One of the most important prehistoric cultures of Europe, the Vinča culture, evolved within the Belgrade area in the 6th millennium BC. In antiquity, Thraco-Dacians inhabited the region, and after 279 BC Celts conquered the city, naming it Singidūn. It was conquered by the Romans during the reign of Augustus, and awarded city rights in the mid-2nd century. It was settled by the Slavs in the 520s, and changed hands several times between the Byzantine Empire, Frankish Empire, Bulgarian Empire and Kingdom of Hungary before it became the capital of Serbian king Stephen Dragutin. In 1521, Belgrade was conquered by the Ottoman Empire and became the seat of the Sanjak of Smederevo. It frequently passed from Ottoman to Habsburg rule, which saw the destruction of most of the city during the Austro-Ottoman wars. Belgrade was again named the capital of Serbia in 1841. Northern Belgrade remained the southernmost Habsburg post until 1918, when the city was reunited. As a strategic location, the city was battled over in 115 wars and razed 44 times. Belgrade was the capital of Yugoslavia from its creation in 1918.
Belgrade has a special administrative status within Serbia and it is one of five statistical regions of Serbia. Its metropolitan territory is divided into 17 municipalities, each with its own local council. City of Belgrade covers 3.6% of Serbia's territory, and around 24% of the country's population lives within its administrative limits. It is classified as a Beta- Global City.
Chipped stone tools found at Zemun show that the area around Belgrade was inhabited by nomadic foragers in the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic eras. Some of these tools belong to the Mousterian industry, which are associated with Neanderthals rather than modern humans. Aurignacian and Gravettian tools have also been discovered there, indicating occupation between 50,000 and 20,000 years ago.
The first farming people to settle in the region are associated with the Neolithic Starčevo culture, which flourished between 6200 and 5200 BC. There are several Starčevo sites in and around Belgrade, including the eponymous site of Starčevo. The Starčevo culture was succeeded by the Vinča culture (5500–4500 BC), a more sophisticated farming culture that grew out of the earlier Starčevo settlements which is also named for a site in the Belgrade region (Vinča-Belo Brdo). The Vinča culture is known for its very large settlements, one of the earliest settlements by continuous habitation and some of the largest in prehistoric Europe; anthropomorphic figurines such as the Lady of Vinča; the earliest known copper metallurgy in Europe; a proto-writing form developed prior to the Sumerians and Minoans, known as the Old European script, dating back to around 5300 BC.
Evidence of early knowledge about Belgrade's geographical location comes from ancient myths and legends. The rock overlooking the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers has been identified as one of the place in the story of Jason and the Argonauts. The Paleo-Balkan tribes of Thracians and Dacians ruled this area prior to the Roman conquest. Belgrade was inhabited by a Thraco-Dacian tribe Singi; after the Celtic invasion in 279 BC, the Scordisci took the city, naming it "Singidūn" (dūn, fortress). In 34–33 BC the Roman army led by Silanus reached Belgrade. It became the romanized Singidunum in the 1st century AD, and by the mid-2nd century, the city was proclaimed a municipium by the Roman authorities, evolving into a full-fledged colonia (highest city class) by the end of the century. Apart from the first Christian Emperor of Rome who was born in the territory of modern Serbia in Naissus—Constantine I known as Constantine the Great—another early Roman Emperor was born in Singidunum: Flavius Iovianus (Jovian), the restorer of Christianity. Jovian reestablished Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire, ending the brief revival of traditional Roman religions under his predecessor Julian the Apostate. In 395 AD, the site passed to the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire. Across the Sava from Singidunum was the Celtic city of Taurunum (Zemun); the two were connected with a bridge throughout Roman and Byzantine times.
In 442, the area was ravaged by Attila the Hun. In 471, it was taken by Theodoric the Great, who continued into Greece. As the Ostrogoths left for Italy, the Gepids took over the city. In 539 it was retaken by the Byzantines. In 577, some 100,000 Slavs poured into Thrace and Illyricum, pillaging cities and settling down. The Avars under Bayan I conquered the whole region by 582. According to Byzantine chronicle De Administrando Imperio, the White Serbs had stopped in Belgrade on their way back home, asking the strategos for lands; they received provinces in the west, towards the Adriatic, which they would rule as subjects to Heraclius (610–641). In 829 Khan Omurtag was able to add Singidunum and its environs to the First Bulgarian Empire.
The first record of the name Belograd appeared on April, 16th, 878, in a Papal letter to Bulgarian ruler Boris I. Later, this name appeared in several variants: Alba Graeca (Greek city), Griechisch Wiessenburg (Greek white castle), Nandor Alba (City of the Bulgarians), Nandor Fejervar (The white castle of the Bulgarians), Castelbianco (White Castle), Alba Bulgarica (Bulgarian City). For about four centuries, the city remained a battleground between the Byzantine Empire, the Kingdom of Hungary and the Bulgarian Empire. Basil II (976–1025) installed a garrison in Belgrade. The city hosted the armies of the First and the Second Crusade; while passing through during the Third Crusade, Frederick Barbarossa and his 190,000 crusaders saw Belgrade in ruins.
