The World Is an Open Book
In the 19th century, traveling was more difficult and with wider stretched wings. It was slower, but fuller and more experienced. People used to travel to see, taste, learn, bring back home as a cutting. ”Our people like to read when someone writes something from a far”, says in 1850 Bogoboj Atanacković from his travels around Europe. Mateja and Ljubomir Nenadović write from Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and an unusual traveler, Dr Milan Jovanović Morski, reached as far as Alexabndria, India, China, Singapore... And then, in 1919, the first tourist agency was opened in Belgrade, a branch office of the Belgian ”Wagon Lits Cook”, and everything became different. Easier, in larger numbers and emptier

By: Tatjana Marković

After duke Aleksandar Karađorđević came to the throne of Serbia, after Obrenović dynasty was exiled from Serbia in 1842, the palace life modeled after Europe was gradually established. The palace became the centre of political and cultural events, and therefore the model, in accordance with which the habits of the new bourgeoisie, capitalistic class was shaped. The consequence was the quickly adopted fashion of European suits on Serbian civil servants, hiring of a master of ceremony for parties and balls, dining tables rich in dishes prepared according to recipes from Budapest and Vienna, and many others. The first photographs (talbotype and daguerreotype) of idyllic European landscapes come to Belgrade together with foreign photographers, eliciting sighs from gentlemen used to sharp spirit of the Orient. Educated people, educators and teachers from around the world, upon recommendation, flooded Belgrade and the Principality, and so they built their careers here and stayed here for the rest of their lives. Many were christened with Serbian names, they learned to read Cyrillic alphabet, voluntarily adopted Christian Orthodox religion and their Saint Day. Their students were later sent to study at European university centers, and the result was the creation of new Serbian intellectual elite with a habit of traveling.
Tourism in modern sense started in Serbia in the 19th century. The most frequently visited places were spa resorts – Bukovička, Brestovačka, Jošanička, Vranjska, Ribarska, Sokobanja, Vrnjačka and Mataruška. These were primarily fashionable places for the gathering of important and rich people, and only then healthcare centers for patients that provided thermal water and medicinal mud treatments.
With the increase of capital of the new bourgeoisie class of Serbia, the desire to travel also increased. Austro-Hungary was close. Healing properties of the Palić Lake water became famous across Europe in the first half of the 19th century, and even more the famous Palić balls, no less glowing than those in Vienna, Budapest and Timisoara, organized at the Kur-salon palace, with magnificent architecture in the style of Hungarian secession. Also built was a spa center with a swimming area, first hotels ”Jezero” and ”Park”, idyllic villas, guest houses and a huge landscaped park occupying 10 hectares. After the opening of Budapest-Subotica-Zemun railway in 1883, Palić becomes a fashionable summer resort of Europe, such as Karlovy Vary, Opatija or Sent Moric, fully accessible to visitors from Serbia.


The privilege to travel to distant and exotic countries of Europe, Asia and Africa belonged only to individuals in the former Serbia. Their experiences remained documented in letters, newspaper articles and travel books. And it was these untiring explorers, perpetual travelers, curious people and adventurers, who can be credited for the establishment of a new genre in Serbian literature, although learned professors claim that this is only a minor literary genre.
They traveled by foot, on a donkey, horse, by postal carriage, with roof bows and without them, by train, ship, and primarily on the wings of their own immense passion for movement.
That is how Bogoboj Atanacković in his maladroit Letters from a Serbian Traveler, which he began writing in Baja in 1850, says that his goal is ”to see what makes the advanced people stand out and what the Serbs should emulate”. His journey extended to Prague, Karlovy Vary, Dresden, Leipzig, Berlin, London and Trieste. Atanacković humbly observes:
”Our people like to read when someone writes something from a far – and there is a recommendation for my letters which, even if not like those written by talented people, would still be from a far.”
In a letter sent by P. P. Njegoš to his friend Mr. Karadžić from the Venetian Republic, on Latin Christmas in 1850, there is a nice praise for the ”magnificent and rich palace” that he has.
He further writes: ”If the Bishop of Montenegro was a German and if Germans were to welcome and treat him wholeheartedly like their brother, I still don’t know that they could easily find in many places, apart from Schönbrunn, such a beautiful palace to give to me... Can you believe that this beautiful palace costs one half of what I pay for that wretched shack in Vienna at the ’Roman Emperor’?”
In a letter sent to Mr. Vladislavljević from Naples, written on January 31st, 1851, he further says:
”It is a sin to speak against traveling. Those who do not travel, they do not live, do not know what the world mixture is. The world is an open book from which we should learn what the world is. The world is a funny theatre where people should show themselves in various and variously colored masks.”
In Italy, Njegoš met with another great traveler, Ljubomir P. Nenadović, a son of archpriest Mateja, one of the most prolific writers of his generation. Nenadović is the first Serbian travel writer. From his student travels around Europe, his first travel writings were made: Letters fromGreifswald (1850) and Letters fromSwiztzerland (1852), and later Letters from Italy (1868), as well as many others.


