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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

8/28: Belgrade: Discovering More of Serbia's Capital

We didn’t get going until 10:30 which was a late start for us. The first place we wanted to stop at was the Ethnocultural Museum that was only a block away from the hostel where we stayed in Belgrade. We were so surprised that admission to the museum was free as normally there are fees to virtually all museums and virtually all churches, temples and mosques too.

Serbian men's and women’s clothing from the first half of the 20th century:
I learned there were a lot of variations in men’s dress from the 18th to the early 20th centuries but the distinctive features were white and brown upper garments decorated with mainly black woolen braids.

Women’s costumes displayed a wide assortment of shapes, fabrics, embroidered ornaments and geometric motifs. Open skirts ranged from short to long. A belt and apron were wrapped over the long, lavishly embroidered blouse. 

Bagpipe and wind instruments from bottom up:
Clothing from various regions of Serbia:

A bridal costume from the late 19th century. Wouldn’t that be just perfect for you, Natalie?
Since the 1860s and 1870s, most towns in Serbia and Bosnia increasingly adopted garments from the fashion centers of Central and Western Europe. This trend was particularly pronounced in men’s dress. Just like in other urban areas in the Serbian ethnic territory, fashion and novelties from Budapest, Vienna and Paris and other fashion centers in the West were perceived as a model to be followed.
Like everything else, homes were subject to evolutionary change. Two story homes were rarely seen in villages until the end of WWII. That period was characterized by transition to new building materials commonly used for urban houses such as stone, roofing tiles and mortar. Decorative elements were placed in eye-catching parts of the house, i.e. above doors and windows.

Intertior of a rural home set up for the celebration of slava, the feast of the family patron saint, Sumadja, during the early 20th century:
Tools used in crop farming:
There were also huge and very impressive  displays on viticulture, fishing, pottery, modes of transportation, etc at the Museum, but just too many for me to take notes on!

Interspersed among the displays were a number of smallish sculptures,

Yours truly across from our hostel:
 Our room was the 2nd floor corner balcony!
Ivy: I thought of Ben here.

Cathedral Church of St. Michael the ArchangelWe entered the Serbian Orthodox church just as a number of back to back baptisms were taking place. It is one of the most important placees of worship in the country.

Directly across the street was a museum devoted exclusively to icons but it was closed so decided we'd return the following day. However, diagonally across the street from the Cathedral was another sight that was fortunately open: Princess Ljubica Residence:
Construction of this magnificent home located near the Kalemedgan Fortress began in 1829 as confirmation of the rise and power of the new Serbian state and the ruling Obrenovic dynasty. However, when that dynasty was overturned and the Karadordevic dynasty rose to the throne, the residence lost its function in 1842 and it housed various state institutions for the next 130 years before becoming the museum it is today. 
The first room was in the Ottoman Balkan style which occurred in the first half of the 19 century. The purpose of the room changed depending on the needs. During the day, it was used for normal daily activities such as socializing, drinking coffee and dining. The floor was covered by a kilm, a type of carpet.
According to the custom at the time, an inbuilt shelved cupboard was used to store bedding. It has been preserved and shows that the room had another purpose during the night, i.e. it for sleeping.
Princess Ljubica's room:
Off her room was the Hamman, a type of steam bath originating from the Near East. They were mostly public baths and only the very rich and renowned families had their own hamman.
The Conversion Divanhaned Room: Because of its windows, lined against the wall, it acts as a link between the inner space and nature. It also has a practical purpose: to ensure airflow and light in the central hall. In the Ottoman culture, it was a gathering space and therefore the stateliest part of the home. The room was heated by a brazier placed in the middle of the room. The word ‘divan’ is another word for sofa, couch, chesterfield, etc but I certainly never knew divan was a Turkish word. I wonder if any of you did?
Beautiful 15th century tile stove in a main floor drawing room:

The previous rooms had been on the main floor. Upstairs, there were still more drawing rooms from the mid 19th century. There, Central European influences prevailed as shown with the display of urban interiors showcasing Baroque, Rococo Revival, Biedermeier and other styles. The sheer number of rooms seemingly devoted to the same purpose was staggering.

In the Ottoman culture, a home was divided into the men’s, or public areas, and women’s or private areas. The public area was mostly used by men for receptions and discussing business. The private rooms were designated for the family and women were located on the upper floor in a separate part of the house.

There was also a small divanhene on the second floor placed directly above the one below. This one was smaller and had a more intimate atmosphere and was supposed to have been used by Princess Ljubic:
In the basement there was a marvelous temporary exhibition of photos devoted to portraits and events of Mount Athos, a monastic community.

I think this St Panteleimon monk from the early 20th century would win the prize for the world’s longest beard!

An 1836 engraving of the monastery at Zografou aka the Holy Mountain:

We had spent way more time at the Princess’ home that we certainly envisioned as we found it quite interesting. The home was visual evidence of the process of Europeanization of Belgrade since the beginning of the modern age struggle for liberation.

