Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Most Famous Squares in Belgrade

Republic Square

Republic Square is the major square of the capital. It was developed on the location where, during Roman times, was situated the gate that marked the end of the walled city. At the time of Austrians, in the 18th century, at the same place was the so-called Wuirttenberg `s gate, the most important gate in Belgrade. After recapturing the city in 1739, the Turks changed its name to the Istanbul (Stambol) Gate. The regulation of the main street, Kneza Mihaila, was undertaken in the second half of the 19th century, and emphasized the importance of the square. The construction of the National Museum and the National Theatre contributed to the architectural shaping of the square. In the last decade, Republic Square was the center of many protests, offering people a place to express their dissatisfaction with the political situation and economic troubles in the country. Republic Square is adorned with the first and only equestrian monument in Belgrade. It is the work of the Italian sculptor Enrico Pazzi, who lived in Belgrade during the1870's and 1880's, and was awarded a high badge of honor of the Serbian Prince himself for a successful completion of the work.

Republic Square, Belgrade

 The statue represents Prince Mihailo Obrenovie who was the ruler of Serbia twice, from 1839 until 1842, and from 1860 until 1868. He was the first educated and European oriented Serbian ruler, and the one who liberated Serbian cities from the Turks in 1862 and 1867. The monument glorifies the Serbian Prince as the victor, on its base showing the handing over of the keys of the 6 fortified cities the Turks surrendered and left to the Serbs. On the front and the back of the base are the coat-of-arms of the principality of Serbia.

Student's Square

Student's Square is situated near Republic Square. It is surrounded with several faculties and the building of Belgrade University's Dean. On the place of the present core of student life, during the Turkish rule was a cemetery, then an open marketplace and at last a park surrounded by a fence with lots of greenery. The buildings of the faculties face the park. The square is also known as the Academic Square and as Plato.

Rectorate of the Belgrade University, Students' square in Belgrade

Today it is the favorite meeting place for students, but also it was the place where, in recent history, many of the anti-regime student protests began. There are the ruins of the Roman Thermae (baths) on the square, near the building of the University Dean, while in the square's center is placed the monument to Petar Petrovi6 Njegog (1813-1851), the poet and ruler of Montenegro (1994, by sculptor Sreten Stojanovi6).

Terazije Square

 Terazije is a vibrant open space always bursting with people and traffic. As an elongated oval, by its shape and its spatial disposition, Terazije is not a street and also not exactly a square. The name of the square traces its origin to the Turkish word for a water reservoir. On the location of the square once stood a big water reservoir of the Mokri Lug water system, which was a major water distributor for the city. In the 1830's, Prince Mihailo made a decision to settle Serbian blacksmiths in this part of the city, and soon the place became jam-packed with numerous artisan workshops. The reconstruction of the square occurred in 1912 when it was beautified with greenery and a large fountain.

Terazije Square, Belgrade

The entire avenue changed its appearance as the tramlines, the greenery and fountain were removed on the occasion of the May 1St parade in 1948. Only the well remains to this day and can still be mu seen in front of the Hotel Moscow. 

Nikola Pasic Square

This is a spacious square that opens up broadly into one of the longest streets in Belgrade, Boulevard of Kralj Aleksandar, toward the building of the Federal Parliament, the Holocaust Museum and the Yugoslav Historical Museum, as well as towards the buildings of "Borba" and "Novosti" newspapers. The square was formed only in 1954 following the construction of the Social-Realistic piece of architecture, the Home of Syndicates, which occupies the central part of the square. But the workers' syndicates rarely gathered here. The square was first named Marx and Engels Square, but their statues, although planned to stand in the center of the square, have never been realized. In the 1990's the square took the name of Nikola Pagi6, a well-known Serbian politician and statesman whose statue stands in front of the fountain.

Trg Nikole Pašića (Nikola Pašić Square) in Belgrade. Monument of Pašić can be seen behind the fountain.

