Serbia: The naked male statue in the center of Belgrade
January 1, 1970
by Miss Froya Hellen Valkyrie
Pobednik (eng: the Victor) is one of the greatest monuments in Belgrade, capital of Serbia. At the heart of old part of Belgrade, you will be able to visit Kalemegdan – Fortress, and Park in the center of Belgrade. Many centuries ago, Serbia has become a Kingdom. Many emperors have ruled over Serbia, and the country suffered several wars – the Balkan Wars, The First and The Second World War. However, lots of buildings, parks, fortresses, monuments and peace of art are built and created during the Ottoman Empire. The Serbs were living under Ottoman Empire for 5 centuries. Kalemegdan is one big monument created by the Ottoman Empire. Now, Kalemedgan is a park, museum, fortress, place to relax, place for sport, place for many adventures and attraction for tourists and locals during the whole year.
Kalemegdan – the Place where Pobednik is set
If you find yourself visiting the capital, you should go and visit Pobednik. If you go to the main street – Knez Mihailova, pedestrian zone, and come to the end of the street, in front of you, you will see the forest around the park, and one of the biggest fortresses in Belgrade – Kalemegdan. Pobednik is a statue that was made by one of the famous Croatian sculptor and architect of the 2oth century – Ivan Meštrović. The statue represents the symbol of Serbs victory over Ottoman Empire and Austro-Hungarian Empire. Today, a naked male statue who is 14m (46 ft) high is the most visited and most popular statue in Belgrade in Kalemegdan. Pobednik represents a warrior who is holding a sword in the right hand and a falcon in the left hand. It is made of bronze and it was set on a pedestal at the beginning of the 20th century.
The myth about setting the statue: Kalemegdan or Terazije Square?
If you take a bus tour around Belgrade or a walking tour in the main street and Kalemegdan, you could hear the tale over the spot of the statue – the story about the place of setting the monument in the time before the First World War. At the beginning of the 20th century, the concept about the place of setting the monument was to set it up on the square – Terazije square. Square is the most famous square in Belgrade, and tourist can see it in front of the Hotel Moskva, before entering the Knez Mihailova street. At the beginning of the 20th century, the naked male figure was too scandalous for Belgrade rich ladies, so, it was decided that the monument will be set up in Kalemegdan. Instead of Pobednik, on the square, now, you could see the big fountain in front of the Hotel Moskva.
Finally, Pobednik was set up in Kalemegdan in 1913. one year before the First World War. During the First and the Second World War, Serbia was destroyed: many houses and buildings were burned down, many churches and old monuments were destroyed and burnt, but, only Pobednik left untouched. Was it because Austro-Hungarian and other occupations were too scared to break down the warrior? Were they believed in some kind of a curse in that time? We will never know!
Pobednik at the center of Kalemegdan’s maze
There are several ways to go to see the monument. Kalemegdan is like a maze, everywhere you choose to go, you will come to the center of the Fortress, where Pobednik was set. Many travelers are coming from the main street – Knez Mihailova, but the people who live in Belgrade knows how to get to the Fortress from different sides of the Old Town. One way is to come from the river Sava side known as Sava Nova and one way is to come from the river Danube side, from the Old Town side called Dorćol. Pobednik was set in the center of the maze, in the center of Kalemegdan park to look after two rivers – Sava and Danube. The naked male is looking at the confluence of the two rivers. Also, Pobednik represents the borderline between modern and traditional Belgrade. The side where is Pobednik is traditional – Old Town, which was built many centuries ago, and, across the two rivers there is a new and modern part of Belgrade called Novi Beograd.
Why should you visit Pobednik?
It is the statue of Freedom and Honor
Whether the visitors (locals or tourists) would like to see Pobednik during the night or during the day, they will always see the magic happens in front of their eyes. During the night, in the sky, especially during the Full or Bloody Moon, the statue looks like the angel celebrating the life. During the day, when the Sun is shining, Pobednik will still look like a Saint, but more like the God of Justice with a sword and a falcon. Many birds are lending on the statue, especially falcons. Falcons are the symbol of the city and that is why the warrior is holding the falcon. Serbian people fought many wars, since the beginning of the Nemanjići Dynasty, from the Dark Age, till the end the 20th century. The sword is a symbol of those wars, a symbol of the brave nation and strong people, who suffered a lot in their lives. The Sun is there to remind that Pobednik is built with pride, honor, and dignity. What is the Statue of Liberty in New York, that is Pobednik for Serbia – the Statue of Freedom and Honor!
The place where generations are gathering
Pobednik is not only the statue of art, freedom, and war, it is the statue that collects creative young people, talents and so many other people to enjoy the beautiful naked male giving them hope to fight for their future, to be wild and free, to be happy. Besides young people, Pobednik is, also the place, where the old veterans are gathering for playing the chess. It is the place of gathering so many generations walking around: daughters with their fathers, grandmothers with their grandchildren, young couples with their newborns, single boys and girls, and so many foreign people from all over the world. You will never see the person being unhappy walking around the statue, only people smiling and being amazed by its size and the view.
A place to relax
Pobednik is a great place where people can relax, take photos and enjoy the beautiful view across the rivers into Novi Beograd and Zemun (the part of Belgrade). In front of Pobednik, the visitors can take selfies, in so many ways. Whether the visitors are taking a selfie with themselves or with a group of people, it is hard, because the body of Pobednik is really high, and it is challengeable for visitors to make a good selfie catching the naked body above their heads. Many photographers and visitors are hiking up the hill behind the statue because they are making great photos touching Pobednik’s backside, being creative same as visitor taking pictures with Tower of Pisa in Italy. Wedding couples are most to see in Kalemegdan, especially taking photos in the place where Pobednik is set.