King Stefan Dragutin (r. 1276–1282) received Belgrade from his father-in-law, Stephen V of Hungary in 1284; it served as the capital of the Kingdom of Syrmia, and Dragutin is regarded as the first Serbian king to rule over Belgrade as a vassal to the Kingdom of Hungary.
Following the battles at Maritsa (1371) and Kosovo field (1389), Serbia began to crumble as the Ottoman Empire conquered its southern territory. The north resisted through the Serbian Despotate, which had Belgrade as its capital. The city flourished under Stefan Lazarević, son of Serbian prince Lazar Hrebeljanović. Lazarević built a castle with a citadel and towers, of which only the Despot's tower and west wall remain. He also refortified the city's ancient walls, allowing the Despotate to resist the Ottomans for almost 70 years. During this time, Belgrade was a haven for many Balkan peoples fleeing Ottoman rule, and is thought to have had a population of 40,000 to 50,000 people.
In 1427, Stefan's successor Đurađ Branković had to return Belgrade to the Hungarian king, and Smederevo became the new capital. Although the Ottomans captured most of the Serbian Despotate, Belgrade, known as Nándorfehérvár in Hungarian, was unsuccessfully besieged in 1440 and 1456. As the city presented an obstacle to the Ottoman advance into Hungary and further, over 100,000 Ottoman soldiers besieged it in 1456, in which the Christian army led by the Hungarian General John Hunyadi successfully defended it. The noon bell ordered by Pope Callixtus III commemorates the victory throughout the Christian world to this day.
Seven decades after the initial siege, on 28 August 1521, the fort was finally captured by Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and his 250,000 soldiers and over 100 ships subsequently, most of the city was razed to the ground and its entire Orthodox Christian population was deported to Istanbul, to an area that has since become known as the Belgrade forest. Belgrade was made the seat of the district (Sanjak), becoming the second largest Ottoman town in Europe at over 100,000 people, surpassed only by Constantinople. Ottoman rule also introduced Ottoman architecture, including numerous mosques, increasing the city's Oriental influences. In 1594, a major Serb rebellion was crushed by the Ottomans. Later, Grand vizier Sinan Pasha ordered the relics of Saint Sava to be publicly torched on the Vračar plateau; in the 20th century, the Temple of Saint Sava was built to commemorate this event.
Occupied by the Habsburgs three times (1688–1690, 1717–1739, 1789–1791), headed by the Holy Roman Princes Maximilian of Bavaria and Eugene of Savoy, and field marshal Baron Ernst Gideon von Laudon respectively, Belgrade was quickly recaptured by the Ottomans and substantially razed each time. During this period, the city was affected by the two Great Serbian Migrations, in which hundreds of thousands of Serbs, led by two Serbian Patriarchs, retreated together with the Austrians into the Habsburg Empire, settling in today's Vojvodina and Slavonia.
During the First Serbian Uprising, the Serbian revolutionaries held the city from 8 January 1807 until 1813, when it was retaken by the Ottomans. After the Second Serbian Uprising in 1815, Serbia reached semi-independence, which was formally recognized by the Porte in 1830. In 1841, Prince Mihailo Obrenović moved the capital from Kragujevac to Belgrade.
In May 1868, Prince Mihailo was assassinated with his cousin Anka Konstantinović while riding in a carriage through the park of his country residence
With the Principality's full independence in 1878, and its transformation into the Kingdom of Serbia in 1882, Belgrade once again became a key city in the Balkans, and developed rapidly. Nevertheless, conditions in Serbia as a whole remained those of an overwhelmingly agrarian country, even with the opening of a railway to Niš, Serbia's second city, and in 1900 the capital had only 70,000 inhabitants (at the time Serbia numbered 2.5 million). Yet by 1905 the population had grown to more than 80,000, and by the outbreak of World War I in 1914, it had surpassed the 100,000 citizens, not counting Zemun which then belonged to Austria-Hungary.
The first-ever projection of motion pictures in the Balkans and Central Europe was held in Belgrade, in June 1896 by Andre Carr, a representative of the Lumière brothers. He shot the first motion pictures of Belgrade in the next year; however, they have not been preserved.
The First World War began on 28 July 1914 when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. Most of the subsequent Balkan offensives occurred near Belgrade. Austro-Hungarian monitors shelled Belgrade on 29 July 1914, and it was taken by the Austro-Hungarian Army under General Oskar Potiorek on 30 November. On 15 December, it was re-taken by Serbian troops under Marshal Radomir Putnik. After a prolonged battle which destroyed much of the city, between 6 and 9 October 1915, Belgrade fell to German and Austro-Hungarian troops commanded by Field Marshal August von Mackensen on 9 October 1915. The city was liberated by Serbian and French troops on 1 November 1918, under the command of Marshal Louis Franchet d'Espérey of France and Crown Prince Alexander of Serbia. Since Belgrade was decimated as the front-line city, Subotica overtook the title of the largest city in the Kingdom for a short while.
