Belgrade: The city with magical sunset
January 1, 1970
by Kristina Bijelić
I know there is a plenty of places in this world that you can visit and that’s the reason why I don’t want to push you to visit my city. Belgrade. He’s not that photogenic, like many others. He’s not luxurious. I don’t want to impose my subjective attitudes which I’ve built over the past 25 years, I just want to tell you the story about that one magical night in my city, and you should know that these type of nights are happening here very often. Spontaneously, when you expect them the least.
Then you can decide do you or do you not want to come.
One of those nights happened in the middle of spring. It was May, something colder than we used to know. After a few days of rain and lower temperatures, it finally came the warmer one. It was weekend, and everybody ran out to feel the Sun on their bodies. That magical night, Belgrade was everything that I love about him in one. I met my best friend and we went for a walk to spend some time. The Sun was falling beyond the Kalemegdan (one of the most beautiful fortresses in Serbia). That day, all around us you could feel that special, typical Belgrade energy. Unfortunately, dear stranger, it’s pointless to explain it if you have never felt that before. But I’ll do my best, I promise.
Kalemegdan – The best spot for Sunset
There were a lot of people who came here, just for the same reasons as we did, to watch the sunset. Breathless. Without blinking. That place gives you stunning view on two rivers – Sava and Danube. And with just a few moves of your head – you are looking at the Pobednik, triumphal monument dedicated to Serbia’s victory over the Turkish and Austro-Hungarian Empire during The First World War; a symbol of defiance and victory. If you keep looking in the river direction, you can see a few old parts of Belgrade, and, in the end, the biggest view you will have on New Belgrade, just as the name says, modern part of my city; and personally, my favorite part, too. When the night falls, you will get a little Las Vegas vibes, with all of New Belgrade’s city lights. ?
During that sunset, Belgrade reminded me of old times, a city our parents and grandparents told us about. The present Belgrade still differs from the old one because we are millennials, a generation of “take a picture of everything beautiful that is in front of us” moments. So, above the curious eyes, there were all kinds of cameras, and everybody was in the rush to save that precious moment, forever.
Listen to music above an open sky, while the night is falling
While the two of us tried to capture that mix of colors in the sky, we heard the guitar playing in the background and a few voices which were singing together. I thought: “Oh my, just like I asked for that; the perfect juncture.” Music above the open sky is one of the top ten things that excite my soul the most. We were getting closer to that singing group of people and immediately, everything we felt was pure love. They were led by the man who was perfectly playing the guitar. He had a beautiful long hair, as per some rule, every guitarist has to have. That young group of people in front of him, excited by the man’s impressive playing, defy the rules of modern trends, duck faces and sitting in fancy restaurants. They did not even look on their phones, so I guess that was the main reason why I felt like I’m in the old Belgrade of the 70s or 80s. They didn’t care about the world around them, it looked like they lived for those songs which they were singing, for that moment, for right there. Sharing vibes, just for fun, just for love. Two of us, passionate lovers for that kind of special atmosphere, without thinking, we took the last free spot in front of them and enjoyed that togetherness.
We stayed there for more than two hours, completely unplanned.
The best place to meet the citizens
In the very beginning, every one of us sang pretty quietly. Probably we were shy, thinking how unpleasant it was to socialize with unknown people. Not long after that, Belgrade spirit leads us to break the ice… and stupid social rules. As the night was falling, so the loudness of our voices was rising. It seemed like stars were falling on us. Maybe you will laugh now, but believe me, that feeling of stars on your body truly exist and I wish you to experience that more than once in your lifetime. Something like that the every one of us was shining so bright, that we lightened the whole city.
Someone calls the electron distribution, Belgrade does not need electricity for tonight. ?
The group of singing people was becoming bigger and bigger every minute, and after one hour the whole Kalemegdan was singing with us. It was no longer important if you knew someone next to you or not. You just sing as loud as you can, as that person in front of you does. We laughed together, asked for music wishes together, talked together. Man, we were one that night. One. The family of big souls. Many “real” concerts I’ve been to could not compare to that one. Spontaneous sharing of emotions between strangers. Just like if I took all those stories of big writers about Belgrade and spread the words across the fortress. We were connected by the music in that magical spring night, above the starry night. Even though the night was falling and our clothes for the daily route were not enough, even though it was getting pretty colder and colder in every next second, we just did not care. Feeling that we are part of the unity and that we are covered by the sky, was pretty enough. That night, I learned more than ever how every one of us shares similar life stories. Every one of us has their own friends, family, dreams and hopes, fears and struggles, and that one name that pops up in our head during the special song. Every one of us has that secret smile in the corner of our lips when remembering that one person, and we all sang for them at the same time. That night we gave part of ourselves to the world, and left it there, at Kalemegdan.
That night, everything was just like some movie scenario. It felt like we were part of some project with name “make your fellow citizens happy.” In the English language, there is a word which describes that whole night. It is – serendipity. If you don’t know what it means, please google it, you will like it, I’m sure!
Feel the soul of Belgrade like local
I think after all these words that I have said to you, unfortunately, you still cannot feel everything that happens in my body when I’m feeling my city. Neither that what we feel about our city when we travel somewhere far, far away. But there is one thing that I can say to you. At the moment when you make your first step at the Belgrade’s Fortress, take a deep breath, look at the sunset and remember this story.
While staying in my city, maybe you will see how much we’re trying to be the part of some luxury world… and how much we do not know how to succeed in that. Our Belgrade soul couldn’t last a day to live by those strict rules and prescribed systems. You will figure it out, everything at the moment, when you leave my city and come back to yours, maybe much more physically beautiful than mine. You will maybe wait for public transport much more than you are used to, maybe you will get pissed off because of so many people in it, and then you will almost fall off your feet with us, because of bad, unpaved roads… but believe me, I’m sure, when you get back to your luxurious city, you will remember me, you will remember this story, you will miss the warmth of our streets and people, you will miss our magical nights.
And you will desire to come back.