A Breath of Fresh Air
Belgrade is one of Europe’s greenest capitals, with its many natural oases located both in the outskirts and in the vicinity of the city center. If you’re a fan of outdoor recreation, you will find Belgrade’s parks, promenades or picnic sites to be the perfect environment for your everyday or weekend activities. Bike lanes are available in some parts of the city, and tourists are invited to join one of the guided bicycle tours through the city. In Ada Ciganlija, there are sand courts for playing beach volleyball, as well as many other facilities for sports such as water skiing, bungee jumping, golf, horse riding etc.
The following list includes protected objects and spatial wholes:
‘Jevremovac’ Botanical Garden – a natural monument with more than 250 kinds of trees and 300 plant species.
Banjica Forest – an ornithological reserve for migratory birds.
Great War Island – a migratory or nith of a una reserve.
Pioneers Park – a protected environment next to the Old Palace cultural monument.
Kalemegdan – a protected environment of the Belgrade Fortress and Belgrade Zoo.
Topčider and Košutnjak – a cultural and historical whole.
Zemun Park – a protected environment within the Old Core of Zemun cultural monument.
THE WATER BODIES OF BELGRADE
Belgrade lies at the confluence of one of the longest European rivers, the Danube, and the Sava, which is among the longest rivers in the Balkan peninsula. In the very heart of Belgrade, these two rivers meet, creating a memorable landscape, known simply as the Confluence, which offers a unique experience to all those who love rivers and Belgrade. The Danube is navigable along its entire course through Belgrade. In summertime, its visitors have the opportunity to see the city from the rivers, as well as from Kalemegdan, the old fortress dating from the age of Turkish rule. A variety of water sports can be practiced every day. In the spring, boat races are organized on the rivers and both professionals and amateurs are invited to take part. The Danube flows through Belgrade in the length of 60 km. It is on the banks of this river that Hans Christian Andersen is believed to have written his famous fairytale ‘The Ugly Duckling’. Two bridges cross the Danube – the Mihajlo Pupin Bridge (built in the 21st century) and the Pančevo Bridge.
In comparison to the Danube, the river Sava is somewhat smaller. It is also navigable along its entire 30 km long course through Belgrade. The Sava joins the Danube exactly at the base of the Kalemegdan Fortress. There are no words to describe the view of the Confluence from the fortress and vice versa. Each season or hour of the day have their own moments of beauty and wonder, and this place is believed to provide rest and enjoyment to all the senses for a reason. All the other bridges connecting Belgrade’s districts run across the Sava: Ada Bridge, ‘Gazela’, Branko’s Bridge, Old Sava Bridge, Old Railway Bridge, New Railway Bridge and the Ostružnica Bridge.
Beside these two great rivers which are important on the European scale, several different local rivers also flow through Belgrade, such as:
Topčider River, that is, a stream that runs through the Topčider Park. Its riverbed is mostly paved with concrete as it flows through several of the city’s districts located along the railroad to Nis (Ripanj, Pinosava, Resnik).
Kumodraž River or Kumodraž Stream, which flows through the city district of Voždovac. At its source, the water is safe to use.
Ada Ciganlija, or as the locals call it the Belgrade Sea, is in fact a peninsula on the bank of the Sava, located only a few kilometers away from the city center. In the summer, crowds of people and children gather on the lake to swim, soak up the sun, practice sports… There are a number of courts for playing volleyball, basketball, paths for bicycles and roller skates, a bungee jumping facility, children’s playgrounds etc. Ada has been under state management as a public good since the half of the 19th century. Ada Ciganlija is the organized part of the ‘Belgrade Sea’, but those who prefer wilderness and completely natural environments recommend Ada Medjica, the other, hidden part of Ada. This part of the city is regarded as an ecological oasis, abounding in both water bodies and woodlands. The majority of animals that live in the midst of this untouched landscape are birds (wild ducks, pigeons, pheasants, quails…) but you can also run into roe deer or wild rabbits.
The beach surrounding the artificial lake has all the necessary infrastructure and is one of the largest artificial lake beaches in the world. The lake is good for swimming, canoeing, rowing, water jumping, water polo, surf boarding and other water sports. Also, it is an ideal fishing spot. In the summer, the area is full of visitors looking to relax and enjoy the many festivals and programs that take place here. There are also many restaurants, floating bars and houses on the water offering features that contribute to Belgrade’s life and Ada itself. A large parking lot is found nearby and a small harbor meant for yachts and small boats. The Great War Island is located at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers and has always been an important strategic point in the conquering or defense of Belgrade. Today, the island is home to many holiday cottages and a large beach called Lido, or as the locals call it the Ada of Zemun, on the Zemun facing side. The island is an ecological reserve of extreme importance with a substantial population of rare and endangered bird species.
Ada Huja is situated on the Danube, four kilometers away from the city center. There are plans to make this space an organized ecological zone with various sports facilities as well as bars and restaurants. The longest kart racing track in the Balkans is also located in Ada Huja.
Gročanska Ada is an island in the Danube in the city district of Grocka, some three kilometers long and 500 meters wide. It is one of the largest woodlands in the Belgrade area.
Ada Medjica is an island in the river Sava, located between Ada Ciganlija and the city district of New Belgrade. Many privately owned holiday homes are found on the island.
In addition to these large and very important bodies of water in the center of Belgrade, we should also mention some of the lakes found in the areas of other city districts. The majority of Belgrade’s lakes are accumulative lakes, such as the lake Duboki potok in Barajevo. This lake is suitable for swimming and fishing, both for recreation or competition.
In the territory of the city district Čukarica there is a lake called Rakina bara, the only natural lake in Belgrade.
The lake Očaga is found in the city district of Lazarevac and has great potential for the creation of sports and recreation facilities and the development of tourism.
Several kilometers away from Mladenovac you can visit the lake called Markovačko jezero, with its rich flora and fauna. Beside the oak, cerris and acacia woods, many kinds of fish (carp, pike, bass) and birds (white herons, wild ducks, grey herons…) live in and around this lake. Rabrovačko jezero, created as an accumulation of the local river, also belongs to the city district of Mladenovac.
Lake Pariguz is found at the base of Mt. Avala, in the territory of the city district of Resnik. Its mud is believed to have healing properties and to be beneficial in treating hemorrhoids, which is how it got its name, a combination of the words ‘but’ and ‘steam’.
There are many thermal and mineral water springs in the area surrounding Belgrade. Selters Spa is located in the vicinity of Mladenovac. The temperature of its alkaline muriatic thermo-mineral water at the source is 50 °C. Its water has been used since 1893 and has beneficial effects on the skeletal system, neurological disorders and post-traumatic states. Koraćica Spa is situated near the Selters Spa, in the woodland below Mt. Kosmaj. Locals have been using its mineral water, which measures 30°C, since late 19th century.
The first nautical village in Serbia has been created in the village called Boljevci, located in the area of the city district Surčin. This is an ideal location for outings, relaxation, sports, recreation, fishing…