After an uneventful but tiring trip ( two trains, a plane and a taxi ride) we arrived at our hotel in the late afternoon. Its location is very good, because you have almost all the city at a walk lenght (and trust me, we walked a lot!!)
The hotel was clean, quiet, not expensive at all (the exchange rate is in favourable terms for the Euro) the food was good and the staff helpful and kind, so we are happy with the choice we made (understood Gibra?)
We were tired, but not enough, we were much more thrilled to be there, so after a quick bathroom stop, we were out, ready to discover a new place.
First of all a quick summary of the place. Belgrade is the capital and largest city of Serbia. It is located at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, where the Pannonian Plain meets the Balkans. Its name translates to “white city”. One of the most important prehistoric cultures of Europe, the Vinča culture, evolved within the Belgrade area in the 6th millennium BC. In antiquity, Thraco-Dacians inhabited the region, and after 279 BC Celts conquered the city, naming it Singidūn. It was conquered by the Romans during the reign of Augustus, and awarded city rights in the mid 2nd century. It was settled by the Slavs in the 520s, and changed hands several times between the Byzantine Empire, Frankish Empire, Bulgarian Empire and Kingdom of Hungary before it became the capital of Serbian King Stephen Dragutin (1282–1316). In 1521, Belgrade was conquered by the Ottoman Empire and became the seat of the Sanjak of Smederevo. It frequently passed from Ottoman to Habsburg rule, which saw the destruction of most of the city during the Austro-Ottoman wars. Belgrade was again named the capital of Serbia in 1841. Northern Belgrade remained the southernmost Habsburg post until 1918, when the city was reunited. As a strategic location, the city was battled over in 115 wars and razed to the ground 44 times.Belgrade was the capital of Yugoslavia (in various forms of governments) from its creation in 1918, to its final dissolution in 2006.
On 9 March 1991, massive demonstrations led by Vuk Drašković were held in the city against Slobodan Milošević. According to various media outlets, there were between 100,000 and 150,000 people on the streets.Two people were killed, 203 injured and 108 arrested during the protests, and later that day tanks were deployed onto the streets to restore order. Further protests were held in Belgrade from November 1996 to February 1997 against the same government after alleged electoral fraud at local elections.These protests brought Zoran Đinđić to power, the first mayor of Belgrade since World War II who did not belong to the League of Communists of Yugoslavia or its later offshoot, the Socialist Party of Serbia.
In 1999, during the Kosovo War, NATO bombings caused substantial damage to the city. Among the sites bombed were the buildings of several ministries, the RTS building, which killed 16 technicians, several hospitals, the Hotel Jugoslavija, the Central Committee building, the Avala Tower, and the Chinese embassy.
Ok, done with the history, let’s start to walk (I apologize from the start for some of my night photos, all is so much lightened up to disturb the camera)…………The first date we had was at a very short distance from the hotel, the House of the National Assembly of Serbia (the Parliament)
The foundation stone was laid in 1907 by King Peter I. Construction was interrupted during the Balkan Wars and First World War. The house was completed in 1936 with the first sitting taking place on the 20th of October that year. The building is designed in the neo-baroque style. The parliament building was damaged during the October fifth demonstrations in 2000. The original design of the house was drafted by architect Konstantin Jovanović in 1891, but financial difficulties prevented its construction at the time. A new design was proposed by Jovan Ilkić in 1901, following a constitutional amendment and the creation of a bicameral parliament. Following the formation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes in 1918, the size of the parliament was considerably enlarged and the original design under construction deemed inadequate. A modified design was made by Ilkić’s son Pavle Ilkić in 1920 and construction was resumed until its completion in 1936. A sculpture by Toma Rosandić, Igrali se konji vrani (“Play of Black Horses”), was placed in front of the building in 1939.
The interior of the house was designed by architect Nikolaj Krasnov in the manner of academic traditionalism. The building covers an area of about 13,400 m2 and contains four storeys, 100 offices, a great and small plenary halls and four committee halls. The library, situated on the first floor, has an area of 165 m2 and contains over 60,000 books. The house is decorated with 23 frescoes and numerous paintings, sculptures and other pieces of fine art. During the October 5th riots in 2000, 91 pieces of art work were looted from the National Assembly house. 35 have been found and returned to date, 56 still remain missing. The building itself was also damaged in the process.
Next stop was Nikola Pašić Square, named after Nikola Pašić who served as mayor of Belgrade, prime minister of Serbia and prime minister of Yugoslavia and it overlooks the monumental building of the National Assembly and itself extends into Belgrade’s longest street, King Alexander Boulevard, while Dečanska Street connects it to the Republic Square. A monument to Nikola Pašić was erected in the early 1990s. The dominant architectural features in the square are the massive, Socialist Classicism Dom sindikata (Trade Union Hall) building and one of the Belgrade’s largest fountains (photos by night and by day)
Museum of Yugoslav History is located across the fountain.
Just across the Pioneers Park there are two imposing buildings, the Old and the New Palace. The Old Palace was the palace of the Serbian dynasty Obrenovic. Today, it is the headquarters of the Belgrade City Assembly.It was built between 1882 and 1884, and designed by Alexander Bulgarian. The building was built under the influence of academism of 19th century. The New Palace is a monumental building next to the Old Palace, on the Andrićev Venac and today it is the seat of the President of the Republic of Serbia.
Andrićev Venac is encompassing a corner of the Kralja Milana and Kneza Miloša, two main streets in downtown Belgrade while the rest is bound by the street-promenade of the same name. The central area is a pedestrian zone, a short paved promenade which connects “Pionirski Park” and “Kralja Milana” street. Andrićev Venac is named after Yugoslav Nobel laureate in literature, Ivo Andrić. The promenade has benches, artistic candelabra, lime trees (Green Crimean linden, “Tilia euchlora Koch.”, which are under the state protection), and an artificial, marble step-like stream originating from a fountain and a monument to Andrić. The entire area has been given an artistic character as several galleries (“Galerija Ozone”) and bookstores are located along the eastern side of the promenade.
That’s all (for now) more coming later……….