Due to a culture of unrealistic promises and hectic decision-making, it is often impossible to know for certain when, and even if things will happen in Belgrade.
Nevertheless, in order to keep the spirits up during these dark snowy days here are four things, with a reasonably high probability of happing, which I hope will make life in Belgrade a bit more fun this year.
Revamped Palilula Market
The utility company which runs Belgrade’s green markets has been successful at giving them a bit of pizzaz and drawing in the younger crowds away from the supermarkets. The greatest challenge, however will be the re-opening of the Paliula market’s imposing new building, in Ilije Garašanina.
The tiny neighbourhood market was closed in 2017 and is quickly being transformed into a covered-market, which takes cues from Madrid’s Mercado San Miguel and Barcelona’s La Boqueria.
Although the focus will still be on fresh produce, the new market promises to thrill foodies with small restaurants and street-food.
The opening is expected in late Spring, so I am keeping my fingers crossed that it will live up to the hype.
Marina Abramović’s Retrospective at MoCAB
The return of MoCAB in 2017 along with the re-opening of the National Museum were probably the two most important cultural events of the past decade in Serbia. The third one, may well be the much publicised retrospective of Marina Abramović’s (my article on her here) works at MoCAB, which is set to happen this year. Abramović is the most famous Belgrade-born artist, whose long and amazing career in performance art began at the city’s SKC in 1970s and reached the zenith of popularity during her MoMA retrospective in 2010.
An informal chat with the people at the museum, revealed that the earliest we can expect the exhibition to open in June, however I would expect that they would wait for the informal start of Belgrade’s cultural season in September.
St Sava’s Temple New Interior
Serbian Orthodox Church will be celebrating 800 years of autocephaly (independence) and, fittingly, the centre of the celebrations will be in its largest place of worship: St Sava Temple in Vračar.
After the unveiling of the beautiful Russian-financed and -made mosaics in the dome last year, the temple’s interior is set to be even more opulent for the grand event of the temple’s re-consecration rumoured to happen in September (according to a post at Beobuild forum). Major improvements will include more mosaics above the altar-area, completed side-chapels, bronze doors and marble floors.
Although I loved the dome mosaics, I expect these new additions with some trepidation. My main concern is that the church will end up looking tacky and glitzy, rather than sombre and imposing, given the look of the recently finished crypt. Nevertheless, it is good that this almost century-long project is slowly coming to an end.
Chinese Cultural Centre to Open in Belgrade
Part of China’s charm-offensive in the Balkans, the first Chinese cultural centre in the Balkans will occupy the place where its old embassy used to stand before it was bombed by the NATO in 1999.
The building’s futuristic look will showcase the new economic giant’s power, and the centre will feature several exhibition and lecture rooms, as well as a restaurant. Given it was Beijing’s National Museum of China organised the first guest exhibition in the newly-restored National Museum in Belgrade, I expect the centre to have a lively programme, bringing China’s rich culture closer to Serbia.
When the project was started in 2017, it was expected to be finished in 18 months, some time in 2019. The building seems to be progressing well these days, yet I would give it at least another six months until completion.
Besides these, it would be good if Belgraders were informed about the status of a few major cultural projects which seem to be stalling: like reconstruction of Belgrade’s most visited museum – the Museum of Yugoslavia (whose main building is still closed), re-opening of the majestic Gallery of Frescos in Cara Uroša (which is still closed, after housing some of the staff of the National Museum) and the new home for the Nikola Tesla Museum.