After the war, Belgrade became the capital of the new Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, renamed the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929. The Kingdom was split into banovinas, and Belgrade, together with Zemun and Pančevo, formed a separate administrative unit.
During this period, the city experienced fast growth and significant modernisation. Belgrade's population grew to 239,000 by 1931 (incorporating the town of Zemun, formerly in Austria-Hungary), and 320,000 by 1940. The population growth rate between 1921 and 1948 averaged 4.08% a year. In 1927, Belgrade's first airport opened, and in 1929, its first radio station began broadcasting. The Pančevo Bridge, which crosses the Danube, was opened in 1935, while King Alexander Bridge over the Sava was opened in 1934. On 3 September 1939 the first Belgrade Grand Prix, the last Grand Prix motor racing race before the outbreak of World War II, was held around the Belgrade Fortress and was followed by 80,000 spectators. The winner was Tazio Nuvolari.
On 25 March 1941, the government of regent Crown Prince Paul signed the Tripartite Pact, joining the Axis powers in an effort to stay out of the Second World War and keep Yugoslavia neutral during the conflict. This was immediately followed by mass protests in Belgrade and a military coup d'état led by Air Force commander General Dušan Simović, who proclaimed King Peter II to be of age to rule the realm. Consequently, the city was heavily bombed by the Luftwaffe on 6 April 1941, killing up to 2,274 people., Yugoslavia was then invaded by German, Italian, Hungarian, and Bulgarian forces. Belgrade was captured by subterfuge, with six German soldiers led by their officer Fritz Klingenberg pretending to be a larger force, accepted the surrender of the city. Belgrade was then occupied by the German Army later the same month and Belgrade became the seat of the puppet Nedić regime, headed by General Milan Nedić.
During the summer and fall of 1941, in reprisal for guerrilla attacks, the Germans carried out several massacres of Belgrade citizens; in particular, members of the Jewish community were subject to mass shootings at the order of General Franz Böhme, the German Military Governor of Serbia. Böhme rigorously enforced the rule that for every German killed, 100 Serbs or Jews would be shot. The resistance movement in Belgrade was led by Major Žarko Todorović from 1941 until his arrest in 1943.
Just like Rotterdam, which was devastated twice, by both German and Allied bombing, Belgrade was bombed once more during World War II, this time by the Allies on 16 April 1944, killing at least 1,100 people. This bombing fell on the Orthodox Christian Easter. Most of the city remained under German occupation until 20 October 1944, when it was liberated by the Red Army and the Communist Yugoslav Partisans. On 29 November 1945, Marshal Josip Broz Tito proclaimed the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia in Belgrade (later to be renamed to Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on 7 April 1963). Higher estimates from the former secret police place the victim count of political persecutions in Belgrade at 10,000.
When the war ended, the city was left with 11,500 demolished housing units. During the post-war period, Belgrade grew rapidly as the capital of the renewed Yugoslavia, developing as a major industrial center. In 1948, construction of New Belgrade started. In 1958, Belgrade's first television station began broadcasting. In 1961, the conference of Non-Aligned Countries was held in Belgrade under Tito's chairmanship. In 1962, Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport was built. In 1968, major student protests led to several street clashes between students and the police.
On 9 March 1991, massive demonstrations led by Vuk Drašković were held in the city against Slobodan Milošević. According to various media outlets, there were between 100,000 and 150,000 people on the streets. Two people were killed, 203 injured and 108 arrested during the protests, and later that day tanks were deployed onto the streets to restore order. Further protests were held in Belgrade from November 1996 to February 1997 against the same government after alleged electoral fraud at local elections. These protests brought Zoran Đinđić to power, the first mayor of Belgrade since World War II who did not belong to the League of Communists of Yugoslavia or its later offshoot, the Socialist Party of Serbia.
In 1999, during the Kosovo War, NATO bombings caused substantial damage to the city. Among the sites bombed were the buildings of several ministries, the RTS building, several hospitals, the Hotel Jugoslavija, the Central Committee building, the Avala Tower, and the Chinese embassy. Several of these buildings have been left in their bombed states to serve as a memorial for the bombings.
After the 2000 presidential elections, Belgrade was the site of major public protests, with over half a million people on the streets. These demonstrations resulted in the ousting of president Milošević.
In 2014, Belgrade Waterfront, a catalytic development, has been initiated headed by the Government of Serbia aimed at improving Belgrade's cityscape and economy by revitalizing the Sava amphitheater, a neglected stretch of land on the right bank of the Sava river, between the Belgrade Fair and Belgrade Main railway station. Around €3.5 billion will be invested by the Serbian government and their Emirati partners. The project includes office and luxury apartment buildings, five-star hotels, a shopping mall and Belgrade Tower. The project is, however, considered by many as 'controversial', since there are a number of uncertainties regarding its funding, necessity, as well as chosen architectural solutions.
City is currently under rapid development and reconstruction, especially in the area of Novi Beograd, where many apartment and office buildings are under construction.
