Kalemegdan Park is said to be the largest and most beautiful park in Belgrade. It was originally an empty space separating the city from the fortress, but on losing its military purpose in the mid-19th century, a park was established incorporating the fortress.
On arrival, we passed a small number of market stalls selling souvenirs and immediately saw a fountain and the statue ‘The Struggle’ which depicted a hero wrestling a snake. We continued up to the ‘Monument of Gratitude to France’ for the help given to the Serbians during World War I. The inscription on the stone plinth reads ‘we love France as she loved us during 1914 to 1918’. On top was a bronze figure of a woman fiercely brandishing a sword. The surrounding gardens were French in style. with tall manicured bushes and flower beds.
Intersecting paths, many with busts of famous Serbians on plinths, abounded and we quickly gave up trying to follow our map and simply wandered. We went past a children’s play area with large dinosaurs, clay tennis courts (this is the home of Novak Djokovic after all) and Museum of Military History with old tanks and Surface to Air Missiles outside.
Past two large circular turrets we found two churches. The first, the small Rose Church of our Lady, was clad in a vigorous creeper which was being cut back. The interior walls and ceiling were painted with murals of saints and religious figures and the middle was empty with only wooden individual seats around the outside. Here we could take photos and so having entered the Church of St Petka, built between 1935 and 1937, we snapped away at the mosaics which covered every square inch of wall and ceiling. A rather stern, black-robed orthodox priest quickly told us that photos were not allowed. I then put my hands in my coat pocket, to make it obvious I wasn’t going to try to take a sneaky photo, when he motioned to tell me to take my hands out and hold them in front of me.
The tall Messenger of Victory statue was a bold and defiant statue of a naked man which was originally destined for the city centre. However, due to prudish complaints about his obvious ‘assets’, it was relocated to the park where high up on a plinth, his attributes were more difficult to see.
A large viewing point provided good views of the confluence of the Sava and Danube Rivers and nearby, we found the Roman Well we’d read you could climb down into. Unfortunately, a film crew was gathering all around it and it seemed to be off limits.
The Park has other sights including the Belgrade Zoo, Art Pavilion and Fortress Museum, but our time was limited.
There was also what looked like a large hotel or restaurant and this appeared to be the only food and drink outlet. There are several cobbled areas and good walking shoes are recommended.