Serbia, once part of Yugoslavia (like Croatia), was the second destination of my recent trip to Eastern Europe. To make up for not touring Budapest due to Covid restrictions, our tour company gave us an extra day in this country. That time was spent visiting the city of Novi Sad.
Never heard of it? Me either until this trip, although it’s the second largest city in the country, after Belgrade. Here’s a view of Novi Sad from the top of an old fortress we climbed there.
That’s our riverboat, Uniworld’s River Duchess.
An afternoon stroll in a park near Novi Sad took us to an interesting monument at the Sloboda Memorial Site. The figure of the woman on top with the raised hands is inviting the people of Serbia to an uprising. The soldiers are armed partisans.
The sign there has an English translation that reads “the memorial site is dedicated to the fallen soldiers of [the] National Liberation War, from 1941, to 1945.” What we Americans call World War II was a national struggle for Serbians to rid themselves of control by the Axis Powers, specifically the Germans.
We spent our second day in Serbia in its capital, Belgrade. Check out this street sign. I think the language on the first lines is Serbian, the official national language, although other languages spoken in the country include Hungarian, Romanian, Slovak, Croatian, Bosnian, Romani, Bulgarian, Macedonian, and a few more.
Whew! As in many European countries I’ve visited, it’s not unusual for people to speak three or four languages. Several of our tour guides did. And I struggle to learn basic Spanish.
Notice, too, some English in the second lines. Accommodating the American tourists?
A highlight of visiting Belgrade was touring the royal palace there, officially called the Karadjordjevic Dynasty Palace. Built in the 1920s and ’30s, the palace is not on par with such showplaces as Versailles, but it still has touches of grandeur like the ceiling and walls in this modern media room.
As you can see, masks were required for indoor tours.
Serbia has not had a king since the beginning of World War II when Peter II fled Nazi occupation, and then faced with post-war communism, never returned. Times are somewhat different now. Peter’s son, Crown Prince Alexander, and his family live in the palace. He’s not officially recognized as king but rather acts as an ambassador for the country.
He was doing just that when he and his wife, Princess Katherine, came out on the steps of the palace to speak to our group. Interesting tidbit: the Prince is a cousin to the British royal family, and Queen Elizabeth is his godmother.
Part of our last day in Serbia was spent touring the Golubac Fortress. This place is super old, dating back to the 1300s. It was built at the point where the Danube is the widest and begins running into the gorge of the Karpathian mountains. This was an excellent strategic point, and bordering countries fought to capture the fortress during the 14th and 15th centuries.
Golubac is exactly how I expected a medieval fortress to look.
Our final destination in Serbia was the Lepenski Vir Archaeological Park. The discovery of this large Stone Age settlement in the early 1960s was a big deal in the world of archeology. Lepenski Vir is believed to have been one of the most highly developed prehistoric cultures.
I’d always thought of prehistoric people as being small in stature, but our guide said some of the Lepenski Vir Stone Age people were over six feet tall. This skeleton does look long.
Leaving Serbia, we sailed on the Danube through the Iron Gates, an 83-mile-long stretch of scenic gorges between the Carpathian and Balkan mountains. We were on our way to Bulgaria, which I’ll tell you about in my next post.