If you are looking for wide boulevards, sleek facades and skyscrapers – do not come to Belgrade. You will not find those things there. What you will find there are slippery cobblestone streets, wounded buildings and people who can take you to the sky. If you are looking for some breathtaking photo ops, it is also better not to come to Belgrade. You will not find them there. But there are stories that will, instead of making you lose your breath, breathe new life into you.
Belgrade is an untold story. Moreover, that city is a story that cannot be recounted. It is a city that a traveller’s eyes do not fall in love with, but his soul does. It never remains well captured by the traveller’s camera, only in his memories. Belgrade may look like some other cities from the outside, but it is unique because no traveller will ever be the same from the inside having visited it.
There are a lot of cities that are bigger, but rare are those that can make a traveller feel bigger. There are many places that are more beautiful, but rare are those that teach a traveller how to be more beautiful. There are countless magical places in this world, but very few that teach you magic.
You can learn from Belgrade how to be strong even if you have fallen countless times, you can realise that scars are not just stories from the past, but lessons for the future. You can learn how to remain well-meaning although you have been defamed, how to always be a Winner although you do not always win, and finally – how to realise that you are special. Not because of the impression you make on others, but because of the soul inside you. Because… that is what Belgrade is like. Special because of its soul.
So, chance guest – you should know this! You will not just drink coffee in Belgrade, you will enjoy it. You may not eat all kinds of fancy food, but you will feel full flavour. You may not listen to the best music, but you will dance the way you have never danced before. There, at the centre of the periphery, you may not learn another language, but you will learn how to understand people without much talk. You may not be able to hold the hand of the person you love, but you should know that Belgrade will never let go of your hand.
You will not be able to brush your skin against Belgrade without letting it get under your skin, walk miles across it in your wandering shoes without letting it kiss their soles, nor can you get to know Belgrade without letting it teach you how to get to know yourself better. Because there are countless cities in the world that have been created through construction, and very few of those that get bigger through destruction. There are numerous cities with stories to tell, but very few with a history. There are cities that are worth living in, but Belgrade is a special city that makes your life worth living. And it lets you go. Because it is the only way it makes sure you are ready to become a citizen of the world.
Translated from the Serbian by Svetlana Milivojević-Petrović
This post is also available in: Serbian