The Federal Parliament is an edifice whose construction and function is oddly related to the idea of the brotherhood between Yugoslav nations and to the establishment of the parliamentary system in the country. The building was started according to the designs by Jovan Ilkie in 1906 during the reign of King Petar I Karadjordjevie and the parliamentary democracy established by the same king. The construction was stopped when the First World War started and once more when King Aleksandar Karadjordjevi6 abandoned his father's parliamentarism and established authoritarian ruling modes. The monumental, spacious edifice with a cupola, formed under the academic influences, was finally finished in 1936/7. From that time to this day, in this building have operated the parliaments of Tito's Yugoslavia, Milogevies Republic of Yugoslavia, and in the end, the parliament of the present state Serbia and Montenegro. In front of the Parliament during the last 20 years, many public celebrations of sporting victories have been organized. On 5th October 2000, the Parliament building was the site where dissatisfied Serbian people gathered and where their non-violent revolution brought the final fall of the long-term dictatorship of Slobodan Milogevi6. In front of the main entrance to the building stand two sculptures of rearing horses (1939, Toma Rosandie), while above the entrance can be seen two angels holding an olive branch and a torch and symbolizing the peace.

Read more about Belgrade:

Things To Do In Belgrade

Things To Do In Belgrade Part Two

Things To Do And See In Serbia


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Modern Belgrade

In the history of Belgrade, the 19th century passed with big changes. The Congress in Berlin in 1878 brought independence to Serbia and at the same time indicated the reorientation of the Serbian political, social and economic course and a cultural development toward Europe, especially toward the Austro-Hungaria. In 1882 Belgrade  became the capital of the Kingdom of Serbia. In the next three decades a gradual modernization of the country took place, as well as the improvement of the financial situation of European manners and tastes. The first telephone lines were established in 1883, then came the electrification of the city, in 1884 the first railway station was built and also the railway bridge over the Sava River that is still in use, while in 1894 the first electric tram passed through the city"s streets.

Knez Mihailova Street, Belgrade, Serbia, XIX century

The awakening of the national spirit occurred in all life areas in the Serbian society. The transformation that the Serbian state experienced is mirrored in the intensive architectural activity of that time. The Obrenovic dynasty built many important monuments that are testimonies of the majesty and the cultural politics they established. The wealthy Serbian and Belgrade tradesmen, businessmen and benefactors have built a series of buildings, the modern palaces that still ornament Belgrade. That was the time when,  in general, foreign architects worked in Belgrade, while the first Serbian architects went to educate themselves at the architectural and art academies in Vienna, Budapest, Zurich or Munich, and also at the precursor of Belgrade University. Thanks for their later engagement, their talents and visions,  Belgrade obtained the appearance of a truly European metropolis. The European spirit has been united with the abundant Serbian tradition and culture in different fields of artistic creativity.

 "Kod Albanije" pub in BelgradeSerbia, where the plan of the assassination was discussed.

The period from the end of the 19th century until the beginning of the First World War, in the domains of politics and economy, was marked by turbulent events that had significant consequences. In 1903 with the assassination of Prince Aleksandar Obrenovic, came a violent change to the Serbian throne. The Karadjordjevic dynasty ruled over Serbia until 1941 and the beginning of the Second World War.
King Petar I is remembered for his establishment of parliamentary democracy and strengthening relations with France, Russia and England.

Terazije, with Hotel Moscow.

The new direction was established in the cultural politics, arts and architecture. The First World War brought new tragedies to the Serbs, and to Belgrade it brought new devastation and occupation, but also strengthened the need for the idea of the unification of Yugoslav peoples. In 1918, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians was proclaimed, and Belgrade became the capital city of the new country. The roads were renovated, towns and villages built and industry reinforced thanks to the foreign investments.
In 1927 Belgrade's airport was opened, and soon the first bridge over the Danube was built.
The reconstruction of the country and the city of Belgrade didn't stop with the abandonment of parliamentarism and establishment of the dictatorship of King Aleksandar Karadjordjevic. France remained a big cultural and political model, and at the same time, the national integrity and identity were strongly emphasized.

