Terazije (Serbian Cyrillic: Теразије, literally Scales, more commonly known as "water balances" or "su terazisi" in Turkish) is the central square of the capital of Serbia. It is located in the Belgrade municipality of Stari Grad. The meaning of Turkish word "su terazisi" needs to be explained fully because the English term "scales" does not seem to be adequate. Terazije is probably more related to the word "reservoir" connected to the ancient Roman aqueduct which existed before the Ottoman times. Perhaps Terazije is connected to a water distribution mechanism which existed here which lifted and distributed water further into the city. There is an underground natural and/or man made underground river in this area. "Water Balances" known as "su terazisi", were tower-like structures maintaining water pressure when conveying water to neighbourhoods at a high-level. Varying from 3 to 10 m in height, they had a cistern at the summit from which the water flowed into distribution pipes.
Despite the fact that many Belgraders consider the Republic Square or Kalemegdan to be the city's centerpiece areas, Terazije is Belgrade's designated center. When street numbers are assigned to the streets of Belgrade, numeration begins from the part of the street closest to Terazije. Terazije itself is also a short street, connected by the King Milan Street, the main street in Belgrade, to the Slavija square, by the Nikola Pašić Square to the King Alexander Boulevard, the longest street in Belgrade, by Prizrenska street to the neighborhood of Zeleni Venac and further to Novi Beograd, and by the Kolarčeva street to the Square of the Republic.
Terazije started to take shape as an urban feature in the first half of the 19th century. In the 1840s, Prince Miloš Obrenović ordered Serbian craftsmen, especially blacksmiths and coppersmiths, to move out of the old moated town where they had been mixed with the Turkish inhabitants, and build their houses and shops on the place of the present square. Also, the move was intended to prevent the fires being lit all over the town. Ilija Čarapić, the president of the Belgrade Municipality 1834-35 and 1839–40, had a special task to assigning lots of land at Terazije to these craftsmen and whoever accepted to fence the lot, would have it for free.
With regard to the origin of the name Terazije, the historian and writer Milan Đ. Milićević noted that "In order to supply Belgrade with water, the Turks built towers at intervals along the water supply system which brought water in from the springs at Veliki Mokri Lug. The water was piped up into the towers for the purpose of increasing the pressure, in order to carry it further." One such tower was erected on the location of the present fountain at Terazije and the square was named after the Turkish word for water tower, terazi (literally, water scales).
Up to about 1865, the buildings at Terazije were mainly single and double-storied. The water tower was removed in 1860 and replaced by the drinking fountain, Terazijska česma, which was erected in to celebrate the second rule of Prince Miloš Obrenović. During the first reconstruction of the square in 1911, the fountain was moved to Topčider and moved back again in 1976. The square went under significant changes in 1911-1912, when it was completely re-arranged. Along the central part of the square regular flower beds were placed, and they were surrounded by a low iron fence, while on the side towards today's Nušićeva street a large fountain was built. At the end of the XIX and beginning of the 20th century, Terazije was the centre of social life of Belgrade.
In the summer of 1911 a plan for the arrangement of Terazije was developed, headed by the special commission constituted specifically for this purpose and headed by architect Édouard Léger. Most of the provisions envisioned by the project were built: new wide paved sidewalks, formation of the square, a fountain, change in tram tracks for better and faster traffic and removal of the public pissoirs. A monument to Dositej Obradović, which was projected, was erected in a different neighborhood.
Curiously, despite being the sole center of the city, some areas evaded urbanization for a long time. In the reprint of its article from 13 March 1937, daily Politika writes about the city’s decision to tear down the Kuzmanović yard: It seems that another disgrace will disappear from Belgrade, but much larger and more dangerous for the health and lives of the people than that eysore that ”Albania” was. A row of shacks and hovels in ”Kuzmanović yard”, which alltogether cover an area of 4.000 m2 between the streets of Dečanska, Pašićeva nad Kolarčeva, will disappear. Belgrade municipality sent its commission yesterday to check the condition of the ”Kuzmanović yard”. The commission established that the shanties and burrows are prone to collapse any minute and that it will advocate for them to be teared down, in the interest of health and lives of the tennants.