Belgrade lies 116.75 metres (383.0 ft) above sea level and is located at the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers. The historical core of Belgrade, Kalemegdan, lies on the right banks of both rivers. Since the 19th century, the city has been expanding to the south and east; after World War II, New Belgrade was built on the left bank of the Sava river, connecting Belgrade with Zemun. Smaller, chiefly residential communities across the Danube, like Krnjača, Kotež and Borča, also merged with the city, while Pančevo, a heavily industrialized satellite city, remains a separate town. The city has an urban area of 360 square kilometres (140 sq mi), while together with its metropolitan area it covers 3,223 km2 (1,244 sq mi).
On the right bank of the Sava, central Belgrade has a hilly terrain, while the highest point of Belgrade proper is Torlak hill at 303 m (994 ft). The mountains of Avala (511 m (1,677 ft)) and Kosmaj (628 m (2,060 ft)) lie south of the city. Across the Sava and Danube, the land is mostly flat, consisting of alluvial plains and loessial plateaus.
One of the characteristics of the city terrain is mass wasting. On the territory covered by the General Urban Plan there are 1,155 recorded mass wasting points, out of which 602 are active and 248 are labeled as the "high risk". They cover almost 30% of the city territory and include several types of mass wasting. Downhill creeps are located on the slopes above the rivers, mostly on the clay or loam soils, inclined between 7 and 20%. Most critical ones are in Karaburma, Zvezdara, Višnjica, Vinča and Ritopek, in the Danube valley, and Umka, and especially its neighborhood of Duboko, in the Sava valley. They have moving and dormant phases, and some of them have been recorded for centuries. Less active downhill creep areas include the entire Terazije slope above the Sava (Kalemegdan, Savamala), which can be seen by the inclination of the Pobednik monument and the tower of the Cathedral Church, and the Voždovac section, between Banjica and Autokomanda.
Landslides encompass smaller areas, develop on the steep cliffs, sometimes being inclined up to 90%. They are mostly located in the artificial loess hills of Zemun: Gardoš, Ćukovac and Kalvarija. However, the majority of the land movement in Belgrade, some 90%, is triggered by the construction works and faulty water supply system (burst pipes, etc.). The neighborhood of Mirijevo is considered to be the most successful project of fixing the problem. During the construction of the neighborhood from the 1970s, the terrain was systematically improved and the movement of the land is today completely halted.
Belgrade lies in the humid subtropical climate zone, with four seasons and uniformly spread precipitation. Monthly averages range from 1.4 °C (34.5 °F) in January to 23.0 °C (73.4 °F) in July, with an annual mean of 12.5 °C (54.5 °F). There are, on average, 31 days a year when the temperature is above 30 °C (86 °F), and 95 days when the temperature is above 25 °C (77 °F). Belgrade receives about 690 millimetres (27 in) of precipitation a year, with late spring being wettest. The average annual number of sunny hours is 2,112.
The highest officially recorded temperature in Belgrade was +43.6 °C (110.5 °F) on 24 July 2007, while on the other end, the lowest temperature was −26.2 °C (−15 °F) on 10 January 1893.
Belgrade is a separate territorial unit in Serbia, with its own autonomous city authority. The Assembly of the City of Belgrade has 110 members, elected on four-year terms. A 13-member City Council, elected by the Assembly and presided over by the mayor and his deputy, has the control and supervision of the city administration, which manages day-to-day administrative affairs. It is divided into 14 Secretariats, each having a specific portfolio such as traffic or health care, and several professional services, agencies and institutes.
The 2014 Belgrade local elections were won by the Serbian Progressive Party, which formed a ruling coalition with the Socialist Party of Serbia. These elections ended the long-time rule of the Democratic Party, which was in power from 2004 to 2013. The Mayor of Belgrade is Siniša Mali, a political independent affiliated with the Serbian Progressive Party.
As the capital city, Belgrade is seat of all Serbian state authorities – executive, legislative, judiciary, and the headquarters of almost all national political parties as well as 75 diplomatic missions. This includes the National Assembly, the Presidency, the Government of Serbia and all the ministries, Supreme Court of Cassation and the Constitutional Court.
The city is divided into 17 municipalities. Previously, they were classified into 10 "urban" (lying completely or partially within borders of the city proper) and 7 "suburban" municipalities, whose centres are smaller towns. With the new 2010 City statute, they were all given equal status, with the proviso that suburban ones (except Surčin) have certain autonomous powers, chiefly related with construction, infrastructure and public utilities.
Most of the municipalities are situated on the southern side of the Danube and Sava rivers, in the Šumadija region. Three municipalities (Zemun, Novi Beograd ("New Belgrade"), and Surčin), are on the northern bank of the Sava, in the Syrmia region, and the municipality of Palilula, spanning the Danube, is in both the Šumadija and Banat regions.
According to the 2011 census, the city has a population of 1,166,763, while the urban area of Belgrade (with adjacent urban settlements of Borča, Ovča, and Surčin included) has 1,233,796 inhabitants, and the population of the metropolitan area (the administrative area of the City of Belgrade) stands at 1,659,440 people.