The building of National Parliament, Belgrade
The emergence of Nasizm and totalitarian regimes caused changes throughout Europe and thus in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The Karadjordjevic's signed a pact with the Third Reich on March 27th, 1941 and soon they had to leave the country as they faced an antifascist atmosphere and a rebellion of their own people. The Nazis bombarded Belgrade on April 6th, 1941. The capital city survived more destruction before the Second World War ended when Anglo-American aviation bombed Belgrade in 1944, killing a large number of innocent people in the process. A victory of the communist forces led by Josip Broz Tito marked the end of the Second World war in 1945 and the foundation of Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia, a new Yugoslav union and a new utopia that had its tragic and final finish during the 1990's. Belgrade was administrative, political and cultural center of Tito's Yugoslavia.

A view of the Serbian capital at night.

From that time to this day Belgrade developed into a metropolis with around two million inhabitants. The city survived another bombing in 1999, this time by NATO forces. Up until the year 2000, Belgrade and squares were the major centers of numerous protests of the Serbian people against the authoritarian regime of Slobodan Milosevic. As the center of the new state, Republic of Serbia, Belgrade remains the heart of the cultural life, new tendencies in arts and architecture in the country, and also a very attractive tourist destination in southeast Europe.

 DISCOVER BELGRADE - Capital of Serbia  

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Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Belgrade Fortress - Kalemegdan


When you step in Kalemegdan, especially in the summer, you will feel a peace and serenity. Although it is so close to the city center, with its parks, walking paths, shady benches, green lawns, art pavilion and birds. Kalemegdan takes you to a magical world. It's also the biggest and most beautiful park in Belgrade dates from the XIX century. On the edge of Kalemegdan 105 m above the sea level, overlooking the confluence of the Sava and the Danube rivers lies the Belgrade fortress.

Belgrade Fortress Eastern Gate II drawing, late XVIII century.
Annual of the City of Belgrade (XIX)

The Belgrade fortress is one of the most fascinating points of the sacral and secular geography of Eurasia. According to the current study of history, the Romans built the first fortress about one hundred years before Christ as a very significant defence point on the Danube border of the Roman Empire.
Since its construction, the Belgrade fortress has been constantly attacked and defended, destroyed and renovated. Chronicles trace a history of about 40 to 60 devastation of the fortress. It is evident that celebrated heroes fought on both sides of the walls or they become famous in the battles they led on behalf of the fortress.

Fortress of Belgrade as it looked in the middle ages. Lower and upper town with the palace are visible, Belgrade 16th century.

" The orders to attack the fortress of Belgrade or to defend it until the last men dies were given by Licinius Attila, the Avarian Kagan, by Byzantine emperors Justinian, Emmanuel Comnenus, Isaak Angelus, The Hungarian Kings Solomon, Stephan II, Turkish sultans Murat II, Mehmed II the Conqueror, and Suleiman The Magnificent, German King Conrad III and French King Louis VII, Norwegian Prince Sigurd, Princess Guillaume and Villiam, and Godfrey De Bouillon, who was the Duke of Lower Lorraine and the later King of Jerusalem, were all remembered as the leaders of the crusaders or pilgrims, many of them were welcomed in peace or remembered as destroyers..."

 Zindan kapija is a Middle eve gate in Belgrade fortress on Kalemegdan, Belgrade, Serbia

In the time of the great migration of peoples, the Huns, Avars, Goths, Gepids and Bulgarians kept the Belgrade fortress under many sieges. It is claimed that in the 7th century the Slavs came and settled in the deserted and ruined Byzantine fortress. Later on, the Hungarians and Byzantines, Austrians and Turks, constantly fought over the city above the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers.
In the 12th century an almost unbelievable event took place, when the Belgrade fortress were reportedly transferred by boat over the river twice. First in 1127, Hungarians withdrawing in front of the Byzantines, relocated the fortress and built Zemun. In 1151 the Byzantine Emperor Emmanuel Comnenus conquered Zemun and brought back the fortress of Belgrade, using boats as well.
In its long and turbulent history, the Belgrade fortress, named " the vestibule of the Christianity" by the west Europeans and " the gate of the wars" by the Turks, was surely the prettiest at the beginning of the 15th century, in the time when it was Renaissance and governed by a despot, and also once again at the beginning of the 18th century when it was baroque and governed by the Austrians.

