All The Belgrade Olympics That Didn’t Happen

Ever since their modern re-incarnation, the Olympics are an opportunity for countries to show off their wealth, might and cultural sophistication, all under a pleasant guise of global unity, fair play and athletic achievement. They are certainly the most enduring and spectacular pinnacle of Belle Époque intellectual trends from increased importance of sports in individual and social development (e.g. the Sokol movement), globalism, international competition, … Continue reading All The Belgrade Olympics That Didn’t Happen

Hidden Belgrade (53): Easy Urban Hikes

Given that this summer it will be more difficult and stressful for Belgraders to leave the city for their preferred coastlines of Greece, Croatia and Montenegro, we will be forced to be creative during our staycations. Thankfully, thanks to its geography, in Belgrade you are never too far away from places to escape the heat, have a nice hike and even see some of its … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (53): Easy Urban Hikes

Hidden Belgrade (54): A death and a riot which changed Belgrade’s history

Back in 1862, Zerek, was a warren of streets and gardens in still very much Ottoman Belgrade. Hugging the fortress which still held an Ottoman garrison lorded over an Ottoman Pasha, it was the home of the remnants of the Muslim Ottoman population, nestled within the crumbling city walls above one of the main cross roads at Dorćol and the Jewish quarter of Jalija and … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (54): A death and a riot which changed Belgrade’s history

Hidden Belgrade (53): Belgrade’s Most Storied Church

Church of the Ascension (Vaznesenjska crkva) lacks the glitz of Cathedral Church of St. Michael the Archangel (Saborna crkva), the grandeur of St. Mark’s and St. Sava’s, or romance of Ružica and Topčider church, but there are few churches, in the city who witnessed as many dramatic and glorious events in the city’s history. That was maybe its fate from the beginning given that it … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (53): Belgrade’s Most Storied Church

Hidden Belgrade (52): Rise, Fall and Rise Again of Belgrade Zoo

Belgrade Zoo was opened in July 1936, by its modernising mayor and wealthy industrialist Vladmiri Ilić, who donated the animals. Nestled in Belgrade fortress, it brought a whiff of exoticism to the city and attracted its elite, as well as the Royal Family, then officially headed by teenage King Peter II. It was part of the grand plans of beautification of Belgrade Fortress and Kalemegdan … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (52): Rise, Fall and Rise Again of Belgrade Zoo

Hidden Belgrade (51): Forgotten Summer Stages

Given that Belgrade is blessed by nice weather from April to November, it is no wonder that entrepreneurs and city planners of yore wanted to capitalise on this by building open-air cinema and theatre stages as attractions. Unfortunately, due to the lack of creativity and funds, most of them are now derelict or otherwise out of bounds for the crowds, although every once in a … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (51): Forgotten Summer Stages

Hidden Belgrade (50): Chinese connection

Tucked away in New Belgrade’s Blok 70, “Chinese” shopping centre is not only a vibrant is probably the city’s most cosmopolitan spot, with Chinese and Roma merchants selling everything from orthodox icons to tofu in colourful shops. Within its slightly mucky walls, you can also buy all sorts of far eastern foodstuffs and also eat cheap, but surprisingly tasty Chinese food. Ever since first Chinese … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (50): Chinese connection

Hidden Belgrade (49): Along Belgrade’s Central Rail Line

In the past few years, it was becoming increasingly difficult to find quiet places to walk and chill in central Belgrade, places where you could feel completely outside of the city and see nobody. One of my favourites was (and still is) the path along the abandoned railway which goes from Dunav Stanica all the way to Belgrade’s former central railway station. Ever since the … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (49): Along Belgrade’s Central Rail Line

Hidden Belgrade (48): Belgrade’s Co-Cathedral

From the medieval days and the Great Schism, Belgrade had a sizeable Catholic population, and was for a long periods of time, part of the Catholic kingdom of Hungary and for two decades in 18th century of the Habsburg Empire. Zemun, of course, due to its longer time spend under the Habsburgs has an even longer association with the Catholic faith, and still has a … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (48): Belgrade’s Co-Cathedral

Hidden Belgrade (47): Belgrade’s First Modern Hospital

Opened on 1 May 1868 on the property of the famous benefactor Ilija Milosavljević Kolarac, Belgrade’s first modern hospital was situated right in the middle of a somewhat unsavoury Palilula district by the Vidin road. It was one of the many projects by the reformist Prince Mihailo Obrenović in his bid to remake Belgrade and Serbia as a (central) European country, rather than an Ottoman … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (47): Belgrade’s First Modern Hospital

Why so dense?

