Knez Mihailova Street

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Knez Mihailova Street, corner with "Ruski car" restoran

Knez Mihailova Street or Prince Michael Street, properly Kneza Mihaila (Serbian: Улица Кнез Михаилова (Улица Кнеза Михаила), Ulica Knez Mihailova, (Ulica Kneza Mihaila)) is the main pedestrian and shopping zone in Belgrade, and is protected by law as one of the oldest and most valuable landmarks of the city. Named after Mihailo Obrenović III, Prince of Serbia, it features a number of buildings and mansions built during the late 1870s.

One kilometer long Knez Mihailova Street was in 1979 included on the list of Spatial Cultural-Historical Units of Great Importance, and as such is protected by the Republic of Serbia.

History[edit]

Knez Mihailova Street about 1900
King Peter I after his coronation in 1904, in the Knez Mihailova street

The street follows the central grid layout of the Roman city of Singidunum. During Ottoman occupation, there were gardens, drinking-fountains and mosques along the street.

In the middle of the 19th century, the upper part of the street bordered the garden of Knez Aleksandar Karađorđević. After the implementation of the 1867 city of Belgrade regulation plan by Emilijan Josimović, the street soon gained its current look and architecture.

Houses were built there by the most influential and wealthiest families of the Serbian society, most of them merchants. In 1870, one year after the assassination of Prince Mihailo Obrenović, the city authorities officially named the street - Ulica Kneza Mihaila (Prince Michael Street).

Reportedly, as of mid-2010s, much of the street's real estate is owned by Serbian tycoons of the day such as Dragan Đurić, Miroslav Mišković, Miodrag Kostić, Philip Zepter, Radomir Živanić, Vojin Lazarević, Tahir Hasanović, and Radivoje Dražević and it houses their respective business holdings.[1]

Lower part of the Knez Mihailova Street

Famous buildings[edit]

  • Srpska Kruna Hotel, located at 56 Knez Mihailova Street, was built in 1869 in the style of romanticism. At the time it was considered Belgrade's most modern hotel. Between 1945 and 1970 the National Library of Serbia was located in this building. Today, the building houses the City of Belgrade library.
  • Marko Stojanović's house, 53-55 Knez Mihailova Street, was built in 1889 as a private home of lawyer Marko Stojanović, in the renaissance style. The Academy of Fine Arts, established in 1937, used to be in the building but now the Gallery of the Academy is located there.
  • The block of private homes, 46, 48 and 50 Knez Mihailova Street, built in the 1870s, represented the beginning of discontinuity of traditional "Balkan" architecture. All those buildings have been shaped in the same manner, a transitional style from romantism to renaissance. The block consists of three buildings:
    • Hristina Kumanudi's house, located at 50 Knez Mihailova Street, was built in 1870 as a corner building at the intersection of Kneza Mihaila and Dubrovačka (today King Peter's) streets by the Serbian merchant and banker of Greek origin Jovan Kumanudi who was also a prominent real estate investor and developer. Before it was built, a one-story house (Jovan Kumanudi's private residence where he also had a shop) got demolished. Kumanudi named the new building after his wife Hrisanta aka Hristina. For a certain period in the late 19th century, this building housed the French-Serbian Bank, and later the consulates of Belgium and Great Britain. The building was later purchased by Nikola D. Kiki (1841-1918), a Belgrade merchant of Aromanian origin. After his death, in his testament, he signed the building (along with two other city properties) over to the organization named Beogradska trgovačka omladina (Belgrade Merchant Youth) under conditions that using the funds generated by the properties they set up a hospital named The Nikola and Evgenija Kiki Endowment, which he envisioned would provide medical help and services to the poor and downtrodden merchants. Between 1937 and 1940, a hospital was built at 9 Zvečanska Street.
    • Kristina Mehana, located at 48 Knez Mihailova Street, built in 1869 as an administrative-commercial building in which Krstić brothers opened a hotel under the same name, and where the meetings of the Belgrade City Assembly took place until the construction of the Assembly's own building. Today, the building houses the offices of Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO), Mona clothing store, Plato bookstore, and since 2004 Via del Gusto restaurant.
    • Veljko Savić's house, located at 46 Knez Mihailova Street, built in 1869 as a residential house with shops. It underwent many changes from its original look.
  • The Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts' building, located at 35 Knez Mihailova Street, built from 1923 to 1924 according to the 1912 plans by Dragutin Đorđević and Andra Stevanović, in academic style with elements of secession. The building houses the Academy's library, one of the richest in Belgrade, as well as the Academy's archives containing numerous materials about the Serbian history, and furthermore on the ground floor — the Academy's gallery along with a lecture hall, bookstore, and antique shop.
  • Nikola Spasić Endowment, 33 Knez Mihailova Street, built in 1889, by the designs of the architect Konstantin Jovanović in the renaissance style, as a residential house of Belgrade merchant Nikola Spasić (1840-1916).
  • Nikola Spasić Passage, 19 Knez Mihailova Street, built in 1912 in recession style.
  • Grčka kraljica (Greek Queen) coffee shop, 51 Knez Mihailova Street, built in 1835 in style of academism. One of the oldest preserved buildings in Belgrade's old core, it originally housed an inn named Despotov Han until Jovan Kumanudi purchased it and changed its name to Kod Grčke kraljice (Greek Queen's).
  • Ruski car (Russian Emperor) caffe & restaurant, built in 1926 in style of academism.
  • Hotel Russia, 38 Knez Mihailova Street, built in 1870 and annexed in 1920. Today it houses business offices of the "Rudnap" company.

Today[edit]

Knez Mihailova Street at night (January 2012)

Knez Mihailova is a common meeting point for Belgraders. The street has been named one of the most beautiful pedestrian zones in Eastern Europe and is a constant buzz of people and tourists. Thousands of people stroll along the street every day as it is the shortest path from Terazije to Kalemegdan park and fortress.

The street is home to Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SANU), Instituto Cervantes, Goethe-Institut, Alliance française, as well as many other leading shops and several cafes.

SANU headquarters in Knez Mihailova

In December 2006, BusinessWeek magazine included the street as one of Europe's notable Christmas shopping sites.[2] One can find international clothing brands such as Mango, Zara and Zara men, Gap, Nike men and women, Replay, Diesel, Terranova, Sephora, New Look, Swarovski, Cesare Paciotti, Tally Weijl, Miss Sixty, Bata, Bally, Aldo, Adidas, Vapiano, Monsoon Accessorize and many more shops.

Furthermore, the representative offices of various airlines such as Aeroflot, FlyDubai, Emirates Airline, Qantas, Turkish Airlines, Qatar Airways, Ethiopian Airways, Singapore Airlines and Air France are located in Knez Mihailova.

In terms of real estate value, the property in and around Knez Mihailova Street is among the most expensive in Belgrade. The latest confirmation of this occurred in late November 2007 when the 485m2 parcel belonging to state owned company Jugoexport was sold for 15 million, which works out to some €32,000 per square meter.[3]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Route map: Google / Bing