Belgrade Green Spaces

 

Written for Expat.rs by Pat An?elkovi?

Belgrade, or Beograd as it's known locally, means "white city", but to most foreigners if not to the locals themselves, the neglected facades of its many lovely pre-war buildings and the drab, concrete structures built during the communist era make it appear pretty gray, even (or maybe especially?) when the sun's shining. 

Serbs are great nature-lovers, even if they don't respect Mother Nature as much as they should, often apparent by doggie-poo and litter.  Perhaps for this reason Belgrade boasts many beautiful parks, and has the reputation of one of the greenest capitals in Europe, with large oases of nature both in the center and on the outskirts of the city.  In the forests on the outskirts of Belgrade live dozens of species of rare birds, and in Belgrade itself, 182 individual trees have been listed and protected.

Stroll around town a bit upon your arrival, and in addition to the major parks described below, you'll find many tiny parks tucked here and there between buildings, sometimes where you'd least expect to find one.  One example is the little park just after Takovska 22 just down from the RTS television building on the right-hand side between Svetogorska and 27. marta streets.  In this park on this bustling street stands one of Belgrade's venerable protected trees, which still offers its shade to passers-by.  Other examples of smaller parks would include those at Slavija Circle, the Faculty of Economics down by the railroad station, and Student Square on Vasina Street, across from the Philological Faculty. 

Because it would be difficult to give directions to the parks described below since each reader may be starting out from  a different location, it's a good idea to buy a good map of Belgrade and its vicinity, or better yet, a good guidebook such as Kreativni Centar's "Guide to Belgrade," available in English at most major bookstores.  In addition to helping you find these parks, the guidebook will teach you a little history as well. In any case, the parks below can all be accessed by bus, tram, or trolleybus, and in a few cases, very inexpensive shuttleboats.

Let's have a look at Belgrade's major parks.  (And by the way, if you have a dog, you'll probably be able to let your dog off leash, though technically it's not allowed.  There is a pick-up dog waste law now, but it's mostly ignored.  Set an example and scoop it up anyway. This author does!)


 


 


 


 


 

KARADJORDJEV PARK

Karadjordjev Park is a public park located near the National Library of Serbia and the highway interchange of Autokomanda.  It's just a bit down from the Saint Sava Orthodox church, one of the largest in the world.
The predecessor of this modern park was one of the camps established by the Serbian army in 1806 during the siege of Belgrade in the First Serbian Uprising.  After Belgrade was liberated, fallen soldiers were buried here, and the place was arranged as the Insurgents Cemetery in 1848, and prince Aleksandar Karadjordjevi? had the Monument to the Liberators of Belgrade erected. Out of the 50 original tombstones, 12 still remain.  You'll find a number of other monuments in this small park, including one dedicated to Alphone de Lamartine, the French poet.  Lamartinova street nearby has also been named for this poet who visited Prince Miloš Obrenovi? in 1833 and described Belgrade and some of its vicinity in his Trip to the Orient.  There's also a stone memorial dedicated to the victims killed in an underground shelter during the German bombing of Belgrade on April 6th, 1941. Built hastily before the war began, it suffered a direct hit by a bomb and collapsed, killing 192.

Neglected for a long time, Karadjordjev Park underwent massive reconstruction and beautification in the early 2000s which completely rejuvenated the park, including new benches and a children's playground. The idea at the time was to turn it into the first English type park in Belgrade, with an added wall around the park, gates with porters and working hours, but after failed bids for the job, the idea has been put on hold for the time being.


TOP?IDER PARK

The green and well-kept Top?ider Park lies in the valley of the Top?ider river and was the first public park outside the central city area.  For the nearly a century and a half, this park has been a favored picnic area. During the Ottoman occupation, the Top?ider river valley and forest were locations where the Turkish artillery was positioned to defend Belgrade.  Top?ider is a Turkish word meaning "valley of cannons" or some say, "artillery men's valley."  In 1831 Prince Miloš Obrenovi? gave instructions for the settlement of Top?ider. He first had a manor and a church built, and these were followed by a kafana (cafe/roadhouse) and army barracks.

