Belgrade

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Belgrade
Београд/Beograd
City
City of Belgrade
Belgrade
Belgrade
Flag of Belgrade
Flag
Coat of arms of Belgrade
Coat of arms
Location in Europe and Serbia
Location in Europe and Serbia
Coordinates: 44°49′N 20°28′E / 44.817°N 20.467°E / 44.817; 20.467Coordinates: 44°49′N 20°28′E / 44.817°N 20.467°E / 44.817; 20.467
Country Serbia
District City of Belgrade
Municipalities 17
Establishment Prior to 279 B.C. (Singidunum)[2]
Government
 • Mayor Siniša Mali (SNS)
 • Ruling parties SNS/SPS-PUPS/DSS
Area[3]
 • City 359.96 km2 (138.98 sq mi)
 • Urban 1,035 km2 (400 sq mi)
 • Metro 3,222.68 km2 (1,244.28 sq mi)
Elevation[4] 117 m (384 ft)
Population
 • City Increase 1,166,763[1]
 • Density 3,241/km2 (8,390/sq mi)
 • Urban Increase 1,233,796[1]
 • District Increase 1,659,440[1]
 • District density 514/km2 (1,330/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 11000
Area code(s) (+381) 11
Car plates BG
Website www.beograd.rs

Belgrade (/ˈbɛlɡrd/; Serbian: Београд/Beograd; [beǒɡrad] ( ); names in other languages) 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.[5] Its name translates to White city. The city has a population of 1.23 million, while over 1.65 million people live in its metro area (which encompass administrative limits of City of Belgrade).[1]

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.[6] It was conquered by the Romans during the reign of Augustus, and awarded city rights in the mid 2nd century.[7] 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.[8] 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.[9] Belgrade was the capital of Yugoslavia (in various forms of governments) from its creation in 1918, to its final dissolution in 2006.

Belgrade has a special administrative status within Serbia[10] and it is one of five statistical regions of Serbia. Its metropolitan territory is divided into 17 municipalities, each with its own local council.[11] It covers 3.6% of Serbia's territory, and 22.5% of the country's population lives in the city.[12] The city has been awarded many titles, and the nomination for European Capital of Culture 2020.[13]

Geography[edit]

Satellite image of Belgrade

Belgrade lies 116.75 metres (383.0 ft) above sea level and is located at the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers. The historical core of Belgrade, Kalemegdan, lies on the right banks of both rivers. Since the 19th century, the city has been expanding to the south and east; after World War II, Novi Beograd (New Belgrade) was built on the left bank of the Sava river, connecting Belgrade with Zemun. Smaller, chiefly residential communities across the Danube, like Krnjača, Kotež and Borča, also merged with the city, while Pančevo, a heavily industrialized satellite city, remains a separate town. The city has an urban area of 360 square kilometres (140 sq mi), while together with its metropolitan area it covers 3,223 km2 (1,244 sq mi). Throughout history, Belgrade has been a crossroads between the West and the Orient.[14]

On the right bank of the Sava, central Belgrade has a hilly terrain, while the highest point of Belgrade proper is Torlak hill at 303 m (994 ft). The mountains of Avala (511 m (1,677 ft)) and Kosmaj (628 m (2,060 ft)) lie south of the city. Across the Sava and Danube, the land is mostly flat, consisting of alluvial plains and loessial plateaus.[15]

Climate[edit]

Belgrade lies in the humid subtropical (Cfa) climate zone, with four seasons and uniformly spread precipitation. Monthly averages range from 1.4 °C (34.5 °F) in January to 23.0 °C (73.4 °F) in July, with an annual mean of 12.5 °C (54.5 °F). There are, on average, 31 days a year when the temperature is above 30 °C, and 95 days when the temperature is above 25 °C. Belgrade receives about 690 millimetres (27 in) of precipitation a year, with late spring being wettest. The average annual number of sunny hours is 2,112. The highest officially recorded temperature in Belgrade was +43.6 °C (110 °F) on 24 July 2007,[16] while on the other end, the lowest temperature was −26.2 °C (−15 °F) on 10 January 1893.[17]


Climate data for Belgrade (1981–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 20.7
(69.3)
23.9
(75)
28.8
(83.8)
32.2
(90)
34.9
(94.8)
37.4
(99.3)
43.6
(110.5)
40.0
(104)
37.5
(99.5)
30.7
(87.3)
28.4
(83.1)
22.6
(72.7)
43.6
(110.5)
Average high °C (°F) 4.6
(40.3)
7.0
(44.6)
12.4
(54.3)
18.0
(64.4)
23.5
(74.3)
26.2
(79.2)
28.6
(83.5)
28.7
(83.7)
23.9
(75)
18.4
(65.1)
11.2
(52.2)
5.8
(42.4)
17.4
(63.3)
Daily mean °C (°F) 1.4
(34.5)
3.1
(37.6)
7.6
(45.7)
12.9
(55.2)
18.1
(64.6)
21.0
(69.8)
23.0
(73.4)
22.7
(72.9)
18.0
(64.4)
12.9
(55.2)
7.1
(44.8)
2.7
(36.9)
12.5
(54.5)
Average low °C (°F) −1.1
(30)
−0.1
(31.8)
3.7
(38.7)
8.3
(46.9)
13.0
(55.4)
15.8
(60.4)
17.5
(63.5)
17.6
(63.7)
13.5
(56.3)
9.0
(48.2)
4.2
(39.6)
0.2
(32.4)
8.5
(47.3)
Record low °C (°F) −26.2
(−15.2)
−15.4
(4.3)
−12.4
(9.7)
−3.4
(25.9)
2.5
(36.5)
6.5
(43.7)
9.4
(48.9)
6.7
(44.1)
4.7
(40.5)
−4.5
(23.9)
−7.8
(18)
−13.4
(7.9)
−18.2
(−0.8)
Precipitation mm (inches) 46.9
(1.846)
40.0
(1.575)
49.3
(1.941)
56.1
(2.209)
58.0
(2.283)
101.2
(3.984)
63.0
(2.48)
58.3
(2.295)
55.3
(2.177)
50.2
(1.976)
55.1
(2.169)
57.4
(2.26)
690.9
(27.201)
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm) 13 12 11 13 13 13 10 9 10 10 12 14 139
 % humidity 78 71 63 61 61 63 61 61 67 71 75 79 68
Mean monthly sunshine hours 72.2 101.7 153.2 188.1 242.2 260.9 290.8 274.0 204.3 163.1 97.0 64.5 2,111.9
Source: Republic Hydrometeorological Service of Serbia[18]


