There is everything in Belgrade – from hipster cafes and vegan restaurants, riverboat clubs to well-hidden small taverns where people dance and sing until dawn. But everyone will agree on one thing – Skadarlija is something special. Maybe tavern is not the right word for these types of places. Kafana is! You need to experience it to know why it should never be translated.
Old Belgrade still lives on the cobblestones of Skadarlija. The one from the 19th century. Facades, tambourines and checkered tablecloths give this neighborhood an authentic look. In the evening, when street lights are lit in other parts of the capital, this is the street where they are dimmed. Lighting in bars and outside leaves the impression that we have wandered into another era. The tradition of that time is best kept by taverns “Three Hats”, “Golden Pitcher” and “Two Deer”.
Some of the greatest artists gathered here – painters, writers, actors, musicians, poets… It is a place that gave birth to the most beautiful verses of Serbian literature, a place where everyone is welcome. Skadarlija and its taverns were the sources for many newspaper articles, very important things always happen there. Kafana (tavern) is the forerunner of the internet. They were the center of social, cultural and political life. Great writers like Bora Stanković, Branislav Nušić and Đuro Jakšić were regular guests, and it was completely natural for Toma Zdravković to sing in your ear. World renowned names visited Skadarlija’s taverns – Tina Turner, Sophia Loren, Jimmy Carter, Pierce Brosnan…
That is why this street has been sung many times in old-town and folk songs, as well as in songs of popular culture. It is the hero of many novels, a place many have met at, and sadly, a place where many said their goodbyes. The first weddings were held right on this street. Skadarlija was a city promenade, a place for dances, and in 1908 the first performance of the Belgrade Opera was performed right there.
As Belgrade expanded, this strictly guarded place began to change its appearance as decaying houses and inns from the 19th century fell into disrepair. For a long time, some buildings withstood the test of time, but as the capital changed, so did Skadarska Street. The famous violinist and chronicler of Skadarlija, Jovan Malešević Tuto, spoke with enthusiasm and nostalgia about this symbol of the city: “Skadarlija was created by good, family people, hosts, merchants, respectable citizens, but also many who led a bohemian life and whose professions were freer – painters, writers, journalists, actors. Everyone loved the song. The real, folk music. They loved listening to my violin too. They often said to me: Play, Tuto, don’t stop!”
Today it is one of the biggest tourist attractions for all visitors. There is no tourist who is not recommended to visit Skadarska Street, in order to fully experience the spirit of Belgrade. It is estimated that tens of thousands of tourists visit it annually.
Everything is allowed here – to rejoice, to cry, sing and play. And there’s no judgment. Skadarlija’s taverns are a place where stories are passed down through generations, where secrets are kept, and love is born. The most beautiful winter mornings and summer dawns are greeted here. With the sound of the tambourine, the nights of Skadarlija are the ones you remember forever.