Serbian Uprising and the founder of one of the two modern Serbian dynasties, Karađorđe, set up a camp in that area and the catacombs served as ammunition storage, while in the Second World War they were also used as shelters. The dominant edifice in the Tašmajdan park is St Mark’s Church, originally built in 1835, at the site where, five years before, the political self-rule of Serbia within the Ottoman Empire was acknowledged, with Prince Milos Obrenovic at the helm. The church was reduced to rubble during the German bombing of Belgrade on 6 April 2011. A new church, today’s Church of St Mark, had already been built in its vicinity. Not far from it there is a Russian church, the Church of St Trinity, built in 1924, in the period where numerous Russian emigrants arrived in Serbia after the October Revolution. Not far from the park there is the Main Post Office building, built in 1934, which still today represents one of the most beautiful edifices of Belgrade. There is also a sports centre, as well as famous taverns „Madera“ and „Šansa“ in the vicinity.”  http://voiceofserbia.org/

 

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A very modest changing of the guard.

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The Federal or Republic Parliament, also known as House of the National Assembly, had unpleasant role to represent all failed states that came one after another. The name "federal" is inherited from the time of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which was the first user of the building. After disintegration of Yugoslavia, our state changed its name three times, and so did the Parliament. During the 90s, this building was symbol of instability and bad ideology. In 2006, the cycle of wandering was concluded and Parliament officially became the House of the National Assembly of Serbia.

After almost four decades of planning, Parliament was finally built in 1936. Building was considered to be cursed because it is built on a Roman graveyard. Even more, somebody made up that the building of Parliament was delayed due to a prophecy that King Aleksandar Karadjordjević will be killed upon its completion. Indeed king was killed, but two years before it was finished.

Parliament stands today not only as a House of Assembly, but also as a monument of culture since the most famous architects, designers and artist of their time took part in designing of Parliament. Special attentions should be paid to the sculpture "Play of Black Horses" of renowned Serbian sculpture Toma Rosandić that stands in front of the Parliament entrance.

http://www.belgradian.com/belgrade-walks/tram-no.2-walk/

During the 18th and 19th century, this was the sight of Belgrade’s most imposing and most beautiful mosque – Batal džamija, and the largest graveyard in the city. The Parliament palace construction started in 1906 intended for the National Assembly of Serbia, but it wasn’t completed until the thirties, when it started serving as the Parliament of Yugoslavia. It has since then witnessed and shared the fate of the city.  http://belgrademyway.com

Construction on the building started in 1907, with the cornerstone being laid by King Petar I. The building was based on a design made by Konstantin Jovanovic in 1891; a variant of that design made by Jovan Ilkic, which won a competition in 1901. World War I delayed construction, and the original plans to the building were lost. Reconstruction of the plans were made by Ilkic’s son Pavle. The interior was designed by Nikolaj Krasnov. It was designed in the manner of academic traditionalism. The construction of the building was completed in 1936 and the first session in the new edifice was held on October 20 of the same year. At the time, it was the National Assembly of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. In September 1939, the Assembly was dissolved and during the Second World War it was occupied by the aggressor’s civil administration for Serbia. Several decades after the end of the war, this was the building of the Assembly of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. After the dissolution of Yugoslavia, in the 1990s, this edifice became the seat of the Assembly of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and later the seat of the Parliament of Serbia and Montenegro. On June 5, 2006, Serbia became an independent republic, thus, the parliament building became the House of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia.  http://www.waymarking.com

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Black Horses at Play  : Toma Rosandić (Kralja Aleksandra Boulevard; set up in 1938)

      Composition ”Black Horses at Play” created in bronze and placed in front of the Serbian Assembly. It is the work of the famous sculptor Toma Rosandića. Thus, the playful horses came before the Board Rosandića 1938th years and today there are the eternal watch.

      For this sculpture are two related anecdotes. The first is actually a joke, which is told in Belgrade that the two sculptures of the poetic names do not mean just the game and the struggle between man and nature, but to a man who symbolizes the horse, and it will tell MPs, without any resistance introduced in the Assembly, and other shows wild horses that are trying hard to man out of the Assembly.

     Other stories, recent, says that someone from Croatia, when the "big Yugoslavia" broke up, raised the question that these two sculptures returned Croatia, because from there and came to Belgrade.

http://www.tob.rs/en/see_in.php?id=54   This somewhat stilted translation is all I could find, but it somewhat matches what Dusco told us.  Wish I could read what the sculptor was really thinking.

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Post Office

“The Main Post Office on the corner of Takovska and King Aleksandar’s Boulevard was built from 1935 to 1938 for two highest state institutions: the Main Post Office and the Postal Savings Bank. …….  The modification of the modern concept of the floor plan of the building into representative academic style was demanded from the top Yugoslav echelons specifically, by king Aleksandar Karadjordjević in person.

Such architectural concept, calling for representative and monumental character in public buildings, designed in the style of high academism, served as visual presentation of strength and prosperity of the new Yugoslav state and its capital, Belgrade. “

http://sajkaca.blogspot.com/2009/05/main-post-office-in-belgrade.html

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The Former Main Telephone Exchange (Kosovska Street 47 in Belgarde) is a unique building, made in 1908 in the spirit of serbian-national style. The architect was Branko Tanazevic (1876-1945).

