Tašmajdan » Tašmajdan | 63 sip drinks, sing badly without musical accompaniment, recite verses... And that’s nowonder, given that e Last Chance was frequented by actors like Pavle Vujisić, Petar Kralj, Dragan Nikolić, Bata Živojinović... Gourmets, on the other hand, prefer to visitMadera, named after a wine from the Portuguese island of Madeira, which was brought by some guest long ago. Back then the menu didn’t offer tiramisu or salmon in peanut cream, as it does today, but diners would still eat well. e bard of Serbian theatre, the late LjubaTadić, whowas once a regular guest there, could testify to the fact that the tables used to be adorned with free boiled eggs for overcoming the effects of hangovers. Also among those who are onto a winner in a special way at this park are lovers of the mysteries hidden inTašmajdan’s underbelly. at’s because the rockof the Miocene epoch, which peeked out of the Pannonian Sea more than 13 million years ago, hides a network of caverns. e subterranean corridors provide silent testimony toa former stone quarry, as does thename of thepark itself, given that “taš” means stone in Turkish and “majdan” means mine. However, long before the arrival of the Ottoman Turks, the limestone was quarried here by ancient Romans, who used it to make the city of Singidunum, with its own water supply system, sewers and thermal baths. During the period of Turkish rule, this soft stone was also used to construct the city’s Barjakli Mosque. Testifying to theageof thispliable limestone is a fossilised shell trapped in thewall of theRussianChurch that’s situated immediately behind St. Mark’s Church. “During World War I, the corridors of the caverns were utilised as a bomb shelter, while inWorldWar II the Nazi Germans converted it into a secret hideout,” writes Zoran Nikolić, author of the three-volume book series Belgrade Stories, containing interesting facts about the Serbian capital. e sumptuous acoustics of this underground spacewereutilisedby choral societies in theperiodbetween thewars, addsNikolić, hoping thatwhat he’s described will soon become a tourist attraction. Even themagnificent Church of St. Mark, which resemblesKosovo’sGračanica, is notwithout its ownmysteries. enewchurch took the remains of themurdered Obrenović royal couple from a small temple. “ ey say that Queen Draga was buried in a pink dress, and King Alexander in a tailcoat and with a bow tie,” writes Nikolić, revealing their final eccentricity. As icing on the cake, historians add that themortal remains of Saint Sava were burned on the Tašmajdan mound of Čupina umka, renamed Vračar in 1595, and not on the site that is called as such today. With an awareness of itself, Tašmajdan leaves all the glory regarding this issue to Karađorđe’s Park, where the Temple of St. Savawas constructed as a lasting memorial to this event. And all of this merely scratches the surface of the many layers and stories that have borne witness to Belgrade and its Taš for centuries. So, come for a visit, and if you’re lucky it might even snow... poetDesankaMaksimović, immortalised inbronze,writer and academicMiloradPavić, RussianarchitectNikolai Krasnov, SerbianOrthodoxChurchPatriarchPavle, Don Quixoteet al. erearealsoMiraSandić’s climbing frame, Nikola Vukosavljević’s Boar and Jovan Nježić’s Victory, as sculptures that remained behind after exhibitions staged decades ago. Tašmajdan is also the realm of bohemians, with its cafes and taverns. emost famous is certainly the Last Chance,whichoperated24-hours-a-dayuntil1982,which is how it earned its name. When other bars in the city wouldclose for thenight, therepeoplewouldcontinue to Čuvena kafana Poslednja šansa, sa 24-časovnim radnim vremenom sve do 1982, po čemu je i dobila ime Famous tavern The Last Chance, which operated 24-hoursa-day until 1982, which is how it earned its name RAS / Milan Ilić iStock / hdesislava