John Lennon asked us to imagine a place where there is no heaven, no hell bellow us, above us only sky. I would like to ask you to imagine this – imagine that there is a place of escape. A place where you could go to every time you heard sort of an unpleasant news, or simply when you felt unhappy or lonely. After some decades of turbulence, people needed a place where they could run away from all the conflicts and destruction, whenever they felt powerless and unable to make a change, unable to cope with the world where it became a norm to live in intolerance towards others. This place will remind you that it is not so difficult to, from time to time, make even the slightest gesture, the one that illustrates the tolerance and peace among people. Turn on the everlasting inspiration of John Lennon and join me on the journey of discovering la crème de la crème of Belgrade greenery. Today, I will show you the Park of Friendship (Park Prijateljstva).
The Park of Friendship testifies that a simple thing such as planting a tree may become a symbol of the connectivity of all nations, strongly advocating for life in respect and complexity. If you are from Belgrade or the surrounding area, and you still haven’t heard of it, you have been missing out! One of the most beautiful capital oasis is located near the city center itself, and it is already its name, The Park of Friendship, that is enough to associate you with something nice and positive. Are you on board yet?
The positive feeling will be overwhelming as soon as you step through the magnificent platinum alley in the very center of the Park of Friendship. Rather naturally, this is one of Belgrade's favorite promenades but also many will agree that the Park of Friendship is an ideal place to reconnect with nature for a moment. Now you are probably wondering what makes this oasis so special, that it should be about peace among people. You will find the answer at the very center of the park, and interestingly enough, in all the natural wonders and growing plants and trees. If you look closer, you will notice a sign next to each tree with a name that you may be familiar with. For example, Queen Elizabeth II of England. Or former US President Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter. Or Fidel Castro, Emperor Hajel Selassi or Indira Gandhi – and of course, the name of the former President of the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia Josip Broz Tito. They have all been there, in one moment in history, to plant a tree that symbolizes friendship, peace and prosperity.
In fact, the story of the Park of Friendship dates back to 1961, when the idea to establish a memorial park, which would symbolize the struggle for peace and equality of all nations of the world was born. The competition for the best designers from all over Yugoslavia was announced. In this venture, the architect Milan Palisagki was the most successful, as his project perfectly emphasized the symbolism and memorial character of the park. The idea was that statesmen of countries that supported the policy of peaceful coexistence planted the same plant as a symbol of establishing lasting peace in the world. Therefore, On September 7, 1961, this was first done by Josip Broz Tito, and the mentioned date also marked the opening of the park. The length of the alley itself has its own symbolism - a total of 180 countries of the world supported the construction of the Park of Friendship. Today, as a park, this is a quiet area with several interesting sculptures and monuments. But as a symbol of peace this place is so much more.
Imagine all the people living life in peace and friendship. Just like for Lennon, you may say that I am a dreamer, but I am not the only one, as that place does exist. All you need to do is look for it.
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