Most people like to say that they know everything there is to know about Belgrade. They know it's the Republic of Serbia capital city, or a city with a rich culture, monuments, and a buzzing nightlife. But that's not even the half of it! To this day, this metropolis manages to surprise not only tourists, but the people who spend every day walking its streets.
Today there isn’t a single location in old town Belgrade that doesn’t hide remnants from the Roman period! In fact, the first urban settlement was built here in the 3rd century BC by the Celts.
As one of the oldest cities in Europe, Belgrades center resides a culture older even than the settlements in Mesopotamia.
Belgrade has been known by many names including: Alba Graeca, Alba Bulgarica, Fehérvár, Nandoralba, Nándorfehérvár, Landorfehérvár, Weißenburg and Griechisch-Weißenburg, Castelbianco, Veligradon or Velegrada, Dar Al Jihad (House of War), Belgrat, Prinz Eugen Stadt. But the name that stuck to this day is Beograd (The White City), mentioned for the first time in 878 in a Papal letter to the Bulgarian ruler Boris I.
Kalemegdan, the legendary Attila’s grave?
In the 5th century, the Belgrade fortress was destroyed by the Huns and in the early Middle Ages saw an onslaught of Barbarian tribes, including the Slavs. A legend even says that Attila’s grave lies at the confluence the Danube and the Sava river, more precisely under the very fortress. Once, Kalemegdan was a fortress (kale) and a field (megdan), and now it is one of the most important cultural-historic sites, a park and a playground, a lookout and a Zoo, a concert venue and so much more.
A city underneath the city
Belgrade has so many secrets, but one of them hides just below the surface. More than one hundred caves, canals, tunnels, passages tell the story of its connection to various empires and states that ruled over the ages. As such, underground Belgrade has always attracted tremendous attention. Roman halls and aqueducts, Tito’s secrets as well those of Communist Information Bureau spies – you can find them all beneath Belgrade.
The first cafe in Europe
According to many historians, the first cafe (kafana) in Europe was opened in Dorcol in 1522. This establishment served only black coffee, and that is supposedly how this Serbian institution got its name – “kafana”.