10 Fun Facts About Serbia

Tomorrow Air Serbia will be launching nonstop flights between Belgrade and New York, which represents an exciting development for an airline which previously only operated regionally.

Air-Serbia-A330

To celebrate this new route, Air Serbia is generously giving a lucky blog reader two business class tickets on their new flight. In yesterday’s post I explained how you can enter to win, so be sure to check that out to enter, as the contest runs through Sunday.

I have to be honest, I’m not especially knowledgable about Serbia. I had heard great things, but it was never really on my “list.”

However, I’ve been interested in visiting since this new route was announced, especially given that Air Serbia is an Etihad Airways Partner. This makes Serbia easily accessible, and as a Starwood loyalty I see that there’s even a great Luxury Collection property in Belgrade, the Metropol Palace (though I realize much of the beauty of Serbia goes beyond the capital).

Metropol-Palace
Metropol Palace, Belgrade

With that in mind, I figured it would be fun to look at 10 fun facts about Serbia, which Air Serbia shared with me.

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Photo credit: National Tourism Organization of Serbia

In no particular order:

1. Serbia’s capital is one of the oldest cities in Europe.

Excavations have confirmed that settlements continuously existed here for at least 7000 years. In the third century BC there was a Celtic settlement on the territory of Belgrade, and after that the Roman fortress of Singidunum on the Sava River. During several centuries the fortress went through many changes and restorations becoming one of the main fortifications in Europe. Today, the castle is a museum and home to the Kalemegdan park.

Not far from Belgrade center, in its outskirts, remnants of two of the most prominent cultures of the Bronze Age can be found – Vinča and Starčevo cultures.

Modern Belgrade is a vibrant metropolis, a regional economic and cultural center, also famous for its entertainment and nightlife, ranking high among party places in the world.

2. Land of a rich history and heritage.

The 12th century Serbian Orthodox monastery of Studenica was built after the abdication of the Grand Prince Stefan Nemanja, the founder of the first powerful Serbian state. Stefan Nemanja’s son Rastko was the first archbishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church, later canonized and widely venerated as Saint Sava.

Other than Studenica, the medieval monasteries of Dečani, Gračanica, Sopoćani, Our Lady of Ljeviš, the Patriarchy in Peć and the old fortress of Ras are all part of UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites, which also includes the Roman palace Romuliana of Galerius, near Zaječar, and the remains of the Roman settlement Justiniana Prima, near Leskovac.

Miroslav’s Gospel, the oldest surviving Serbian manuscript, written in 1180, is also part of UNESCO’s World Documentary Heritage.

3. Birthplace of Roman emperors.

18 Roman emperors were born on the territory of modern day Serbia. The most famous of them was definitely Constantine the Great, Roman emperor who declared Christianity as the official religion. Moreover, Serbia is home to one of 4 Roman capitals – the ancient city of Sirmium, today’s Sremska Mitrovica.

4. Those raspberries you are eating are probably Serbian!

Serbia is the largest raspberry exporter, producing 30% of the total. Serbia is also one of the largest exporters of plums and prunes. It is estimated that by 2017 Serbia will be the leader in plum, apple and pear exports in Europe.

5. Serbia on the first transatlantic video transmission.

The first satellite transmission in 1963 between Europe and North America was a picture of the White Angel fresco from the walls of the Serbian mideival monastery of Mileševa.

6. A Serbian word everyone knows.

‘Vampire’ is the only word of Serbian origin that is known the world over.

7. On the path of the mighty Danube.

Europe’s largest gorge, the Đerdap Gorge is situated in Serbia. The mighty Danube river flows through it. The area is also home to Lepenski Vir, the site of one of the first civilizations in Europe, famous for its stunning sculptures, created over 7000 years ago.

8. Serbia’s contribution to science.

Despite of its turbulent history, the country produced enormous talent in the field of science. Nikola Tesla, regarded as one of the most important inventors in history, was a Serbian. Tesla made great discoveries in the disciplines of electric current and magnetism. His name is also used as the unit of magnetic induction. When Albert Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize, a reporter asked him “What is it like to be the smartest person in the world?”, and he replied “I don’t know. Ask Nikola Tesla.”

Apart from Tesla, Milutin Milanković (mathematician, astronomer, climatologist, geophysicist, civil engineer,), Mihajlo I. Pupin (physicist and physical chemist), Josif Pančić (botanist, doctor, a famous lecturer), Mihailo Petrović Alas (mathematician and inventor), Mileva Marić (physicist) and Vuk Stefanović Karadžić (philologist and linguist) are some of the other renowned scientists from Serbia.

