Monday 14 June 2010

Things I miss about the Belgrade - III

The 3rd item on my list of "Things I miss the most about Belgrade" (previous two can be seen here and here) is none less than my favourite place in this world: Kalemegdan.

Before going to Serbia for the first time, I remember seeing pictures of Kalemegdan and wanting to go there first thing once in Belgrade -and it ended up becoming such a special place to me that I'd go there almost every single day when I was in Belgrade. I would go all the way into the fortress (entering it from Knez Mihailova) and sit on its walls, facing the confluence of the rivers Sava and Danube, Veliki Ratno Ostrvo, Novi Beograd and Zemun on the far background. The image of this wonderful view was chosen to picture this blog's background :)

But some of you must be wondering: what is Kalemegdan, anyways?
Wikipedia says that "Kalemegdan (Serbian Cyrillic: Калемегдан) is a fortress and a park in an urban area neighborhood of Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. It is located in Belgrade's municipality of Stari Grad. (...) Etymologically, the word Kalemegdan (Turkish: Kalemeydan) itself means "Castle Square" in Turkish."

Here's what I know about it:

On the 3rd century BC, on the site of a previous Greek settlement, Scordisci Celts chose an strategic hilltop on the confluence of two rivers as the basis for their habitation - there they founded a city called it Singidūn, known today as Belgrade. When Romans arrived to Singidūn, they changed the city's name to it's roman version - Singidunum - and it quickly became a military frontier between the Roman Empire and barbaric Europe.

During the 4th and 5th centuries, Singidunum was repeatedly destroyed by Goths and Huns. On the late 5th century, it became the border between Western and Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire).

Kalemegdan in the 17th century

Since its foundation til present days, Kalemegdan and Belgrade - or Singidūn, or Singidunum - were ruled by many - Celts, Romans, Bulgarians, Byzantines, Turks, Hungarians, Austrians, Serbs - and destroyed and rebuilt 38 times.

Nowadays, Kalemegdan is a huge urban park, with some open air cafes (crowded with people during summer!), sports courts, a military museum and a natural history museum, a church, some open air exhibitions and parties at times, not to mention the many monuments, ruins, towers and so on. It's a great place to go during the summer, to lay on the grass and read, or to go for a walk during the winter days, when Kalemegdan gets totally white, covered with snow.

Flowery corner in the fortress

View from Kalemegdan, during the winter

Summer sunset on Kalemegdan

A summer day on Kalemegdan's walls

Walking through Kalemegdan today one would probably have a hard imagining that those walls and ruins witnessed so many battles for over two thousand years. And this feeling to be walking on history is one of the many things that makes Kalemegdan so special to me.