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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 24 Aug 2019
TRAVEL 14 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 24 AUGUST 2019 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Sava Port at Belgrade’s Danube. PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS Danubian Byzantium ALEXANDER BILLINIS G eography, so goes the saying, is destiny. Belgrade is a city founded by natural and political geography. A hilly salient at the confluence of two major rivers, the Danube and the Sava, which has always figured prominently in commerce, conquest, culture, and conflict. Few cities I have visited conjure up instantly conflicting feelings of centre and periphery as this hilly, charming, and haphazard city. Geography accentuates the dual (and duelling) sensations of proximity and distance in Belgrade. The city is so close to Central Europe geographically, yet so far away culturally. Despite the distance from Salonika, Belgrade more accurately resembles the Aegean metropolis in terms of feel and culture than it does Central European towns just across the Danube. Belgrade is a vibrant European city, close in proximity to the heart of Europe, yet its mindset, stoicism, and culture make the city seem far away from other Danubian towns just up the river. Borders and shading always fascinate me, and Danubian, Balkan Belgrade, is both a frontier and a centre. These kinds of places often foster creativity among the inhabitants, and a built-in cosmopolitanism. Such places also foster a certain insecurity. Thus, Belgraders (Beogradjani) will emphasise, in word, deed, and architecture, their modernity, their Western-ness, and at the same time, their distinctive, St Sava’s Cathedral in Belgrade, Serbia. Rigas Feraios.
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