Belgrade is home to many ethnicities from all over the former Yugoslavia and wider Balkans region. The main ethnic groups are: Serbs (1,505,448), Roma (27,325), Montenegrins (9,902), Yugoslavs (8,061), Croats (7,752), Macedonians (6,970), and Muslims by nationality (3,996). Many people came to the city as economic migrants from smaller towns and the countryside, while tens of thousands arrived as refugees from Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo, as a result of the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s. Between 10,000 and 20,000 Chinese are estimated to live in Belgrade; they began immigrating in the mid-1990s. Block 70 in New Belgrade is known colloquially as the Chinese quarter. Many Middle Easterners, mainly from Syria, Iran, Jordan and Iraq, arrived in order to pursue their studies during the 1970s and 1980s, and have remained in the city.
Although there are several historic religious communities in Belgrade, the religious makeup of the city is relatively homogenous. The Serbian Orthodox community is by far the largest, with 1,475,168 adherents. There are also 31,914 Muslims, 13,720 Roman Catholics, and 3,128 Protestants. There once was a significant Jewish community in Belgrade, but following the World War II Nazi occupation of the city, and subsequent Jewish emigration, their numbers have fallen from over 10,000 to just 295.
Belgrade is the financial centre of Serbia and Southeast Europe, with a total of 17 million square metres (180 million square feet) of office space. It is also home to the country's Central Bank. Currently, over 600,000 people are employed in 120,286 companies, 60,000 enterprises and 50,000 shops. The City of Belgrade owns 267,147 square metres (2,875,550 square feet) of rentable office space.
As at 2009, Belgrade contained 31.4% of Serbia's employed population and generated over 40% of its GDP. The City's nominal GDP in 2014 was estimated at 16.97 billion USD, amounting to 859,329 RSD ($10,086) per capita. GDP at purchasing power parity was estimated at $36.1bn USD, which was $31,461 per capita in terms of purchasing power parity.
New Belgrade is the country's main business district and one of Southeastern Europe's financial centers. It offers a range of facilities, such as hotels, congress halls (e.g. Sava Centar), Class A and B office buildings, and business parks (e.g. Airport City Belgrade). Over 1.2 million square metres (13 million square feet) of land is currently under construction in New Belgrade, with the value of planned construction over the next three years estimated at over 1.5 billion euros. The Belgrade Stock Exchange is also located in New Belgrade, and has a market capitalization of €6.5 billion (US$9 billion).
With 6,924 companies in the IT sector (2013 data), Belgrade is one of the information technology centers for this part of Europe, with strong growth. Microsoft Development Center, located in Belgrade, was at the time of its establishment the fifth such center in the world. Many world IT companies choose Belgrade as their European or regional center of operations. These include Asus, Intel, Dell, Huawei and NCR, among others.
In September 2013, the average Belgrade monthly salary stood at 53,564 RSD ($635) in net terms, with the gross equivalent at 73,970 RSD ($877). The 2013 Annual Economist Intelligence Unit Survey ranked Belgrade the 86th most expensive out of 131 world cities. According to the 2015 Survey, 73% of the City's households owned a computer, 65.8% had a broadband internet connection and 73.9% had pay television services.
Belgrade hosts many annual international cultural events, including the Film Festival, Theatre Festival, Summer Festival, Music Festival, Book Fair, Eurovision Song Contest 2008, and the Beer Fest. The Nobel Prize winning author Ivo Andrić wrote his most famous work, The Bridge on the Drina, in Belgrade. Other prominent Belgrade authors include Branislav Nušić, Miloš Crnjanski, Borislav Pekić, Milorad Pavić and Meša Selimović. The most internationally prominent artists from Belgrade are Marina Abramović and Milovan Destil Marković.
Most of Serbia's film industry is based in Belgrade. FEST is an annual film festival that held since 1971, and, through 2013, had been attended by four million people and had presented almost 4,000 films.
The city was one of the main centers of the Yugoslav new wave in the 1980s: VIS Idoli, Ekatarina Velika, Šarlo Akrobata and Električni Orgazam were all from Belgrade. Other notable Belgrade rock acts include Riblja Čorba, Bajaga i Instruktori and Partibrejkers. Today, it is the center of the Serbian hip hop scene, with acts such as Beogradski Sindikat, Škabo, Marčelo, and most of the Bassivity Music stable hailing from or living in the city. There are numerous theatres, the most prominent of which are National Theatre, Theatre on Terazije, Yugoslav Drama Theatre, Zvezdara Theatre, and Atelier 212. The Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts is also based in Belgrade, as well as the National Library of Serbia. Other major libraries include the Belgrade City Library and the Belgrade University Library. Belgrade's two opera houses are: National Theatre and Madlenianum Opera House.
There are many foreign cultural institutions in Belgrade, including the Spanish Instituto Cervantes, the German Goethe-Institut and the French Institut français, which are all located in the central pedestrian area of Knez Mihailova Street. Other cultural centers in Belgrade are American Corner, Austrian Cultural Forum, British Council, Chinese Confucius Institute, Canadian Cultural Center, Hellenic Foundation for Culture, Italian Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Iranian Culture Center, Azerbaijani Culture Center and Russian Center for Science and Culture. European Union National Institutes for Culture operates a cluster of cultural centres from the EU.
