As Seen in…
Places to visit in Serbia and on our Balkan tours
Why visit Serbia?
Whilst recent history has whittled down Serbia to what appears a core identity, the country in fact remains a series of wonderful contrasts: the Hungarian influences to the north, epitomised by Fruska Gora and Novi Sad’s Hapsburg buildings, are also seen in its dining where goulash and meat stews are commonplace.
his phase of the country’s history relates back to outside influences during the irrepressible drive of the Serb people to re-establish their independence from the Ottoman Empire which ruled over the region for nearly 500 years. The latter’s stamp is on much of the architecture and the delicious repasts such as grilled kebabs and moussaka, as well as the pervading coffee ritual which is very much a Turkish inheritance.
Prior to their arrival, the medieval heyday of Serbia in the 14th century led to the creation of magnificent citadels, such as at Golubac which stood sentinel over the Djerdap Gorge’s Iron Gates where the Danube plunges for 100km before heading into once hostile Romania to the east. Since the 9th century, the country practised Orthodoxy and the architects of this – St. Cyril and St Methodius – are commemorated ubiquitously in the surviving medieval Orthodox monasteries.
This was a period where art flourished and visitors cannot fail to be beguiled by the fresco-clad walls of stunning monasteries like Studenica and Soporcani, remnants of a golden age of Christianity that was repressed after the crushing annihilation of the Serbian nobility at the Battle of Kosovo against Turkish forces. The modern history of the region has seen amalgamation and division in equal part, occupation by the Nazis and Tito’s lasting communist federation of Yugoslavia, leaving the indomitable heartbeat that is Belgrade, a city built on foundations of centuries of captivating historical sites and celebrations of tolerance of diversity.
Nationwide, subsequent shifts in power and autonomy have however led to huge periods of instability and ethnic violence, but the move to fledgling democracy and shedding of its former partners has seen Serbia striving to reinvent itself as an open democracy, only just beginning to realise the abundance of its assets it has to offer those who journey there. Awaiting are vast national parks, mountains, ski resorts, wonderful museums, and majestic fortresses and monasteries, as well as archaeological sites such as Lepenski Vir which show evidence of prehistoric settlements from 6,500 BC.
Serbia is truly a place which offers a window on a bewildering range of epochs and civilisations and provides a huge draw to a land which remains, for most, inscrutable and undiscovered.