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On our second visit to Belgrade, Skadarska Street | © Monika/Flikr
On our second visit to Belgrade, Skadarska Street | © Monika/Flikr

10 Things To Do in Stari Grad, Belgrade

Picture of Gabriele Cavallo
Updated: 9 February 2017
Stari Grad (Old Town) is the original core of the city of Belgrade, where the first Celtic settlements were established around the 6th century. The area, which flourishes with hallmarks of Serbian national identity and its complex transformations over time, has been subject to massive operations of cultural empowerment over the last decades, becoming a true cornerstone of Belgrade’s urban development. Today, it is a most vibrant center for creative people, social spaces, clubs, underground and fringe realities, all drawn close to important historical sites. Whether you are a cultural tourist interested in museums or a young traveler craving the experience of Serbia’s contemporary life, Stari Grad is the best place to go. The Culture Trip has selected ten things – including places to visit, restaurants and music venues – you should definitely consider while on a trip to Belgrade. Why don’t you check them out?

Republic Square and Prince Mihailo Monument

Located between Terazije and the Faculty of Philosophy, Republic Square is the true core of Belgrade. Its wide, spacious structures offers a vista that’s simply breathtaking. The Square was built in 1866, after the destruction of the Stambol Gate, and today it constitutes one of Belgrade’s main attractions. Due to its centrality, it features some of the most interesting spots of the city, including the National Museum of Serbia and the National Theater. At its heart stands the statue dedicated to Prince Mihailo, who was murdered two years after the realization of the square. This fascinating place calls upon an impressive array of people, from tourists and travelers to local students. Whether you want to have some fun time, up for educational activities or you are there for a formal meeting, a visit to Republic Square must be featuring in your to do list.

Address: Republic Square, Belgrade, Serbia.

Bajrakli Mosque

Named after the Turkish flag that used to wave on its top, today the Bajrakli Mosque is the last one of more than 60 Islamic place of worship that existed in the 16th century. It was realized around 1575 and was vividly described by writers and travelers throughout modern history. During the 17th century, the mosque figured in Evliya Celebi’s reports and, 200 years later, was described in minute detail by the archaeologist Felix Kanitz. Being subject to various renovation – the last one happened after a fire in 2004 during the unrest in Kosovo – today’s Bajrakli Mosque stands as a hallmark of the past Turkish domination, testifying to a period in the history of Serbia that has deeply marked this country and its culture. As a pivotal monument in Belgrade, the building preserves the architectural memory of the land and constitutes a matchless spot of interests for tourists.

Address: 11 Gospodar Jevremova Street, Belgrade, Serbia.

Cultural Centre Rex

Rex is a multi-functional space committed to the most recent experiments in art, socially engaged creativity and analytical critical practices. Located by the Sava riverside, this place is a communal space and a meeting point for all Belgrade’s cultural forces. Its various program features dance, performance arts, installations, exhibitions, workshops, films and open lectures, aiming at empowering individuals and the fringe realities of Serbia. In 2014 it hosted concerts by Damien Jurado, live performances by Elana Katz and a number of discussions about feminism, post-politics, global issues and forms of discrimination, always engaging with the local people and the larger community of artists. The complete program of activities can be found online with specific recommendations about all the upcoming events.

Address and Telephone Number: Cultural Centre Rex, 16 Jevrejska Street, Belgrade, Serbia, +381 11 32 84 534

Ethnographic Museum

Standing next to the Studentsky Park, Belgrade’s Ethnographic Museum is one of the oldest museums in the Balkans. Its independent existence began in 1901, when it was separated from the SNM (Serbian National Museum) and its first permanent exhibition was installed three years later, on the occasion of the centennial of the First Uprising. Hosting a number of different rooms dedicated to the history of human culture and Serbian traditional crafts, it is a leading center for anthropological research and documentation. The archive contains more than 60,000 publications and about 27,000 academic journals, which make the museum a primary source of interest for scholars and experts in the field. With more than 200,000 collection items, the Ethnographic Museum constitutes a true milestone for the memory of Serbian multifaceted identity.

Address and Telephone Number: Belgrade Ethnographic Museum, 13 Trg Studentski, Belgrade, Serbia, +381 11 32 81 888

Opening Hours: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm; Sundays 10:00 am – 1:00 pm; Monday closed

Belgrade Fortress and Kalemegdan Park

Situated at the confluence of the rivers Sava and Danube, Belgrade Fortress dominates a wide area of the town on the top of the 125.5 meter-high Sumadija geological bar. The main building is surrounded by the beautiful Kalemegdan Park and presents traces of Balkan cultures from the Celtic age until today. Constituting the core of the pre-urban settlement of local populations, the fortress has being growing through the centuries, adding various levels of history to the preexisting details. Kalemegdan Park, which encircles its walls, is divided into Mali (little) Park and Veliki (large) Park, the first one hosting the Belgrade Zoo since 1936. Today many concerts and cultural events happen in this magnificent space, reminding visitors of Serbia’s capability to articulate its complex past into its multifaceted present.