History[edit]

Lady of Vinča (5500 BC)

Prehistory[edit]

Chipped stone tools found at Zemun show that the area around Belgrade was inhabited by nomadic foragers in the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic eras. Some of these tools belong to the Mousterian industry, which are associated with Neanderthals rather than modern humans. Aurignacian and Gravettian tools have also been discovered there, indicating occupation between 50,000 and 20,000 years ago.[19]

The first farming people to settle in the region are associated with the Neolithic Starčevo culture, which flourished between 6200 and 5200 BC.[20] There are several Starčevo sites in and around Belgrade, including the eponymous site of Starčevo. The Starčevo culture was succeeded by the Vinča culture (5500–4500 BC), a more sophisticated farming culture that grew out of the earlier Starčevo settlements which is also named for a site in the Belgrade region (Vinča-Belo Brdo). The Vinča culture is known for its very large settlements, some of the largest in prehistoric Europe;[21] anthropomorphic figurines such as the Lady of Vinča; the earliest known copper metallurgy in Europe;[22] and the Vinča symbols.

Ancient city[edit]

The Paleo-Balkan tribes of Thracians and Dacians ruled this area prior to the Roman conquest.[23] Belgrade was inhabited by a Thraco-Dacian tribe Singi;[6] after the Celtic invasion in 279 BC, the Scordisci took the city, naming it "Singidūn" (dūn, fortress).[6] In 34-33BC the Roman army led by Silanus reached Belgrade. It became the romanized Singidunum in the 1st century AD, and by the mid-2nd century, the city was proclaimed a municipium by the Roman authorities, evolving into a full fledged colonia (highest city class) by the end of the century.[7] Apart from the first Christian Emperor of Rome who was born on the territory in modern Serbia in NaissusConstantine I known as Constantine the Great[24] – another early Roman Emperor was born in Singidunum: Flavius Iovianus (Jovian), the restorer of Christianity.[25] Jovian reestablished Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire, ending the brief revival of traditional Roman religions under his predecessor Julian the Apostate. In 395 AD, the site passed to the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire.[26] Across the Sava from Singidunum was the Celtic city of Taurunum (Zemun); the two were connected with a bridge throughout Roman and Byzantine times.[27]

The 1456 Siege of Belgrade, as depicted by Ottoman miniaturist

Middle Ages[edit]

In 442, the area was ravaged by Attila the Hun.[28] In 471, it was taken by Theodoric the Great, who continued into Greece.[29] As the Ostrogoths left for Italy, the Gepids took over the city. In 539 it was retaken by the Byzantines.[30] In 577, some 100,000 Slavs poured into Thrace and Illyricum, pillaging cities and settling down.[31] The Avars under Bayan I conquered the whole region by 582.[32] According to Byzantine chronicle De Administrando Imperio, the White Serbs had stopped in Belgrade on their way back home, asking the strategos for lands; they received provinces in the west, towards the Adriatic, which they would rule as subjects to Heraclius (610–641).[33] The first record of the name Beograd appeared around 878, during the rule of Bulgarian Knyaz Boris I. For about four centuries, the city remained a battleground between the Byzantine Empire, the Kingdom of Hungary, Serbia and the Bulgarian Empire.[34] Basil II (976–1025) installed a garrison in Belgrade.[35] The city hosted the armies of the First and the Second Crusade;[36] while passing through during the Third Crusade, Frederick Barbarossa and his 190,000 crusaders saw Belgrade in ruins.[37]

Stephen Dragutin (r. 1276–1282), received Belgrade from his father-in-law, Stephen V of Hungary in 1284; it served as the capital of the Kingdom of Syrmia, and Dragutin is regarded as the first Serbian king to rule over Belgrade.[38]

Following the Battle of Maritsa in 1371 and the Battle of Kosovo in 1389, the Serbian Empire began to crumble as the Ottoman Empire conquered its southern territory.[39][40] The north resisted through the Serbian Despotate, which had Belgrade as its capital. The city flourished under Stefan Lazarević, son of Serbian prince Lazar Hrebeljanović. Lazarević built a castle with a citadel and towers, of which only the Despot's tower and west wall remain. He also refortified the city's ancient walls, allowing the Despotate to resist the Ottomans for almost 70 years. During this time, Belgrade was a haven for many Balkan peoples fleeing Ottoman rule, and is thought to have had a population of 40, 000 to 50,000 people.[38]

In 1427, Stefan's successor Đurađ Branković had to return Belgrade to the Hungarians, and Smederevo became the new capital. During his reign, the Ottomans captured most of the Serbian Despotate, unsuccessfully besieging Belgrade first in 1440[36] and again in 1456.[41] As it presented an obstacle to their further advance into Central Europe, over 100,000 Ottoman soldiers[42] launched the 1456 Siege of Belgrade, in which the Christian army under commander John Hunyadi successfully defended the city from the Ottomans, wounding Sultan Mehmed II.[43] The noon bell ordered by Pope Callixtus III commemorates the victory throughout the Christian world to this day.[36][44]

Ottoman conquest and Austrian invasions[edit]

Austrian conquest of Belgrade: 1717 by Eugene of Savoy, during the Austro-Turkish War of 1716-18

