Read, Write, Run, Roam

Church on Sunday: St. Michael’s Cathedral in Belgrade


If you’re only going to see two churches in Belgrade, make St. Michael’s Catherdral, aka Saborna Crkva, one of them. (Sveti Sava being the other one, of course.) The Cathedral is on Cara Lazara, just west of Knez Mihailova and close to Kalemegdan.

The Cathedral was built from 1837 to 1840 by order of Prince Miloš Obrenović. As you walk into the Cathedral, it’s hard to ignore the gold leaf icons that shine on the greyest, foggiest days.

The inside is even more striking. A wall of large, golden icons at the front of the church command attention, and there are additional golden icons lining the sides of the cathedral. It wasn’t a bright day, but the interior had a pleasant glow. I’d show you a photo, but we couldn’t take any; there were services at the time. We listened to the choir, looked around, and decided to come back for photos when it would be less intrusive. Here are some interior photos that I found online for the truly curious:

Services photo found here

In addition to its architectural and religious importance in Belgrade, the Cathedral has also given a local restaurant an unforgettable name. The Question Mark Kafana, better known as ?, is just around the corner from the Cathedral on Kralja Petra. In 1892, after roughly sixty years of business, the kafana owner wanted to change the restaurant’s name to By the Cathedral. The church protested; it seems a lowly kafana was not worthy of a religious-sounding name. The kafana sign was changed to a question mark, and the name stuck. Today, the kafana is a popular tourist destination. You can see the question mark on the lantern above the kafana door.
Photo from Blic Online
Normally, we’d pay our respects to ? as well as the Cathedral, but we had to go home and walk Miloš. We’re looking forward to warmer weather and having an older puppy, so we can take Miloš to a kafana patio and celebrate Sundays in true Serbian style.
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