Let us mention the almost forgotten traveler from the 19th century – Dr Milan Jovanović Morski. His literary opus gives us an original and emphasized combination of artistic and documentary. He talks about events and people’s lives that he directly witnessed on his journeys (mostly in the period between 1876 and 1882), and about impressions gained in far away countries, from Trieste and the Adriatic Sea, through Alexandria and the Mediterranean, to India, Singapore and China. These voluminous accounts of a rare beauty are also endowed with historical reminiscences and geographical studies of countries and continents where he stayed. When describing the impressive Alexandria of his time, Dr Jovanović writes:
”Felah that works the land, in addition to his double harvest, is a perpetual debtor to a European ’loan shark’, and the citizen without a land lives from serving the colonizers. If he rides around in a carriage, the Arab runs in front and clears the way for him; if he is taking a siesta after a meal, the Arab lies on his doorstep and watches his shop; when he goes to sleep, the Arab must, like a dog, lie on the doorstep, and when ’Madame’ orders visits or goes for a walk, the Arab must watch the children, and even gets a beating if a child is injured... If they could only sell them, I am sure that the Egyptian Arabs would be in the same position as black people in America before the federation war.”
And more: ”Greeks and Romans, Persians, Mamluks and Turks, alternately ruled in the Lower Egypt. The people put up with that lash probably because they were consecrated in Mecca; but when they saw that the European ’infidel’ began to rule in their homes, they moved for the first time, to get rid of their rule... I watched there almost furious masters running from fire and trying to find refuge on ships, and when they would manage to escape, they remembered that they did not have... carriages? No! They did not have – any clothes to change. From the entire European neighborhood, only two-three banking houses remained: they were defended by a handful of armed – Serbs. We should be proud of the heroism of our compatriots, but also pity them for not having anything to defend back at their homes so manly, but must put their lives at stake for everyone and against everyone for a piece of bread!...”
In early May 1900, Čeda Mijatović traveled from Belgrade to Istanbul. During the night he passed through Rumelia and Thrace. In the sleepy town of Macedonian emperor Philip he wrote on a piece of discarded paper into which tobacco had been rolled:
”To know that you are in Philippolis, not seeing the city, but still cross with your spirit, like in panorama, its past, has a special charm. And even in ’Drinopolis’ knowing that you are in it, not seeing any of it, but still see like in a picture all that great and deep impression that the first Ottoman capital in the European territory made on the soul and imagination of Serbian people – in that darkness to see light silhouettes of Mileva Lazareva and Mara Brankovićeva, – fulminant reflections of great, dramatic and tragic scenes, which the historical mind used to perform in the old Saraj jedrenski, – what an exquisite enjoyment! I am almost tempted to start describing: ’Journey in the dark through great historical cemeteries!’”
All newspapers and magazines of the second half of the 19th century had permanent sections for letters of their correspondents, travel articles – for memories and impressions. Journeys attracted scientists, doctors, magazine editors, printers, politicians, professors and many others. Experiences would be retold for a long time in Serbian taverns, until the silhouettes of far away landscapes are forever impressed into the dense clouds of cigarette smoke, arousing disbelief and envy of those who have not moved much farther from their doorstep.
And then, in 1919, the first branch office of Belgium travel agency ”Wagon Lits Cook” was opened in Belgrade, and everything became different...


Equality in Tourism
It is an interesting data that already at the age of the first real tourism there was gender equality. The statistics say that in the period from 1894 too 1908, 63,010 men and 64,072 women visited spa resorts. First regulations on vacation in spa resorts were adopted in 1888, known as ”Rules for maintaining order on mineral waters”.


The fashionable Palić was given a tennis club in 1878, only three years after written rules had been established for this sport. Modeled after Palić, rich citizens of the commercial town of Priboja, at the border between Serbia, Turkey and Austro-Hungary, began to build their tennis court in 1879. On the large field called Zelenac, a tennis court was built the next year, in size identical to the one in Wimbledon. That is how the people of Priboj began to play tennis twelve years before the citizens of Belgrade.

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