He combined byzantine elements, secessionist elements and moravian style elements in his buldings and created artistically intreesting bulidng that wer representative for serbian identity. He didn’t do it in a traditional way but more in a contemporary way. In its time, the buildings lookt really modern.

http://sajkaca.blogspot.com/2009/06/former-main-telephone-exchange-in.html

This building has a connection with the freemasons but none of us can remember the historic figure connected with it.  The masonic symbols are fairly obvious. 

“Exhibition “Freemasonry in Serbia 1785-2014″ opens in Belgrade

A considerable part of the exhibition is devoted to renowned Serbian Freemasons of the past, including industrialist Djordje Vajfert, author, philosopher and ‘enlightener of the people’ Dositej Obradovic, Serbia’s greatest linguist and language reformer Vuk Karadzic, King Petar I, scientist of great historical significance Mihajlo Pupin, King Aleksandar, politician Slobodan Jovanovic, Prince Pavle, Montenegrin ruler and poet Petar Petrovic Njegos and author Branislav Nusic.”

http://inserbia.info/

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“The turn of the century was marked by fierce political  fighting  between the different political  parties in Serbia. Brothers from the Lodge ‘Pobratim’, themselves members of  opposing  political parties, were bringing their frustrations into the Lodge, which in 1903 resulted in the  suspension  of  regular work of the Lodge, which lasted until 1905 when with the permission of the Grand Lodge of Hungary, the work of the  Lodge was resumed. During these turbulent years (1900-1903), George Weifert , who was not a member of any  political party, distanced himself  from  Lodge meetings  as they have come to resemble a political debate society rather than a Masonic meeting.  This was the time of the first attacks on Freemasonry in Serbia. The Lodge ‘Pobratim’ and its connection  with  the Grand Lodge of Hungary  provoked some newspapers to attack Freemasons as ‘advocates of Austrian, pro-Catholic incursion  into Serbia’.  Membership in the Fraternity consisted of many eminent representatives of public life in Serbia, like Bro. George Weifert  whose impeccable character and patriotism were beyond any  doubt.    This prevented stronger and more persistent anti-Masonic charges. ……..

with   King Peter Karageorgevich  or his son Prince Aleksandar as the Grand Master. It is believed that King Peter and his son were both Freemasons…….”  http://www.djordje-vajfert.org/en/djv_mason.htm

http://www.balkaninside.com/famous-serbian-freemasons/  a site about famous Serbs who were freemasons.

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The NATO bombing of the Radio Television of Serbia headquarters occurred on 23 April 1999, during the “Kosovo War”. It formed part of NATO’s aerial campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and severely damaged the Belgrade headquarters of RTS.

    Sixteen employees of RTS died when a single NATO missile hit the building.

Jelica Munitlak (28) make-up artist, Ksenija Bankovic (28) video mixer, Darko Stiomenovski (26) Technician in exchange, Nebojsa Stojanovic (27) and Branislav Jovanovic (50) TV technicians, Dragorad Dragojevic (27), Dejan Markovic (39) and Milan Joksimovic (47) security guards, Dragan Tasic (31) electrician, Aleksandar Deletic (31) cameraman, Slavisa Stevanovic (32) and Ivan Stukalo (34) technicians, Sinisa Medic (32) Programme designer, Milan Jankovic (59) technician, Tomislav Mitrovic (61) Programme Director and Slobodan Jontic (54) technician were killed at 2:06 a.m.

http://inserbia.info/

Serb TV station was legitimate target, says Blair

By Richard Norton-Taylor            

theguardian.com, Saturday 24 April 1999 03.20 BST

http://www.theguardian.com/world/1999/apr/24/balkans3

The Amnesty report is similar in its findings to a detailed report by Human Rights Watch in February. Of the 500 or so Yugoslav civilians killed in Serbia and Kosovo by NATO bombs, half died because of NATO violations of laws and practices on protecting civilians, said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, in a telephone interview from New York.

Amnesty was scathing about the bombing of the television station, which went off the air only briefly. ”NATO deliberately attacked a civilian object, killing 16 civilians, for the purpose of disrupting Serb television broadcasts in the middle of the night for approximately three hours.”

http://www.nytimes.com/

Dusko hinted that higher ups had some idea the station would be bombed and left leaving the others to be killed for propaganda reasons.

“Thousands of Serbs formed human shields to protect key bridges during another night of Nato bombing.

Serb media said senior politicians joined crowds at a rock concert on the Brankov bridge in Belgrade. Similar demonstrations were also reported in the northern town of Novi Sad.

There were no reports that bridges were hit overnight, although a Pentagon statement said such action would not protect targets.”

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/314953.stm

Katrina had told us about the human shield at a rock concert held on a bridge. 

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Just across from the demolished TV Station  is this locked gate.  Below are unexploded WW 2 German mines.  I did read that one huge bomb was found during construction in Belgrade in 2013 but was defused. 

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St. Marks Church was erected on a place of destroyed church of the same name. It was built in Serbian-Byzantine style, resembling the church of Gračanica Monastery. It is one of the biggest churches in Belgrade and it can seat around 2,000 people at the same time.