Seven decades after the initial siege, on 28 August 1521, the fort was finally captured by Ottoman Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent and his 250,000 soldiers; subsequently, most of the city was razed to the ground and its entire Orthodox Christian population was deported to Istanbul,[36] to an area that has since become known as the Belgrade forest.[45] Belgrade was made the seat of the district (Sanjak), becoming the second largest Ottoman town in Europe at over 100,000 people, surpassed only by Constantinople.[42] Ottoman rule also introduced Ottoman architecture, including numerous mosques, increasing the city's Oriental influences.[46] In 1594, a major Serb rebellion was crushed by the Ottomans. Later, Grand vizier Sinan Pasha ordered the relics of Saint Sava to be publicly torched on the Vračar plateau; in the 20th century, the Temple of Saint Sava was built to commemorate this event.[47]

Occupied by the Habsburgs three times (1688–1690, 1717–1739, 1789–1791), headed by the Holy Roman Princes Maximilian of Bavaria and Eugene of Savoy,[48] and field marshal Baron Ernst Gideon von Laudon respectively, Belgrade was quickly recaptured by the Ottomans and substantially razed each time.[46] During this period, the city was affected by the two Great Serbian Migrations, in which hundreds of thousands of Serbs, led by their patriarchs, retreated together with the Austrians into the Habsburg Empire, settling in today's Vojvodina and Slavonia.[49]

Capital of independent Serbia[edit]

During the First Serbian Uprising, the Serbian revolutionaries held the city from 8 January 1807 until 1813, when it was retaken by the Ottomans.[50] After the Second Serbian Uprising in 1815, Serbia reached semi-independence, which was formally recognized by the Porte in 1830.[51] In 1841, Prince Mihailo Obrenović moved the capital from Kragujevac to Belgrade.[52][53]

Statue of Prince Mihailo III on Republic Square, mid 19th century.

In May 1868, Prince Mihailo was assassinated with his cousin Anka Konstantinović while riding in a carriage through the park of his country residence.[54]

With the Principality's full independence in 1878, and its transformation into the Kingdom of Serbia in 1882, Belgrade once again became a key city in the Balkans, and developed rapidly.[50][55] Nevertheless, conditions in Serbia as a whole remained those of an overwhelmingly agrarian country, even with the opening of a railway to Niš, Serbia's second city, and in 1900 the capital had only 70,000 inhabitants[56] (at the time Serbia numbered 1,5 million). Yet by 1905 the population had grown to more than 80,000, and by the outbreak of World War I in 1914, it had surpassed the 100,000 citizens, not counting Zemun which then belonged to Austria-Hungary.[57]

The first-ever projection of motion pictures in the Balkans and Central Europe was held in Belgrade, in June 1896 by Andre Carr, a representative of the Lumière brothers. He shot the first motion pictures of Belgrade in the next year; however, they have not been preserved.[58]

World War I and the Interbellum[edit]

Knez Mihailova street at the end of the 19th century

"Kalemegdan is the prettiest and most courageous piece of optimism I know."

Rebecca West in 1936[59][60]

The First World War began on 28 July 1914 when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. Most of the subsequent Balkan offensives occurred near Belgrade. Austro-Hungarian monitors shelled Belgrade on 29 July 1914, and it was taken by the Austro-Hungarian Army under General Oskar Potiorek on 30 November. On 15 December, it was re-taken by Serbian troops under Marshal Radomir Putnik. After a prolonged battle which destroyed much of the city, between 6 and 9 October 1915, Belgrade fell to German and Austro-Hungarian troops commanded by Field Marshal August von Mackensen on 9 October 1915. The city was liberated by Serbian and French troops on 1 November 1918, under the command of Marshal Louis Franchet d'Espérey of France and Crown Prince Alexander of Serbia. Since Belgrade was decimated as the front-line city, Subotica overtook the title of the largest city in the Kingdom for a short while.[61]

After the war, Belgrade became the capital of the new Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, renamed the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929. The Kingdom was split into banovinas, and Belgrade, together with Zemun and Pančevo, formed a separate administrative unit.[62]

During this period, the city experienced fast growth and significant modernisation. Belgrade's population grew to 239,000 by 1931 (incorporating the town of Zemun, formerly in Austria-Hungary), and 320,000 by 1940. The population growth rate between 1921 and 1948 averaged 4.08% a year.[63] In 1927, Belgrade's first airport opened, and in 1929, its first radio station began broadcasting. The Pančevo Bridge, which crosses the Danube, was opened in 1935,[64] while "King Alexander Bridge" over the Sava was opened in 1934. On 3 September 1939 the first Belgrade Grand Prix, the last Grand Prix motor racing race before the outbreak of World War II, was held around the Belgrade Fortress and was followed by 80,000 spectators.[65] The winner was Tazio Nuvolari.[66]

World War II[edit]

Damage caused by the Nazi bombing, 1941.

On 25 March 1941, the government of regent Crown Prince Paul signed the Tripartite Pact, joining the Axis powers in an effort to stay out of the Second World War and keep Yugoslavia neutral during the conflict. This was immediately followed by mass protests in Belgrade and a military coup d'état led by Air Force commander General Dušan Simović, who proclaimed King Peter II to be of age to rule the realm. Consequently, the city was heavily bombed by the Luftwaffe on 6 April 1941, when up to 24,000 people were killed.[67][68] Yugoslavia was then invaded by German, Italian, Hungarian, and Bulgarian forces, Belgrade was occupied by the German Army on 13 April 1941 and suburbs as far east as Zemun, in the Belgrade metropolitan area, were incorporated into a Nazi state, the Independent State of Croatia. Belgrade became the seat of the Nedić regime, headed by General Milan Nedić.

