Balkan overview |  9/7 Bucharest, Romania  |  9/8 Constanta  |  9/9 Danube  |  9/10 Rousse and Arbanassy, Bulgaria  |  9/11 Danube  | 
9/12 Veliko Gradiste and Belgrade  |  9/13 Novi Sad  |  9/14 Vukovar, Osijek  |  9/15 Budapest  |  9/16 Budapest  |  9/17 Bratislava, Slovakia  | 
9/18 Prague  |  9/19 Prague  |  9/20 Terezin 
9/12/08 Friday Veliko Gradiste, Serbia

2000 years before, the area on the left was Roman, and the area on the right was Dacia. In about 100 AD the Romans decided to take over Dacia, and built a road and bridges on their side of the Danube.

We passed Iron Gate 2 at about 11pm on 9/11/08, and we passed Iron Gate 1 at about 4am 9/12/08. On the left, past Iron Gate 1, is a monument to the Roman who built the road and bridge in about 101 AD. Farther on, on the right side, there is a carved face of the Roman Emperor's Dacian opponent..

We arrived at the Serbian port town of Veliko Gradiste. Our local tour leader is Miloc (pronounced Milosh), and our driver is Dravisha. We are on our way to Belgrade. At the fortress we will see the confluence of the Saba and the Danube. There are some beautiful houses here, but some are empty. In the late 60s, Tito gave everyone passports so they moved abroad. It was a great political move: they got rid of malcontents, and those malcontents sent money back to their families in Yugoslavia.

Serbia has a Northern Province, a central part, and southern part (Kosovo). Serbia (including Kosovo) has 10 million people, of which 68% are Serbs, 20% are Albanian, and 12% others. There are 3 kinds of Serbs: Eastern Slavs, Western Slavs, and Southern Slavs. 84% of the people are Orthodox Christian. There are also Muslims, Jews, and Catholics.

Kosovo was the center of the country long ago, and had the silver mines. Czar Duchan conquered much of the other land around. He resisted the Turks, but lost, and the land was under Turkish rule for 450 years. It became an independent kingdom in 1898.

Yugoslavia fell apart because of money. Yugoslavia fell between all the big geo-political powers. In the middle 80s, economists found that there was simply no cushion - no cash. Tuschman, Milosevic, and _ were greedy and started promoting nationalistic fervor. The lack of money, the nationalism, and old feuds fed the discord.

In the 1090s Serbia was under economic sanctions. In 1993 and 1994 Serbia experienced hyperinflation as high as 2600% per month! In 1999 NATO bombed Serbia for 79 days, after which there was a truce and Serbia lost.

on the Danube between Serbia and Romania


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hvala thank you
The Serbian Flag
At the Iron Gate, the Danube flows through a gorge that forms part of the boundary between Serbia and Romania;
At the Iron Gates, the Danube flows through a gorge that forms part of the boundary between Serbia and Romania. The Roman emperor Trajan had the legendary bridge erected by Apollodorus of Damascus. Construction of the bridge ran from 103 through 105 AD, preceding Trajan's conquest of Dacia. On the Serbian bank a Roman plaque commemorates him.
Iron Gate Gorge
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The Mracuna Monastery on the Romanian side
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On the Romanian bank of the Gorge, at the Small Kazan, the likeness of Trajan's Dacian opponent Decebalus was carved in rock from 1994 through 2004.
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Iron Gates Gorge between Serbia and Romania
this is a giant carved egg, designed by an artist
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Iron Gates Gorge train tunnel
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Iron Gates Gorge

Iron Gates area between Romania and Serbia

Iron Gates area between Romania and Serbia

Iron Gates area between Romania and Serbia
Iron Gates area between Romania and Serbia
Iron Gates area between Romania and Serbia: castle
Iron Gates area between Romania and Serbia: cave
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Iron Gates area between Romania and Serbia: castle
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Serbian port town of Veliko Gradiste
Serbian port town of Veliko Gradiste
Serbian port town of Veliko Gradiste
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coming into Belgrade, Serbia
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Belgrade, Serbia:
you can still see lots of examples of the destruction from the NATO bombings
Belgrade, Serbia: you can still see lots of examples of the destruction from the NATO bombings
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In Belgrade we went to Tito's tomb and museum. The grounds were beautiful, and the museum was full of Serbian costumes and relay batons. Apparently Tito was a big fan of relay races, and personally oversaw an annual race where teams would design and build their own batons and then give the batons to Tito.
Memorial to Josef Broz (Tito), Belgrade, Serbia: statue of Tito
Memorial to Josef Broz (Tito), Belgrade, Serbia:
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Milos _, our local tour guide
There was a museum inside devoted to Tito memorabilia
ceremonial relay race batons from the annual marathon
photos of the annual marathon
photos of the annual marathon
Marshall Tito handing out awards at the marathon
ceremonial uniform
ceremonial uniform
relief map
Tito's office as he left it
Josef Broz (Marshall Tito)
Josef Broz (Marshall Tito)
Tito's tomb
wine bottles
lute carved from alabaster??
Montenegrin costumes
Bosnian and Herzegovinan costumes
Mljet female folk costume & Vrlika, Dalmatia male folk costume
Vojvodina female folk costume & Babina Greda, Slavonia male folk costume
ceremonial swords
ceremonial scimitars
Russian female costume
statue by Ivanovich
Nevena Robertova & baby
crow (they are not black in Serbia)
We walked around and through the distinctive Serbian Orthodox Church in Belgrade. It was undergoing some restoration, but we (and worshippers) were allowed in, which gave us a unique close look at many of the mosaics and paintings.
Belgrade, Serbia: Serbian Orthodox Church
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Belgrade, Serbia: Orthodox church
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Belgrade, Serbia: Orthodox church
Belgrade, Serbia: Orthodox church
Belgrade, Serbia: Orthodox church
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Belgrade, Serbia:
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We then drove to the Kalemegdan Fortress overlooking the confluence of the Saba and Danau Rivers. It was originally built by the Romans in 101 AD, but was overrun and rebuilt many times afterwards by various marauding conquerors. In it there is a tomb of one of the old Turkish rulers.