Following the victory of Serbia's representative Marija Šerifović at the Eurovision Song Contest 2007, Belgrade hosted the Contest in 2008.
The most prominent museum in Belgrade is the National Museum, founded in 1844 and currently closed for reconstruction which will be ended in 2018. The Museum houses a collection of more than 400,000 exhibits (over 5600 paintings and 8400 drawings and prints, including many foreign masters like Bosch, Juan de Flandes, Titian, Tintoretto, Rubens, Van Dyck, Cézanne, G.B. Tiepolo, Renoir, Monet, Lautrec, Matisse, Picasso, Gauguin, Chagall, Van Gogh, Mondrian etc.) and also the famous Miroslav's Gospel. The Ethnographic Museum, established in 1901, contains more than 150,000 items showcasing the rural and urban culture of the Balkans, particularly the countries of former Yugoslavia.
The Museum of Contemporary Art was the first Contemporary art museum in Europe founded in 1958 and has a collection of around 35,000 works including Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Joan Miró, David Hockney, Ivan Meštrović and others since 1900. The Museum is open renovated in 2017.
The Military Museum houses a wide range of more than 25,000 military exhibits dating as far back as to the Roman period, as well as parts of a F-117 stealth aircraft shot down by the Serbian army.
The Museum of Aviation in Belgrade has more than 200 aircraft, of which about 50 are on display, and a few of which are the only surviving examples of their type, such as the Fiat G.50. This museum also displays parts of shot down US and NATO aircraft, such as the F-117 and F-16.
The Nikola Tesla Museum, founded in 1952, preserves the personal items of Nikola Tesla, the inventor after whom the Tesla unit was named. It holds around 160,000 original documents and around 5,700 personal other items including his urne. The last of the major Belgrade museums is the Museum of Vuk and Dositej, which showcases the lives, work and legacy of Vuk Stefanović Karadžić and Dositej Obradović, the 19th century reformer of the Serbian literary language and the first Serbian Minister of Education, respectively. Belgrade also houses the Museum of African Art, founded in 1977, which has the large collection of art from West Africa.
With around 95,000 copies of national and international films, the Yugoslav Film Archive is the largest in the region and among the 10 largest archives in the world. The institution also operates the Museum of Yugoslav Film Archive, with movie theatre and exhibition hall. The archive's long-standing storage problems were finally solved in 2007, when a new modern depository was opened. The Yugoslav Film Archive also exhibits original Charlie Chaplin's stick and one of the first movies by Auguste and Louis Lumière.
The Belgrade City Museum moved into a new building in downtown in 2006. The Museum hosts a range of collections covering the history of urban life since prehistory.
The Museum of Yugoslav History has collection from Yugoslav era. Beside paintings, the most valuable are Moon rocks donated by Apollo 11 crew Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins while visiting Belgrade in 1969 and from mission Apollo 17 donated by Richard Nixon in 1971. Museum also houses Joseph Stalin's sabre with 260 brilliants and diamonds, donated by Stalin himself.
Museum of Science and Technology moved to the building of the first city's power plant in Dorćol in 2005.
Belgrade has wildly varying architecture, from the center of Zemun, typical of a Central European town, to the more modern architecture and spacious layout of New Belgrade. The oldest architecture is found in Kalemegdan Park. Outside of Kalemegdan, the oldest buildings date only from the 18th century, due to its geographic position and frequent wars and destructions. The oldest public structure in Belgrade is a nondescript Turkish türbe, while the oldest house is a modest clay house on Dorćol, from late 18th century. Western influence began in the 19th century, when the city completely transformed from an oriental town to the contemporary architecture of the time, with influences from neoclassicism, romanticism, and academic art. Serbian architects took over the development from the foreign builders in the late 19th century, producing the National Theatre, Old Palace, Cathedral Church and later, in the early 20th century, the National Assembly and National Museum, influenced by art nouveau. Elements of Neo-Byzantine architecture are present in buildings such as Vuk's Foundation, old Post Office in Kosovska street, and sacral architecture, such as St. Mark's Church (based on the Gračanica monastery), and the Temple of Saint Sava.
During the period of Communist rule, much housing was built quickly and cheaply for the huge influx of people fleeing the countryside following World War II, sometimes resulting in the brutalist architecture of the Blokovi ("Blocks") of New Belgrade; a socrealism trend briefly ruled, resulting in buildings like the Trade Union Hall. However, in the mid-1950s, the modernist trends took over, and still dominate the Belgrade architecture.
Belgrade has the second oldest sewer system in Europe.
The historic areas and buildings of Belgrade are among the city's premier attractions. They include Skadarlija, the National Museum and adjacent National Theatre, Zemun, Nikola Pašić Square, Terazije, Students' Square, the Kalemegdan Fortress, Knez Mihailova Street, the Parliament, the Church of Saint Sava, and the Old Palace. On top of this, there are many parks, monuments, museums, cafés, restaurants and shops on both sides of the river. The hilltop Avala Monument and Avala Tower offer views over the city.
