Belgrade, the Capital of Serbia whishes a warm welcome to all European friends.
The Organizing Board of the European Junior Championships will try to arrange the full pleasant week staying in Belgrade for all competitors, not only around the pools and swim centers, but also throughout many other places that might be of the interest for their sport friends.
Belgrade is the capital of the Republic of Serbia and is, as such, the country’s largest city with a population of about 1.7 million people. It lies on the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers. The city has a long history, dating back to the 4th century BC, when the area was settled by Celtic tribes. Later on, it became the Roman city of Singidunum, and relics of that era can still be seen in the city, particularly at Kalemegdan Fortress. From 7th century it is settled by Serbs. As it entered the Byzantine Empire, Belgrade saw many conflicts, including invasion by the Ottoman Empire, until Serbia finally became independent in the 1800s.
After the First World War, Belgrade became the seat of Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (in 1928, the country changed name to Kingdom of Yugoslavia) until its collapse, and it saw violence again in 1999 with NATO’s bombing campaign. This often violent history and outside influence has colored much of Belgrade’s evolution, which is evident in its culture and architecture. Often caught between the hammer and anvil of clashing empires, the city has taken on a unique character, reminiscent of both Austrian and Turkish influences, with a unique set of Communist elements thrown in as Yugoslavia was expelled from the Eastern Bloc in 1948. Yet, the city has its own spirit, and in it can be found some not only unique features, but also a healthy joie de vivre in its café culture, nightlife and often Mediterranean flavor in its view of life.
Whilst there isn’t much by way of ethnic or cultural diversity in Belgrade, in terms of different migrant populations – compared to other European cities – there are minority communities (largely (Gipsy) Roma and Chinese), as well as people from other former Yugoslav republics, such as Bosnia, Croatia and Macedonia. Cultural events from round the world, however, are starting to be increasingly common, particularly in the spring and summer months, thanks in no small part to both local arts and culture organizations, as well as foreign embassies/cultural centers. These attract a good deal of local attention, and will help in raising the city’s profile as a cultural hotspot.
Belgrade is an energetic city re-discovering its tourism potential. One great new magazine, White City is a must read for anyone who plans on visiting. They call themselves an urban magazine but it’s a great lifestyle magazine written in English for both locals and foreigners. It’s available at any place that sells magazines in Belgrade.