Hidden Belgrade (30): Neimar –  Belgrade’s First Leafy Suburb

During Belgrade’s population boom in 1920s and 30s, its better heeled citizens decided that they wanted to create suburban neighbourhoods which would guarantee them a degree of comfort away from the town’s hustle and bustle. While then, like now villas in neighbourhoods of Senjak and Dedinje were considered the best addresses in town, the educated (upper) middle classes sought also wanted to get away from … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (30): Neimar –  Belgrade’s First Leafy Suburb

First Years of Modern Belgrade

A century and a half ago, on April 6 1867, the last Ottoman soldiers left the Belgrade fortress, the northernmost post of the sprawling, if crumbling, empire. That day, celebrated with much pomp in Kalemegdan, marked the beginning of modern Belgrade. Under Ottoman rule, Belgrade was known as Dar al Jihad (House of the Holy War) and in the 17th Century it was one of … Continue reading First Years of Modern Belgrade

Hidden Belgrade (29): Voždovac’s Surrealist Church

From the outside the Church of St Constantine and St Helen in the suburb of Voždovac looks like a slightly more elegant standard-issue Serbian Orthodox church, with a demure grey façade and a prominent bell-tower. The current structure, an update of the church built in early 20th Century and damaged in WWII was designed by Dragomir Tadić, a renowned Serbian church architect of the late … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (29): Voždovac’s Surrealist Church

Belgrade’s Socialist-era Interiors

With a MoMA exhibition of Yugoslav-era brutalist architecture coming up in the summer, countless photos of Spomenici (aka WWII monuments) making weird architecture listicles and the never-ending appeal of mid-century architecture, it seems like a high time for Serbia to start preserving its Socialist-era architectural heritage, including its peculiar interiors. Although there have been some notable public efforts recently, like reconstruction of Belgrade’s Museum of … Continue reading Belgrade’s Socialist-era Interiors

Hidden Belgrade (28): The Wall of Undesired Things

All those following the contemporary art scene, know that one man’s trash these days is not only another’s man potential fortune, but actual exhibit-able art. Guided by this logic, the almost permanent, seemingly curated collection of debris found on the wall of 26 Hilandarska street in Stari Grad, can be considered a rare instance of folk, collaborative street art installation. According to the Serbian press, … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (28): The Wall of Undesired Things

“Bossy”, “butch” and “bitchy”: Three women who shattered the glass ceiling in Serbia

There have always been women who decided to go against the social grain in pursuit of greater freedom and success.  Unfortunately, they were almost alway held back by the patriarchal norms and often cruelly treated by their societies, even if they are eventually allowed a modicum of praise and support. Female entrepreneurs, scientists, activists, journalists, artists, and free thinkers or all stripes still cause a … Continue reading “Bossy”, “butch” and “bitchy”: Three women who shattered the glass ceiling in Serbia

Hidden Belgrade (27): Old headquarters of women’s movement in Belgrade

Although women were not barred from pursuing education in early 19th Century Serbia, in line with the global mores of the day, there was a lot of debate whether education will make them leave the family hearth and neglect their traditional roles, and of course whether mixing with men is at all appropriate. However, in the beginning of modern Serbia, when it achieved an autonomy … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (27): Old headquarters of women’s movement in Belgrade

Hidden Belgrade (26): Slavija’s strange history, from MacKenzie to McDonald’s

Hated by drivers, and considered the ugliest square in Belgrade, Slavija’s riveting history ironically started off as an attempt to introduce British-style urban planning to Belgrade. The development of the square began with Francis Mackenzie, an enterprising Scottish missionary who moved to the city in 1876 in hope of making Belgraders devote more time to the Bible, rather than smoking and drinking. In 1879 he … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (26): Slavija’s strange history, from MacKenzie to McDonald’s

Hidden Belgrade (25): Belgrade’s lost public baths

Despite the city’s long periods under Roman and Ottoman rule, Belgrade currently does not have a single open public bath probably for the first time in the past 19th centuries. Although neither of them were opulent marble-clad pleasure palaces that can still be enjoyed in Budapest or Istanbul, they would certainly come in handy as atmospheric places to warm up in long winter months and … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (25): Belgrade’s lost public baths

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

Hidden Belgrade (15): Belgrade’s hill of healing – KCS complex

Many of my childhood memories are from Belgrade’s largest hospital complex around KCS (Klinički Centar Srbije), as my grandmother and mother were going there daily to take care of my grandfather, in the chaotic days of hyperinflation of 1993. As a kid, I was mostly unaware of the sad state of the hospitals back then and thought it was normal that they were crumbling, loud … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (15): Belgrade’s hill of healing – KCS complex