Dark Tourism Notebook: NATO Bombing Ruins in Belgrade

McDonald's Billboard by bombed building 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.

Ruins of Serbian Ministry of Defense in Belgrade
Ruins of Serbian Ministry of Defense in Belgrade
Ruins of bombed Serbian ministry of defense in Belgrade
Ruins of bombed Serbian ministry of defense in Belgrade
Courtyard of a bombed building in Belgrade
Courtyard of a bombed building in Belgrade
Ruins of Serbian Defense Ministry in Belgrade
Ruins of Serbian Defense Ministry in Belgrade
Bombed building in Belgrade
Bombed building in Belgrade

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.

 

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
You might also like
  1. ladieswholunchreviews says

    Yes, you are the only one who is that cynical 😉

  2. Manja Mexi Movie says

    I remember a few things well from the time of this bombing:

    – How NATO planes were returning from there high above my city which used to be in the bombed country, while I was feeding three barely born dogs by bottle every three hours, night time too, together with other family members.
    – How after they lost a plane NATO argued: “We do deserts, we don’t do mountains.”
    – How during the bombing Serbian TV showed no American content other than “Wag the Dog”. Every day.

    (Last two would need to be confirmed, but that’s how I remembered hearing about it at the time.)

    You don’t just go and bomb Serbia.

  3. paula graham says

    Well, at least you now have a MacDonalds, what else might you want.

  4. Oloriel says

    These McDonalds adds joined the other ruins as well, like the one at the end of the same street, Kneza Milosa, where the bombed police department still stands, well bombed (except this one is now decorated with that drop down cloth-like poster, they change them, I remember seeing one with George Clooney and John Travolta, advertising I think watches?) So yes, these same billboards are still around, everywhere, this same spot included.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.