The sight from the Branko’s Bridge to Kalemegdan fortress with Victor statue on top of it and confluence of Sava and Danube below it is sort of a postcard-perfect official “welcome” of the city when one arrives in Belgrade.
Yet, when I am away and thinking about coming back, different pictures pop into my mind. A bit less expected ones. Those are pictures of a grey, 35-floor tall concrete building, known as the Western City Gate, or Genex Tower, located in Novi Beograd (New Belgrade). The pictures of it turning orange as the sunrise reflects in its floor-to-ceiling windows, or turning dark grey, almost black, when it rains. The sunset framed between its two towers. The huge digital clock on the top bridge that would tell us how long we had to wait for evening cartoons on TV.
I very rarely go to this part of the city today, but I can see it every time from a taxi on the way back from the airport. Perhaps because I spent a lot of my childhood roller-skating on its tiled base platform or riding in its elevators up and down just to get those butterflies in the stomach, whenever I am returning to Belgrade it is when I’m passing by this brutalism-style beauty that I hear “You’re home!”.
Or perhaps beauty just strikes more when we find it in less expected places. And when you think about it, that is the story of Belgrade.