What is kafana? Posted February 21, 2013

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If you don’t have an idea what kafana is, you have not been around Belgrade for long.
Kafana is one of the institutions that defined Belgrade and without them, days and nights in the city would never look the same. This specific local kind of cafe is a place to come for a drink, morning, midday or evening, alcoholic or not.
One can eat but is not required. The basic canon of kafana is that it should be open to all and atmosphere should be relaxed.

Without live music in kafana, the real night out is not complete. Foreigners might not be best in ordering Serbian songs but will soon learn to appreciate the sparkling atmosphere.

Kafana is a place where sad lovers cure their sorrows in alcohol and music, gamblerssquander entire fortunes, husbands run away from mean wives while shady businessmen, corrupt local politicians and petty criminals do business. As in many other societies, kafana is mainly a male activity, and “honest” women dare only visit finer ones (usually in men’s company).

The most popular kafana’s are located in Skadarska street, well known as bohemian quarter. There you can find famous Belgrade kafana’s like “Tri šešira” (Three Hats), Šešir moj” (This Hat of Mine), “Dva jelena” (Two deer), and Ima dana (There’s Time). We must not forget the kafana ? (Question Mark), located in the oldest building of Belgrade, just across the Saborna Crkva (Orthodox Cathedral church).

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