"I know that amongst hurrying tourists Belgrade has the reputation of being a boring city..... In my opinion, nothing very beautiful can be boring. But even if it were otherwise, it is in any case unjust to pass judgement on a town, just as it is to pass judgement on a person according to our first, fleeting impressions. In order to judge the good or bad traits of a place or person, we must first know them intimately, and anyone who knows Belgrade intimately must love it passionately."
- (paraphrased) Herbert Vivien, correspondent of the London Daily Express, 1896
What do the impressions that we take away from a city depend on? A city that we are visiting for the first time attracts us firstly through its inhabitants, then through its boulevards and promenades, river banks and gardens, its sunsets, cafés and restaurants, its museums, the rhythm of life, its entertainment.
Every city, just like every man, has its own biography and character and its history chronicles its childhood and youth, its celebrations and defeats, its dreams and errors, and the same is true for us as people.
Belgrade is an ancient city with a rich history, in the best location in Europe, with the most interesting men and the most enigmatic women. We know it is not nice to boast, but one of the special qualities of Belgrade lies just in this mix.
Everything is always on the boil in Belgrade, and one can feel the heartbeat of history, of the people, in every district of the city, each full of smells and colour. This is the life of a city on the border of two civilizations, at the confluence of two rivers, at the foot of Mt Avala. By night the music of gypsies, the songs of the tamburica players and the wine and the tables set out in front of the cafés show us that the East has not completely disappeared and that the West is not yet fully at home here in a city where people carry a crossroads inside of them.
When you come to Belgrade you have the feeling that you know everybody, and that the people there are closer to each other than anywhere else. There is a good atmosphere everywhere you go, as if everyone has found the ideal place to feel at his best.
Belgrade's charm is just irresistible! The best thingabout Belgrade is the people who live there and their spontaneity. This charm and hospitality on the part of the people of Belgrade is mentioned in all the travelogues and books of long-gone international travellers, and modern journalists and visitors to our city say the same. Its openness and readiness to welcome visitors will always be the most important feature of what Belgrade has to offer the tourist.
Recently Len Belošević wrote in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "Belgrade is a city of mystical contradictions. Belgrade... While I was walking along Knez Mihailova, the packed pedestrian street which leads from the centre of Belgrade to Kalamegdan, I did not see any evidence that Serbia was beset by economic and political problems. The café s were full of cheerful Serbs drinking coffee, Serbian beer or something stronger like sljivovica. With no visible worries, these people idly discuss life, love and of course politics, or ambivalently observe passers-by, including the fashionably-dressed women, who have come out to perform an Old Slavic social ritual, that is, to be seen... One gets the impression that these people, as they drink or walk, are in better spirits and less concerned than the pedestrians of any American city street." (paraphrased)
This is all backed up by the refrain of the popular song about Belgrade:
"My Belgrade has a heart
Full of love so pure,
My city opens wide its arms
And shows that love to all..."