Dark Tourism Notebook: NATO Bombing Ruins in Belgrade
A recent request from a photo researcher seeking images of bombed and shelled buildings took me on a search nearly nine years back into my archives to a visit to the Serbian capital Belgrade where I couldn’t let this image of the city’s NATO bombing ruins pass.
This McDonald’s High-5 (!) was just across the street from the front of the former Serbian military headquarters which was destroyed during NATO bombing runs in May 1999. This was taken eight years later, but still felt fresh. I’m not the only one cynical enough to believe that the placement of the ‘Gimme 5’ billboard, one representing a corporation that is rightly or wrongly the poster child for global cultural imperialism, was intentional, am I?
As a reminder –and memorial of sorts to the 500 people killed during the 78-day siege– the building in the center of Belgrade remains largely untouched, and is a popular stop on numerous tours that traverse the city.
The air strikes, ostensibly aimed to end the war in Kosovo, began on 24 March and lasted until 10 June 1999. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Ministry of Defense, seen here on Kneza Miloša Street, are the best-known ruins, but scores of other buildings and bridges were damaged in a campaign that killed between 489 and 528 people.
Friends and acquaintances here in Ljubljana who lived in Belgrade at the time enjoy telling stories of how they would retreat to rooftops to drink and smoke and watch the bombs bursting in air.
A few more shots of the damage, all taken in May 2007, are below.
More recent: here’s a Google Street View shot, taken in May 2015.
And to help plan your visit, a map.
Today’s Pic du Jour, the site’s 737th straight, was snapped in Belgrade, Serbia, on 30 May 2007. I have no idea when the McD’s billboard was installed and when it was replaced.