Thursday, June 12, 2014

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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