The current pandemic, as insane as it is, highlighted problems of dense, large cities, where sharing tight public spaces is the only way of survival. From public transport carriages to lifts in high rises, we cannot escape density and the risks it brings. On top of that, the race to density, in making housing and facilities ever tighter, and more cost-efficient for their owners has … Continue reading Why so dense?

Hidden Belgrade (46): Within a Budding Grove

What is currently Belgrade’ Botanical garden was foundedin 1890 on what used to be outskirts of the city, on the estate of Jevrem Obrenović, (the grandfather of then King Milan Obrenović and the youngest brother of Prince Miloš Obrenović) after whom it is still called “Jevremovac”. This, however, wasn’t the first nor the intended place for the botanical garden in Belgrade. The first iteration of … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (46): Within a Budding Grove

Hidden Belgrade (45) Sava Centar: Yugoslavia’s Global Stage

When I asked Maja Necić from AUTORI, one of the leading contemporary architecture and design studios in Serbia, for any buildings that inspire her work, she took a pause and then immediately said: Sava Centar. Designed by Stojan Maksimović, one of Yugoslavia’s most promising architects who was in his 40s at the time, and built between 1976 and 1979, it was mean to be the … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (45) Sava Centar: Yugoslavia’s Global Stage

Hidden Belgrade (44): Derelict Showcase of Modernity’s Greatest Evil

Staro Sajmište was built as an art-deco fairground to promote modernisation of Yugoslavia by providing the newest wares and technologies, mostly from the West. It was opened by a consortium of local businessmen on September 11, 1937, with a few expansions (notably the Turkish and German pavilion) constructed in 1938, based on the designs by Rajko Tatić, Miroslav Lučković and Đorđe Lukić. It was the … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (44): Derelict Showcase of Modernity’s Greatest Evil

Belgrade 2020: Three Things to Look Forward To

I got burnt last year by making a list of things to look forward to in Belgrade in 2019. Two out of four did not come to pass (Chinese Cultural Centre and St Sava Mosaics), and the restored Palilula market only opened in the last few days of 2019. Still, I decided to press on this year, out of spite to the general chaos surrounding … Continue reading Belgrade 2020: Three Things to Look Forward To

How Ivan Meštrović brought the Kosovo Myth to life

In 1911, Ivan Meštrović, a Croatian sculptor raised in Dalmatian backwater and educated in Vienna, who was hailed as one of the greatest of his generation and a successor to Rodin,  caused the first of many political stirs in his life. Instead of exhibiting his monumental, secession-inspired works to show the glory and grandeur of the imperial Austro-Hungary during the 1911 international art exhibition in … Continue reading How Ivan Meštrović brought the Kosovo Myth to life

Hidden Belgrade (43): Last days of Yugoslav socialist consumerism

While many emphasise worker-ownership or its non-aligned anti-imperialist foreign policy as distinctive features of Yugoslav socialism, for me one of the most striking ways it differed from the countries behind the “Iron Curtain” is its deep openness to Western consumerist culture. Indeed, if you ask average former Yugoslavs what the main difference was between them and their supposed ideological comrades in the Warsaw pact, they … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (43): Last days of Yugoslav socialist consumerism

Hidden Belgrade (42): Art for The People!

Public art in Belgrade is back in fashion with many ambitious projects completed and planned. They range from the sculptural/architectural collaboration between Turner prize-winning Richard Deacon and widely acclaimed local sculptor Mrđan Bajić to the future gigantic monument to  the founder of the most successful of Serbian medieval states, Stefan Nemanja, made by the acclaimed Russian sculptor Alexander Rukavishnikov. There have also recently been two … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (42): Art for The People!

Hidden Belgrade (41): Occult Belgrade

Given Belgrade’s long and bloody history it is almost a wonder that there is not a larger number of stories of hauntings and other occult occurrences. This is even more remarkable considering that Serbia has a long association with and interest in the occult – from being connected with vampire crazes since 18th century (we invented the word after all), to its prominent role in … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (41): Occult Belgrade

Hidden Belgrade (40): National Assembly’s Grand Interior

Built in 1936, on the spot of the former Batal mosque, and just across the road from the royal place complex, the National Assembly building, was built to impress the power and ambitions of the ill-fated Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The outdated, Belle Epoque grandeur of its exterior was based on a design by Konstantin Jovanović in 1892, (later modified by Jovan and Petar Ilkić in … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (40): National Assembly’s Grand Interior