Elite neighborhood of Dedinje is situated near the Topčider and Košutnjak parks. The beli dvor (White Palace), house of royal family Karađorđević, is open for visitors. The palace has many valuable artworks. Nearby, Josip Broz Tito's mausoleum, called The House of Flowers, documents the life of the former Yugoslav president.
Ada Ciganlija is a former island on the Sava River, and Belgrade's biggest sports and recreational complex. Today it is connected with the right bank of the Sava via two causeways, creating an artificial lake. It is the most popular destination for Belgraders during the city's hot summers. There are 7 kilometres (4 miles) of long beaches and sports facilities for various sports including golf, football, basketball, volleyball, rugby union, baseball, and tennis. During summer there are between 200,000 and 300,000 bathers daily.
Extreme sports are available, such as bungee jumping, water skiing, and paintballing. There are numerous tracks on the island, where it is possible to ride a bike, go for a walk, or go jogging. Apart from Ada, Belgrade has total of 16 islands on the rivers, many still unused. Among them, the Great War Island, at the confluence of Sava, stands out as an oasis of unshattered wildlife (especially birds). These areas, along with nearby Small War Island, are protected by the city's government as a nature preserve.
Tourist income in 2016 amounted to nearly one billion euros; with a visit of almost a million registered tourists. Of those, more than 70,000 arrived by 550 river cruisers. Average annual growth is between 13% and 14%.
Belgrade has a reputation for offering a vibrant nightlife; many clubs that are open until dawn can be found throughout the city. The most recognizable nightlife features of Belgrade are the barges (splav), spread along the banks of the Sava and Danube Rivers.
Many weekend visitors—particularly from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia—prefer Belgrade nightlife to that of their own capitals, due to a perceived friendly atmosphere, plentiful clubs and bars, cheap drinks, the lack of language difficulties, and the lack of restrictive night life regulation.
Famous alternative clubs include Akademija and the KST (Klub Studenata Tehnike), located in the basement of the University of Belgrade Faculty of Electrical Engineering. One of the most famous sites for alternative cultural happenings in the city is the SKC (Student Cultural Centre), located right across from Belgrade's highrise landmark, the Belgrade Lady Tower. Concerts featuring famous local and foreign bands are often held at the center. SKC is also the site of various art exhibitions, as well as public debates and discussions.
A more traditional Serbian nightlife experience, accompanied by traditional music known as Starogradska (roughly translated as Old Town Music), typical of northern Serbia's urban environments, is most prominent in Skadarlija, the city's old bohemian neighborhood where the poets and artists of Belgrade gathered in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Skadar Street (the centre of Skadarlija) and the surrounding neighbourhood are lined with some of Belgrade's best and oldest traditional restaurants (called kafanas in Serbian), which date back to that period. At one end of the neighbourhood stands Belgrade's oldest beer brewery, founded in the first half of the 19th century. One of the city's oldest kafanas is the Znak pitanja("?").
The Times reported that Europe's best nightlife can be found in Belgrade. In the Lonely Planet "1000 Ultimate Experiences" guide of 2009, Belgrade was placed at the 1st spot among the top 10 party cities in the world.
There are approximately one-thousand sports facilities in Belgrade, many of which are capable of serving all levels of sporting events. Belgrade has hosted several major sporting events recently, including Eurobasket 2005, the 2005 European Volleyball Championship, the 2006 European Water Polo Championship, the European Youth Olympic Festival 2007, and the 2009 Summer Universiade.
The city is home to Serbia's two biggest and most successful football clubs, Red Star Belgrade and Partizan Belgrade. Red Star won the 1991 UEFA Champions League (European Cup). The two major stadiums in Belgrade are the Marakana (Red Star Stadium) and the Partizan Stadium. The rivalry between Red Star and Partizan is one of the fiercest in world football.
According to the European Arenas Association, the Štark Arena is one of the largest European indoor arena with capacity of 22,868. It is used for major sporting events and large concerts. In May 2008 it was the venue for the 53rd Eurovision Song Contest. The Aleksandar Nikolić Hall is the main venue of basketball clubs KK Partizan, European champion of 1992, and KK Crvena zvezda.
In recent years, Belgrade has also given rise to several world-class tennis players such as Ana Ivanović, Jelena Janković and Novak Đoković. Ivanović and Đoković are the first female and male Belgraders, respectively, to win Grand Slam singles titles and been ATP number 1 with Jelena Janković. The Serbian national team won the 2010 Davis Cup, beating the French team in the finals played in the Belgrade Arena.
Since 1996, biannual (autumn/winter and spring/summer seasons) fashion weeks are held citywide. Numerous Serbian and international designers and fashion brands have their shows during the fashion weeks.
