Eastern view of Tašmajdan Park
|Status||Open all year|
Tašmajdan Park (Serbian: Ташмајдански парк, Tašmajdanski park), colloquially Tašmajdan or simply just Taš, is a public park and the surrounding urban neighborhood of Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. It is located in Belgrade's municipality of Vračar. In 2010-2011 the entire park saw its largest reconstruction since its creation in 1958.
Tašmajdan begins 600 meters southeast of Belgrade's designated center, Terazije, covering the extreme south-west corner of the Palilula municipality, bordering the municipalities of Vračar on the south and Stari Grad on the west. In a narrower sense, Tašmajdan occupies the area bounded by the streets of Takovska on the north-west, Ilije Garašanina on the northeast, Beogradska on the southeast and Bulevar kralja Aleksandra. The majority of the area is occupied by the park itself (central, east, west) while the northern and extreme western sections are urbanised. In wider sense, it occupies the additional area to the north (between Ilije Garašanina and 27. marta streets) and east (between Beogradska and Karnedžijeva streets) The latter is also known as Little Tašmajdan. Tašmajdan is bordered by the neighborhoods of Palilula on the northeast, while it extends into the neighborhoods of Vukov Spomenik, Krunski Venac and Nikola Pašić Square on the east, south and west, respectively.
Almost two millennia ago, Romans were extracting stone from the quarry located in the area for the building of Belgrade's predecessor, Singidunum and for many surviving sarcophagi from that period. The quarry remained operational during Ottoman period, thus giving the name to the entire location (Turkish taş, stone and meydan, square), though it was also used for the extraction of saltpeter, which was used in the gunpowder production. Due to the proximity to the town, basically all stone buildings and walls in Belgrade from Ottoman period were built from the stone extracted here. Some historians believe that this is the actual place where the remains of the Serbian Saint Sava were burned at the stake in 1595 by the Ottoman grand vizier Sinan Pasha (area known as Little Vračar) and not the Vračar hill itself or Crveni Krst, another alternative site.
During the First Serbian Uprising and the subsequent Siege of Belgrade in autumn of 1806, leader of the Uprising Karađorđe set his camp in Tašmajdan and conducted the liberation of Belgrade from there. A mound in the eastern section of the area was used for public reading of decrees and laws. It was here that on November 30, 1830 the Sultan's hattisherif (decree) was publicly announced, declaring autonomy (de facto, internal independence) of Serbia and granting hereditary ruling rights to the Obrenović dynasty.
After the successful Second Serbian Uprising when Serbian prince Miloš Obrenović ordered the building of a new town around the old Kalemegdan fortress (Savamala neighborhood), he also ordered that the old Serbian cemetery from Varoš-kapija (City gate) be moved to Tašmajdan, which was done in 1828. New cemetery was intended as and "international" contrary to the existing practice, so beside Serbs, it was also the burial place for Hungarians, Germans, Greeks, Italians and French. In the western section of the cemetery the Catholics and Protestants were buried, Serbs on the central promenade, while area around modern Seisomology Institute was left for the soldiers, suicides and drowned ones. In 1835 a small Palilulska church was built. Some of the most important Serbs from this period were buried in the churchyard, including politicians Toma Vučić Peršić and Stojan Simić and Stevan Knićanin, philologist Đura Daničić, botanist and first president of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts Josif Pančić and philanthropist Ilija Milosavljević Kolarac. Belgraders protested because new cemetery, built on an inhabited fields, gardens and vineyards was away from then downtown, but already in the 1850s, the area surrounding the cemetery was completely urbanised, so the first plans for moving it again originate from 1871. City government bought the cemetery land in 1882 and gradual restriction of burials was conducted until it was closed in fully closed 1901. It was moved to the new Novo Groblje (new cemetery), several blocks to the east, beginning from 1886 and the moving was finally completed in 1927 with park being planted instead of the old cemetery.
1999 NATO bombing
Tašmajdan was bombed again during the 1999 NATO bombing of Serbia when several objects in Tašmajdan park were badly hit:
- 23 April 1999 - At 2:06 NATO bombed the building of the Serbian Broadcasting Corporation (RTS) situated in Tašmajdan park. Part of the building collapsed, trapping people who were working in the building that night. Sixteen people were killed while many were trapped for days.
- 24 April 1999 - A children’s theatre "Duško Radović" in the heart of Tašmajdan park was badly damaged due to its close proximity to neighbouring buildings that were bombed.
- 30 June 1999 - A heart-like shaped monument was erected by the city of Belgrade for all the children that have died in the bombing. The monument says "We were just children" in English and Serbian.
The theatre which was badly damaged during the bombing—now displaying flags of Europe for the "Joy of Europe" dancing contest
The neighborhood of Tašmajdan forms a local community (mesna zajednica), sub-municipal administrative unit within Palilula. It had a population of 4,018 according to the 2002 Census of population. With the surrounding area it forms the cultural-historical complex Stari Beograd (Old Belgrade), while the park itself is in the zone of the protected natural area of Miocenski sprud-Tašmajdan (Miocene ridge-Tašmajdan).
