Story: Knez Mihailova is one of the oldest streets in Belgrade. It dates back to Roman times as the central point for the city of Singidunum–the ancient city which is now Belgrade. During Ottoman occupation, the city held its status by being lined with prominent shops, housing and mosques. The street’s current look took shape in the 1870s as the architecture and decor shifted from a Turkish feel to the more Eastern European/Austro-Hungarian look which can still be seen today. Still, the prominence of the street remains with surrounding embassies, government structures, and historical landmarks.
While the street has undergone much transformation, you can still experience the same life-attracting spirit today as Knez Mihailova remains a focal point of the city. Thousands of people move up and down the street daily while shopping, meeting at cafes, attending one of the academies on the street, or simply going to work. The street has been listed as a cultural site for preservation; one of the most beautiful pedestrian zones in Eastern Europe; and it is recognized by BusinessWeek for its shopping during Christmas time. The street tells the long story of Belgrade while carrying on a spirit began in a bygone era.
Vibe: Did I mention this is a pedestrian zone? No auto traffic to disrupt a stroll. Walking down the street is relaxing or at least should be. The street is wide enough that even on a “crowded” day there is plenty of space. Few people if any seem to be in a hurry to get somewhere. They take time to enjoy a coffee, snack, or full-on meal at one of the many cafes.
Local performers and musicians are postioned along the street. Some are there during the day, but most do their busking at night. Make it a point to gather with the locals around such performances or venture into one of the local pubs/cafes to enjoy some of the simple nightlife Belgrade offers.
Recommendations: Walk the full kilometer of the street and take your time. Explore the side streets, the open air book stands, and the plethora of cafes that line the main street. Look for a place called the “Question Mark” restaurant for local fare and a piece of history.
Notes: Knez Mihailova is not only a cultural and historic site, but also an important starting point to other parts of Belgrade. Be sure to get a map of it and surrounding areas that will open up other adventures.
Be aware of the parking in this area. During the week, it can be pricey and difficult to find. You might consider a bus or tram. Sundays are free. And you might find a spot right off the street if you can get your car into a tight space.
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