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Belgrade tales: Skadarlija

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Be a bohem for a night

You are working hard for most of your life. By spending incessant days in the office, in front of the screen, you are making your living. You feel happy, or maybe just lost in the routine. Then it comes the time to travel, rest, explore the world and spend that money you have been working hard for. That is the time when you should make the best out of it, forget all your worries and let things go. It is also a time to get in touch with your bohemian side and do the things, what we say in Serbian language, for your soul. That is, in fact, how you should live. In Belgrade Old Town (Stari Grad) there is a place where you will get in touch with yourself, feel free and just let it go. It is more than just kafana (Balkan restaurant style), night of drinking, heart-touching music and amazing people. It is a unique place in Belgrade called Skadarlija.

Dorcol, Stari Grad Beograd
Dorcol, Stari Grad Beograd
Old Town, Belgrade, Serbia
Visit any Kafana on Skadarlija district
Visit any Kafana on Skadarlija district
Skadarlija, Belgrade, Serbia

If you want to feel the “old-fashioned” spirit of Belgrade, Skadarlija is a unique area that has been preserving that spirit for centuries. Long time ago, due to its proximity to the National Theater of Belgrade, Skadarlija used to be a favorite meeting place for artists from all fields: actors, writers and painters. The people gathering in kafana in Skadarlija were bohemians, free-minded people eager to enjoy and freely indulge in rakia and long philosophical debates. Skadarlija is the place were great minds were gathering and where most of the great ideas of art and society were born.

Belgrade National Theatre
Belgrade National Theatre
Belgrade Serbia

One of the most beautiful things about Skadarlija is that this unique artistic, bohemian spirit is preserved with great care until today. You will still be able to feel it, as the vibe of Skadarlija really cannot be explained. Once you go there, you will know what I was talking about. The whole Skadarlija area is still paved with cobblestone that once covered the whole surface of Belgrade. The walls of the buildings are still vividly painted. When the sun goes down, all the kafana and restaurants open when the beautiful street lantern shine in the garden.

Today, Skadarlija street is not only still beautiful and rich with old-fashioned spirit, but also the home of some of Belgrade's most famous kafana, hotels and restaurants. There you can listen to the traditional music of extraordinary musicians, dressed in folk costumes. I suggest you go here with one of the locals, who will be able to help you out with translating the meaning of some of the songs. However, for the soul touching music, you don’t need a translation. In Serbia, there is a concept of "expensive song", which means that if the song is that hear touching, emotions evoking, you give money to the musicians. The songs that have such a reputation are thus referred to as expensive ones. Also, there is an old superstition that it is easy to break your back in Skadarlija. But do not be afraid - it's just an old joke that came from the fact that in the past, many drunken actors rushed down the cobblestone slope after a whole night of celebrating.

Finally, I suggest you to free yourself, visit Skadarlija and stay tuned for the best places to go to.

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The author

Lejla Dizdarevic

Lejla Dizdarevic

I am Lejla, from Serbia, passionate about writing, radio and theatre. I would love to show you the hidden gems of my beloved Balkan countries.

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