You will not know until you enjoyed it: the first thing you did not know about Serbia is the hospitality of the Serbian people. The Serbian hospitality is marvellous and at one point you will feel almost embarrassed for enjoying that much hospitality. Dobro došli u Srbiju (Welcome to Serbia)!
Serbia is not densely populated so it still has relatively untouched areas from a European perspective. The contrast between Serbia’s flat north, Vojvodina and Serbia’s mountainous Central and Southern parts couldn’t be bigger. Coming from a flat country (the Netherlands), I prefer the mountains.
3. Maline (Raspberry)
Serbia is the biggest exporter of “maline” (=raspberry). This delicious fruit is mostly produced in the mountainous region of Arilje in the South-West of Serbia (Zlatibor district).
4. On the crossroads between West & East and North & South Europe
Serbia is on the Balkan peninsula in South-East Europe. The Northern part is considered to be part of the Pannonian plain which is considered Central-Europe, “the border” between Central-Europe and the Balkans (or South-East Europe) is considered to be the Sava river, which is dividing for example Belgrade from Novi (=New) Belgrade. Before the WWI this was the border between the Austro-Hungarian empire and Serbia (and before the Ottoman empire). Belgrade is on the intersection of the corridor Vienna-Athens and Venice-Constantinople (Istanbul).
It is obvious, Serbia has always been on the crossroads between West & East , but also between North & South. Almost every day I cross this “border” and somehow I feel that 100 years did not yet completely vanished this border….
Vultures? Yes Serbia has vultures flying around in the Uvac natural reserve. It is actually the only place in Europe, beside Spain, where there are still vultures living in the wild. Lately I discovered there are also vultures in Southern-France, can somebody remove them please ?
6. The first shot of WWI
The first short of the First World War was not in Sarajevo, no the first shot was fired on Belgrade, more precisely just after 1am on 29 July. The Austro-Hungarian naval vessels on the river Sava opened fire on the Serbian sappers who had blown up the bridge and on Belgrade itself. One of these ships, the Bodrog (I wrote earlier about it, here the link), has the reputation to have fired the first shot and the ship still exists and is currently being restored by the Serbian army.
More war facts: when Serbia was illegally bombed (there was no mandate, neither a declaration of war) in 1999 by NATO forces it had no chance against such a force. Estimated is that 2500 Serbs died during these bombardments (see info here), but the Serbian did defend itself. On 27 March 1999 it shot down a F117 fighter plane of the USA Air forces: it was thought to be invisible, but due modifications made by Zoltan Dani and his team they could detect it and shot it down.
More remarkable is that Zoltan Dani and Dale Zelko (the US pilot) later became friends and met each other in the USA and Serbia. A (two part ) documentary was made (link), which I got from… Dani with whom I became friends….
8. The ringing church bells at noon…
Ever wondered why every (European) church bell is ringing at noon ? During the siege of Belgrade from 4th- 22th July 1456 by the Ottomans the Pope Callixtus III ordered the bells of every European church to be rung every day at noon, as a call for believers to pray for the (Christian) defenders of the city. The practice of the noon bell is traditionally attributed to the international commemoration of the victory at Belgrade and to the order of Pope Callixtus III, since in many countries (like England and the Spanish Kingdoms) news of the victory arrived before the order, and the ringing of the church bells at noon was thus transformed into a commemoration of the victory…
9. Rocky Balboa
There are two countries in the world which have a statue for Rocky Balboa : the USA and…. Serbia… You can find the statue of Rocky in Žitište a small village north-east of Belgrade in Vojvodina.
More information you will find here on a blog I wrote earlier.
10. Fools & Horses
Last but not least : the British series “Fools & Horses” were and still are very popular in Serbia. Don’t ask me why, but it is. I have now finished to watch them all: Serbian integration = +1 😉
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