Belgrade is the most important media hub in Serbia. The city is home to the main headquarters of the national broadcaster Radio Television Serbia (RTS), which is a public service broadcaster. The most popular commercial broadcaster is RTV Pink, a Serbian media multinational, known for its popular entertainment programs. One of the most popular commercial broadcaster is B92, another media company, which has its own TV station, radio station, and music and book publishing arms, as well as the most popular website on the Serbian internet. Other TV stations broadcasting from Belgrade include 1Prva (formerly Fox televizija), Nova, N1 and others which only cover the greater Belgrade municipal area, such as Studio B.
High-circulation daily newspapers published in Belgrade include Politika, Blic, Alo!, Kurir and Danas. There are 2 sporting dailies, Sportski žurnal and Sport, and one economic daily, Privredni pregled. A new free distribution daily, 24 sata, was founded in the autumn of 2006. Also, Serbian editions of licensed magazines such as Harper's Bazaar, Elle, Cosmopolitan, National Geographic, Men's Health, Grazia and others have their headquarters in the city.
Belgrade has two state universities and several private institutions of higher education. The University of Belgrade, founded in 1808 as the "Great School", is the oldest institution of higher learning in Serbia. Having developed with the city in the 19th century, quite a few University buildings are a constituent part of Belgrade's architecture and cultural heritage. With enrollment of nearly 90,000 students, the University is one of the Europe's largest.
There are also 195 primary (elementary) schools and 85 secondary schools. Of the primary schools, there are 162 regular, 14 special, 15 art, and 4 adult schools. The secondary school system has 51 vocational schools, 21 gymnasiums, 8 art schools and 5 special schools. The 230,000 pupils are managed by 22,000 employees in over 500 buildings, covering around 1.1 million square metres (12 million square feet).
Belgrade has an extensive public transport system based on buses (118 urban lines and more than 300 suburban lines), trams (12 lines), and trolleybuses (8 lines). It is run by GSP Beograd and SP Lasta, in cooperation with private companies on various bus routes. The BusPlus ticketing system based on contactless smart cards began operating in February 2012. Belgrade also has a S-train network, BG Voz, now run by the city government (previous commuter railway network, Beovoz, was abolished around 2013). The main railway station connects Belgrade with other European capitals and many towns in Serbia. Travel by coach is also popular, and the capital is well-served with daily connections to every town in Serbia and to many other European destinations through the central bus station.
The city is placed along the Pan-European corridors X and VII. The motorway system provides for easy access to Novi Sad and Budapest, in the north; Niš to the south; and Zagreb, to the west. Expressway is also toward Pancevo and new Expressway construction toward Obrenovac (Montenegro) is set scheduled for March 2017. Belgrade bypass is connecting the E70 and E75 motorways and it is currently under construction.
Situated at the confluence of two major rivers, the Danube and the Sava, Belgrade has 11 bridges—the four main ones are Branko's bridge, Ada Bridge, Pupin Bridge and the Gazela Bridge, both of which connect the core of the city to New Belgrade. Further, an "inner magistral semi-ring" is almost done and include a new Ada Bridge across the Sava river and Pupin Bridge across Danube river, which eased commuting within the city and unload the Gazela and Branko's bridge traffic.
The Port of Belgrade is on the Danube, and allows the city to receive goods by river. The city is also served by Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport, 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) west of the city centre, near Surčin. At its peak in 1986, almost 3 million passengers travelled through the airport, though that number dwindled to a trickle in the 1990s. Following renewed growth in 2000, the number of passengers reached approximately 2 million in 2004 and 2005, over 2.6 million passengers in 2008, reaching over 3 million passengers. All-time peak, with over 4 million passengers, was accomplished in 2014, when Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport became the second fastest growing major airport in Europe.
Beovoz is the suburban/commuter railway network that provides mass-transit services in the city, similar to Paris' RER and Toronto's GO Transit. The main usage of today's system is to connect the suburbs with the city centre. Beovoz is operated by Serbian Railways. Belgrade suburban railway system connects suburbs and nearby cities to the west, north and south of the city. It began operation in 1992 and currently has 5 lines with 41 stations divided in two zones.
Belgrade was one of the last big European capitals and cities with over a million people to have no metro/subway or other rapid transit system. The Belgrade Metro is considered the third most important project in the country, after work on roads and railways. The two projects of highest priority are the Belgrade bypass and the Pan-European Corridor X.
List of Belgrade's sister and twin cities:
Other friendships and cooperations, protocols, memorandums:
Some of the city's municipalities are also twinned to small cities or districts of other big cities; for details see their respective articles.
Belgrade has received various domestic and international honors, including the French Légion d'honneur (proclaimed 21 December 1920; Belgrade is one of four cities outside France, alongside Liège, Luxembourg and Volgograd, to receive this honour), the Czechoslovak War Cross (awarded 8 October 1925), the Yugoslavian Order of the Karađorđe's Star (awarded 18 May 1939) and the Yugoslavian Order of the People's Hero (proclaimed on 20 October 1974, the 30th anniversary of the overthrow of Nazi German occupation during World War II). All of these decorations were received for the war efforts during the World War I and World War II. In 2006, Financial Times' magazine Foreign Direct Investment awarded Belgrade the title of City of the Future of Southern Europe.