In the first decades of 19th century the entire zone was characterized by vineyards and summerhouses of the wealthy. Then, on swampy ground covered by cattails and waterlilies, the park was created. Between 1831 and 1833, plane trees were planted around prince Miloš's manor (Milošev Konak, a lovely, lovely place), and they still stand. The canopy of the largest one, which is protected by the state, reaches a height of  34 meters has a diameter of 55 meter across. Not far from the manor is the racetrack, where horse races are held from March to October.  In this beautiful sylvan ambience, in addition to Prince Miloš's residence (now a popular restaurant and site of many wedding receptions), there are also the Top?ider Church and  several restaurants.  A brook runs through the park and forest and is quite clean for wading. Many other monuments are centered around the konak: the binjektaš  stone ("hopping stone") which prince Miloš used to mount his horse, a Museum to the First Serbian Uprising (in the konak itself), three public drinking fountains with an additional fourth with stone lion's heads which was temporarily moved here, but restored in 1976 and returned to its original location in Terazije downtown, and a stone obelisk erected in 1859, one of the first public monuments in Belgrade. The northern section of Top?ider is the location of the Top?ider cemetery and the mint of the National Bank of Serbia. In the western section, bordering with Dedinje is Beli Dvor (the White Palace), court of the Serbian former royal Karadjordjevi? dynasty and the current residence of the heir to the throne, Aleksandar Karadjordjevi?, and his family.
Unfortunately in the early 2000s, due to political changes which caused a vacuum in all levels of government, private entrepreneurs without gaining regular permits cut down over 1,000 trees in the Top?ider woods for the purpose of constructing vast apartment complexes, despite serious protests from citizens. 

Also, certain parts of the park have been threatened, because of plans to build the tunnel in this area connecting Autokomanda (highway intersection) with this part of the city in an attempt to solve many traffic problems in Belgrade. Some environmental groups protested, but constructing this tunnel still hasn't progressed further than the idea stage. During the summer of 2007 the city government will choose a general plan and it remains to be seen if this idea will respect the park's preservation.

KALEMEGDAN

Kalemegdan is located in Belgrade's Stari Grad (Old Town).  Situated on top of a cliff-like ridge that overlooks the Great War Island (Veliko Ratno Ostrovo)  and the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, it makes one of the most beautiful natural lookouts in Belgrade. The name Kalemegdan derives from two Turkish words:  kale (fortress) and megdan (battleground) (literally, "battlefield fortress"). Kalemegdan is the most popular park among Belgraders and for many tourists visiting Belgrade because of the park's numerous winding walking paths, shady benches, picturesque fountains, random statues, mammoth historical architecture and incredible river views. Kalemegdan is also known for its kilometers of underground corridors. At the entrance walkway to Kalemegdan that's nearest to the walking street, you'll find an assortment of people selling the usual souvenirs, old coins, Serbian hats and nationalistic items, as well as little ladies selling their homemade embroideries, tablecloths, and doilies.

Kalemegdan is the core of Belgrade and for centuries the city's population was concentrated only within the walls of the fortress, thus the history of the fortress right up to its most recent history, equals the history of Belgrade itself.
As the city, Singidun it was founded in the 3rd century B.C. by a Celtic tribe. The city-fortress was in the 1st century conquered by the Romans and named Singidunum. It was later  invaded by the Goths and the Huns and Avars before the arrival of the Slavs around 630 AD. Legend even says that Atilla's grave lies on th confluence of the Sava and the Danube, under the fortress.  Later, the Byzantine Emperor Justinian rebuilt the Fortress and the city as Alba Greaca around 535.
The Slavs (Sebs) and Avars established their "state union" north of Belgrade with the Serbs and other Slavic tribes finally settling in the region of Belgrade as well as the regions west and south of Belgrade in the beginning of the 7th century, and the name Beograd first appeared in the 9th century (878 AD).

For about four centuries, the city remained a battleground between the Byzantine Empire, the Empire of Hungary, and the First Bulgarian Empire. It passed to Serbian rule in 1284, and The first Serbian king to rule Belgrade was Dragutin (1276–1282), who received it as a gift from his father-in-law, the Hungarian king Ladislav IV.