During the summer and fall of 1941, in reprisal for guerrilla attacks, the Germans carried out several massacres of Belgrade citizens; in particular, members of the Jewish community were subject to mass shootings at the order of General Franz Böhme, the German Military Governor of Serbia. Böhme rigorously enforced the rule that for every German killed, 100 Serbs or Jews would be shot.[69] The resistance movement in Belgrade was led by Major Žarko Todorović from 1941 until his arrest in 1943.[70]

Just like Rotterdam, which was devastated twice, by both German and Allied bombing, Belgrade was bombed once more during World War II, this time by the Allies on 16 April 1944, killing about 1,100 people. This bombing fell on the Orthodox Christian Easter.[71] Most of the city remained under German occupation until 20 October 1944, when it was liberated by the Red Army and the Communist Yugoslav Partisans. On 29 November 1945, Marshal Josip Broz Tito proclaimed the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia in Belgrade (later to be renamed to Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on 7 April 1963). [72] Higher estimates from the former secret police place the victim count of political persecutions in Belgrade at 10,000.[73]

After World War II[edit]

During the post-war period, Belgrade grew rapidly as the capital of the renewed Yugoslavia, developing as a major industrial center.[55] In 1948, construction of New Belgrade started. In 1958, Belgrade's first television station began broadcasting. In 1961, the conference of Non-Aligned Countries was held in Belgrade under Tito's chairmanship. In 1962, Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport was built. In 1968, major student protests led to several street clashes between students and the police.[74]

Breakup of Yugoslavia[edit]

Building damaged during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999

On 9 March 1991, massive demonstrations led by Vuk Drašković were held in the city against Slobodan Milošević.[75] According to various media outlets, there were between 100,000 and 150,000 people on the streets.[76] 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.[77] Further protests were held in Belgrade from November 1996 to February 1997 against the same government after alleged electoral fraud at local elections.[78] 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.[79]

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.[80]

After the 2000 presidential elections, Belgrade was the site of major public protests, with over half a million people on the streets. These demonstrations resulted in the ousting of president Milošević.[81][82]

Administration[edit]

The Old Palace is the seat of the City Assembly.

Belgrade is a separate territorial unit in Serbia, with its own autonomous city authority.[10] The City Assembly of Belgrade has 110 members, elected on four-year terms.[83] 13-member City Council, elected by the Assembly and presided by the mayor and his deputy, carries the control and supervision of the City Administration.[84] The Administration performs day-to-day administrative affairs. It is divided into 14 Secretariats, each having a specific portfolio, such as traffic or health care, and several professional services, agencies and institutes.[85]

2014 Belgrade local elections were won by Serbian Progressive Party, which formed a wide ruling coalition with Socialist Party of Serbia and Democratic Party of Serbia. These elections ended a long-time rule of Democratic Party, which elected mayors from 2004 to 2013.[86] Mayor of Belgrade is Siniša Mali, a political independent affiliated with Serbian Progressive Party.[87]

The city's budget for 2013 was 82.8 billion dinars (approximately $1 billion US dollars).[88]

As the capital city of Serbia, Belgrade hosts many governmental institutions including the National Assembly and Government of Serbia, as well as 75 diplomatic missions.[89]

Municipalities[edit]

The city is divided into 17 municipalities.[11] Previously, they were classified into 10 "urban" (lying completely or partially within borders of the city proper) and 7 "suburban" municipalities, whose centres are smaller towns.[90] With the new 2010 City statute, they were all given equal status, with the proviso that suburban ones (except Surčin) have certain autonomous powers, chiefly related with construction, infrastructure and public utilities.[11]

Most of the municipalities are situated on the southern side of the Danube and Sava rivers, in the Šumadija region. Three municipalities (Zemun, Novi Beograd, and Surčin), are on the northern bank of the Sava, in the Syrmia region, and the municipality of Palilula, spanning the Danube, is in both the Šumadija and Banat regions.

Map of municipalities in Belgrade
Municipality Area (km2) Population (2002) Population (2011) Classification
Barajevo 213 24,641 27,110 suburban
Čukarica 156 168,508 181,231 urban
Grocka 289 75,466 83,907 suburban
Lazarevac 384 58,511 58,622 suburban
Mladenovac 339 52,490 53,096 suburban
Novi Beograd 41 217,773 214,506 urban
Obrenovac 411 70,975 72,524 suburban
Palilula 451 155,902 173,521 urban
Rakovica 31 99,000 108,641 urban
Savski Venac 14 42,505 39,122 urban
Sopot 271 20,390 20,367 suburban
Stari Grad 5 55,543 48,450 urban
Surčin 285 38,695 43,819 urban
Voždovac 148 151,768 158,213 urban
Vračar 3 58,386 56,333 urban
Zemun 154 136,645 168,170 urban
Zvezdara 32 132,621 151,808 urban
TOTAL 3227 1,576,124 1,659,440
Source: Statistical Office of Serbia[1]

Demographics[edit]

According to the 2011 census, the city has a population of 1,166,763, while the urban area of Belgrade (with adjacent urban settlements of Borča, Ovča, and Surčin included) has 1,233,796 inhabitants, and the population of the metropolitan area (the administrative area of the City of Belgrade) stands at 1,659,440 people. The main population groups according to nationality in the city municipality of Belgrade are: Serbs (1,505,448), Roma (27,325), Montenegrins (9,902), Yugoslavs (8,061), Croats (7,752), Macedonians (6,970), and Muslims by nationality (3,996).[91]

Belgrade is home to many ethnicities from all over the former Yugoslavia. Many people came to the city as economic migrants from smaller towns and the countryside, while hundreds of thousands arrived as refugees from Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo, as a result of the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s.[92] Between 10,000 and 20,000[93] Chinese are estimated to live in Belgrade; they began immigrating in the mid-1990s. Block 70 in New Belgrade is known colloquially as the Chinese quarter.[94][95] Many Middle Easterners, mainly from Syria, Iran, Jordan and Iraq, arrived in order to pursue their studies during the 1970s and 1980s, and have remained in the city.[96] In 2007, a group of Iraqi Kurdish families stayed in UN Barracks in New Belgrade.[97]

