In September 2011, we toured three countries in the Balkans. Serbia was the second country we visited, following Bulgaria. I wrote two separate blog entries about the first part of this trip, in Sophia and the Rila Monastery.
Serbia has a long and turbulent history toward becoming an independent country. Here is a VERY simplified version of the past 100 years.
The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes was formed in 1918; its name was changed to Yugoslavia in 1929. The military and political movement headed by Josip “TITO” Broz took control of Yugoslavia when German and Croatian separatist forces were defeated in 1945.
In 1989, Slobodan Milosevic became president of the Republic of Serbia and his calls for Serbian domination led to the violent breakup of Yugoslavia along ethnic lines. In 1991, Croatia, Slovenia, and Macedonia declared independence, followed by Bosnia in 1992.
Milosevic retained control over Serbia and eventually became president of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) in 1997. In 1998, an ethnic Albanian insurgency in Kosovo provoked a Serbian counterinsurgency campaign that resulted in massacres and massive expulsions of ethnic Albanians living in Kosovo.
The Milosevic government’s rejection of a proposed international settlement led to NATO’s bombing of Serbia in the spring of 1999. FRY elections in late 2000 led to the ouster of Milosevic and the installation of a democratic government, officially now the Republic of Serbia.
Admittedly our time here was short, and the weather was not cooperative, but Serbia did not leave me wanting more. Still I found several jewels along the way that are worth sharing.
Located near Cuprija in Central Serbia. It was originally built in 1375-1377 as an endowment of Prince Lazar of Serbia, who is buried there.
Destroyed by Turkish conquerors and again by fire, it was rebuilt in 1717-1739. The monastery was again assaulted during the Serbian revolution in the early 19th century, and damaged during World War II by the Germans.
It remains an outstanding example of Serbian medieval architecture.
The Cathedral of Saint Sava
The Cathedral of Saint Sava, also known as The Temple of Saint Sava is located in Vracar, Belgrade. It is the largest “Orthodox” church in the world and one of the ten largest church buildings in the world.
The interior is not finished and is being decorated with intricate mosaic work. It should be quite impressive when completed.
Monument to General Tito
The actual mausoleum is called the House of Flowers and is where General Tito is buried.
The Museum keeps the gifts Tito received during his presidency as well as a collection of Olympic torches.
One final stop in Serbia…
Our rainy day continued with a visit to Belgrade Fortress and Kalemegdan Park. The park overlooks the River Sava and the Danube River.
Although Serbia did not bowl me over, I did not dislike it either. It just left me luke warm. It is not a big tourist destination which I did appreciate, however that being said, I felt a lack of warmth or welcome from the few people we encountered there.
The next day our journey continued on to Romania which I absolutely loved.
I plan on sharing the highlights from there in the near future, including our time in Timisoara, Transylvania, Sibiu, Sighisoara, Brasov and Bucharest.
Have you been to Serbia? If so, what was your impression?