As the southern part of the Serbian state collapsed after the Battle of Kosovo in 1389, the north resisted through the Serbian Despotate, which had Belgrade as its capital during the reign of the Despot Stefan . who built a castle with a citadel and towers, of which only
?Lazarevi the Despot’s Tower and the west wall remain. He also refortified the city's ancient walls, allowing the Despotate to resist the Ottomans for almost 70 years. During this time the city flourished and is thought to have had a population of around 50,000.
After the Despot's death in 1427 it had to be returned to Hungary. An attempt of Sultan Mehmed II to conquer the fortress was prevented in 1456. It saved Hungary from an Ottoman invasion for 70 years. In 1521, 132 years after the Battle of Kosovo, the fortress, like most parts of the Serbian state, was conquered by the  Turks and remained (with short periods of the Austrian and Serbian occupation), under the rule of the Ottoman Empire until 1867 when the Turks withdrew from Belgrade and Serbia. During the period of short Austrian rule (1718-1738) the fortress was largely rebuilt and modernized. The fortress suffered further damages during the First and the Second world wars. After almost two millennia of continuous sieges, battles and conquests the fortress is today known as the Kalemegdan fortress.  Whew!  That's its history in a large nutshell.

Kalemegdan is generally divided into four sections:
Gornji Grad (Upper Town) is the top section of Kalemegdan, a park, with beautiful promenades and the statue of The Victor (Pobednik) and protector of Belgrade, the Roman well (actually built by the Austrians), the observatory, museums, galleries, tennis and basketball courts, etc. The Orthodox churches of Ružica and Saint (Sveta) Petka are also located in this area. The water from the latter is supposed to be miraculous, curing feminine ailments.

Lower Town (Donji Grad), which  occupies the slope towards the riversides, from the  ridge where "The Victor" stands. Between the lowest section and the Danube is Kula Nebojša (Nebojša's Tower"), which was turned into a museum of the Greek revolutionary Rigas Feraios since the Turks strangled him in this tower and threw him into the Danube. This area contains the 25 Maj Sports Centar, with outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, and a long sidewalk for strolling or biking. Part of Donji Grad along the bank  is occasionally flooded during high levels of water in the rivers as were during the great flood in 2006. The ica and Saint (Sveta) Petka are also located in
?Orthodox churches of Ru this area. The water from the latter is supposed to be miraculous, curing feminine ailments.

Mali Kalemegdan (Little Kalemegdan) occupies the area in the eastern section, which borders the urban section of Belgrade. The northern section of Mali Kalemegdan is occupied by the Belgrade Zoo, opened in 1936. There's a small amusement park there, and the Cvijeta Zuzori?  art pavilion is also located there.

Veliki Kalemegdan (Great Kalemegdan) occupies the southern corner of Kalemegdan with geometrical promenades, a military museum, a museum of forestry and hunting, and a Monument of Gratitude to France.

TAŠMAJDAN

Tašmajdan Park is a park located in the very center of Belgrade, where during the Ottoman Empire there used to be a large quarry, which gave the park its name: in Turkish: taš  = stone, majdan = mine. According to an old saying, "It may be freely said that all of the old buildings in Belgrade have been built of stone excavated here". Military arsenals and warehouses were housed for a long time in the catacombs left after the excavations of stone blocks, and these catacombs have been also used as shelters and first-aid havens for wounded soldiers.

Saint Mark's Church was built during 1931 – 1940 in the vicinity of the old church built in 1835.  Its decoration and painting works have not finished yet. It contains one of the richest collections of icons from the 18th and 19th centuries as well as the relic of Tsar Dusan, first Serbian Emeror. If you go by on a Saturday or Sunday, you may be lucky enough to catch a wedding taking place there.
 
In 1909 the first seismological station was built in the park, and it still exists today.  There's a small amusement park for the kids, and at certain times of the year, this part of the park hosts various festivals, such as the Honey Fair in the first week of October.

During the 78-day NATO bombing campaign of Serbia in 1999, several objects in Tašmajdan park were badly hit.  On April 23rd, NATO bombed the building of the Serbian Broadcasting Corporation RTS situated in Tašmajdan park. Part of the building collapsed, trapping people who were working in the building that night. Sixteen people were killed while many others were trapped for days.  On April 24th, A children's theatre in the heart of Tašmajdan park was badly damaged due to its close proximity to neighbouring buildings that were bombed. On June 30th of the same year, a  monument was erected by the city of Belgrade for all the children who died in the 1999 NATO bombing of Serbia. The monument says "We were just children" in English and Serbian.

