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

Hidden Belgrade (14): Grafički kolektiv

  Unfortunately, this article would probably be better titled “Disappearing Belgrade”, as it is certain that Grafički kolektiv (“Graphics collective”), one of the city’s best galleries, will be no more, at least in its current from, from next August. Instead of its unique wooden interior, designed by Peđa Ristić in 1961, and examples the regions best print art hung on the walls, its premises at … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (14): Grafički kolektiv

Hidden Belgrade (13): Knez Mihailova’s unlucky merchants

Ever since the Roman times, the road that is now  Knez Mihailova street used to be the main commercial area of Belgrade. Starting from the old castrum (whose walls are buried below the new Rajićeva shopping mall and the Belgrade Public Library), the street, which was paved with stone and had sewerage, went past all the key Roman institutions , such as the forum located … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (13): Knez Mihailova’s unlucky merchants

Hidden Belgrade (12): Konjarnik: Buddhism, Brutalism and rap

As you approach Belgrade by highway from the East, you will pass a hill from which you will be able to see the whole city in front of you, but the view will be dominated by three massive stepped concrete buildings. Officially called Rudo, after a city in Bosnia, the complex is known as the Eastern Gate, in parrallel with another brutalist masterpiece that is … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (12): Konjarnik: Buddhism, Brutalism and rap

Hidden Belgrade (11): City of Stars

Despite its evocative name, Zvezdara (“Star-place”) municipality and its forest are rarely visited by Belgraders who don’t live there. Thankfully, I am aware of its beauty because I was born in Zvezdara and spent much of my early childhood learning how to ride bike and run at Olimp sports centre and sleding down its steep streets. The lovely name comes from the old Serbian name … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (11): City of Stars

Hidden Belgrade (10): Grand Hotels of Belgrade

Given its place on the major East-West trade routes, hotels and inns played an important role in the development of Belgrade. Although none of the great hans/caravan serais from the Ottoman era remain in the city, there are several major hotels from 19th and 20th centuries which still remain open. These hotels not only offered the first glimpse of Serbia to weary travellers, but they … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (10): Grand Hotels of Belgrade

Hidden Belgrade (9): The forgotten golden age of Belgrade

In 16th century Belgrade was considered the only city that lay between Ottomans and Western Europe. Located at the very edge of the Hungarian kingdom, the city’s fortress protected the Pannonian plains from the Turkish assault and was often attacked by the Ottoman armies from the nearby Turkish-held fortifications that were as close to the city as Avala, where the Ottomans held the town of … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (9): The forgotten golden age of Belgrade