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Flag of Serbia  , Central Serbia,
Friday, July 27, 2012

The trip to Serbia involved our easiest boarder crossing yet, Serbian Boarder control just collected all the passports on the bus, stamped them and gave them back to the driver to distribute!

Belgrade is the largest city in the country and is the capital of Serbia. We've had almost three days in Belgrade and have done a lot of walking! The city is located at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, where the Pannonian Plain meets the Balkans. In 1521 Belgrade was conquered by the Ottoman Empire and became the seat of the Sanjak of Smederevo. It frequently passed from Ottoman to Habsburg rule, which saw the destruction of most of the city during the Austro-Ottoman wars. There is one mosque that remains standing in the city because every time the Austrians captured it they removed the minaret and turned it into a church and every time the Ottomans recaptured it, they but the minaret back again.

Belgrade was again named the capital of Serbia in 1841. As a strategic location, the city was battled over in 115 wars and razed to the ground 44 times! Belgrade was the capital of Yugoslavia (in various forms of governments) from its creation in 1918, to its final dissolution in 2006. One of President Marshal Tito's many symbols of power, Ušće tower, is still strikingly evident on the horizon despite being bombed by NATO in 1999.

The first day we did the free walking tour of the city and yesterday we wandered along the Sava river and the Danube before heading up to the fort on the hill that gave Belgrade its name (white city as the fort was built from white rocks). On our guide's advice, we went to Serbia's Treasury and had 1 Dinar notes printed with our photos on them!

Our guide on the walk was very good and told us the history of the city as well as her memories from the 1990s when Yugoslavia was breaking up and Serbia was the subject of widespread sanctions from the West, inflation was the highest ever recorded anywhere at that time (1993) and when NATO bombed the city in 1999.

In particular, it was interesting to hear a different account of the gruesome conflict in the Balkans throughout the 990s. Our guide remembers as a kid how the local inhabitants donned t-shirts with target drawn on them and staged an impromptu part on one of the bridges to prevent NATO bombing it and dividing the city into two.
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Suz on

Coolio guys! x

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