- One must be a fox in order to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten off wolves. Machiavelli Niccolo
Named as one of the top 10 cities for its nightlife by National Geographic, Belgrade is home to a huge number of urban charms. The capital’s vibrancy sits alongside its numerous historical sites, such as Kalemegdan, an imposing 1st century fortress. The city of Nis, in Serbia’s south, also has this balance of history and culture. The birthplace of Constantine, Nis also hosts Nisville; an international jazz festival held for four days during August.
Serbia’s verdant and untouched landscape comprises of cool mountain lakes and world-renowned national parks. One of Serbia’s most interesting landscapes can be found on the slopes of Mount Radan. Known as Devil’s Town, this area is home to bizarre red rock formations that were once considered by locals to be the result of devils fighting one another.
Zica monastery was built at the start of the 13th century after the Serbian Orthodox Church gained its independence. The church is built equidistant from Rome and Constantinople, demonstrating medieval Serbia’s desire to be balanced between these two powers. Zica was the site where Stephan, the first Serbian king was crowned in 1221. Studenica Monastery was also built by King Stephan and has gained UNESCO world heritage status because of its architectural significance and stunning frescoes. Built by King Uros in the 13th century, Sopocani Monastery is similarly listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The harmony of colours and refinement of expression seen in the interior of this monastery make it quite the spectacle for visitors.
There are a number of festivals waiting to be discovered in Serbia. Every year in August, the small village of Guca plays host to the world’s largest trumpet festival. Touted as ‘the wildest music festival on earth’ by Miles Davis, the music here is complemented by folk dancing, handicrafts, traditional dishes, painters and poets. Nisville International Jazz Festival is similarly a fantastic reason to eat, drink and be merry. But festivals in Serbia don’t just stop at music, Belgrade’s Beer Festival showcases hundreds of domestic and foreign beers. Considered one of Europe’s biggest summer parties, over 900,000 visitors are drawn here anually. What’s more, admission to the festival is free.
Food and Drink
A fusion of east and west, visitors are often surprised just how good Serbian cuisine is. Slow cooked meat, along with olives and traditional cheeses are a main staple of the Serbian diet. The climate here allows for cherries, plums and grapes to grow, something that provide the basis for Rakia, a traditional fruit brandy. Serbian wines have also recently been making their mark on the international stage, something that the humble wine cellar village of Rajac testifies too. Housing 270 stone and wood cellars built between 1750 and 1930, Rajac embodies the quality of local wine with a very typical Serbian modesty.