Thursday, October 25, 2018

'St .Sava' and ' Sukkat Shalom'

If and when I visit a church  it's for its history, art, and architecture mainly, not for religious purposes, as I'm of jewish faith.  
In Belgrade, I visited both a famous orthodox church (St. Sava) and the only active synagogue in town (Sukkat Shalom). They say, during the WW2, the church was used by the Nazis as a parking lot, and the synagogue as a brothel.(OMG!).

The serbian St.Sava Temple, not far from the Slavija square mentioned in my previous post,  merits all the high epithets available in the vocabulary: amazing, mind-blowing, stunning, spectacular, breath-taking...

Temple of Saint Sava

the main entrance area

It's big, and  a work in progress ; the galeries on the first level are still under renovation process; the dome and downstairs crypt are already finished and provide the visitor with much wonder and excitement.

Such richness of structure, vivid colors, fiery lights and fine materials (marble, granite, stone, crystal, gold)!
Such beauty of frescoes, murals, icons!

marble columns

gorgeous candelabre

superb arches and floor

people contemplating the paintings

My small, rudimentary digital camera cannot do justice to the sights inside and outside this gem.


arch above exit from the crypt

   stairs leading to upper level


The church is surrounded by a lovely, peaceful garden with fountains and benches.

sitting on the edge of the fountain

On my way out, I noticed  the statue of Nicola Tesla in the church yard. I liked that very much. A scientist honoured in the courtyard of a church!!
After all ,science and religion are not the best of pals.

statue of Nicola Tesla in the church garden

During my brief stay in Belgrade, I got the impression that Nicola Tesla (1858-1943) is probably the most beloved and respected figure in Serbia. The airport is named after him, there's a  museum (in the same area as the church) dedicated to his life and work as an inventor, researcher, engineer, physicist; there are monuments in the city honoring his memory, and more...

museum Nicola Tesla

Compared to the 'St.Sava' church, 'Sukkat Shalom' (Dwelling of Peace ) synagogue is very modest . Still,  nice building and yard, beautiful interior. On the day of my visit, people in the courtyard were disassembling the 'sukka'  ( the hut-like structure in use during the jewish Sukkot holiday week).

The synagogue building is not only a place of worship but also one  of study and of community meetings, as it also houses the jewish community center with its various cultural and social activities. 

approaching the  gate

  tiny yellow sign with the name of the synagogue

beautiful iron gate with David's shield in the middle

building's top with a David's shield, seen from the outside

exterior of the synagogue ( entrance covered by the trees)

 prayer hall: upper balcony for women

'Aron Hakodesh'  - Torah scrolls closet

Despite the fact that the synagogue and the little, well kept, very interesting jewish museum (placed on another street) are centrally located, I haven't spotted them easily as they are kind of integrated with the rest of the buildings in the row, with no visible signage. I've also felt slightly bitter about the security measures at the entrance. One can freely visit a church or a mosque, but not a synagogue or a jewish institution.

captive women (jewish museum)

Moses and the 10 commandements (jewish museum)

And yet, there was something that made my day. On the way to the synagogue there's a small eatery with a big sign Tel Aviv Hummus House. It's a popular place for those who love  falafel, hummus, tahini and other middle eastern food. The visible yellow and blue sign , and the popularity of the place (open 24/7) are the best answer to terror threats and security measures.

Tel - Aviv Hummus House

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Change of Scenery - A Taste of Belgrade

Change of scenery  is more important than one may think. In my case, an 'escape'  to a place with a different decor and a different language  always inspires me, lifts my spirits, improves my health. It's worth the effort.

Duty Free area at the Ben-Gurion airport in Israel

The cheapest flight on the market starting with end of September, was to Belgrade , the capital city of Serbia, and of former Yugoslavia .  So, here I come, Belgrade.

Life in Belgrade ('belgrade' means  white city)  revolves mainly around three bodies of water ( river  Danube, river Sava, artificial lake Ada Ciganlija) , the old fortress Kalemegdan, , and Stari Grad (old town).  These places offer a lot of activities to all:  adults and kids, locals and tourists.

Sava river bank seen from the bankmost bridge

souvenir stalls at the entrance of Kalemegdan park and fortress

Oops! Belgrade doesn't have a metro ( only a mall named Metro..). I was rather disappointed as the Metro is the shortest, cheapest, fastest way to get around. Bus frequency is  pretty good here, but it may take some 20 or more minutes to reach your destination, and that's a lot of time when all you have is a week (albeit a week netto. I don't count the arrival day in the evening and the departure day before noon.).

On the other hand, the main squares  that make up the heart and center of the Old Town (Stari Grad) with its various  landmarks, are not far from each other. So, if you have good shoes and a good map,  you can do it on foot. 
English language, by the way, won't help you much here. I've got some knowledge of cyrillic letters, and that helped find streets and places.

Beautiful Moskva hotel in Terazije square

Amazing Sava Temple (in Slavija sq.) as seen from the little street with the same name

Zeleni Venac square, reminded me of the saying "all the roads lead to Rome". Yes, this square is a kind of Rome, as everything is here : buses to and fro (including airport bus), a McDonalds, a city market, a tiny flea market, little shops, banks, you name it; very colorful square- not far from the main railway/bus station, and from the other main squares (Republik, Terazije, Slavija) of the old town.

the roof covered market in Zeleni Venac

railway station building; looks good, but inside seems deserted

The symbol of the city is a very popular tall, greenish, bronze monument - the Victor statue - erected in honor of serbian victory over the turks in the first balkan war . It represents a naked man holding a sword in one hand and a pigeon in another. It has an ideal location - up on the fortress plateau - overlooking the confluence of Danube & Sava rivers, and the newer part of Belgrade . It can be seen from many parts of the city. 

the Victor monument

Me at the monument site

While walking on the bridge (bankmost) connecting the two parts of Belgrade, from the cosmopolitan USCE shopping center back to the old city, I looked up to see the guy - and there he was; a very distant but familiar sight.
Usce shopping center

on the bridge from Usce to town- 'Victor'  seen only by enlargement

More about Belgrade - in my next posts.