Christian influence into the region we know today as Serbia began in the 2nd century. Byzantine missionaries in the 9th century promoted and spread the religion across the land, with Christianity being declared the state religion, leading to the construction of numerous churches.
Over the years, the march of history has brought Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, and Judaism to the region, but Eastern Orthodoxy and Serbian Orthodoxy reign supreme in the region at 84% of the population.
As such, you can find numerous churches across Belgrade (and the nation). We visited a few of the more notable churches and cathedrals. And needless to say, they are quite impressive. Here I am going to go over the three big ones that should be on your tour lists.
Church of Saint Mark
This church was the first place that we visited. Sitting at the north end of Tasmajdan Park, it is a stunning and imposing church dedicated to the Apostle and Evangelist Mark. It was originally built in the 1830s, but the new church, as you see it today, was built in 1940.
The exterior consists of two colors of naturally occurring red stone. The interior is a large room that rises to 60 meters (186 feet). There is highly decorative gold throughout the church.
Though we only entered the church once, we passed by it numerous times on our way to other parts of Belgrade.
Today, the remains of Tzar Dushan, a prominent figure in medieval Serbian history is buried beneath the church.
Saint Sava Temple
We came to the Church of Saint Sava multiple times during our stay in Belgrade. The surrounding grounds are large parks and fountains as well as a large library. The church stands as a dazzling centerpiece to the area. We attempted to view the library, however you cannot simply go in as a tourist. We were limited to a very small display of old books and bibles.
In 1594, Serbs rose against the Ottoman rule, during which time they carried flags with the icon of Saint Sava. The Ottomans responded by taking the sarcophagus and relics of Saint Sava and brought them to Belgrade, where they killed anyone in their path and then burned the remains on the Vracar plateau.
Three hundred years later in 1895, it was proposed to build a temple to St. Sava at the place of the burning. Construction began in 1905, but was delayed by the first and second Balkan War as well as World War I & II. Construction began again in 1985 and progress has slowly continued.
Today, the church is nearly complete. The exterior is finished, though interior work continues as decoration of the walls and dome take form.
The church forms a large Greek Cross. A central dome rises 80 meters with four semi-domes at each arm. The facade is white marble and granite, and the interior will be mosaics once completed. The church is one of the largest Orthodox churches in the world by volume and is the largest in Serbia.
We visited the Ruzica Church at the base of Kalemagden Fort on the Danube. The original construction is not known. The Ottomans destroyed the original church in 152, later converting it to a gunpowder magazine in the 18th century, and then converting it to a military church in 1867.
It was heavily damaged during the first World War, undergoing renovations in 1925. Today, the church is decorated by chandeliers built from spent casings and swords from soldiers during the first World War.