Although there are several historic religious communities in Belgrade, the religious makeup of the city is relatively homogenous. The Serbian Orthodox community is by far the largest, with 1,429,170 adherents. There are also 3,996 Muslims, 16,305 Roman Catholics, and 3,796 Protestants. There once was a significant Jewish community in Belgrade, but following the World War II Nazi occupation of the city, and subsequent Jewish emigration, their numbers have fallen to 2,200 from over 10,000.[98]

The largest settlements in Belgrade region are:

Settlement Population
(2002 Census)
Population
(2011 Census)[99]
Belgrade 1,119,642 1,166,763
Borča 35,909 46,086
Grocka 22,248 26,904
Lazarevac 23,551 26,006
Obrenovac 23,620 25,429
Mladenovac 22,114 23,609
Sremčica 18,450 21,001
Surčin 14,292 18,205
Ripanj 10,741 11,088
Ugrinovci 7,199 10,807
Leštane 8,492 10,473

Economy[edit]

Main article: Economy of Belgrade

Belgrade is the financial centre of Serbia and Southeast Europe with total 17.000.000 m² office space,[100] and is home to the country's central bank. Currently, over 600,000 people are employed in 120,286 companies,[101] 22,600 enterprises and 50,000 shops.[102]

With 6,924 companies in the sector (2013 data), Belgrade is one of information technology centers in this part of Europe, with strong growth.[101] Microsoft Development Center located in Belgrade was at the time of its establishment fifth such center in the world.[103] Many world IT companies choose Belgrade as regional or European center such as Asus,[104] Intel,[105] Dell,[106] Huawei, NCR[107] etc.

New Belgrade is the main business district in the country. It offers a range of facilities such as hotels, congress halls (Sava Centar), class A and class B office buildings, sporting facilities (Belgrade Arena), shopping malls (Ušće and Delta City) and business parks (Airport City Belgrade).

The Belgrade Stock Exchange is also located in New Belgrade. Currently, over 1.2 million square meters of land is under construction in New Belgrade and the estimated value of construction in the next two and half years is over 1.5 billion Euros.

Serbia overcame the problems of inflation in the mid-1990s, and Belgrade has been growing strongly ever since. As of 2009, over 40% of Serbia's GDP is generated by the city, which also has 31.4% of Serbia's employed population.[108] The city of Belgrade's 2012 nominal GDP is estimated at 1,341 Trillion RSD (about 16 billion USD), which amounts to 806,000 RSD ($9,500) per capita.[109] In September 2013, the average monthly net salary in Belgrade was 53,564 RSD ($635), while gross salary was 73,970 RSD ($877).[110] In the annual Economist Intelligence Unit survey in 2013, Belgrade ranked 86th most expensive among 131 world cities.[111][112]

According to the Eurostat methodology, and contrasting sharply to the Balkan region, 66.2% of the city's households owned a computer in 2012. According to the same survey, 60.5% of households have an internet connection; 90.4% at least one mobile phone, and 71.7% cable television.[113] these figures are above those of the regional capitals such as Sofia, Bucharest and Athens.

Sava Centar congress hall, built in 1978

Culture[edit]

Main article: Culture of Belgrade
The building of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, erected in 1922

Belgrade hosts many annual international cultural events, including the Film Festival, Theatre Festival, Summer Festival, Music Festival, Book Fair, and the Beer Fest.[114] The Nobel Prize winning author Ivo Andrić wrote his most famous work, The Bridge on the Drina, in Belgrade.[115] Other prominent Belgrade authors include Branislav Nušić, Miloš Crnjanski, Borislav Pekić, Milorad Pavić and Meša Selimović.[116][117][118] Internationally Belgrade prominent artist: Marina Abramović and Milovan Destil Marković.

Most of Serbia's film industry is based in Belgrade. FEST is an annual film festival that held since 1971, and, through 2013, had been attended by four million people and had presented almost 4,000 films.[119]

A Slovenian orchestra playing in front of the statue of Prince Mihailo

The city was one of the main centers of the Yugoslav New Wave in the 1980s: VIS Idoli, Ekatarina Velika, Šarlo Akrobata and Električni Orgazam were all from Belgrade. Other notable Belgrade rock acts include Riblja Čorba, Bajaga i Instruktori and Partibrejkers.[120][121] Today, it is the center of the Serbian hip hop scene, with acts such as Beogradski Sindikat, Škabo, Marčelo, and most of the Bassivity Music stable hailing from or living in the city.[122][123] There are numerous theatres, the most prominent of which are National Theatre, Theatre on Terazije, Yugoslav Drama Theatre, Zvezdara Theatre, and Atelier 212. The Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts is also based in Belgrade, as well as the National Library of Serbia. Other major libraries include the Belgrade City Library and the Belgrade University Library. Belgrade's two opera houses are: National Theatre and Madlenianum Opera House.[124][125]

There are many foreign cultural institutions in Belgrade, including the Spanish Instituto Cervantes,[126] the German Goethe-Institut[127] and the French Institut français,[128] which are all located in the central pedestrian area of Knez Mihailova Street. Other cultural centers in Belgrade are American Corner,[129] Austrian Cultural Forum,[130] British Council,[131] Chinese Confucius Institute,[132] Canadian Cultural Center,[133] Hellenic Foundation for Culture,[134] Italian Istituto Italiano di Cultura,[135] Iranian Culture Center,[136] Azerbaijani Culture Center[137] and Russian Center for Science and Culture.[138] European Union National Institutes for Culture operates a cluster of cultural centres from the EU.[139]

Following the victory of Serbia's representative Marija Šerifović at the Eurovision Song Contest 2007, Belgrade hosted the Contest in 2008.[140]

