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Belgrade

Outspoken, adventurous, proud and audacious: Belgrade ('White City') is by no means a 'pretty' capital, but its gritty exuberance makes it one of Europe's most happening cities. While it hurtles towards a brighter future, its chaotic past unfolds before your eyes: socialist blocks are squeezed between art nouveau masterpieces, and remnants of the Habsburg legacy contrast with Ottoman relics and socialist modernist monoliths. This is where the Sava and Danube Rivers kiss, an old-world culture that at once evokes time-capsuled communist-era Yugoslavia and new-world, EU-contending cradle of cool.

Grandiose coffee houses and smoky dives pepper Knez Mihailova, a lively pedestrian boulevard flanked by historical buildings all the way to the ancient Belgrade Fortress. The riverside Savamala quarter has gone from ruin to resurrection, and is the city's creative headquarters (for now). Deeper in Belgrade's bowels are museums guarding the cultural, religious and military heritage of the country.

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