Tašmajdan Park also houses a sports complex.  There's a large outdoor swimming pool and a small swimming pool for children with space big enough for 4,000 people. The large pool is equipped for international day-and-night competitions in swimming, water polo, water diving and so on. It was renovated to be one of the venues for the 2006 European Water Polo Championships in September 2006 in Belgrade. The indoor swimming pool water and air can be heated up to 28 °C.

There's also a public skating rink, that was used for hockey, skating and figure skating competitions. It is now in bad shape and is used for open air concerts and musical festivals.

Pioneer Hall (Hala Pionira) also belongs to Tašmajdan Sport Center, but is located 1 km from the park. It boasts sports rings covering some 7,000 seats, as well as press-rooms equipped with phone and telex connections, TV and radio booths, it is convenient for all sorts of indoor sports, shows, gatherings and other events.

One part of the Tašmajdan park (where the Metropol hotel is located) is often referred to as Little Tašmajdan. It has recently undergone renovation. Concrete walkways have been put in and new stairways as well as new lighting have been installed. In the center of the park a play area for children has been constructed. Near the children's area, there is a fountain, which has also been renovated. Around 30 new benches have been put in.

Fairly recently, a communist-era secret network of tunnels and bunkers beneath Tašmajdan Park has been uncovered. People may visit these caves by contacting the tourist office in Belgrade located on the Walking Street (Knez Mihailova), or else a similar office in the underground passage at the Terazije end of the Walking Street. There's even a plan to start construction of the first sea aquarium in Belgrade in these underground caves that will contain 50 underground aquariums with over 900 sea species.

JEVREMOVAC –Arboretum

Located at Takovska 43 (just a bit more down the street, but on the other side, than the little park with the old tree mentioned in the introduction), the Jevremovac Arboretum is a unit of the Faculty of Biology of the University of Belgrade, and was founded in 1874. In 1889, King Milan Obrenovi? donated the estate (inherited from his grandfather Jevrem) to the Faculty to construct a botanical garden, provided it would be  named "Jevremovac". The Arboretum spreads over an area of 5 hectares, with over 250 species of trees and bushes, local, European and exotic plants, and the total plant population now includes about 500 trees, bushes and plants. In addition to the outdoor space, the Arboretum includes a greenhouse and the Institute for Botanical Premises, i.e. administrative building, herbarium, library, lecture hall, laboratories). Recently a Japanese Garden has been created.

The greenhouse covers the area of 500 square meters, and at the time of its construction was one of the largest and most beautiful greenhouses in this part of Europe.

The Herbarium accommodates a rich collection of plants originating from the Balkan peninsula and Europe, while the library is one of the oldest and the most abundant in this area. Apart from 200 scientific and professional magazines, it also accommodates over 6,000 books.  The entire arboretum is a cool, quiet refuge from the busy streets running beside it.

KOŠUTNJAK PARK

ukarica section of Belgrade, is
?Košutnjak Hill, located in the Rakovica/ a forest and a park, as well as one of the outing areas Belgraders prefer. The hill is 250 m high and covers an area of 330 hectares. The evergreen and deciduous forest is crisscrossed by many forest trails. The trails are lovely, but watch out for ticks that will attach themselves to you or your dog.

Košutnjak Hill (Doe Hill) owes its name to the doe that once roamed freely here. Until 1903 the dense forest was a royal hunting reserve, which was then opened to the public.

Košutnjak Hill includes two specialized facilities: Pioneer Town (Pionirski Grad) sports and recreational center, and Film Town (Filmski Grad)  with many studios, buildings and equipment for the film industry. Further down the hillside lies the Košunjak sports and recreational center which includes playgrounds for soccer, athletics, volleyball, basketball and handball, as well as five open air swimming pools, and one indoor pool. Košutnjak Hill also has a ski track. The hill is GREAT for sledding on snowy winter days. At the foot of the hill, which was once part of the hunting grounds of the Obrenovi? family, is Hajduk's Spring (Outlaw's Spring).Many popular restaurants are here as well.  Košutnjak Hill also houses the "Košutnjak" camping grounds, the "Trim" hotel, and the restaurants "Košuta", "Golf", "Devetka", "Filmski grad" and "Panorama".
Košutnjak gained a sort of historical notoriety when Prince Mihailo Obrenovi? III of Serbia was assassinated while walking in the park on June 10th, 1868  and when Ivan Stamboli?, a major political opponent of Slobodan Milosevi?, was abducted from the park while jogging on August 25th, 2000, and later assassinated. But if you're not a major political figure, go ahead and freely walk and jog!


