29th and 30th May 2016
Seems we just can’t stop cycling …… we chose to do a 4 hour bike tour of Beograd. The tour consisted of a small group of four of us plus the guide, us on our tandem and a retired couple from the Netherlands.
Our guide took us across the river, which involved a second trip in the bike lift at the bridge.
First we saw a site that had been originally been built as as an exhibition area . But during WWII it was used by the Nazis as a concentration camp, which involved the extermination of all the Jews living in the city at that time .
We then moved on to see various buildings from the Tito era and heard about it taking the extensive building programme all over Yugoslavia masterminded by Tito. Apparently it took quite a while to complete some buildings as the unpaid labour of young people from different parts of Yugoslavia was used; but additionally, parties and concerts and all sorts of cultural events were organised. Those that took part in this, including our guide’s parents certainly saw this as a great time and look back it with fond memories . Amongst the buildings constructed apart from houses and apartment blocks was also included the Yugoslavian parliament building.
Young people from all over the newly formed Yugoslavia got to know each other and their languages and dialects and it helped to bond the new nation together quite effectively.
The tour then took us in a boat to an area that is almost an island, just joining the mainland by a narrow strip. It is clearly a very popular place for a Sunday afternoon bike ride. After stopping for a welcome cold drink, we rode back to the city centre.
Following a visit to the tourist information, we took an early evening boat ride in what was called the “Turtle Boat” because of its turtle like observation floor on the upper deck. We were able to see the array of bridges spanning both the Dunav and the Sava rivers linking not only places but histories.
The next day we took advantage of an open topped bus tour of the older part of the city seeing the various buildings that survived or were rebuilt after various wars and conflicts.
We also passed several bombsites dating from when NATO launched a series of targeted bombing raids which destroyed various buildings related to the Serbian Military and its resources. In fact, just opposite where the tour bus left there was a huge banner with hundreds of photographic portraits which referred to those who lost their lives in the “Albanian incursions” and ” NATO aggression”….
We were also able to appreciate the place that Serbian Orthodox religion, the memory of Josip Broz Tito, and the more benevolent communism had in the sense of Serbian nationhood and identity.
We took advantage of our unladen tandem to travel over Brankov Most (a bridge named after Branco Radičević, a Serbian romantic poet) to reach the “surburb” of Zemun an interesting place that once formed the boundary of the Hungarian Empire. A tower built on the prominent hill above the town in 1896 is the last remaining tower built to mark the millenium of the Hungarian Empire each of them marking the extremities of the Empire across central Europe. Although the origins of the tower date back to the 1400’s. The town also marks the boundary between Roman Catholic influence (Holy Roman Empire) and the Serbian Orthodox church, each with their characteristic architectures.
Catholic churches and cathedrals with spires and “onion shaped”
domes on them and the squareish look of Orthodox churches and cathedrals with middle eastern looking domes.
We’re now on the way to the Iron Gates…..