The massive Cathedral of Saint Sava (“Temple of Saint Sava” in Serbian) clad in white marble and granite echoes the name of Belgrade’s white city. Built and dedicated to Saint Sava whom was the founder of Serbian Orthodox Cathedral. I could not see the cathedral while walking along the street of Bulevar Oslobođenja from Nemanjina street, with the buildings blocking my view. The iconic landmark of Serbian Capital city sits on a park shared by the National Library of Serbia and a smaller Saint Sava Church, whereas the park is surrounded by a buzzing neighbourhood.
Hmm…just came back from some PJ party…?
Prayer from a distance…
Impressive Orthodox Cathedral in Belgrade
The Neo-Byzantine style Orthodox Cathedral is truly a sight to behold. Its emerald-green-colour dome, golden cross and the massive white structure are unmistakeable once I am near the park. It’s believed that the remains of Saint Sava were burnt by the Ottoman at this ground.
The statue of Saint Sava next to the Cathedral.
Unfinished Cathedral of Saint Sava
A cathedral of such scale must have an impressive interior to match right? But no, far from it, and that’s because the cathedral’s interior is still in an unfinished state. Despite the ongoing works, the interior is open to the public. Don’t expect too much though, it’s mostly empty inside except for a small praying area and souvenir stall.
Otherwise, it’s more likely to remind you of a construction site fenced up with forklifts, cranes, scaffolding, building materials and workers around. The sound of knocking and drilling echoes every now and then. I just take that as a rare opportunity to see a Cathedral construction in progress. Do note about the empty interior and manage your expectation if you are visiting Belgrade and wanting to see the Cathedral else you may end up being disappointed.
Why did it take so long? The preparation goes way back to 1894 but numerous design changes at the beginning delayed the construction start time to 1935. Various wars in between halted the progress until 1985 and now are pretty much due to the lack of funds.
So, it’s more than a hundred year in the making and down to just the interior, I’m sure it will have an interior to match its exquisitely beautiful exterior once completed. And I hope to be back to see that!
I went on to check out St. Mark Church at Tasmajdan Park from Cathedral of Saint Sava. The centrally located large green park in front by a nice looking cascading water fountain with two prominent bronze statues. One of them is the late Serbian writer, Milorad Pavic accompanying by the flag of Serbia.
The quiet park looks to be a great place to spend a lazy afternoon with family and friends.
The other is not Serbian but the late President of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev… which is somewhat surprising given his controversial reputation. Not sure what’s the reason behind the statue being here…
The bombing of Tasmajdan Park
Sadly, the peaceful looking park was among the targets of NATO bombing in 1999, largely aimed at the former Serbian Broadcasting Corporation located here, and yet the collateral damage of that assault includes a children’s theatre. Many innocent children were killed in that senseless bombing…madness!!!!
We were just children.
Such simple words…this heart-shaped monument is dedicated to the children killed during the bombing. It moved me to tears thinking about these poor kids and their parents in grieve forever. WTF NATO?! Why?!
St. Mark Church
I moved along with a heavy heart towards St. Mark Church (Crkva Svetog Mark), another iconic Orthodox Cathedral.
Somewhat similar to Cathedral of Saint Sava, the Serbo-Byzantine style church interior decoration is still largely unfinished minus the construction mess. I really like the retro-looking facades colours of St. Mark Church but didn’t stay long, perhaps yet to overcome the sadness after seeing the heart-shaped monument.
Just beside the church is a small Russian Orthodox Church.