UŠ?E

Uš?e is located on the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, thus the name (uš?e is Serbian for (river's) mouth), in New Belgrade (Novi Beograd) and covers a tip of land that overlooks Little and Great War Islands to the north and the old core of Belgrade, the fortress of Kalemegdan to the west. As a compact grassy and forested area it stretches along the bank of the Danube to the Zemun and Hotel Jugoslavija (now empty, awaiting renovation, most likely for a new purpose), and the ENJUB shopping mall. Uš?e is used by many Belgraders as a recreational area or as a place for organizing political gatherings or musical concerts. However, many areas are not cultivated, but left to grow wild. During the extremely high levels of the Danube and the Sava, bank areas are flooded. A great area to fly a kite, play Frisbee, jog, bike, or let your dog run.  Watch the ticks.

Like all of New Belgrade, Uš?e is flat, and has only three main buildings: the Palace of the Federation (Palata Federacije ), a seat of the former federal governments of Yugoslavia, also called the SIV building), Uš?e Tower, the tallest building in the Balkans, (A twin tower Uš?e 2 will be finished by 2009), and the Museum of Modern Art, close to the bank of the Sava river.

Another attraction is Friendship Park (Serbian: Park prijateljstva), where during the communist rule of Yugoslavia by Josip Broz Tito, many world politicians and dignitaries used to plant a tree when they visited Belgrade. Park has been in very bad shape lately as a result of low (basically, none at all) maintenance. The Eternal Flame Monument, located at one end of Friendship Park, was one of Slobodan Miloševi?'s last attempt to honor communism, and has now been vandalized and defaced with spray-paint grafitti.

Along the bank of the Sava stretching from Hotel Jugoslavija to Branko's Bridge you'll find numerous riverboat restaurants and cafes, which since the early 1990s have become center of  Belgrade's famous night life.

e has hosted some
?Due to its central location and wide-open space, Uš mass gatherings.  In November 1988, Slobodan Miloševi? (at the time Chairman of the Serbian Communist League's Central Committee) addressed a 100,000+ strong crowd as the main speaker at a mass rally that took place as integral part of "antibureaucratic revolution". In March of 1991, Miloševi?'s regime organized a large counter-rally in direct response to March 9th Protest two days earlier. The gathering was seen as the regime's attempt at showing that anti-regime protesters of the prior days were alone, politically instrumentalized, and misguided group of destructive-minded youth. Like for many such events, the crowd on hand mostly consisted of members of older generation many of whom were workers an pensioners bussed in for the occassion from other parts of Serbia.  2004 saw Serbian bands Riblja ?orba (Fish Stew) and Zabranjeno Pušenje (No Smoking) and  headlined a day-long anniversary concert before 40,000 spectators that came out to celebrate Riblja ?orba's 25 years and Zabranjeno Pušenje's 20 years on the scene.  In 2006 Serbian turbofolk superstar Ceca (Svetlana Ražnjatovi?) performed more than three hours in front of large crowd of 100,000+ in support of her Idealno Loša  (Ideally Bad) album, released the same day.  But most importantly (from a writer who grew up in the 60's) the Rolling Stones finally played a show on July 14th, 2007, after several previous cancellations. The spectacular 2-hour show in front of 65,000+ came as part of their A Bigger Bang tour.


ADA CIGANLIJA

Once an island that has been turned into a peninsula, Ada Ciganlija lies not far from the mouth of the Sava river, only 4km from the city center. Covered by thick deciduous forest and speckled with clearings and meadows, Ada is now the largest, most beautiful and preferred outing area, beach and leisure spot of the Belgraders.