Museums[edit]

The Railway Museum is located within the railway company headquarters building

The most prominent museum in Belgrade is the National Museum, founded in 1844 and currently closed for reconstruction. The Museum houses a collection of more than 400,000 exhibits, (over 5600 paintings and 8400 drawings and prints, including many foreign masters like Bosch, Juan de Flandes, Titian, Tintoretto, Rubens, Van Dyck, Cézanne, G.B.Tiepolo, Renoir, Monet, Lautrec, Matisse, Picasso, Gauguin, Chagall, Van Gogh, Mondrian etc., and also the famous Miroslav's Gospel.[141] The Ethnographic Museum, established in 1901, contains more than 150,000 items showcasing the rural and urban culture of the Balkans, particularly the countries of former Yugoslavia.[142]

The Museum of Contemporary Art was the first Contemporary art museum in Europe[143] founded in 1958 and has a collection of around 35,000 works including Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Joan Miró, David Hockney, Ivan Meštrović and others since 1900.[144] The Museum is currently closed due to renovation.

The Military Museum houses a wide range of more than 25,000 military exhibits dating as far back as to the Roman period, as well as parts of a F-117 stealth aircraft shot down by the Serbian army.[145][146]

The Museum of Aviation in Belgrade has more than 200 aircraft, of which about 50 are on display, and a few of which are the only surviving examples of their type, such as the Fiat G.50. This museum also displays parts of shot down US and NATO aircraft, such as the F-117 and F-16[147]

The Nikola Tesla Museum, founded in 1952, preserves the personal items of Nikola Tesla, the inventor after whom the Tesla unit was named. It holds around 160,000 original documents and around 5,700 personal other items including his urne.[148] The last of the major Belgrade museums is the Museum of Vuk and Dositej, which showcases the lives, work and legacy of Vuk Stefanović Karadžić and Dositej Obradović, the 19th century reformer of the Serbian literary language and the first Serbian Minister of Education, respectively.[149] Belgrade also houses the Museum of African Art, founded in 1977, which has the large collection of art from West Africa.[150]

With around 95,000 copies of national and international films, the Yugoslav Film Archive is the largest in the region and among the 10 largest archives in the world.[151] The institution also operates the Museum of Yugoslav Film Archive, with movie theatre and exhibition hall. The archive's long-standing storage problems were finally solved in 2007, when a new modern depository was opened.[152] The Yugoslav Film Archive also exhibits original Charlie Chaplin's stick and one of first movies by Auguste and Louis Lumière.[153]

The Belgrade City Museum moved into a new building in downtown in 2006.[154] The Museum hosts a range of collections covering the history of urban life since prehostory.[155]

The Museum of Yugoslav History has collection from Yugoslav era. Beside paintings, the most valuable are Moon rocks donated by Apollo 11 crew Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins while visiting Belgrade in 1969 and from mission Apollo 17 donated by Richard Nixon in 1971.[156] Museum also houses Joseph Stalin's sabre with 260 brilliants and diamonds,donated by Stalin himself.[157]

Museum of Science and Technology moved to the building of the first city's power plant in Dorćol in 2005.[158]

Architecture[edit]

Belgrade has wildly varying architecture, from the center of Zemun, typical of a Central European town,[159] to the more modern architecture and spacious layout of New Belgrade. The oldest architecture is found in Kalemegdan Park. Outside of Kalemegdan, the oldest buildings date only from the 18th century, due to its geographic position and frequent wars and destructions.[160] The oldest public structure in Belgrade is a nondescript Turkish türbe, while the oldest house is a modest clay house on Dorćol, from late 18th century.[161] Western influence began in the 19th century, when the city completely transformed from an oriental town to the contemporary architecture of the time, with influences from neoclassicism, romanticism, and academic art. Serbian architects took over the development from the foreign builders in the late 19th century, producing the National Theatre, Old Palace, Cathedral Church and later, in the early 20th century, the National Assembly and National Museum, influenced by art nouveau.[160] Elements of Neo-Byzantine architecture are present in buildings such as Vuk's Foundation, old Post Office in Kosovska street, and sacral architecture, such as St. Mark's Church (based on the Gračanica monastery), and the Temple of Saint Sava.[160]

Zeleni Venac old market

During the period of Communist rule, much housing was built quickly and cheaply for the huge influx of people fleeing the countryside following World War II, sometimes resulting in the brutalist architecture of the blokovi (blocks) of New Belgrade; a socrealism trend briefly ruled, resulting in buildings like the Trade Union Hall.[160] However, in the mid-1950s, the modernist trends took over, and still dominate the Belgrade architecture.[160]

The Cathedral of Saint Sava is one of the largest Orthodox Church buildings in the world.

Tourism[edit]

The historic areas and buildings of Belgrade are among the city's premier attractions. They include Skadarlija, the National Museum and adjacent National Theatre, Zemun, Nikola Pašić Square, Terazije, Students' Square, the Kalemegdan Fortress, Knez Mihailova Street, the Parliament, the Church of Saint Sava, and the Old Palace. On top of this, there are many parks, monuments, museums, cafés, restaurants and shops on both sides of the river. The hilltop Avala Monument and Avala Tower offer views over the city.

Elite neighborhood of Dedinje is situated near the Topčider and Košutnjak parks. Beli Dvor ('White Palace'), house of royal family Karađorđević, is open for visitors. The palace has many valuable artworks.[162] Nearby, Josip Broz Tito's mausoleum, called The House of Flowers documents the life of the former Yugoslav president.