In June 2010, it was announced that the park will be completely reconstructed as a gift of Azerbaijan to Belgrade. The park has been reopened in June 2011 after throughout renovation, including the installation of a coloured fountain broadcasting classical music. As a sign of gratitude Belgrade has erected a monument to the former president of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev in the park.
Small Palilulska church (church of Palilula) was built in 1835. It was destroyed in the German bombing of Belgrade on April 6, 1941. Today existing Serbian Orthodox St. Mark's Church was built in 1931-1940, in the medieval Serbo-Byzantine style, patterned after the Gračanica monastery. The Serbian King Dusan is buried inside, along with the Serbian Patriarch German. Next to it is a small Russian Orthodox church of the Holy Trinity, built in 1924, inside of which the Russian general Pyotr Wrangel is buried.
Within the Tašmajdan park a sports complex of Tašmajdan Sports Centre is located. Centre administers several facilities located outside Tašmajdan, like "Pionir Hall" and "Ice Hall". However, swimming pools are located in the park. The outdoor swimming pool was built in 1959-1961. Its dimensions are 50 x 20 meters; its depth varies between 2.2 and 5.0 meters; its capacity is 3,500 m³ and 2,500 seats. Next to the big one, there is a small swimming pool for children. Altogether, there is enough room for 4,000 people. It is equipped for international day-and-night competitions in swimming, water polo, water diving, etc. and also used for certain cultural venues or as an outdoor cinema during summer. It was one of the venues for the 2006 Men's European Water Polo Championship and one of the venues of the 2009 Summer Universiade in July 2009, the event for which the pool was renovated. The indoor swimming-pool was built in 1964-1968. Its dimensions are 50 x 20 meters and depth is between 2.2 and 5.4 meters; its capacity is 3,700 m³. The swimming pool is surrounded with four diving boards - 1, 3, 5 and 10 meters high and 2,000 seats. It is equipped with underwater light. At -16 °C, water and air can be heated up to 28 °C.
- the main post office building of the national post office company Pošta Srbije, built in 1934, in Takovska street.
- RTS main building in Takovska and Aberdareva streets.
- in 1909, the first Seismology Station was built in the future park area, and it still exists today.
- famed Belgrade "Madera" restaurant.
- Hotel "Taš".
- statue of Milorad Pavic, famous Belgrade writer
- children's amusement park.
- many rock pigeons can be seen in the park, popular among the birdwatchers.
- roundabout of the tram line number 6.
Little Tašmajdan (Serbian: Mali Tašmajdan) is the eastern extension of the park, across Beogradska street which forms its western border, while Ilije Garašanina and Karnedžijeva streets form its northern and eastern borders, respectively. The southern section of the complex is the location of the Law Faculty and Hotel Metropol.
It has recently undergone a renovation. Concrete walkways have been placed (6,000 square metres), and new stairways lighting have been installed. In the centre of the park a playing area for children has been constructed. Near the children’s area there is a fountain which has also been renovated and 30 new benches have been placed in the park as well.
Geologically, caves under Tašmajdan are 6 to 8 million years old. Remains of the Roman aqueduct are found in the caves. Military arsenals and warehouses have been housed for a long time in the catacombs left after the excavations of stone blocks, and these catacombs have been also used as shelters and first-aid places for wounded soldiers. It was a major hiding place for the local population during the bombing of Belgrade by the Austro-Hungarian army in the World War I. During the World War II, the caves were the headquarters of the Alexander Löhr, head of the German Air forces in Serbia. Headquarters were massive, with large metal doors, truck entrances and fully prepared to support 1,000 soldiers for six month without making any surface contact. Vast labyrinth of corridors, expanded by the Wehrmacht, branches into all directions beneath the city and today nobody knows how many of them there are or where they all lead. Future examinations are slowed because of the lack of funding and many remaining German mines. After 1945 the entrances into the caves were closed and new generations completely lost any knowledge of it. It was only in the 2000s that they were rediscovered and today are slowly turning into one of Belgrade tourist attractions.
Underwater research company "Viridijan" announced in June 2006 it will began construction of the first Belgrade's sea aquarium in the underground caves beneath Tašmajdan. The project includes construction of 50 underground aquariums with about 1,000 cubic meters of water in the period of 9 years. Over 900 marine animals were supposed to be placed in the natural environment provided by the caves. The project was initially backed by the Ministry of trade in the Government of Serbia and Belgrade City Assembly (the only problem appeared to be the building permit), but as of August 2008, the project which was promised to be "more than just exhibit space" and pompously announcing "the return of Pannonian Sea to Belgrade" still exists only on paper.
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