Some authors indicate that the name of the island has its origin in the combination of Celtic words "singa" (island) and "lia "(submerged ground), giving one word "singalija." Gradually the pronunciation changed into "tzingalia", hence Ciganlija, which is fairly close to "cigan" (gypsy), and the reason most foreigners call it Gypsy Island. Ada Ciganlija was appreciated as an unusual natural resource even back at the time of Karadjordje and Prince Miloš Obrenovi?, and was proclaimed public domain in 1821, preserving this status to present day. In 1967 dams were built on both tips of the island thus giving Belgrade a unique 4,2 km long lake with an the average width of 200 m and the depth of 4-6 m. It's about a 7-kilometer path around the lake. During the summer, nearly 300.000 come here to swim or engage in other recreational activities. The overall Ada Ciganlija area, which includes ica and the surrounding waters is 800
?the smaller island of Ada Me hectares. 

Ada Medjica is accessible by little shuttle boats.  Not too much there; just small, private houseboats. "Medjica" comes from the Serbian word for "between," since that area is a border island between the northern plains (Vojvodina) and southern, hilly Serbia.

Ada Ciganlija is undoubtedly one of the central ecological points because, thanks to a combination of the effects of water areas and forest. Ada has a specific microclimate marked by increased humidity and lower summer daily temperatures compared to the other parts of the city. In the middle of the last century, the island was significantly enriched with new plants of American poplar and ash trees. The wildest parts are covered with uncultivated vegetation, which you'll have to hack through if you want to go there, but on the other hand, this will challenge your spirit of adventure.  Wildlife abounds here.   Most numerous are communities of birds, particularly wild ducks and gulls, but also pheasants and wild hens. Ada is also one of the rare urban places where you can still see an occasional hare.

Watch out for ticks; many here are infected with piroplasmosis, a life-threatening disease for your dog and a source of real worry for you and yours, since a similar bacteria causes Lyme disease, and there have been such cases in Belgrade.

The beach on the left bank of the lake is one of the largest and most beautiful beaches on artificial lakes in Europe. The lake water is warmer and cleaner than the river water and thus the lake is highly suitable for mass recreational activities. The position, the quality of the water, the existing equipment and the length of the lake make it an ideal site for top rank competitions on calm waters. The lake is suitable for swimming, rowing, kayak, water polo, water diving, sailing competitions, and several national and international championships were held here.  On the west end of the lake is a nudist beach!  If you're a nudist, but still a bit shy, don't bathe there, for you'll be in full view of passers-by on the sidewalk.

On Ada Ciganlija there are also over 50 different open-air sports grounds, among which there are a golf course and a lift for water-skiing. There are the soccer playing fields, tennis, team-handball, volleyball, and basketball courts, as well as fields for baseball, rugby, and field hockey. There are also playing grounds for beach volleyball and aqua soccer and, as to the extreme sports: a bungee jump, artificial rock-climbing wall, and paintball. For anglers, there is also the Lake Ada Safari.

Ada Ciganlija also serves as a cultural and entertainment center of Belgrade, especially during the summer. Numerous manifestations are organized involving famous writers, actors, singers, cultural societies, choirs, bands and amateur from different fields.  Ada Ciganlija also offers dozens of rustic restaurants, floating restaurants and houseboats that preserve the Belgrade's bohemian tradition. On the mainland side of the lake, there's a parking lot for about a thousand vehicles as well ukarica channel for boats, yacht and smaller
?as the marina in the ships. Ada Ciganlija also has shops, picnic spaces, bowling alleys, mini-golf courts, horse-drawn carriages, a tourist train, "pedal boats and canoes, as well as the environment-friendly electric-powered boat.  You can access Ada Ciganlija by car, bus, or if you live in New Belgrade, by very inexpensive shuttle boats that run very frequently.

MOUNT AVALA

Mountain Avala is only 511 m high and lies just 18 km to the south of the center of Belgrade. It is covered by evergreen and deciduous forest. Mt. Avala green areas have been under protection since 1859.

Most famous on Avala is the colossal monument sculpted by Ivan Mestrovic dedicated to WWI Serbian heroes, built on the remnants of the significant medival city Zrnov (razed to the ground for such the purpose of building the monument).  Mt. Avala was once distinguished by a 195-meter high TV tower built in 1965, bombed down during the 1999 NATO air-campaign.   Mount Avala is a great spot for hiking and picnicking.  Just watch out for the ticks.