Despite the fact that construction of the church is finished more than 70 years ago, interior is not finished yet. It possesses a valuable collection of icons and iconostasis. St. Mark’s Church is the resting place of emperor Dušan the Mighty (in whose time Serbia reached Corinth) and the royal couple Aleksandar Obrenović and Draga Mašin, who were killed by conspirators.

http://www.belgradian.com/belgrade-walks/tram-no.2-walk/

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SKC - The Belgrade Student Culture Center: where performance art in Belgrade began

SKC was one of several student culture centers established in cities across Yugoslavia following the student protests of 1968, as a way to contain the potentially rebellious activity of Yugoslav youth. Tito’s approach was to give young people a place to express themselves, but in a controlled environment, which was not in the public domain. In the 1970s, SKC in Belgrade was the location of some of the most experimental art being produced, including performance art, conceptual art and installation. And of course it cannot be forgotten that it was at SKC where Marina Abramovic created some of her first performances, together with fellow artists Rada Todosijevic, Nesa Paripovic (her first husband), Zoran Popovic, Era Milivojevic, and Gergelj Urkom. SKC was not just a space where artists were free to experiment, and in which they held numerous exhibitions and performances, but it was a meeting point, a place where the artists came every day to talk about art, and where artists from abroad would also come and participate in that exchange of ideas. And this is the story that is not often told in "the West," at least not in any of the books on performance art that I’ve read - that these artists working in Belgrade (including those who came from other parts of Yugoslavia) were very much a part of the story of the development of the genre of performance art, right from the beginning - and they were really at the heart of that story. In a way, SKC was a "free space," but it was a type of controlled freedom, of which the artists were aware. They were also aware, however, that what they were doing was on the margins, and for that reason, the authorities and official institutions didn’t take them seriously, and pretty much left them alone. And in that environment, for a very brief but shining moment, performance art and avant-garde activity thrived, especially during the period of 1972-1977, in the context of the April Meetings. The Student Culture Center is still open and active, but unfortunately the creative spirit that was generated there is now mostly a memory

http://performingtheeast.com/blog/

Performance art and student protests

http://www.theguardian.com/  Marina Abramovic  one of the most famous artists connected to the Center

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Fountain was gathering place during student protest days.

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Refusal and then agreement to join the Nazi : documents were signed here. 

Crown Prince Peter, now Peter II, was 11 years old. His cousin, Prince Paul of Yugoslavia (nephew of Peter I), led the regency that ruled Yugoslavia, and signed on to the Axis pact between Germany, Italy, and Japan, effectively making Yugoslavia an ally of Nazi Germany and receiving a promise of territorial integrity in exchange, a few months before the king was to ascend to his throne on his 18th birthday. Two days later, a military coup led by the Yugoslav air force commander overthrew the regency and installed the 17-year-old Peter II as king. A couple weeks later, Yugoslavia fell and Peter II was a 17-year-old king without a country, having fled to the Middle East after escaping by climbing down a drainpipe; by 1945, he could no longer return home.

http://www.chicagomag.com/  is  a really interesting article about Peter II

     “At the beginning of the 40’s, Yugoslavia found itself surrounded by hostile countries. Except for Greece, all other neighboring countries had signed agreements with either Germany or Italy. Hitler was strongly pressuring Yugoslavia to join the Axis powers. The government was even prepared to reach a compromise with him, but the spirit in the country was completely different. Public demonstrations against Nazism prompted a brutal reaction. Luftwaffe bombed Belgrade and other major cities and in April 1941, the Axis powers occupied Yugoslavia and disintegrated it. The western parts of the country together with Bosnia and Herzegovina were turned into a Nazi puppet state called the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) and ruled by the Ustashe. Serbia was occupied by German troops, but the northern territories were annexed by Hungary, and eastern and southern territories to Bulgaria. Kosovo and Metohija were mostly annexed by Albania which was under the sponsorship of fascist Italy. Montenegro also lost territories to Albania and was then occupied by Italian troops. Slovenia was divided between Germany and Italy that also seized the islands in the Adriatic.

Following the Nazi example, the Independent State of Croatia established extermination camps and perpetrated an atrocious genocide killing over 750.000 Serbs, Jews and Gypsies. This holocaust set the historical and political backdrop for the civil war that broke out fifty years later in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina and that accompanied the break-up of Yugoslavia in 1991-1992.

The ruthless attitude of the German occupation forces and the genocidal policy of the Croatian Ustasha regime generated a strong Serbian Resistance. The Serbs stood up against the Croatian genocidal government and the Nazi disintegration of Yugoslavia. Many joined the Partisan forces (National Liberation Army headed by Josip Broz Tito) in the liberation war and thus helped the Allied victory. By the end of 1944, with the help of the Red Army the Partisans liberated Serbia and by May 1945 the remaining Yugoslav territories, meeting up with the Allied forces in Hungary, Austria and Italy. Serbia and Yugoslavia were among the countries that had the greatest losses in the war: 1.700.000 (10.8% of the population) people were killed and national damages were estimated at 9.1 billion dollars according to the prices of that period.

http://www.serbianembassy.jp/ENGLISH/WW2.html

The Serbs forced Hitler to postpone the invasion of Russia!!

