Zeleni Venac (Literally: Green Wreath) or colloquially Zelenjak (Serbian: Зелени Венац or Зелењак, Zelenjak) is an urban neighborhood of Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. It is located in the Belgrade's municipalities of Savski Venac (major part) and Stari Grad.
Zeleni Venac is located in downtown Belgrade, just few minutes away to the east of Terazije, the designated center of the city, down Prizrenska street. It borders the neighborhood of Savamala to the south, while the northern border is Brankova street. The car tunnel (Terazije tunnel) under Terazije connects it to Republic Square while underground pedestrian passage connects it to Terazije and Prince Michael Street via Prizrenska and Sremska streets, respectively. Population of the local community of Zeleni Venac was 3,517 in 2002.
Zeleni Venac is built in the area that was previously part of the trench which surrounded the Kalemegdan fortress in the 18th century. When the trench was covered, a pond was formed. As the Belgrade grew around it, the pond became popular hunting attraction (for fowls, ducks, etc.) for the inhabitants of Belgrade. In the middle of the 19th century, the pond was partially drained as a designated area for the future National Theatre, but the area proved to be unstable and after the foundations were laid down, the idea was abandoned and the theater was constructed on another site. The completely forgotten foundation were rediscovered during the 2005/06 reconstruction of Zeleni Venac. In the early 20th century the pond was drained completely.
The name of the neighborhood means the green wreath. Venac is usually used in Belgrade's geography in term of a round street (Obilićev Venac, Kosančićev Venac) or a rim of the river (Savski Venac, Dunavski Venac). However, in this case, it is used in the word's initial usage, meaning wreath. On the location of the present McDonald's restaurant in the Brankova street, for decades was located kafana Zeleni venac whose logo was a green wreath. Belgrade historians still debate whether the neighborhood was named after the kafana or the opposite.
Zeleni Venac open market
The major feature by which Zeleni Venac is known today is the open market of the same name (Serbian: Pijaca Zeleni Venac, Cyrillic: Пијаца Зелени Венац), one of largest in Belgrade. Also one of the major terminal stations of the city's public transportation, with almost 20 bus lines beginning there, is located next to the market.
The market was opened in 1924 and was intended to be the central city open market, being closest to the city center. A thorough reconstruction of the market, which is supposed to give back the market its original looks, began in June 2005 and was recently completed. As the entire Terazije slope, including Zeleni Venac, is very active mass wasting area, it caused much of the public and academic debate during the reconstruction, especially when a massive rains resulted in sliding which ruptured the streets around the market as if they were hit by a very strong earthquake. After the completion, the market will be multi-leveled, two-stored complex with lowest section partially below the ground. The communal infrastructure is completely renewed, a special parking lot is built and the area will be protected from future mass wasting.
Municipal government of Savski Venac began turning the underground passage into the exhibition gallery. For now, it includes 20 exhibition panels set for the official Belgrade holiday, Belgrade Days, in April 2008, but soon individual panel cameras and sound system with loudspeakers for the 24 hour a day classical music play will be also installed.