Hidden Belgrade (66): SIVilisational decline

For a very long time, SIV, for me, was just a drab government building. While I passed it fairly often, unthinkingly, on my regular walks between old Zemun, much like the whole of New Belgrade – with the exception of Sava Centar – it was unremarkable, melding into the grey mass of what I (and many around me) termed as “uninspiring socialist architecture”, something that … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (66): SIVilisational decline

Art though Politics: “Hitler and the power of Aesthetics”, Frederic Spotts

Imagine a state where the government works hard not only to build crucial infrastructure projects but to elevate the tastes of the people through lavish funding of the arts and protects them from contemporary kitsch. A country where every larger town would have an opera and which would invest in making its citizens healthy and joyful through various initiatives. A country led by a ruler … Continue reading Art though Politics: “Hitler and the power of Aesthetics”, Frederic Spotts

Serbia and Yugoslavia at the World Fairs (1): 1885-1939

Ever since the world was sufficiently globalised to allow for a common cultural language of admiration for technology and industry in mid-19th century, there have been expositions which allowed every country to show their might, progress and peculiarity on the world stage. It all started with the Great Exhibition in the Crystal Palace of 1851, inside the Hyde Park, which dazzled the inhabitants of the … Continue reading Serbia and Yugoslavia at the World Fairs (1): 1885-1939

Hidden Belgrade (65): Three forgotten townhouses

Belgrade’s democratic and indomitable spirit is probably to credit (or blame, depending on who you ask, and what you think) for frequent turnovers of its elites. For example, in just one neighbourhood, playful Ottoman townhouses of Zerek – currently referred to as Dorćol – in which the Muslim merchants languored on divans – gave way to mostly sober neoclassical houses of late 19th and early … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (65): Three forgotten townhouses

Belgrade Post-Modern: Ruins at the End of History

“The only way for us to become great, or even inimitable if possible, is to imitate the ancients.” Johann Joachim Winckelmann  “As is the case with the weather: rain and storms from the West reached us and so did Postmodernism. At the very beginning of Postmodernism, a great conference was held in Zagreb on that topic, which identified vectors and positive values ​​of the movement … Continue reading Belgrade Post-Modern: Ruins at the End of History

From biosphere reserves to industrial boom towns: Where to go in Serbia in 2021

Although travel destination listicles are traditionally made at the start of the year, I do thing differently… and these times are different, as at the start of the year we had little idea of how much we could go around at all. So here it is, the ultimate list of places you have to see in Serbia this… or else… Kragujevac Modern Serbia’s second capital … Continue reading From biosphere reserves to industrial boom towns: Where to go in Serbia in 2021

Build Better: How a Belgrade Firm Built the World

Energoprojekt, the most famous firm based in Belgrade, is celebrating 70 years this year, and thanks to the great people of BINA (Belgrade International Architecture Week) I got acquainted a bit further with both its amazing HQ in New Belgrade as well as its accomplishments around the world. The frim, founded in 1951, initially focused on major energy projects in Yugoslavia, building its coal and … Continue reading Build Better: How a Belgrade Firm Built the World

Hidden Belgrade (61): Old School Belgarde

Ever since the First Serbian uprising in 1804, education was a major component in building the nation, as well as its identity, in large thanks to the two major personages of Serbian Enlightenment: Dositej Obradović and Vuk Karadžić. The first major educational institution was the Great School, which was operational between 1809 and 1813. It was devised by Obradović and attended by Karadžić and was … Continue reading Hidden Belgrade (61): Old School Belgarde

Belgrade, Peasantville

As Kingdom of Serbia was late to industrialise, modern Belgrade was a city built in large part with the money of proud peasants and cattle (esp. pig) merchants, more than happy to celebrate their rural heritage and especially the ornate dresses of Serbian villagers – this was especially popular as Orientalist and Romantic art, as well as Art Nouveau started looking for something to break … Continue reading Belgrade, Peasantville

Making an entrance, Belgrade style

Entrances to buildings in Belgrade used to be stages where architects showed their utmost creativity in the interwar period. They were designed to woo potential tentants to buy or rent by making a block of flats look like a private castle, or to impose the serious nature of a company or official building. Some of my favourites were built while Belgrade modernism (local variant of … Continue reading Making an entrance, Belgrade style

Pokretači #84 Andrej Josifovski Pijanista o uličnoj umetnosti / Beograd

Andrej Josifovski, aka Pijanista, je jedan od najkreativnijih domaćih uličnih umetnika, koji je pre par dana uzbudio javnost svojim novim radom, privremenom instalacijom raspetog Hrista na stubu sa kamerama za nadzor. Pričali smo o smislu ulične umetnosti u vremenu kada se ona sve više komodifikuje, o njegovim pokušajima da od Bežanijske kose napravi muzej na otvorenom kao, i „grass-roots“ inicijativama za unapređivanje krajeva po Beogradu. … Continue reading Pokretači #84 Andrej Josifovski Pijanista o uličnoj umetnosti / Beograd

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

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 (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 (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 (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

Morava Style: Medieval Serbia’s Majestic Swan Song

When I first laid my eyes on Ravanica’s Church of Ascension last spring, it became apparent why medieval Serbia’s first and last autochthonous architectural style inspired so many artists through the centuries, from the graceful architecture of Branko Tanazević to the subtle poetry Vasko Popa. That cold April morning, I could not peel my eyes from the intricate rosettes and writhing mythical animals, which enlivened … Continue reading Morava Style: Medieval Serbia’s Majestic Swan Song

The Many Charms of Yugohotels

Hotels and resorts of Socialist Yugoslavia got a lot of press in the past few years (two examples here), especially as every summer more and more foreign tourists are heading to its coasts and cities over the summer. This recent fascination with ‘Yugohotels’ is more than just due to the trendiness of the Eastern Adriatic coast in the past few years, or the hipsterish love … Continue reading The Many Charms of Yugohotels

Faces and Blossoms of Art Nouveau in Serbia

From the curvy floral beauty of the Subotica’s Synagogue to the Morava-style inspired rosettes on Belgrade’s telegraph building, Art Nouveau architecture takes various shapes in present-day Serbia. This diversity was in large part because this sensuous new style, originating in late 1800s France, was used as an artistic expression of national romanticism that gripped Europe those days. Back in early 1900s, north of the Sava … Continue reading Faces and Blossoms of Art Nouveau in Serbia