belgrade

10 CONGRESS MYTHS YOU DIDN’T DARE TO ASK ABOUT, OR KNOW WHOM TO ASK

MYTH 1: Belgrade is »Beli Grad« (“White city”)

CONFIRMED: Nomen est omen: The first Slavic mention of the city was recorded in the year 878 and its translation would be ‘the White city’. The main reason for this name of the city is the white limestone used to built the fortress that once stood in the same location as today’s Kalemegdan. Prior to that, a Roman settlement, Singidunum, stood at this location. From today’s perspective it seems strange to call Belgrade the White city, as it is more of an off-white colour. Until, of course, the sun comes out and springtime arrives!

MYTH 2: The world’s only Silicon Valley is in California

BUSTED: The famous Silicon Valley can of course be found in California, USA, and indeed all of the major IT brands and websites were created there (Microsoft, Facebook etc.). But it is also true that Belgrade has its own “Silicone Valley” – well, it has a lively street where you will meet the locals that leave their fancy cars right on the street (only those who have small cars park them on the properly marked parking spaces) and there’s no shortage of the perfectly styled Belgrade women often corrected by silicone either. The lively street is full of cafes and bars and it is definitely a place where people like to ‘show off’ what they’ve got.

Belgrade

MYTH 3: In Belgrade East meets West 

CONFIRMED: The New and the Old Belgrade –it is at this point, at the symbolic level, where the influence between East and West has always intertwined. Today the mighty Ada Bridge over the river Sava reminds us of this. In the heart of the Balkans the bridges represent some prophetic buildings and Sava symbolically divides Western and Eastern Europe. The previous point of conflict is now the point that connects and holds together the West and the East, and its epicentre is the new Ada Bridge.

Belgrade

MYTH 4: Beograd is the capital of the Balkans

PLAUSIBLE: Mainly in the sixties and the seventies of the 20th century, the former Yugoslav capital was a very important player in the international political arena. In 1916 a Non-Aligned Movement began in Belgrade, which successfully opposed the bloc division. During the recent Balkan wars the power of Belgrade declined. With projects such as the Belgrade Waterfront and Air Serbia, it seems that the city that was usually the first to get the big projects will once again become a regional centre.

MYTH 5: Beograd is the wild party central

CONFIRMED: If you love to have a good time, Belgrade will not disappoint you. Many bar owners have made good of the fact the Danube and Sava rivers run through the city by turning their rafts into nightclubs and anchoring them to the river banks. At night this is definitely the place to be. The city operates around the clock, so finding entertainment after hours and at other spots throughout the city is easy. Parties happen spontaneously and you can quickly end up partying until the wee hours.

Belgrade

MYTH 6: Belgrade has problems with accessibility

BUSTED: Belgrade has long been the most accessible capital in the region. Just last year, 4,776,110 passengers travelled through Belgrade airport, which is almost twice as many as through Zagreb airport (2,587,798). Air Serbia operates fantastically well; last year they brought more than 2.5 million passengers to Belgrade, which is an 11% increase on the previous year. The strategic location at the crossroads of rivers, good roads, rail and air routes strengthen Belgrade’s position as a regional transport hub.

MYTH 7: Belgrade is the capital of “turbofolk”  

CONFIRMED: ‘Turbofolk’ is a well recognised and probably one of the most problematic trademarks of Serbia. It was based on a series of historical myths that arose after the collapse of the former Yugoslavia and is a blend of different musical traditions – Serbian traditional music, Gypsy brass, Central European rhythms and Turkish and Greek pop music as a derivative of Balkan folk music. When in Belgrade it’s hard to avoid the kitschy musical format that is a part of the mass Serbian culture and is led by Serbian Divas with Ceca at the forefront.

MYTH 8: Belgrade is the vegetarian capital of Europe

PLAUSIBLE…: Balkan cuisine is not really a vegetarian heaven, as it is a very special walk through different historical periods of the city, with Turkish, Greek and Austro-Hungarian influences, and meat is the main ingredient. Nevertheless, one can always find a dish for vegetarians, such as cabbage rolls and layer cakes, and Serbian cuisine has been reviving of late. Although it is based on traditional recipes it is also in step with modern times, so the good news is that a visit to the best restaurants won’t hurt your wallet and you’ll leave the restaurant feeling full and with a smile on your face.

Belgrade

MYTH 9: Smoking in cafes is forbidden 

BUSTED: Café culture is an important part of the Belgrade lifestyle and the coffee that was introduced to Serbia back in the 16th century by Turks was soon taking over the nation, so drinking coffee became a big part of their everyday life. The first café opened its doors in 1522 and entering the smoky cafes is now part of the anthropological experience of the city, with fanatical smokers excited about the fact that in Belgrade they can freely enjoy their cigarettes along with a cup of strong black coffee.

MYTH 10: Sava Centre is the biggest congress centre in Europe 

BUSTED: Belgrade’s largest congress centre, and once the largest convention centre in Europe, is a living encyclopedia of the modern history of Belgrade. It was built in a record time of 6 months for the needs of the Conference of the OSCE in 1977, which lasted a marathon period of eight months. Almost by accident and under the command of Tito, Belgrade gained the most modern and largest convention centre in Europe. It was then considered a technological marvel and it followed the first wave of constructions of congress centres in Serbia and abroad. The design still keeps up with the times, but the interior needs renovation. The refurbishment has been scheduled for this year.

sava_centre_begrade