We walked over next to the Sukat Shalom Synagogue but it was closed.

Our next plan was to take the bus to the St. Sava Temple but it was pretty far east of downtown so we hopped on an old tram to get there from just outside Hotel Moscow. As you may remember if you read the previous post, the sculpture of the naked man entitled ‘Victory’ had originally been located right here.
The Temple of St. Sava, is located on the Vracar Plateau. St. Sava was the first bishop and the founder of the Serbian Orthodox Church and lived during the 13th century. He was considered to be the most important Serbian saint. According to legend, the temple was built on the place where, during the time of the Turkish rule, the relics of St. Sava were burned.

On our approach to the temple, we could hear a very loud marching band to the left so we followed the sounds and we discovered they were serenading a bride and groom and their wedding party. We, and many other people, tagged along as they made their way to the temple with the band playing the entire time.

There were several other wedding couple too but they didn’t have a band! Nina: You would have loved it. You know I always think of you whenever we see and hear marching bands as it brings back such great memories of you and your marching band days.

Imagine what a fantastic party there was after this hoopla!
The Temple of St. Sava was undergoing a major facelift so we could only imagine how stunning it will be when that is completed.

Probably a statue of St. Sava outside the church but not sure:
Serbians must sure love pizza because there were pizza restaurants and bakeries everywhere that sold slices of pizza to go on cardboard shapes the same size as a slice of pizza! Great idea of course but not one I’ve seen before. As Steven said, seeing all the pizza restaurants was good for us as pizza was always a fast, cheap and delicious snack when we were on the go. Plus, Steven never had to worry about the pizza having nuts.

Rather than taking a bus or tram back downtown, we decided to hoof it back stopping off at a few places along the way. Our first pit stop was at Pivaca Market, a local market that turned out to be more of a flea market than a produce or clothing market. It was certainly not geared for tourists.

Our only purchase turned out to be three peaches that Steven loved. They reminded me of Colorado’s wonderful peaches from the Western Slope that were just coming in when we left Denver in mid August.
From there we walked over to the Tesla Museum that looked like it was located in a home and not a museum type of space. I am not a science person at all but it was still fairly interesting to find out what an absolute genius Nikola Tesla was. 

The guide there was very good and kept the packed audience enthralled with the experiments he conducted. People couldn’t wait to discover first hand how our bodies are conductors of electricity.

Nikola Tesla had 208 patents in 49 countries but he was never awarded the Nobel Prize for Science. The only thing better in the science world was having a unit of magnetic field strength named after him. The schematic of the first idea he ever had is on the reverse of a Serbian banknote.

He was born in what is now a village in Croatia. Tesla wrote that the progressive development of man is virtually dependent on invention. It is the most important part of a man’s creative brain. The guide told us not to fall asleep while he turned off the lights so we could learn more about Tesla’s life! A good warning because Steven and I were both tired!

As a science protoge in the 1870s in Vienna, Tesla told his professor he could foresee alternating current. He first idea was about induction motors which none of us could live without today. Small versions are in hair dryers, beaters, etc while larger ones are in vacuums, lawn motors, etc.

 He immigrated to the US in 1894 (Thanks, Lil Red, for noticing my typo here!) with only $4 to his name and a letter to Thomas Edison. The two men worked together for a while until their differences made that impossible as Edison believed in direct current and Tesla in alternating current. Tesla’s won out and his scientific achievements were used to light the Chicago Exhibition in 1907. That acceptance helped patent the machine for power plants. His 1913 patent was critical in the development of the first hydroelectric plant which was in Niagara Falls.

He became a superstar and celebrity and universities were falling all over themselves to give him medals. Tesla focused on meeting the world’s energy needs and preached about the need to conserve energy. What an incredible visionary and a man way ahead of his time.
He even worked in our own Colorado Springs. When he died in 1943, he had 300 patents to his name, the first when he was only 27. Tesla died in the US but his body was exhumed and cremated with his ashes sent to Belgrade, the capital of Yugoslavia
The museum, which only consisted of three small rooms on the main floor, has 200,000 items about Tesla in its collection. It was interesting that the pretty mammoth Princess Ljubica Residence cost only $2 entry per person but the very small and rather inadequate Tesla Museum was $5 each.
We walked next to St. Mark’s Cathedral which had a much simpler style compared to so many other churches we’ve seen recently. 

National Assembly Building was our last sight of the day:
We hadn't read about the photos, etc laid out in front. I believe it is a memorial to the victims at Srebenica, the worst genocide since the Holocaust. More about that horror in an upcoming post.

What a sad end to another wonderful day learning about Belgrade.

Posted from Split, Croatia on September 7, 2016.


  1. You posted that Tesla immigrated to the US in 1994. Hope you meant 1894. See, somebody is reading your blogs..... Lil Red

  2. So glad you noticed my typo, Lil Red! I changed it right away. Hope I haven't made too many other gaffes! Best to you and Pat.


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