Address and Telephone Number: Belgrade Fortress and Kalemegdan Park, Belgrade, Serbia, +381 11 26 20 685

Opening Hours: 24 hours per day, 7 days a week.

Skardarska Street and Red Bar

Skadarska Street is a place all tourists should visit during their trip to Belgrade. Its narrow structure is dotted by a variety of traditional restaurants and kafanas, true little gems in the food-scape of Serbia. Within this typical environment, which is ideal for urban night-walks as well as for the drinks and romantic dinners, Red Bar stands out for its distinctive modern character. A small place gathering Belgrade’s youth and boasting some of the best cocktails and spirits in town, plus a fine selection of truly Balkan rakijas. Moreover, this bar is the place for rock music lovers, as the environment is constantly enriched by the good old vibes of the classics (preferably The Smiths). A great bar/restaurant not to be missed out, which also offers a charming flower-scented terrace, ideal for the warmer months.

Address and Telephone Number: Red Bar, 17 Skardaska Street, Belgrade, Serbia, +381 11 32 84 265

Opening Hours: 11:00 am 2:00 am

Prices: Mid-Range

Beton Hala

Beton Hala, which is part of Karadjordjeva Street, embodies the ambition of Belgrade’s city planning to transform the oldest parts of the town into a contemporary space vibrating with modern life. The past decades have seen the rise of massive rescuing strategies aiming to make the Sava waterfront a primary destination for evening entertainment, touristic walks, fun, drinks and cultural novelties. At the edge of the riverside street stands the impressive Waterfront Center, designed by the Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto who re-thought the urban space through conceptual vortexes of lines. Here visitors will find all they might wish for, from the Latin delicacies of Toro Bar to the purple tones of the elegant Sakura restaurant. This formerly underground site now takes pride in the variety of its scene and it would a real shame to pass it by.

Address: Beton Hala, 2-4 Karadjordjeva Street, Belgrade, Serbia

Cafe Hotel Movska

Right at the center of the chich Terazije, tourists will discover a real gem of Belgrade’s architecture. A great example of 20th-century imperial style, the luxurious Hotel Movska is a must-see building which, fortunately, also hosts a lovely café serving typical delicacies. Its style is elegant and classy, a landmark of Serbian high culture at its finest, with interiors enriched by chandeliers and golden curtains. The house offers good drinks, an extensive selection of teas and herbal infusions, and some of the best Serbian cakes in the country. The unrivaled expertise of the pastry chefs is well-known in all Belgrade. After a tiring tour in the city, travelers may indulge in the rich taste of a Vasa’s torte, or may opt for the multi-layered original movska šnit, the specialty of the house. In the evening, you might also consider a pint of local beer or a glass of wine with a cigar chosen from the hotel’s specific list – which is a clear sign of the high social standards that Movska represents.

Address and Telephone Number: Café Hotel Movska, 20 Terazije, Belgrade, Serbia +381 11 26 86255

Opening Hours: 6:30 am – 11:00 pm

Prices: Fine Dining

National Assembly Building

The majestic construction standing on Nicola Pasic Square was the seat of the parliament of former Yugoslavia, subsequently transformed into the parliament of Serbia and Montenegro and now hosts the house of Serbia’s National Assembly. The architectural structure is the embodiment of the changes in the country’s political history and its solid, ample front is a hallmark of its past glories. The exterior of the building was designed in a neo-baroque style, featuring elegant chisel decorations, by the Russian architect Nicolai Krasnov, who also took charge of the interiors realized with an academic traditional taste. It contains 23 frescoes and a wide array of statues and paintings. But, besides testifying to Serbian high culture, it also exhibits the signs of recent controversies, as the building preserves the damages caused by the riots of October 5th, 2000.

Address & Telephone Number: House of the National Assembly of Serbia, 13 Tgr Nikole Pasica, Belgrade, Serbia. +381 11 30 26 100

Cekaonica Jazz Club

Cekaonica’s name would sound familiar to all Serbian musicians and music lovers. One the best jazz places in Belgrade, it is located on the riverside of the Sava and features an outside night venue during the summer. This is where visitors will find everything that’s going on on the musical scene of the town, ranging from established improvisers to young emerging artists. The program covers everything that goes from jazz standards to bossa nova, from classic blues to funk and fusion. Of course, it’s the perfect place for cheap and tasty beers, fancy wines and spirits. Casual dress-code, positive attitude and will to enjoy some authentic Serbian jazz: that’s all you need to get the greatest fun out from this place. Ultimately, tourists will be delighted by the mesmerizing view of the old parts of the city, since Cekaonica stands close to Belgrade Fortress and opposite the island of Ada Cigalija.

Address & Telephone Number: Cekaonica Jazz Club, 3 Radnicka, Belgrade, Serbia, +381 61 25 11 222

Opening Hours: 10:00 pm – 2:00 am.

By Gabriele Cavallo