Kalemegdan, Stambol kapija, Belgrade (Serbia)

Over hundred engravings, made from 16th to the 19th century, preserved the images of the seven summit city and the memory about it. The scenes that not only describe the battles, sieges, conquests and defeats of the city, but also the scenes of the rare periods of peaceful gaps. Still, the most impressive are engravings with scenes of baroque Belgrade, which were made under Austrian rule of 1718-1739.

The Victor statue and view from Kalemegdan terrace. 

Among the paradoxes of Belgrade is certainly the fact that the creator of the Austrian fortress on who's remains we walk today, the Swiss General Nicolas Doscat De Morez was killed, later on, by Austrians under the walls of the fortress, because he allegedly ":surrendered the town of Nis to the Turks" in 1738.
The present remains of the Belgrade fortress were not a fortification in many years. Nowadays, we identify Kalemegdan with the rose of winds, the lovers rendezvous, Sahat (clock) Tower, churches Ruzica and St Petka, the Military Museum, Planetarium, the statue of Belgrade Victor, the Roman Well, sports terrains where Serbian basketball was born, with one of the prettiest parks in the city, with the Art Pavillion, the zoo, great restaurants, and view that is incomparable with any other.

Ruzica church, Kalemegdan

                                                               Kalemegdan, aerial view.

More About What To Do And See In Belgrade:

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Before visiting Belgrade, it is good to know something about his history.

Before visiting Belgrade, it is good to know something about his history.

Ancient Belgrade, or Singidunum as it was known then, was founded and built by the Celtic tribe Scordisci in 3th century BC. Their town was concentrated, most likely, in the area of present Zvezdara or in Visnjica.
At the beginning of the last century before Christ, the Romans built the first fortress on the same location where Kalemegdan stands today. In the 1st
Century AD, that castrum was to become the
The Victor, Kalemegdan, Belgrade
The Victor, Kalemegdan, Belgrade
seat of two well-known Roman legions, the 
Fourth (Scynthian) and the Fifth (Macedonian).
Between the walls of the lower city was the port of the Roman flotilla. A civilian settlement was to develop around the important frontier fortress with
a very powerful military unit. Chronicles recorded
a big settlement in the western parts of the town inhabited by tradesmen and artisans. A number of scripts prove evidence of the advancement, and even of a flourishing city that had been brought back to life. The roads brought to the city many celebrated people, including the Roman emperors Tiberius, Septimius, Severus, Valerian, Claudius II, Diocletian and others. 
In the middle of the 4th Century A.D., from the misty steppes of Pannonia, emerged warrior tribes who attacked the walls of Singidunum like turbulent waves. The city was destroyed and conquered successively by the Goths  (378) and Hunts (441). The ruined and besieged city was renovated in the 6th Century by the same Byzantine emperor who had built the church of St. Sofia in Constantinople (Istanbul), Emperor Justinian I. Belgrade regained something of its former splendor, but devastations continued, with the Avars in 584 and the Bulgarians in 829 causing the heaviest damage. Later records of the city, many of which are questionable, noted that in the course of the Avarian and Bulgarian attacks came "the Slovens in the 7th century, and entered the devastated Byzantine fortress".
The Slavic name Belgrade was mentioned in written documents for the first time in the papal bull signed by Pope John VIII in 878. In a special way, that would be the name day of the Serbian capital.
Belgrade became the Serbian capital for the first time not by means of the sword, nut the charter. In 1284, two years after Dragutin Nemanjic abdicated his throne to his brother Milutin and moved to the north, his father in law, the Hungarian King Bela IV, granted him Belgrade, Macva, Srem, Jadar and Usora in Bosnia.