"…… When in 1941 Yugoslavia signed a pact with Hitler, General Mirkovich, on March 27, 1941, unseated the government abrogated the pact, and brought Yugoslavia in on the side of the Allies. The importance of the move was tremendous, and directly affected the course of the Second World War. That this was so was proved at the Nuremberg trials. "It became crystal clear that … the decision of 27 March 1941 to chose certain destruction of their homes and country by Hitler, rather than the dishonor of being his accomplices, had a decisive effect upon history."

Hitler’s war-plan was totally upset. "Hitler reacted immediately. He at once summoned a meeting of his generals and the commanders of his satellites. In his secret report of this meeting, held on that same day, he underlined that ‘the beginning of the Barbarossa operation will have to be postponed for up to four weeks."’ (Barbarossa was the code name for the attack against Russia.) The four weeks’ delay forced upon Hitler by General Mirkovich was decisive for the whole war, according to Karl Ritter, German Foreign Office Liaison Officer with the Nazi High Command. "This delay," he stated, "cost the Germans the winter battle before Moscow, and it was there that the war was lost." (Quoted by Anthony Eden, British Foreign Minister, later Lord Avon, in his Memoirs.) Winston Churchill that same morning told the British people: "I have great news. Early this morning the Yugoslav nation found its soul."(Vatican Billions, pp. 144-145).  http://www.reformation.org/serbs.html

  .Peter II Karadjordjevic Funeral Held In Serbia For Yugoslavia’s Last King

05/26/13 10:56 AM ET EDT AP

BELGRADE, Serbia — Serbia held a funeral on Sunday for Yugoslavia’s last king, Peter II Karadjordjevic, who had fled the country at the start of World War II and died in the U.S. in 1970.

The former king’s remains, and those of his wife, mother and brother, were interred in the family tomb at St. George church in Oplenac, central Serbia, in a ceremony aired live on the state television.

The funeral was attended by top state officials, who described it as an act of reconciliation and unity.

After fleeing Yugoslavia during its Nazi occupation, the former king never returned because Communists took over the country at the end of the war and abolished the monarchy.

He died in exile at the age of 47 and was buried at a Serbian Orthodox Church monastery in Libertyville, Illinois – the only European monarch laid to rest on U.S. soil.

"We can no longer afford any divisions and injustice," President Tomislav Nikolic said in a speech at Sunday’s ceremony.

Peter was born into a royal family, and his godfather was Britain’s King George VI, but his life was often tragic and chaotic.

He was only 11 years old when his father, King Alexander I, was assassinated in 1934 in Marseilles, France. For the next six years the boy’s powers were in the hands of a three-man regency headed by his uncle, Prince Paul.  In March 1941, Prince Paul was overthrown in a military coup after signing a pact with Germany.

Peter, then 17, was made the king by the Serb anti-fascists. But when Germany invaded Yugoslavia in April 1941, Peter was forced to flee, first to Greece, then to Egypt, then to Britain, where he headed the government-in-exile. He later lived in France and ended up in the U.S.

History books portray him as a figurehead leader and a victim of cunning politicians.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

Society |  April 14, 2014 | 13:52 

Queen Marija Karađorđević "rehabilitated"

Source: Tanjug 

BELGRADE — The High Court in Belgrade on Monday announced that it reached a decision to "rehabilitate" Queen Marija Karađorđević of Yugoslavia.  ……

Queen Marija Karađorđević died in poverty on June 22, 1961 in her London flat. She was buried at the Frogmore Royal Burial Ground in Windsor, near the grave of her great-grandmother, Queen Victoria.

     However, her remains were taken to Serbia last year and she was buried on May 26 in the family mausoleum at Oplenac near a poplar tree where she rests next to her son and daughter-in-law, King Petar II and Queen Aleksandra. http://www.b92.net/

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Saint Sava Temple, the largest Orthodox temple in the Balkans, is in close vicinity of Slavija Square and can be included in "Route of the Tram No. 2 Walk". It was built in the Serbo-Byzantine style and including the cross on top of the dome, it is 82 meters high. The temple is still under construction, although major works ended in 2004.

     The construction of the church lasted more than planned because of wars, poverty and partly because of communist rule. Church is so big that can seat more than 10,000 people at the same time. Saint Sava Temple is known for its polyphonic bells so make sure to get to the Temple at a full hour to hear them.

     It is built on the place where Turks burned remains of Saint Sava.  Saint Sava, born as Rastko Nemanjić  was son of Serbian ruler Stefan Nemanja and founder of Hilandar Monastery on Athos Mountain. In 1219, he founded Serbian Orthodox Church by winning independence from Byzantium. He is considered Serbian educator, saint and patron of schools and education establishments. Although church is still under construction, you can visit it during the day and evening.  http://www.belgradian.com/belgrade-walks/tram-no.2-walk/

In front of the St. Sava Temple, there is lovely Vračar Plato or Vračar plateau and in his front part, you will find monument dedicated to leader of the first Serbian rising, Karadjordje.  His real name was Djordje Petrović, but Turks gave him nickname Karadjordje, which means Black Djordje. His charisma, determination and hate towards Turks made him one of the most fearless leaders in Serbia.