Ada Ciganlija is a former island on the Sava river, and Belgrade's biggest sports and recreational complex. Today it is connected with the right bank of the Sava via two causeways, creating an artificial lake. It is the most popular destination for Belgraders during the city's hot summers. There are 7 kilometres (4 miles) of long beaches and sports facilities for various sports including golf, football, basketball, volleyball, rugby union, baseball, and tennis.[163] During summer there are between 200,000 and 300,000 bathers daily.[164]

Extreme sports are available, such as bungee jumping, water skiing, and paintballing.[163][165] There are numerous tracks on the island, where it is possible to ride a bike, go for a walk, or go jogging.[163][165] Apart from Ada, Belgrade has total of 16 islands[166] on the rivers, many still unused. Among them, the Great War Island at the confluence of Sava, stands out as an oasis of unshattered wildlife (especially birds).[167] These areas, along with nearby Small War Island, are protected by the city's government as a nature preserve.[168]

Tourist income in 2012 amounted to nearly 500 million Euros;[169] in 2013,Belgrade was visited by 660,000 registered tourists, of which 520,000 were foreign.[170] Of those, more than 70,000 arrived by 550 river cruisers.[171] In 2013, growth of foreign tourists was recorded 24% .[172]

Nightlife[edit]

Belgrade has a reputation for offering a vibrant nightlife; many clubs that are open until dawn can be found throughout the city. The most recognizable nightlife features of Belgrade are the barges (splav), spread along the banks of the Sava and Danube Rivers.[173][174][175]

Belgrade nightlife on riverclubs.

Many weekend visitors—particularly from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia—prefer Belgrade nightlife to that of their own capitals, due to a perceived friendly atmosphere, great clubs and bars, cheap drinks, the lack of language difficulties, and the lack of restrictive night life regulation.[176][177]

Famous alternative clubs include Akademija and the famed KST (Klub Studenata Tehnike), located in the basement of the University of Belgrade Faculty of Electrical Engineering.[178][179][180] One of the most famous sites for alternative cultural happenings in the city is the SKC (Student Cultural Centre), located right across from Belgrade's highrise landmark, the Beograđanka. Concerts featuring famous local and foreign bands are often held at the center. SKC is also the site of various art exhibitions, as well as public debates and discussions.[181]

Skadarlija, the city's old bohemian neighbourhood

A more traditional Serbian nightlife experience, accompanied by traditional music known as Starogradska (roughly translated as Old Town Music), typical of northern Serbia's urban environments, is most prominent in Skadarlija, the city's old bohemian neighborhood where the poets and artists of Belgrade gathered in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Skadar Street (the centre of Skadarlija) and the surrounding neighbourhood are lined with some of Belgrade's best and oldest traditional restaurants (called kafanas in Serbian), which date back to that period.[182] At one end of the neighbourhood stands Belgrade's oldest beer brewery, founded in the first half of the 19th century.[183] One of the city's oldest kafanas is the Znak pitanja.[184]

The Times reported that Europe's best nightlife can be found in buzzing Belgrade.[185] In the Lonely Planet "1000 Ultimate Experiences" guide of 2009, Belgrade was placed at the 1st spot among the top 10 party cities in the world.[186]

Sport[edit]

Serbian tennis player Novak Đoković was born in Belgrade. He is a seven-time Grand Slam champion and is a ATP World No. 1.

There are approximately one-thousand sports facilities in Belgrade, many of which are capable of serving all levels of sporting events.[187] Belgrade has hosted several major sporting events recently, including Eurobasket 2005, the 2005 European Volleyball Championship, the 2006 European Water Polo Championship, the European Youth Olympic Festival 2007, and the 2009 Summer Universiade.[188]

The Kombank Arena in New Belgrade is one of the largest indoor arenas in Europe with a maximum capacity of 25,000.

The city is home to Serbia's two biggest and most successful football clubs, Red Star Belgrade and Partizan Belgrade. Red Star won the 1991 UEFA Champions League (European Cup). The two major stadiums in Belgrade are the Marakana (Red Star Stadium) and the Partizan Stadium.[189] The rivalry between Red Star and Partizan is one of the fiercest in world football.[190]

According to the European Arenas Association, the Belgrade Arena is the largest European indoor arena with capacity of 25,000. It is used for major sporting events and large concerts. In May 2008 it was the venue for the 53rd Eurovision Song Contest.[191] The Pionir Hall is the main venue of basketball clubs KK Partizan, European champion of 1992 and KK Crvena zvezda.[192][193]

In recent years, Belgrade has also given rise to several world-class tennis players such as Ana Ivanović, Jelena Janković and Novak Đoković. Ivanović and Đoković are the first female and male Serbian players, respectively, to win Grand Slam singles titles. The Serbian national team won the 2010 Davis Cup, beating the French team in the finals played in the Belgrade Arena.[194]

Fashion[edit]

Since 1996,[195] biannual (autumn/winter and spring/summer seasons) fashion weeks are held citywide. Numerous Serbian and international designers and fashion brands have their shows on the fashion week. Belgrade Fashion Week is on the list of 40 most significant fashion weeks in the world.[196]

Media[edit]

The headquarters of Serbian radio and television broadcaster B92 in New Belgrade.

Belgrade is the most important media hub in Serbia. The city is home to the main headquarters of the national broadcaster Radio Television Serbia – RTS, which is a public service broadcaster.[197] The most popular commercial broadcaster is RTV Pink, a Serbian media multinational, known for its popular entertainment programs. The most popular commercial "alternative" broadcaster is B92, another media company, which has its own TV station, radio station, and music and book publishing arms, as well as the most popular website on the Serbian internet.[198][199] Other TV stations broadcasting from Belgrade include 1Prva (formerly Fox televizija), Košava, and others which only cover the greater Belgrade municipal area, such as Studio B. Numerous specialised channels are also available: SOS channel (sport), Metropolis (music), Art TV (art), Cinemania (film), and Happy TV (children's programs).

High-circulation daily newspapers published in Belgrade include Politika, Blic, Večernje novosti, Kurir and Danas. There are 2 sporting dailies, Sportski žurnal and Sport, and one economic daily, Privredni pregled. A new free distribution daily, 24 sata, was founded in the autumn of 2006. Also, Serbian editions of the world-famous magazines such as Playboy, Cosmopolitan, Elle, National Geographic, Men's Health, The Best Shop, Grazia and others have their headquarters based in the city.

