Tales of Belgrade

Hello once again … Did you know that down here they have a lot of interesting stories to tell you when you come for a visit. Some are full of war and pride in their heritage and their accomplishments, while others are just very funny and interesting. I’m going for the second genre today.

As you should know by now (and if u don’t know yet, follow this post) I visited the Kalemegdan Fortress. At the edge of the fortress , and overlooking Great War Island, is the statue of Victor.

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Selfie with Victor

The statue was built by Ivan Meštrović . The plan was to place this statue on top of Terazije square, which Ivan was ordered to design in 1912. The statue is of a naked man, holding a falcon in the left hand which is on the lookout for coming threats and a sword in his right hand to be ready to fight back and abolish these threats. As a whole, the statue of Victor symbolizes the protector of the city, and not a particular person named Victor.

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My prize

Moreover, the statue resides in Kalemegdan, as stated above, and not Terazije. In the tour I took of Kalemegdan, the tour guide asked us to guess why it wasn’t put in Terazije and I guessed and won a match box from Belgrade Walking Tours! So why is that you may ask?

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Selfie at Terazije

Well, Terazije Square was, and still is, a popular and well populated area. And people back at the time felt that Victor had exaggerated proportions. This made men feel intimidated and weaker in front of their wives, and made parents worry about spoiling the moral of their daughters. So the statue was put away for around 15 years. After that, it was rediscovered, and now stands high in Kalemegdan, protecting the city. And it is clear in Terazije square that the top part was supposed to have something on it – Oh well, the statue looks great where it is now, and I think it is a much better location.

After I was told this story, I found it super fascinating and very funny. Just imagine sculpting such a thing, then receiving rejection from the inhabitants of the area, and then have it turn into a national monument placed on such a strategic and breathtaking location. 10474526_10152461477629484_604976303_o

A second fascinating story is the story of ?. What is that question mark you may ask. ? is the name of one of the oldest kafanas in Belgrade. The story behind the name is very interesting. First of all, it was built in 1823 for Prince Miloš Obrenović I, Prince of Serbia, and was used first by a Macedonian diplomat and then by the Prince’s personal doctor, Ećim Toma. Ećim realised that the location of the property is amazing and decided to convert it into a cafana and named it Ećim Toma’s Kafana. Approximately 50 years later, it was renamed as Kod Pastira which means the shepherd’s.

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In front of Question Mark Kafana

However, in 1892, the kafana was undergoing a renaming one more time. There was a dispute with the Serbian Orthodox Church right across the street because the owner wanted to rename the kafana Kod Saborne crkve which means beside the Serbian church. But church officials rejected and denounced such a choice because they didn’t want the name of a church or cathedral linked to a kafana. So at that time, the owner hung a question mark as a temporary solution giving himself more time to choose a name to represent the kafana properly. But he never did. And the kafana has kept its unique name ever since. It is said that ? kafana is the only registered fascility of its type to use a special character as a name.

In 1958, the kafana was nationalized under Yugoslavian communist authority. And in 2007, civil societies, public figures, and some citizens, fought against the privatization of the Kafana which was being discussed for approximately 3 years already. They succeeded, and the kafana was announced as a heritage spot and became the responsibility of the city administration.

Other than these two stories there are a lot of interesting tales over here. These two are my favorite, though, and I think it is enough blabbering for one post 🙂

Hope you enjoyed!

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