Actually, he was the first man who was brave enough to stand up against Turkish rule. Unfortunately, rising didn’t succeed and he had to flee from Serbia. A couple of years later wishing to complete what he started before, Karadjordje came back to Serbia, but he was killed by Miloš Obrenović his best man and as it turned out at the end, his biggest rival and opponent. http://www.belgradian.com/

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St. Sava Temple is an iconic landmark in Serbia, and stands out as vastly out-of-place among its neighborhood of pizzerias, exchange offices, and government buildings. It rises well above the low dark buildings surrounding it as a massive white cathedral, or “Temple”, in Serbian. This is one of the largest Orthodox Cathedrals in the world, and quite like its homeland, Serbia, it has a troubled and complex past. The first contest for architectural plans for the Church was held in 1905, and now, in 2011, it still remains to be completed. At first the designs weren’t good enough, then various wars halted the construction progress, and at several points, it was even being used by occupying forces for parking lots and storage facilities. Now though the exterior is completed, the interior remains mostly empty. The construction of the Church is being completed with private donations only. And once entering it, you may hear a man or two swinging a hammer far up into the scaffolding near the impressive domed roof. The rest of the interior is bare and raw, a massive construction site, hosting a few of the faithful, who light candles and kiss the saints, blind to the photo snapping tourists, and the construction workers, and the fences and building materials scattered about. To them, it is still their Temple

http://livefrombelgrade.wordpress.com/

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Looking through its history, we can say that the destiny of National Library of Serbia was quite unfortunate. Library was moved from Belgrade to Kragujevac and back for a dozen times; many documents were lost and many important and rare books were destroyed. And all that happened during some hundred years. The saddest part of Library’s history was during the First and the Second World Wars.

On first occasion, it was heavily damaged, but on the second occasion during German bombing of Belgrade on 6th April 1941 building of the Library was completely destroyed. Almost entire Serbian literary heritage and many rare books vanished in minutes. Present building was constructed in 1972 and houses National Library of Serbia until today.  http://www.belgradian.com/

Engineering Hatred:

The Roots of Contemporary Serbian Nationalism

Cristina Posa  Harvard Law School

Editor’s Note: The below article appeared in Balkanistica11 (1998), pp. 69-77. Internet readers are free to cite this work to the original, which is why page breaks are provided.

     Sometimes the unlikeliest of people comfort themselves in the blanket of inevitability shrouding the war that destroyed the former Yugoslavia. In 1995, as I rode from Prague to Terezin, a town in the western Czech countryside used during World War II as a transport stop for German trains sending Jews to concentration camps in Poland, I commented to the Jewish couple in the car with me on the sickening fact that ethnic warfare was still alive and well in the former Yugoslavia. The wife could merely shrug her shoulders and remark that "those people have been  hating each other for centuries." It is all too easy to explain this idea of victimization as the product of centuries-old hatreds that were merely contained, but never fully exterminated, during the decades of Tito’s strong rule over Yugoslavia. Such explanations are taken for granted in Western journalistic accounts of the war in the former Yugoslavia; terms like "simmering ethnic rivalries" and "long-suppressed hatreds" have become cliches in foreign reportage. Our eyes glide over these phrases, and they numb us, comfort us with the knowledge that the violent disintegration of Yugoslavia is nothing that could have been prevented. Why "comfort?" How could the concept of historic hatred ever be seen as "comforting?" The reason is quite simple: labeling the conflict "inevitable" lifts the blame from the shoulders of those of us on the outside. We can peer into the disaster area that once claimed to be the champion of brotherhood and unity and reassure ourselves that we are gazing upon just another bitter legacy of communism, whose collapse could not help but bequeath to Yugoslavia an explosion of ethnic warfare.

http://home.olemiss.edu/~mldyer/balk/article1.html

Twenty-Five Lectures on Modern Balkan History 

Lecture 5: The Serbian Revolution and the Serbian State

http://staff.lib.msu.edu/sowards/balkan/lecture5.html

Lecture 13: Serbian nationalism from the "Nacertanije" to the Yugoslav Kingdom

http://staff.lib.msu.edu/sowards/balkan/lect13.htm

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Oryahovo, Bulgaria

This is part 2 of the mourning tour.  I’m not so interested in fortresses or military history but it was a lovely place to walk around in and it’s a big part of Belgrade history.

Ru

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Silicon (e) Valley

Our guide asked us why we though this area was called Silicon Valley.  Rick guessed it had something to do with computers.  Randal joked and said it’s where all the women have silicone implants.  Randal was right.

“At midnight the street of Strahinjica bana on the edge of the old town is packed with people and cruising cars with tinted windscreens. The street is known locally as "Silicon Valley" for the number of surgically-enhanced trophy girlfriends on display.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk

“Cafés and bars in Strahinića Bana Street, locally known as "Silicon Valley", are the fanciest in Belgrade and people usually come here to see and to be seen, especially if you are owner of a smart car and wish to park it ostentatiously close to your chosen venue.” http://www.belgradenet.com/belgrade_cafes.html

Serbia’s nouveaux riches   By Jacky Rowland in Belgrade  Wednesday, 9 February, 2000,

     “The recent killing of the notorious Serb paramilitary leader and gangster, Zeljko "Arkan" Raznatovic, has thrown the spotlight on the new financial elite in Serbia. These are people who have made their money in the last 10 years, through dubious business deals and by busting international sanctions against Belgrade. The huge wealth amassed by this small group of individuals has given them considerable power and has put them above the law.