Education[edit]

Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Architecture and Civil Engineering

Belgrade has two state universities and several private institutions of higher education. The University of Belgrade, founded in 1808 as the "Great School", is the oldest institution of higher learning in Serbia.[200] Having developed with the city in the 19th century, quite a few University buildings are a constituent part of Belgrade's architecture and cultural heritage. With enrollment of nearly 90,000 students, the University is one of the Europe's largest.[201]

There are also 195 primary (elementary) schools and 85 secondary schools. Of the primary schools, there are 162 regular, 14 special, 15 art, and 4 adult schools. The secondary school system has 51 vocational schools, 21 gymnasiums, 8 art schools and 5 special schools. The 230,000 pupils are managed by 22,000 employees in over 500 buildings, covering around 1,100,000 m².[202]

Transportation[edit]

Main article: Transport in Belgrade
Beovoz station Vukov Spomenik located 55m underground.

Belgrade has an extensive public transport system based on buses (118 urban lines and more than 300 suburban lines), trams (12 lines), and trolleybuses (8 lines).[203] It is run by GSP Beograd and SP Lasta, in cooperation with private companies on various bus routes. The BusPlus ticketing system based on contactless smart cards began operating in February 2012. Belgrade also has a commuter rail network, Beovoz, now run by the city government. The main railway station connects Belgrade with other European capitals and many towns in Serbia. Travel by coach is also popular, and the capital is well-served with daily connections to every town in Serbia and to many other European destinations through the central bus station.

The city is placed along the pan-European corridors X and VII.[5] The motorway system provides for easy access to Novi Sad and Budapest, in the north; Niš to the south; and Zagreb, to the west. Situated at the confluence of two major rivers, the Danube and the Sava, Belgrade has 7 bridges—the two main ones are Branko's Bridge and the Gazela Bridge, both of which connect the core of the city to New Belgrade. With the city's expansion and a substantial increase in the number of vehicles, congestion has become a major problem; this is expected to be alleviated by the construction of a bypass connecting the E70 and E75 motorways.[204] Further, an "inner magistral semi-ring" is planned, including a new Ada Bridge across the Sava river, which is expected to ease commuting within the city and unload the Gazela and Branko's bridge.[205]

The newly constructed Ada Bridge, completed in 2012.

The Port of Belgrade is on the Danube, and allows the city to receive goods by river.[206] The city is also served by Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport, 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) west of the city centre, near Surčin. At its peak in 1986, almost 3 million passengers travelled through the airport, though that number dwindled to a trickle in the 1990s.[207] Following renewed growth in 2000, the number of passengers reached approximately 2 million in 2004 and 2005,[208] over 2,6 million passengers in 2008,[209] reaching all-time peak in 2011 with over 3 million passengers.[210]

Beovoz is the suburban/commuter railway network that provides mass-transit services in the city, similar to Paris' RER and Toronto's GO Transit. The main usage of today's system is to connect the suburbs with the city centre. Beovoz is operated by Serbian Railways.[211] Belgrade suburban railway system connects suburbs and nearby cities to the west, north and south of the city. It began operation in 1992 and currently has 5 lines with 41 stations divided in two zones.[212]

Belgrade was one of the last big European capitals, and cities with over a million people, to have no metro/subway or other rapid transit system. The Belgrade Metro is considered to be the third most important project in the country, after work on roads and railways. The two projects of highest priority are the Belgrade bypass and Pan-European corridor X.

International cooperation and honours[edit]

List of Belgrade's sister cities, and other forms of city cooperation and friendship:

Country City Year Form
Greece Corfu 2010
Official sister cities[213][214][215][216][217]
United Kingdom Coventry[218][219] 1957
United States Chicago 2005
Pakistan Lahore 2007
Slovenia Ljubljana[220] 2010
Republic of Macedonia Skopje 2012
Israel Tel Aviv 1990
Austria Vienna 2003
Other forms of cooperation and city friendship:
Greece Athens 1966 Agreement on Friendship and Cooperation
Bosnia and Herzegovina Banja Luka 2005 Agreement on Cooperation[221]
Bosnia and Herzegovina Prnjavor 2005 Agreement on Cooperation
China Beijing 1980 Agreement on Cooperation[222]
Germany Berlin 1978 Agreement on Friendship and Cooperation
Germany Düsseldorf 2004 Agreement on Cooperation
Ukraine Kiev 2002 Agreement on Cooperation
Spain Madrid 2001 Agreement on Cooperation
Italy Milan 2000 Memorandum of Agreement, City to City Programme
Russia Moscow 2002 Programme of Cooperation
Italy Rome 1971 Agreement on Friendship and Cooperation
China Shenzhen 2009 Agreement on Cooperation[223]
Cuba Havana Agreement on Friendship[224]

Some of the city's municipalities are also twinned to small cities or districts of other big cities; for details see their respective articles.

Belgrade has received various domestic and international honors, including the French Légion d'honneur (proclaimed 21 December 1920; Belgrade is one of four cities outside France, alongside Liège, Luxembourg and Volgograd, to receive this honour), the Czechoslovak War Cross (awarded 8 October 1925), the Yugoslavian Order of the Karađorđe's Star (awarded 18 May 1939) and the Yugoslavian Order of the People's Hero (proclaimed on 20 October 1974, the 30th anniversary of the overthrow of Nazi German occupation during World War II).[225] All of these decorations were received for the war efforts during the World War I and World War II.[226] In 2006, Financial Times' magazine Foreign Direct Investment awarded Belgrade the title of City of the Future of Southern Europe.[227][228]

Panoramic view of Belgrade and the confluence of the Sava River and the Danube from Belgrade Fortress.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

Notes[edit]

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