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August 27, 2002

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The Turks, Hungarians, Germans, and lately, NATO, have all taken a whack at Belgrade; the city has been destroyed 40 times in 2300 years of history. In the last ten years, Belgrade bore the brunt of Yugoslavia's break-down, economic sanctions, and NATO bombing. No wonder Belgrade spraddles the Danube like a punch-drunk boxer. We walk along Kneza Mihaila, the pedestrian thoroughfare that serves as the city's axis for visitors, until it ends at the Kalemegdan fortress. Like every city we've visited in Serbia, Belgrade has a looming citadel that guards the city and adds credence to the mythology of Serbia's warrior tradition. One Serbian lady, in a conversation about Milosovic, remarked that "Serbs only respect strong leaders." Many young men wear t-shirts that show Milosevic's picture with the caption, "Serbian Hero" (Significantly, the caption is written in English). Bombed-out buildings stand as a bleaker witness to Yugoslavia's troubles. As we rode on a bus past a gutted 15 storey building, a child pointed askance. The mother answered, "American," in reference to our bombing campaign of a few years ago. We could answer, "NATO," but that would not recover goodwill.
Kalemegdan fortress has sat on the Danube and guarded Belgrade since the days when the Celts lived here.
Most of the forts remains date from the 17th century. It rambles across the northern end of Old Town, around churches, mosques, and Turkish baths.
Palace of Princess Ljubice, built and furnished in a Balkan-style. This combines Turkish and European influences. Instead of a hallway, a large, circular room forms the nucleus of the palace and connects the other rooms.
The highest holy in the land: Belgrade's Serbian Orthodox church.
Unfortunately, most Serbians consider the bombs that blasted these buldings as 'made in the USA.'
Belgrade's streets are busy but that doesn't mean there's much to do.