VELIKO RATNO OSTRVO (GREAT WAR ISLAND) and ADA MEDJICA

The island marks the mouth of the Sava as it empties into the Danube. Throughout the history, the island was an important strategic point either for the conquest or the defense of Belgrade. For example, during the first siege of Belgrade in 1521 the Turks launched most of their attacks on Belgrade Fortress from the island. In liberating Belgrade in 1806 the rebel army headed by Karadjordje also used the island for military purposes. A similar strategy was followed by the imperial army of Austria-Hungary during the offensive on Belgrade in 1915.
Today, the Great War Island is frequently visited by nature lovers, and on its northern tip lies the famous Zemun beach called Lido.

Lido is a  sandy beach named after the Lido in Venice and evolved as an alternative to the much popular and official beach and park of Ada Ciganlija. In the past it was accessible by boats until early 2000s when a pontoon was laid every summer by the Yugoslav army. Lido suffered its worst fate during the 2006 major flooding. What infrastructure existed there was all washed away.  However, in the summer of 2007, Lido again was ready for visitors.

The island and the waters around are home of numerous rare species including endangered birds, but also a morphologically and geologically extremely interesting area.  It is a protected area, and no urbanization is allowed.

BANJICA

Banjica is located 5-6 kilometers south of downtown Belgrade on the ider. The name of the neighborhood
?Banjica hill, not too far from Top comes from the Serbian word banja, meaning "spa," and means "little spa".

Banjica used to be a suburban village, inhabited in the early 19th century by migrants from southeastern Serbia who settled there after the end of the  Second Serbian Uprising in 1815.  Up until World War II, Banjica remained a quiet village with most of its population employed in crop production to support the growing agricultural demands of Belgrade. But during World War II Banjica was also a place where German forces together with Serbian collaborators established a concentration camp.  Now it is a heavily urbanized area, except of course for the forest.  There's a well-known military hospital, VMA, whose services are available to the public, an orthopedic hospital, a police academy, a stadium, and a large sports center, including outdoor pools.

Today, Banjica is mainly a residential area, but with large diversity in administrative and sports buildings. The most notable ones a
There is a small shopping mall and a well-stocked green market, where farmers sell fresh produce.

ZEMUN

Zemun is a charming, old-world municipality of Belgrade located northwest of the city, upstream on the Danube, and has been inhabited since the Neolithic era.  Its name is thought to have evolved from the Slavic word for "earth" (zemlja).  In the 12th century, Zemun was passed from Byzantine rule to the Kingdom of Hungary. After the nearby Serbian state fell to the Ottoman Empire in 1459,  Zemun became an important military outpost. It finally fell to the Turks in 1521. Later, Zemun became a Serbian autonomous region within the Hapsburg Empire before finally ending up "in  Serbia"  in 1918. During Slobodan Miloševi?'s regime's later years, Zemun became a stronghold of notorious Zemun clan, one of principal organized crime cartels in Belgrade. The clan's criminal activity continued after Miloševi?'s fall. Bosses and prominent members of this clan have been tried and convicted for the assassination of Serbian prime minister Zoran Djindji?.

Zemun's waterfront walk is well-worth a trip, especially on a summer evening to watch the sunset. The area boasts several very good fish restaurants (other dishes are also available if you don't like fish), pizzerias, and cafes.  Its downtown area's pedestrian walking street has quaint buildings and a beautiful church where on weekends, you'll often be lucky enough to catch a wedding.

In the old town is Gardoš, one of three hills on which the core of Zemun was built.  It rises high on the right bank of the Danube and is a natural lookout across the river.  There's still an old tower there, dating from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and was the empire's most southern watchtower.  Beautiful cobblestone streets wind up the hill, and it's best to go up on foot.  Oddly enough, almost half of this neighborhood is occupied by Zemun's largest graveyard...so it's quiet.  There are several restaurants near the top of the hill, which offer splendid views of the city and Belgrade in the distance.

So no matter when you visit Belgrade or if you're fortunate enough to spend an entire year or longer here, you'll be sure to find a green space that suits you.