Read, Write, Run, Roam

Sittin’ on the Dock of the Danube in Zemun

We were fortunate to have good weather when my šurnjaja zaova
(sister in law) was in town, so we took her to Zemun. Zemun is technically within Belgrade’s city limits, but its history and location across the Danube has a very different feel than downtown Belgrade.

That’s because the municipality of Zemun spent much of its history as under Austrian-Hungarian rule rather than Ottoman rule. From 1717-1918, Zemun was an important border city, and, if this article is correct, a point for smugglers, spies and rebels passing into Belgrade. The city regained a nefarious reputation in the 1990s, when the Zemun clan of the Serbian mafia rose to power. But not to worry, tourists and RHOB family: the city is a safe and popular destination for foreigners, Beogradjani, and Zemunci alike.

Zemun is also distinctive for its diverse population. By the mid-1700s, Zemun had become a melting pot of religion and ethnicity, and many Germans settled into the area. Here’s a postcard of Zemun that calls Trg Magistarski “Haupt Platz.”

And here’s a more recent photo:

Image source:

Zemun shared municipal services with Belgrade in the 1930s, but it appears to have been officially incoporated into the White City after WWII. Fortunately, Zemun’s riverside walk, 1700s buildings, and slower pace of life were left relatively untouched.

Only in Zemun. Beogradjani would have driven right over this anchor.

There have been a few new additions, though. I’m pretty sure this isn’t historic graffiti, and the barges ferrying Mercedes along the river look pretty new. There is a lot to see in the heart of Zemun, but we decided to simply take in the sights from a riverside restaurant, sitting on the dock of the Danube, wasting time…


2 responses

  1. Andrej

    Hahahaha, I love that you’re using šurnjaja, even though a Serbian person of your age, especially coming from a city, wouldn’t use it, and probably wouldn’t even know which exact relation it denotes.

    That said, you’re using it wrong. 😀

    Šurnjaja is your wife’s brother’s wife (i.e. as a woman you can’t have a šurnjaja)
    Zaova is your husband’s sister, and jetrva is your husband’s brother’s wife. They’re all sister-in-law in English, of course. 🙂

    You can consult this Wiki article with useful tables:

    I know I do, because as a twenty something from Belgrade, I have no idea which is which. 😀

    May 6, 2011 at 8:08 am

  2. It’s funny, my Serbian teacher told me that there was not an “official” word for it but I was talking to someone who mentioned there was a word that came close. I guess I just chose the wrong one in the dictionary. Thanks for correcting me!

    May 7, 2011 at 11:59 am

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