Serbia during the rule of Prince Stefan Nemanja and his son Stefan II Prvovencani, cca 1150-1220
Serbia during the rule of Prince Stefan Nemanja and his son Stefan II Prvovencani, cca 1150-1220.
 Belgrade was demolished once again when the "Hungarian army took a revengeful attack, conquering and burning Belgrade to the ground". 
84 years passed until the fortress above confluence returned to Serbian hands. In 1404 Despot Stefan Lazarevic got Belgrade as a diplomatic award from the Hungarian King Sigismund of Luxembourg. Until Despot Stefan's death, Belgrade was the capital of the Serbian State and "a meeting place of the noble and honorable Europeans. After his death, Belgrade became the Hungarian property again.
Belgrade 16th century
Fortress of Belgrade as it looked in the middle ages. The lower and upper town with the palace are visible.
Peace only lasted for three decades, however, and then the history of conquest of Belgrade continued. In 1440 the Turkish Sultan Murat II attacked the city in a siege that lasted several months, but was without success. While retreating, as a reminder that the siege of Belgrade hadn't ended yet, Murat built the Turkish fortress Havala on Avala hill near Belgrade, where the Serbian fortress Zrnov once stood. Only four years later, Mehmed II, the conqueror of Constantinople, assembled an army of 150,000 soldiers and attacked Belgrade in a battle that didn't turn out as the sultan expected. The defenders of Belgrade, although much smaller in numbers than Turkish army won in a decisive and unanticipated counter attack. Mehmed II was injured  as his army withdraw, leaving thousands of dead Turkish soldiers behind. 

Despite all previous military and political calculations, the Turks only managed to conquer Belgrade in 1521, during a siege led by Suleiman The Magnificent. 
Belgrade Fortress Eastern Gate II drawing
Belgrade Fortress Eastern Gate II drawing, late XVIII century.  
At the end of the 17th century began a series of especially dramatic and far-reaching conquests of the city by the Austrians and Turks, in a century overflowing with wars. The most significant took place in 1717, when the famous Eugene of Savoy led an Austrian conquest of Belgrade. Under Austrian rule, over the next 22 years, Baroque Belgrade was built, including the Belgrade fortress that was designed and built by the Swiss General Nicolas Docsat de Morez. Once more, Belgrade became the spiritual and national center of Serbian life.
Unfortunately, that period didn't last long enough. The Turks took back Belgrade without a fight, after a siege that resulted in "The Belgrade pace agreement". Soon afterwards the Baroque Belgrade disappeared, taking with it places, churches and streets, its spirit, proportions and shapes.
Belgrade in 1821. Drawing by J. Alt, lithographing by Adolph Kunike
Lithography from 1821 shows, boat pulling in Belgrade.
A beginning of the end of Turkish rule in Belgrade was near though, starting with the Serbian siege led by Karadjordje in 1806. Actually, the Turks returned to Belgrade in 1813 after the failure of the First Serbian Uprising. But after the rebellion, nothing was to be the same again. Soon, in 1814, the rebellion of Hadzi-Prodan was organized, and in 1815 the Second Serbian Uprising occurred. This was marked by a series of victories for the insurgents and followed by successful  negotiations, prior to a Turkish counter-attack. Following this was fifteen years of a sensible peace and economic strengthening. In 1829, the Turkish Sultan signed the famous "hatiserif": "we obtained, in one day, the state, the capital and the dynasty".
Wiev on The Knez Mihajlova street, Belgrade
Wiev on The Knez Mihajlova street, Belgrade 1906
In March 1867 Prince Mihailo acquired an agreement in Istanbul that guaranteed a Turkish surrender of Serbian cities to Serbs. The symbolic handing over of keys to the city gates happened in Belgrade on April 6th, during a ceremony that was turned into a great national celebration. The last Turkish military units left the fortress of Belgrade on April 24th, while their military orchestra performed the famous "Nizam breakup".
From this day on, not including the years of occupation during two world wars, Belgrade has remained under Serbian rule.

Terazije in Beograd, 1934 postcard
Postcard from 1934 shows Belgrade main square Terazije