Reconnecting With My Roots, A Trip To Serbia – Belgrade Part 1

By Goran Prvulovic

After having a busy past few weeks, I’ve been trying to re-establish a normal blogging schedule again. Last time, we finished up our rural escapades throughout Serbia’s countryside, brushing past one of it’s most famous cultural landmarks, the Golubac castle. Now we’ve reached the other half of this trip, which is focused on the capital city of Serbia, Belgrade.

According to Wikipedia, Belgrade literally means the “White City.” Located where the Danube and Sava rivers converge, the 1.6 million residents reside in one of the most culturally rich cities in the entirety of the Balkans. Evidence of ancient settlements on this key location on the river dates back to the 6th millennium, with various Thracian and Dacian tribes residing in the area before Roman occupation.


Among the most beautiful parts of the Serbian cultural scene is its architecture, most notably it’s churches. The city boasts one of the largest Orthodox Christian churches in the entire world, the Church of Saint Sava. Styled in a neo-byzantine fashion, this church has a capacity of over 10,000, and once completed, would be the largest church of its kind on the planet. Although much of the building is still under development, my son and I were able to browse through the beautiful mausoleum and crypt.


As is often the case with orthodox church’s, lavish decorations are usually the norm. This particular crypt was so adorned with various icons and images that I felt compelled to take some pictures of what I saw. The photo above features my son looking at the iconography of one of many walls depicting religious scenes (photo 1).

Here’s another picture of the same crypt but from a much different angle. Looking straight up at the hanging chandelier, the icons of four different saints split the image up in a slightly, off-centre fashion. It’s not the kind of sight you will stumble across your day to day life, and that’s especially why I like this scene as a photograph (photo 2).


Aside from the church of Saint Sava, the second most famous church in Belgrade is St. Marks Church. Completed in 1940 during world war two, this modern, Byzantine-styled building was built on the site of an older, previous church that dates back to 1835. Here is a frontal picture of the church (photo 3).


Another prominent church is St. Michael’s Cathedral, which I managed to take a couple of pictures of (photo 4 and photo 5). In both the photos above and below, I experimented with where I wanted to place the subject of my image. The clear sky above gave these images a charming simplicity, dividing the picture into three visual areas, the sky, the trees, and the church steeple. Either way, you can’t deny the effect having excellent weather has on your photographs.

Seeing again these types of buildings in this distinctly eastern European style is a refreshing change from the more bland looking churches the dot the landscape of North America, at least from an architectural and aesthetic standpoint.

Until next time,

Goran

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Reconnecting With My Roots, A Trip To Serbia - Bukovo Monastery

By Goran Prvulovic

My trip throughout Serbia has led to me revisiting a number of places from my past, most notably would be areas surrounding my hometown. I was born in a small city on the eastern side of Serbia called Negotin, close to the Romanian border and the Danube River. It’s mainly known as a wine region, but also for some of its historical monuments, such as Ravanica, which I wrote about earlier.


One particular site to note is the Bukovo monastery. Founded in the late 13th or early 14th century by the Serbian king Stefan Milutin (1282-1321), it’s a small albeit fascinating church surrounded by a forested area that helps keep the site secluded. Something that foreigners will notice in Serbia that’s uncommon in North America are the natural springs in the area. Fountains of pure, gushing spring water are built in areas where that same groundwater comes out of the earth naturally. As such, it’s a common sight to see people driving all the way to the church to fill up some of the site’s spring water to take home.

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In this black and white picture of the entire site, you can see the fountain to the bottom right, just below the cross. Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve been getting in the habit of shooting my pictures in black and white so I can focus on my compositional skills more, something that you will notice throughout the rest of my photos from Serbia.

 

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Here is a close-up of the main tower, one of the oldest, untampered parts of the church. Although some parts of the building were refurbished, this part is largely undisturbed. When walking into the church, you’ll notice a set of abandoned stone stairs that lead up to the tower. Although we weren’t allowed to access them, you could almost imagine what it must have been like as a monk hundreds of years ago living in this location, secluded from civilization.

 

 

 

 

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Another version of the same picture, here I am trying to replicate an old, early 20th-century style of picture. I got fairly close, although you will notice that the fresco still has some color to it, something that was a deliberate decision on my part. It’s an interesting contrast, to be sure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Here’s the sight from the entrance of the monastery walking straight in, with that staircase I mentioned being along the right-hand side. The architectural style is fairly interesting, with an array of pillars leading to a fountain inside of the site.

 

 

 

 

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Here is a close-up of the door leading inside of the church. Although we weren’t lucky enough to be able to go inside and see the interior of the church, we had to settle with just touring the inside of the complex – which is beautiful enough as it is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Here we have a close-up of the pillars in the central hallway of the site. Notice the Byzantine crosses on the pillars. I’ve also positioned myself so the pillars line themselves up in a nice way through proper composition, creating a series of leading lines that draw your eyes along the image.

The church also has a residential area perched right above the tourist site where the priest and clergy live, although it’s not a common spot for photographers to capture.

Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed some of these pictures, and I will have some more to come in the future.

Goran Prvulovic