We decided to explore parts of the city of Belgrade not so glamourous but real, where the real people lives. Actually we didn’t find tourists there, our walk was so quiet and amazing….
Toplicin Venac, square and district, is a quiet part of the city, not so many people around and the ones we met all had a smile for us….we sat on a bench just enjoying the fresh air and the pigeons around. The statue in the square is dedicated to Vojin Popović, known as Vojvoda Vuk (9 December 1881 – 29 November 1916), a Serbian voivode (military commander), that fought for the Macedonian Serb Chetniks in the struggle for Macedonia, and then the national army in the Balkan Wars and World War I.
In this part of town you can see the buindings still carrying the signs of the Yugoslav Wars, not so much money to restore them, a few have been taken back to previous splendor (most of time with the state help if important buildings were involved)…………..
Then we walked through a well restored area that houses some embassies (the majority of them is located near the National Assembly) such as the French and the Austrian ones…..
till we reached the old Princess Ljubica Residence
Princess Ljubica’s Residence was built between 1829 and 1831 by Hadži-Nikola Živković, a pioneer of contemporary Serbian architecture. The residence was built on order by prince Miloš Obrenović for his wife Ljubica and their children, the future rulers Milan and Mihailo. They began living in the residence in 1831, living there for the following ten years. It is preserved as the most representative city house from the first half of 19th century. Architecturally, it contains Ottoman attributes (the so-called Serbian-Balkan style) but with elements of classicism which anticipate future Western influences on architecture in Belgrade. Following the ascension of Alexander Karađorđević, Prince of Serbia, the building changed its purpose many times: it once housed the Belgrade Higher School, appellate court (Court of Cassation), a museum of art, a church museum, home for the elderly, and the Department for the Protection of the Monuments of Culture of Serbia. Nowadays, it is a part of the Museum of Belgrade and is used as an exhibition space. Permanent exhibit includes original furniture made in Ottoman Balkan style and many other styles of that time.
The nice street we followed from here headed to the real Cathedral of Belgrade………….
………..St. Michael Cathedral
The Cathedral Church of St. Michael the Archangel is a Serb Orthodox Christian church, one of the most important places of worship in the country. It is commonly known as just Saborna crkva (The Cathedral) among the city residents.
The cathedral was built from 1837 to 1840 by order of prince Miloš Obrenović, according to the design and plans of Adam Friedrich Kwerfeld, a builder from Pančevo. The church was built in the style of classicism with late baroque elements. The church is dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel. The special value of the church is its treasury. The relics of Serbian saints king Uroš and despot Stefan Štiljanović, as well as the heads of the Church and Serbian rulers of the Obrenović dynasty (Miloš, Mihailo and Milan).
The interior is richly decorated. The gold-plated carved iconostasis was made by the sculptor Dimitrije Petrović, while the icons on the iconostasis, thrones, choirs and pulpits, as well as those on the walls and arches were painted by Dimitrije Avramović, one of the most distinguished Serbian painters of the 19th century. It’s forbidden to take photos on the inside of the church, so this is precious and not so good but I had to hide my cell phone…..
Today’s building of the Patriarchate was built from 1934 until 1935 and designed by the architect Viktor Lukomski. It is located across Saborna Crkva. The building has a square base, it is solid and has monumental forms. On the main facade, against the Cathedral Church, an impressive portico stands out, with low columns and an arched portal above which is a sculpted coat of arms of the Patriarchate of Serbia. On the top of this facade, in a niche, is a mosaic composition representing St. John the Baptist. In the east part of the building, there is a chapel dedicated to St. Simeon. It contains a carved iconostasis, the work of Ohrid masters, bearing icons painted in 1935 by Vladimir Predojević. Cathedral Church of St. Michael the Archangel was declared Monument of Culture of Exceptional Importance in 1979, and it is protected by Republic of Serbia. The Library and Museum of Serbian Orthodox Church are in this building, too.
From here we walked to the western part of what they call the ” bohemian” quarter of Belgrade, because we were not really interested in the local gipsy way of life (after all the restaurants and bars are all the same and we dind’t want to buy local arts) but to see with our own eyes the war damages still there like open wounds………..and there we were, in the neighbour of Kosančićev Venac.
Kosančićev Venac is practically the oldest section of Belgrade outside the walls of the Kalemegdan fortress. From this point the new Serbian town, as opposed to the old Turkish one in the fortress, began expanding in the 1830s along the right bank of the Sava into Savamala. In 1979 Kosančićev Venac was officially added to the Spatial Cultural-Historical Units of Great Importance list, and named a Monument of Culture, with explanation: “it is the area of the oldest Serbian settlement, the first developed administrative, cultural, spiritual and economic center of the city with specific ambient qualities”.
In January 2007 city government announced ambitious plans for the revitalization of Kosančićev Venac and the neighboring riverside section of Savamala. The first concern is the stabilization of the ground as the entire western slope of the ridge descending to the Sava is a mass wasting area (the leaning of the Cathedral Church is already visible from a distance). Kosančićev Venac is projected as the future cultural center of Belgrade. As it is not allowed to change the general shape of the neighborhood, Kosančićev Venac is declared a “zone of minor interventions” with several specific points of reconstruction. First of all, the Memorial center of the National Library of Serbia; National library was located in Kosančićev Venac until it was destroyed in German bombing of Belgrade on April 6, 1941. A memorial center to commemorate the old location will be built but not as a monument but as a vigorous and modern cultural institution (see below the actual state of the site)
From here a steep staircase leads to a little park called Park of the Non-Aligned Movement with an obelisk in the center (ruined by some writings)
Descending the hill, our next destination was the Sava river……………