-the world as I see it
Often described as the Barcelona of the Balkans, with its hip bars, chic clubs and rad pubs, Belgrade’s thriving nightlife has catapulted the city to the top spot in the list of the world’s best places to party. Unlike its western European counterpart, whose staggeringly high prices are sure to have a sizeable impact on your wallet, Belgrade is much easier on the pocket and you are assured of a good time, irrespective of the income group you belong to. In addition to being party hubs, the other similarity between Barcelona and Belgrade is their prolific green spaces – a rare feature of cities their size. Apart from these two factors, the cities don’t have all that much in common. Their architecture is as different as chalk from cheese.
I see Barcelona as a city that makes a bright and colourful picture and, Belgrade, whose name translates to ‘white city’, makes a perfect daguerreotype with its shades of grey. The architecture of Belgrade has been influenced by multifarious (Austro-Hungarian, Byzantine, Ottoman, Communist and of course, Serbian itself) styles whereas Barcelona’s architecture has a predominantly Catalan character and almost inevitably makes you think of Antoni Gaudí. This brings me to what I see as the final feature that they have in common – a skyline defined by a monumental place of worship – the Sagrada Família in Barcelona and the Cathedral of St. Sava in Belgrade. The construction of both these structures is still underway and while the former, when completed, will have the honour of being the tallest church in the world, the latter has already claimed its place as the world’s largest Orthodox church.
Owing to various reasons, even after the long drawn-out years of construction, both the churches aren’t fully ready yet. While the Sagrada Familia still has a long road to completion, the church of St. Sava has just some interior finishing work left. Since I have devoted an entire post to the Sagrada Família in one of my blog entries from last year, I will just talk about the St. Sava church in this one.
From the exterior itself, I could see that the Cathedral of St. Sava is a typical Orthodox church with its domes and affixed golden cruciform projections. The sturdy appearance of the church is augmented by the use of granite in its external walls.
The church is dedicated to St. Sava, the son of a Serbian king who went on to become the first Archbishop in the Serbian Orthodox church. St. Sava is the patron saint of Serbia and the church is built over his mortal remains.
The windows are either clerestorey or rose windows and are simple, yet add an elegance to the structure.
The plan of the church is in the form of a Greek cross (a cross whose arms in the longitudinal direction equal the length of the arms in the transverse direction). As in most Eastern Orthodox churches, there are no pews inside the church nor are there any statues, which emphasizes the bareness of this colossal marble structure.
When you stand in the nave and look up at the dome, it makes you wonder how much of an effort it would have taken the workers to mount that massive dome, as a whole, on the top of the building during the construction process.
There wasn’t really much to see inside the Cathedral as the mosaics and the work on the wall between the nave and the sanctuary – the iconostatis, has barely begun. I don’t know when exactly the church will be ready, but I am sure that the interior would be transformed once all the icons are painted and illuminated by the lamps, candles and chandeliers. When that is going to happen, only time will tell.