     The nouveaux riches like to flaunt their money, but they do not want to discuss where it came from.

They call themselves "businessmen" - business which often consists of smuggling, black marketeering and protection rackets. International sanctions which punish ordinary people are enriching these entrepreneurs.  The opposition is screaming for the embargo on oil and other goods to be lifted, but many people in high places are quite happy for it to remain. These people have so much money they don’t know what to do with it. They’ve bought houses, they’ve bought cars, now they want to buy back their youth.

      The nouveaux riches can be found in the few select shopping malls in Belgrade. That is where Italian designer boutiques offer solutions to the dilemma of how to spend one’s cash. The prices here would raise eyebrows even in London: it is easy to spend twice the average monthly Serbian income on a pair of shoes.

There has been an upsurge of interest in cosmetic surgery among Serbian high society.

A number of politicians’ wives have benefited from appearance-enhancing treatments, including breast implants, liposuction and "nose-jobs".

"These people have so much money they don’t know what to do with it," says Bratislav Grubacic, a political analyst.

"They’ve bought houses, they’ve bought cars, now they want to buy back their youth."

     Education and spiritual values don’t count in Serbia today. All that counts is money and material things, and it doesn’t matter how you get them.  There is no shortage of wannabes: young men and young women who see Arkan and his lavish lifestyle as a role model. Many girls have embarked on a career as a model in the hope that their looks will take them places, preferably away from Serbia.  In the meantime, there is at least the chance of earning some decent money: a model can earn more in a day than a factory worker earns in a month.

     "Education and spiritual values don’t count in Serbia today," said Nebojsa Grncarski, a successful male model.   "All that counts is money and material things, and it doesn’t matter how you get them."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/633920.stm

Even in 2014 this pretty much what our tour guides said was true. 

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This bar, around the corner from “silicon valley” was popular during days of communism  and is still popular with no stigma attached.  Serbia had ‘soft” communism so it is viewed differently.

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The Manak’s House (Manakova kuća) - The house was built in 1830 and has been preserved as the last surviving example of an old Belgrade town house.  It got its name from its owner Manak Mihailović, a merchant from Macedonia. The first floor was used as a residence, while the ground floor housed an inn and a bakery, and later a post office and various tradesmen’s workshops. Today it is a museum housing an ethnographic collection.  http://www.jobeograd.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=79&itemid=102

Manak’s House treasures exceptionally valuable ethnographic memorial collection of Hristifor Crnilović. This house of irregular shape is a venue of the Ethnographic Museum and an example of old urban architecture in the Balkans. Today exhibitions and workshops for learning old trades are being organized here.

Manak’s House originates from the year of 1830 and there are numerous stories about its origin. According to one of such stories, the house was built as a harem of the Turkish aga who left Serbia after the arrival of Prince Miloš Obrenović. For some time the house served as the post office, and later it was bought by Manojlo Manak who opened a bakery and a kafana (traditional tavern) at the ground floor and the first floor he used for living quarters. Nevertheless, the house was named after Manojlo’s cousin from Macedonia and his inheritor, Manak Manojlović.  Its irregular shape was conditioned by the shape of the parcel in Savamala, on the old road that connected this settlement with Varoš kapija (today’s Kraljevića Marka Street, no. 10).  http://www.serbia.com/manaks-house/

Hristifor Crnilović – explorer, painter and collector  http://www.serbia.com/manaks-house/ tells his really interesting story.  “Most of the items from the collection he collected between the two world wars, while working as a teacher in Skopje.  At the beginning of each summer break he would buy a horse and he would visit villages in Macedonia and Southern Serbia. With great passion he collected different items that testify on customs and people living in the late 19th and at the beginning of the 20th century.”

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Real zebra crossings.

In Belgrade cars must stop for pedestrians at zebra crossings unless there is a  light also which takes precedence.  Someone had painted real zebras around what is now a children’s school.

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The Bajrakli Mosque

     The Bajrakli Mosque in the centre of Belgrade, in Gospodar Jevremova street, got its name from the flag (Turkish, bayrak) that signalled the call to prayer to other mosques. As the endowment of Sultan Suleiman II, it is the only remaining mosque of the many that once existed in Belgrade. It was built between 1660 and 1688 and is of the type with a square floor-plan, single interior space and a dome resting on an octagonal tambour. It is built of stone, except the minaret which is brick. During its history it has been demolished or its function changed a number of times.

     It was originally called Čohadži Mosque, after its benefactor, a textiles (čoha) trader called Hadži-Alija. It was a structure with a single interior space, dome and minaret. During the period of Austrian rule (1717-1739) it was turned into a Catholic church. This period also saw the majority of Belgrade’s mosques destroyed. Upon the return of the Turks it once again became a mosque. Hussein-bey, assistant to Turkish chief commander Ali-pasha, restored it as a place of worship in 1741 and thus for a time it was Hussein-bey’s (or –beg’s) Mosque or Hussein-ćehaja’s Mosque (ćehaja means assistant).

     After its restoration in the 19th century, which was undertaken by Serbian noblemen, it became the central city mosque. Today it is the only active Muslim place of worship in Belgrade.

http://www.serbia.travel/

Our next stop was the Fortress of Belgrade which, once upon a time, was the city of Belgrade, everything within the walls of the city.

http://www.leisureguide.info/portal/index/company/634578?category_id=22  has great photos and tells you everything you might want to know about this Fortress, its gates, walls and buildings. 

