It’s unfortunate how war could come and destroy nations— crushing hopes, taking lives, erasing cities. If you’re unlucky enough, then you might find your country or city being visited by war twice, maybe thrice. No matter what it is, I’m pretty sure it’s not as bad as Belgrade: a city so geographically unlucky that they battled over not only one or two but 115 wars, and it had been destroyed and rebuilt 44 times.

Belgrade’s Geographical Location

Belgrade was the capital of Yugoslavia, located on the crossroads of the Sava and Danube Rivers— the meeting point of different civilizations. That would mean that if Europe wanted to invade the Middle East, they’d have to pass through Belgrade first. That goes true the other way around.

Its valleys were also attractive to invaders. These were the main reasons why Belgrade became a regular when it came to invaders.

Before any sort of invasion, Belgrade was occupied by Paleo-Balkan tribes of Thracians and Dacians who farmed its rich land until the Celtics arrived in 279 BC and called the city “Singidūn,” becoming its first invader and ruler for more than 200 years.

The Beginning of Never-Ending Invasion

Then came the Romans, who began conquering the lands surrounding Singidun during the 1st century BC. By 34–33 BC, it reached Singidun and held the city for more than 400 years. Then came the Huns, who sold the Roman inhabitants of Singidun as slaves until Romans reclaimed the city once more. It didn’t last long because the Sarmatians conquered the city, followed by the Ostrogoths. The Gepids followed after, but the Ostrogoths were able to reclaim the Singidun. The Eastern Roman Empire went back and took the city back. In the early half of the 7th century, the Avars arrived and burned the city to the ground. By 442, Attila the Hun ravaged the city.

The Romans went back, now called Byzantines, and fought with the Avars, Kingdom of Hungary, and the Bulgarian Empire for the next 400 plus years.

The Kingdom of Syrmia turned Belgrade into its capital and hosted the first, second, and third crusade armies. Belgrade was given to Stefan Dragutin by Stephen V, and he became the first Serbian king to rule Belgrade.

Plan of Belgrade
Plan of Belgrade in period 1688-1690, after Holy League, captured it from Ottomans. (Gumpp Johann Baptista, 1651-1728/Wikimedia Commons)

The Serbian Empire crumbled when the Ottoman Empire began conquering its territory. And so Belgrade was returned to the Kingdom of Hungary after resisting the Ottoman Empire for 70 years. Eventually, the Ottomans succeeded. They deported the whole Orthodox Christian population to Istanbul. Then the Hapsburg Empire of Austria came and occupied Belgrade thrice, although the Ottoman successfully retrieved it back. The struggle continued until World War I, when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. When the war finished, Belgrade became the capital of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929.

Belgrade Towards Freedom

Demonstrations in Belgrade
Demonstrations in Belgrade (Wikimedia Commons).

In 1941, Prince Paul of Yugoslavia joined the Axis power to be neutral during WWII. The people didn’t like the decision and started a coup d’etat. That did not stop Yugoslavia from being bombed by the Allied forces in 1944. In 1945, Yugoslavia fell under Marshal Josip Broz Tito’s good leadership.

Today, Belgrade was placed by BBC among the five most creative cities in the world. Its rich and vibrant culture combined with its lively and exciting nightlife is definitely worth visiting.

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