The Kalemegdan Fortress is located on top of the 125.5 meters high ending ridge of _umadija geological bar. The cliff-like ridge overlooks the Great War Island (Serbian Veliko ratno ostrvo) and the confluence of the Sava river into the Danube and makes one of the most beautiful natural lookouts in Belgrade.

Kalemegdan is the core and the oldest section of the urban area of Belgrade and for centuries the city population was concentrated only within the walls of the fortress, thus the history of the fortress, until most recent history, equals the history of Belgrade itself. First settlement was founded in the 3rd century BC by the Celtic tribe of Scordisci. The city-fortress was later conquered by the Romans, became known as Singidunum and became a part of "the military frontier", where the Roman Empire bordered "barbaric Central Europe". Singidunum was defended by the Roman legion IV Flaviae which built a fortified camp on a hill at the confluence of the rivers the Danube and the Sava. In the period between AD 378 and 441 the Roman camp was being repeatedly destroyed in the invasions by the Goths and the Huns. The legend says that Attila's grave lies on the confluence of the Sava and the Danube (under the Fortress). In 476 Belgrade again became the borderline between the empires: Western Roman Empire and Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire), and the Slav- Avar State in the North. The Byzantine Emperor Justinian I rebuilt the Fortress around 535. In the following centuries a fortress suffered continuous destruction under the Avar sieges. The Slavs (Serbs) and Avars had their "state union" north of Belgrade with the Serbs and other Slavic tribes finally settling in the region of Belgrade as well as the regions west and south of Belgrade in the beginning of the 7th century. The name Belgrade (or Beograd, in Serbian), which, not just in Serbian but in most Slavic languages means a "white town" or a "white fortress", was first mentioned in AD 878.

The Fortress kept changing its masters: Hungary, Bulgaria, and then again the Byzantines. The fortress remained a Byzantine stronghold until the 12th century when it fell in the hands of a newly emerging Serbian state. It became a border city of the Serbian Kingdom, later Empire, with Hungary. The Hungarian king Béla I gave the fortress to Serbia in 11th century as a wedding gift (his son married Serbian princess Jelena), but it remained effectively part of Hungary, except for the period 1282-1319. After the Serbian state collapsed after the Battle of Kosovo, Belgrade was chosen in 1404 as the capital of the principality of Despot Stefan Lazarevic. Major work was done to the ramparts which were encircling a big thriving town. The lower town at the banks of the Danube was the main urban center with a new-built Orthodox cathedral. The upper town with its castle was defending the city from inland. Belgrade remained in Serbian hands for almost a century. After the Despot's death in 1427 it had to be returned to Hungary. An attempt by Sultan Mehmed II to conquer the fortress was prevented by Janos Hunyadi in 1456 (Siege of Belgrade). It saved Hungary from an Ottoman invasion for 70 years. In 1521, 132 years after the Battle of Kosovo, the fortress, like most parts of the Serbian state, was conquered by the Turks and remained (with short periods of the Austrian and Serbian occupation), under the rule of the Ottoman Empire until the year 1867 when the Turks withdrew from Belgrade and Serbia. During the period of short Austrian rule (1718-1738) the fortress was largely rebuilt and modernized. It witnessed two Serbian Uprisings in the 19th century, the Great Serbian Migration in the 17th century, the Dark Ages of the Turkish Period. The fortress suffered further damages during the First and the Second world wars. After almost two millennia of continuous sieges, battles and conquests the fortress is today known as the Kalemegdan fortress. The name Kalemegdan derives from two Turkish words, kale (fortress) and megdan (battleground) (literally, "battlefield fortress").

Belgrade, Serbia: Kalemegdan Fortress

Kalemegdan Fortress door


Belgrade, Serbia: Kalemegdan Fortress
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door showing bullet and ordinance marks
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Kalemegdan Fortress at the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers
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Kalemegdan Fortress cobblestones
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Jacsic's Tower, Kalemegdan Fortress
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confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers
Belgrade, Serbia: Kalemegdan Fortress
"Eye" sculpture at the Kalemegdan Fortress which is inscribed with the various names for Belgrade through the years from different conquering armies: Singidunum Singidon Alba Bulgarica Alba Garaeca Fejervar Weissenburg Nandor Alba Bello Grado Nandorfejervar Veligradon Beograd (Belgrade)
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Viktor statue at the Kalemegdan Fortress which overlooks and protects Belgrade
a Serbian crow at the Kalemegdan Fortress
tomb of a Turk?
and now we are back in town
wonderful wall mural
Belgrade, Serbia:
Belgrade, Serbia:
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That night we were treated on board the Adagio with a truly superb magician. And in one of his acts, he had Martha as an audience volunteer. P1000760.JPG
wonderful magic show!
the magician's assistant
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with a volunteer from the audience

magic show with Martha Luehrmann
the magician makes balloon hats at the magic show
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