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The Sava is on the left and the Danube is perpendicular to it on the right.

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Belgrade Fortress

     “The Belgrade Fortress was built as a defensive structure on a ridge overlooking the confluence of the Sava and the Danube during the period from the 1st to the 18th century. Today the fortress is a unique museum of the history of Belgrade. The complex is made up of the Belgrade Fortress itself, divided into the Upper and Lower Towns (Gornji/Donji grad) and the Kalemegdan Park.

     Because of its exceptional strategic importance, a fortification - a Roman ‘castrum’ - was erected here at the end of the first century A.D., as a permanent military camp for the Fourth Flavian Legion. After being razed to the ground by the Goths and the Huns, the fortification was rebuilt in the first decades of the sixth century. Less than a century later it was demolished by the Avars and the Slavs.

     Around this fortification on the hill above the Sava and Danube confluence, the ancient settlement of Singidunum grew up, followed by the Slav settlement of Belgrade in the same place. The Belgrade Fortress has frequently been demolished and rebuilt. On top of the Roman walls stand Serbian ramparts on top of which are Turkish and Austrian fortifications. In the 12th century the Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Comnenus built a new castle on the Roman ruins. During the first decades of the 14th century this small hill-top fortification was extended as far as the river banks.

     Under the rule of Despot Stefan Lazarević, Belgrade became the new capital of Serbia and was fortified by the addition of the extensive fortifications of the Upper and Lower Town. The Despot’s palace was built in the old castle, and a military harbour was added on the Sava River. An advanced mediaeval city developed within the ramparts.

     A new era began with the Austro-Turkish War. As a key fortification at the heart of the fighting during the 18th century, the Fortress was rebuilt three times. The old castle was demolished and a large part of the mediaeval walls were covered by new fortifications. Under the Austrian occupation from 1717 to 1739, and after the construction of new modern fortifications, the Belgrade Fortress was one of the strongest military strongholds in Europe. It was built to plans drawn up by Colonel Nicolas Doxat de Démoret, a Swiss serving in the Austrian Army. By a quirk of fate the builder of the fortress was shot right in front of the fortress walls at dawn in March 1738, because of the defeat of the army at Niš. Prior to the return of the Turks to Belgrade in 1740, all the newly constructed fortifications were demolished. By the end of the 18th century the Belgrade fortress had taken on its final shape. Nearly all the buildings in the Upper and Lower Towns were destroyed in the fighting during the previous decades and the walls were badly damaged.

     Two streets, Knez Mihailova and Uzun-Mirkova lead to the Belgrade Fortress. The two main gates on that side are the Stambol Gate (Stambol-kapija) (inner and outer) and the Clock Gate (Sahat-kapija). The mediaeval fortress was entered from the east (alongside today’s Zoological Garden), through the Prison Gate (Zindan kapija) and the Despot’s Gate (Despotova kapija) in the Upper Town. The Lower Town is approached via Bulevar vojvode Bojovića (via the Vidin Gate - Vidin-kapija) and from Karađorđeva street (the Dark Gate - Mračna kapija).

www.beogradskatvrdjava.co.rs

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Zindan Gate Complex

     “This semicircular fortification – the Zindan Gate Complex was built in the middle of the fifteenth century, in front of the Despot Gate. It consists of arched gates having two rounded towers and a bridge. The gate has, along with massive doors with wings reinforced with iron, auxiliary rooms as well. The Zindan Gates are identical in shape and purpose, but there are not connected in any way. The upper part of the towers ended with tines because of specially built screens, the so-called ‘musarabije’ (meaning “nose for tar”) or ‘masikula’, which were very efficient and functional in repelling the enemy beneath the tower’s walls. The towers had more levels which were interconnected. The Turks used the towers’ basement as dungeons for Christians. Hence the name for the whole complex (Turkish word ‘zindan’ stands for dungeon). The towers were reconstructed in 1938.”  http://www.leisureguide.info/portal/index/company/634578?category_id=22

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King Gate

“The gate was built within the south-western rampart, in the period between 1693 and 1696. It got its final shape during the Austrian reconstruction of the Fortress in the first decades of the eighteenth century. The gate has a baroque appearance, with a half-vault and rooms located at the inner side of the rampart. At the outside of the gate there is a bridge tiled with wood bricks which replaced the former construction of wooden bridge in 1928.” http://www.leisureguide.info/

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One of the churches within the fortress.

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Looking out over the Sava River

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This lovely stone building is now the office/workshop of archeologists who Do Not Want Visitors as It’s Not A Museum.  I found this out when I went in to ask.    Too bad because it looked really interesting but then I guess they’d never get work done of some visitor would break something.

The Victor Monument

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This is a humorous telling of the Victor monument’s saga, but pretty much matches what our tour guides told us. 

