Hidden Belgrade (24): Bežanija airport

2017 marked the 90th anniversary of the opening of the now mostly forgotten, Belgrade International Airport, which was located next to the old Austro-Hungarian village of Bežanija, in what is now New Belgrade. This airport, however, was not the first airfield serving the city. The first airplane to fly from Belgrade took off in Banjica in 1910, close to where VMA, the military hospital complex, … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (24): Bežanija airport

The Refugees Who Built Modern Belgrade

A century ago, twin revolutions enveloped Imperial Russia, already weakened by participation in World War I. The February Revolution dismantled the centuries-old autocratic system by ousting the Tsar, while the October Revolution marked the rise of the Bolsheviks who were to emerge victorious from a five-year civil war against the remaining royalists and other opponents, and ultimately proclaim the Soviet Union. This turmoil, which set … Continue reading The Refugees Who Built Modern Belgrade

Hidden Belgrade (23): Jalija, Belgrade’s lost Jewish neighbourhood

“Immediately connected to Dorćol, which […] had a completely oriental look, there was a Jewish mahala [district], which was mostly inhabited by Jews from Spain (…). However, even though next to Solunska [Thessaloniki street], whose name reminds us Serbian pretensions, we find Jevrejska [Jewish], Mojsijeva [Moses] and other streets with names from the Old Testament, there is no ghetto in Belgrade. The Serb, who was … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (23): Jalija, Belgrade’s lost Jewish neighbourhood

Hidden Belgrade (22): Pištolj-mala and Lower Dorćol’s lowly days

Now a budding foodie hub, attracting Belgrade’s fashionable creatives, Lower Dorcol was the site of Belgrade’s most notorious shanty town, Pištolj-mala (“Pistol slum”), some 90 years ago. As Serbian architect and historian of Belgrade’s urbanism, Dr Zlata Vuksanović Macura, notes in her research(with some great photos), at its peak this shantytown housed about 1,500 souls in about 300 houses , spread in the area around … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (22): Pištolj-mala and Lower Dorćol’s lowly days

Hidden Belgrade (21): The rise and fall of the Friendship Park

There are a few testaments of Socialist Yugoslavia’s global ambitions dotted around Belgrade, from the obelisk by Branko’s bridge commemorating the first meeting of the Non-Aligned movement in 1961, to Sava Centar, built to host conferences of OSCE and Non-Aligned Movement in 1977 and 1979, respectively. However, the most striking and poetic memorial to rise and disastrous fall of Yugoslavia’s international clout is the Friendship … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (21): The rise and fall of the Friendship Park

Hidden Belgrade (20): Zemun’s Memories and Memorials

From its time as Taurunum in the Roman empire, all through today, Zemun was a vibrant city, often on the border of empires and as such a place of constant change and diversity. In the 19th and early 20th century, it housed a mix of Serbs, Croats, Germans and Jews, but due to the turmoil of WWII, much of its multicultural character changed. Throughout its … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (20): Zemun’s Memories and Memorials

Hidden Belgrade (19): Doppelgängers

Cities like to show their friendship by sharing the same monuments. New York and Paris share the Statue of Liberty (although the one in Paris is considerably smaller), while copies of Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid are everywhere from Romania to Korea. Belgrade is no exception and there are (at least) four monuments which tie it to other places. Their stories feature old friendships, sunken ships and … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (19): Doppelgängers

Hidden Belgrade (18): Belgrade’s Amazon

There are few parts of Belgrade which receive as much mockery as the left bank of the Danube, that is Ovča, Borča and Krnjača (affectionately: “cha-cha-cha”). The general dislike, stems partly from to their unlovely names, and partly from their ramshackle urbanism and almost non-existent cultural life. So when I invited friends to join me for a walk in the nature there to spot birds … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (18): Belgrade’s Amazon

Hidden Belgrade (17): Belgrade’s Bavarian Protectress

From its beginnings, Belgrade was a multi-confessional city, due to its the location at crossroads or major trade routs and the borders of major empires, from the Romans to the Habsburgs. Although the city’s location brought diversity and rich history, it often proved disastrous. The city was burnt to ashes many times by defenders and conquerors alike, and its citizens were too often forced to … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (17): Belgrade’s Bavarian Protectress

Hidden Belgrade (16): The Forgotten Feminist Palace

If you pass through a hallway of an unassuming building with a blackened facade in Resavska 11, you will find yourself staring at a graceful jewel box of a building which currently houses Serbia’s leading folklore dance society AKUD “Lola”. Its pink and white facade, hides behind it one of the prettiest halls in Belgrade, decorated with wonderful chandeliers and elegant art-nouveau ornaments. This hall, … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (16): The Forgotten Feminist Palace