9. Famous Serbian hospitality.

It is not only a word – according to the international polls, Serbs are statistically the most hospitable nation in the world. It is a custom of a vast legacy which can be traced to the ancient Slavic belief that a host would not gain any favour from the gods if he did not show hospitality to a guest.

10. The Devil dwells in Serbia!

One of Serbia’s most attractive natural phenomena has been named Devil’s Town by the locals. It is a site of strange forms, a complex of stone-capped, spindle-shaped pillars, comprising 220 figures created by the erosion of soil.

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Photo credit: National Tourism Organization of Serbia

While it’s a bit strange, here’s a video of Serbia made by the country’s tourism organization, which highlights some of the country’s beauty:

A lot of the above fascinated me, so I suspect some of you would be interested as well… especially the lucky person who ends up winning the free business class flights to Belgrade!

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

More articles by lucky »

Comments

  1. Technically AirSerbia has previously only operated regionally under this brand, but Air Serbia used to be JAT Airways, national carrier of the former Yugoslavia, which did have direct flights from Belgrade to Chicago O’Hare (and maybe more US cities?), I believe. Looking forward to this trip report!

  2. I have visited Serbia and can assure you they are far from the most hospitable people in the world.

  3. In my research on Belgrade in April when I considered the city as a potential September trip destination is the city is known for dance clubs and all-night party boats on the Danube in summer. It is considered one of the hot up and coming nightlife spots of Europe for travelers. And very inexpensive by US standards.

    That is probably more enticing as a selling point for Americans.

  4. JAT was the first of the eastern bloc airlines to buy western planes: they had a number of DC10s and quite a few 737s. They had a service to Australia back in the 70 and early 80s, from memory: Melbourne-Bangkok-Athens-Belgrade.
    The former Yugoslavia was always a bit independent of Moscow.
    It’s great to see Serbia promoting tourism: but maybe not the all-night dance parties.

  5. #9 is true for sure! A lovely country with very nice people.

    Also, Crowne Plaza Belgrade is HIGHLY recommended – great club lounge with local beer, good breakfast spread, pool, gym and very attentive service. Ask for a club room facing the Sava!

  6. There are building a new complex which will host both a W and a St. Regis.
    I don’t really know who that will be for, as most travelers are there for business.

  7. Um, on #2, much of the world including the United States government would argue that Dečani, Gračanica, and the Patriarchy in Peć are not in Serbia.

  8. I have lived in Serbia and a lot of those facts are simply not true. Macedonia, Bosnia, Albania have way more interesting things to see. People in Bulgaria at least are way better than the serbs in any respect.
    In my opinion dont waste your time in Serbia, its laden with corruption and you are more likely to get robbed there vs any of the EU countries. Fact check, there is NO US Embassy in Serbia, so if you get robbed or passport stolen you are on your own. Americans are not represented and Serbia lacks the security of the EU block. I have been robbed twice in Serbia and the cops could care less, both times gun held to head in broad daylight

  9. Having enjoyed a “Gullet Cruise” in nearby Croatia (from Split to Dubrovnik) we would have enjoyed a side trip to Croatia. Our favorite tennis player is also Serbian which also helps.

  10. I enjoyed wandering the streets of Belgrade last September, where so many people were out and about dining al fresco. The walking tour was somewhat interesting. All that said, I much preferred Bosnia, Montenegro and Croatia on our Balkans trip.

  11. Point of order: While Tesla was of Serbian descent, he was born and spent all his early life in what is now Croatia. They’ve turned his birthplace into a very cool little museum which houses some of his original inventions. Quite easy to visit if you happen to be driving to the coast from Zagreb.

  12. How about:
    No.11, Ethnic cleansing.
    No.12, Bombing of Dubrovnic.
    No.13, War Crimes.

  13. @Ivan Y

    Interesting you lived through so much while in Serbia. I have lived in Belgrade for more than three decades, yet I have never seen a person with any kind of firearm, except for the police. Actually, carrying a weapon is prohibited by law.

    While “Bulgarians are way better than serbs in any respect” doesn’t really deserves a reply, I’m going to share a link to the US Embassy in Belgrade. Serbia and the US have diplomatic relation since 19th century. So, next time you get “robbed at a gunpoint”, try serbia.usembassy.gov.

    Oh, and a fact check for you – on a list of murder rates, which is widely accepted as a proxy for measuring rate of violent crimes, Serbia ranks 188th out of 216 countries in the world – sharing the position with countries such as Portugal, Germany and New Zealand. You must be very unlucky. Or just full of it.

  14. @Michael Steffens

    Croatia did much worse things in WW2 and cleansed the Serbs in the operation Oluja. Even today they support fascist regime.

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