     “The Victor monument, the most famous Belgrade landmark ended up in Kalemegdan by chance. It was previously planned to place the monument in the middle of Terazije square, together with two other smaller  statues as a part of a grandiose monument complex that was supposed to be our

version of Triumphant Arc – a symbol of Serbian victory over the conquerors in the Balkan wars. But, just before everything was ready, the First World War broke out and the plan was postponed, everything but the Victor destroyed or never finished, and the plan had to be changed.  Not only that, but somebody noticed that the monument was, well, naked, and that it didn’t look very

Serbian (I don’t know if they were referring to his nose or something else) so

the city authorities placed him at the most secluded Kalemegdan part they could

think of.  Legend says that his frontal part was pointed towards the defeated

Austro-Hungarian empire and the background towards the Ottoman empire, which indeed makes sense when you think about it.”  http://www.belgraded.com/the-victor-monument-kalemegdan

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While at the Fortress we were told the early history of Belgrade and shown the location of the Roman wells.  Many of the tunels under the fortress are blocked off since some teenagers went wandering around in them and not all came out again. 

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The Princess lived here while the Prince lived elsewhere with his mistress, or so we were told.

The Residence of Princess Ljubica, built in 1831, is a rare preserved example of architecture from the time of Prince Miloš Obrenović (1783–1860). The wife of Prince Miloš, Princess Ljubica lived there with their sons Milan and Mihailo.

The Residence is presently a museum housing the permanent exhibition “Interiors of Belgrade Homes in the 19th Century”. The development of the modern Serbian state and Belgrade’s transformation from an Oriental city to a modern European town can be traced in the transitions of interior decoration styles in the homes of sovereigns and prominent 19th-century Belgrade families. With its furniture and other household stuff typical of the early 19th-century houses in Belgrade, like benches, the dinner table (sofra), a low round table (sini), a brazier (mangal), and Oriental cookware, the room of Princess Ljubica reflects the earliest stage in that process. It is flanked by the Little Hamam and the Great Hamam (Turkish baths). The Little Hamam, the only room in the Residence adorned with wall paintings, is decorated in the Rococo Revival style. The other interiors presented within the permanent exhibition show the features of various Western and Central European decoration styles that came into use in Serbia throughout the 19th century: Biedermeier, the Second Empire style, Baroque Revival, Rococo, Alt Deutsch, etc. The permanent exhibition also presents 18th- and 19th-century engravings of Belgrade and Serbia, as well as numerous portraits of Serbia’s 19th-century rulers and prominent citizens.

http://www.mgb.org.rs/

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St Michael’s Cathedral

The Cathedral Church of St. Michael the Archangel (Serbian: Саборна Црква Св. Архангела Михаила, Saborna Crkva Sv. Arhangela Mihaila) is a Serb Orthodox Christian church in the centre of Belgrade, Serbia. It is one of the most important places of worship in the country. It is commonly known as just Saborna crkva (The Cathedral) among the city residents. http://mybelgrade.net/item/st-michaels-cathedral/

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Museum of the Serbian Orthodox Church is housed in the Patriarch’s residence

The Patriarchate (Patrijaršija) building houses this collection of ecclesiastical items, many of which were collected by St Sava, founder of the independent Serbian Orthodox church.

Read more: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/

     Until 1054 AD Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism were branches of the same body—the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. This date marks an important moment in the history of all Christian denominations because it designates the very first major division in Christianity and the beginning of "denominations." Disagreement between these two branches of Christendom had already long existed, but the widening gap between the Roman and Eastern churches increased throughout the first millennium with a progression of worsening disputes.

     On religious matters the two branches disagreed over issues pertaining to the nature of the Holy Spirit, the use of icons in worship and the correct date for celebrating Easter. Cultural differences played a major role too, with the Eastern mindset more inclined toward philosophy, mysticism, and ideology, and the Western outlook guided more by a practical and legal mentality.

     This slow process of separation was encouraged in 330 AD when Emperor Constantine decided to move the capital of the Roman Empire to the city of Byzantium (Byzantine Empire, modern-day Turkey) and called it Constantinople. When he died his two sons divided their rule, one taking the Eastern portion of the empire and ruling from Constantinople and the other taking the western portion, ruling from Rome.

     In 1054 AD a formal split occurred when Pope Leo IX (leader of the Roman branch) excommunicated the Patriarch of Constantinople, Michael Cerularius (leader of the Eastern branch), who in turn condemned the pope in mutual excommunication.

http://christianity.about.com/od/easternorthodoxy/a/orthodoxhistory.htm

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Tugba and Emre from Izmir, Turkey were also on the walking tour.  Our guides were sensitive and tactful when speaking of the wars between Yugoslavia and the Ottoman Empire

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Question Mark Café  -  see the question mark over the door

The Question Mark Inn (Kafana "?") - This building close to the Cathedral and Patriarch’s Home, in typical Serbian-Balkan style, was built in 1823 from the materials that were then in most common use - wood and clay.  The building has changed owners (including Prince Miloš Obrenovic) and purpose on a number of occasions, but mostly it served as an inn.  Its name varied through the time: "Tomina kafana" ("Toma’s Inn"), "Kod pastira" ("At the Shepherd’s"), "Kod Saborne crkve" ("At the Cathedral"), until eventually the church authorities requested that the inn sign be removed as "a sacrilege against the Church of God." The owner then put up a temporary sign with a question mark which has remained its name to this day. http://www.jobeograd.org/

We had some lunch of bread, Serbian curd cheese, and cabbage rolls. 

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Ruth and Randal




Boston Red Sox hat travels the world.