Another massive reconstruction happened in 1948, the main square in Belgrade was narrowed, flower beds and double tram tracks from both sides were removed and a number of modernist buildings were constructed, forming a Square of Marx and Engels (present Square of Nikola Pašić) in the 1950s.
For a short period after the World War II, when Belgrade was administratively reorganized from districts (rejon) to the municipalities in 1952, Terazije had its own municipality. However, already on 1 January 1957 the municipality was dissolved and divided between the municipalities of Vračar and Stari Grad. Population of the modern local community (mesna zajednica) of Terazije was 3,338 in 2002, with several smaller communities which make the neighborhood 11,104.
Notable buildings at Terazije throughout history
As the central and one of the most famous squares in Belgrade, it is the location of many famous Belgrade buildings: The most important hotels, restaurants and shops are and were located here. Of the important buildings, which used to be or still are at Terazije:
- Hotel Paris (built during the 1870s at the spot where Bezistan Passage and shopping area is located today. Hotel was demolished during the reconstruction of the square in 1948).
- Kod zlatnog krsta kafana (Serbian for 'By the Golden Cross'; where the first film was shown by the Lumière brothers on June 6, 1896, used to be at the spot where Dušanov grad is located today).
- The old Hotel Kasina (built around 1860, next to Hotel Paris. At this hotel, in 1918 the National Assembly of Serbia held its meetings for a while. The plays of the National Theatre in Belgrade have been performed here until 1920. The present Hotel Kasina was built at the same place in 1922) .
- Takovo restaurant and cinema.
- The original shape and still voted as one of the most beautiful buildings in Belgrade Hotel Moskva stands, built in 1906, with its famous façade made of ceramic tiles.
- The biggest McDonald's restaurant in the Balkans.
- Palace Albania, built in 1937, the first high rise in Belgrade and the highest building in the Balkans before World War II.
- Theatre on Terazije, the Serbian equivalent to Broadway staging numerous musical productions and adaptations from around the world. The theatre is one of the most modern in Belgrade being reconstructed in 2005.
Terazijska Terasa (Serbian Cyrillic: Теразијска тераса) or Terazije Terrace is a sloping park coming down from the 117  meters high Terazije Ridge (on top of which Terazije is built) to the right bank of the Sava river, but more specifically coming down to the Zeleni Venac market. Geographically, it is a part of the larger, 300 meter long Sava Ridge.
The top of the area is an excellent natural lookout point to the Sava river valley, Novi Beograd and further into the Syrmia region. The future of the terrace is a subject of public and academic debate ever since the 19th century. First general plan for it is from 1912 by the French architect Alban Chamond which envisioned it as the cascades of trapezoid piazzetas with flowers and fountains, leaving the panoramic view intact. In 1923 a project for constructing a terrace-observation point was made. In 1929, Serbian architect Nikola Dobrović's plan was accepted. He projected two tall business buildings on the both ends of the ridge and a plateau between with several small business and leisure objects, while the slope itself would be a succession of horizontal gardens, pools and fountains. In the 1990s Dobrović's plan was reactivated, but the temporary park remained and a competition from 1991 resulted only in the large building at the beginning of the Balkanska street which met with disapproval of the public. In 2006 a new tender for architectural solution for Terazije Terrace was organized which resulted in 2008 project by Branislav Redžić which remained only on paper. In 2015 city announced plans to reactivate and adapt Redžić's project, but as of 2017 still no work has been done.
- "I trg i ulica Terazije", Politika (in Serbian)
- "Ulepšavanje Terazija", Politika (in Serbian), 31 August 1911
- "Opština ruši kućerke i ćumeze u Kuzmanovićevom dvorištu na Terazijama", Politika (in Serbian), 13 March 1937
- J. Gajić (15–16 April 2017). "Na praznik padale bombe" (in Serbian). Politika. p. 27.
- Popis stanovništva po mesnim zajednicama, Saopštenje 40/2002, page 4. Zavod za informatiku i statistiku grada Beograda. 26 July 2002.
- Statistical Yearbook of Belgrade 2007 - Topography, climate and environment
- Daliborka Mučibabić (6 March 2015). "Terazijska terasa – novi gradski trg" (in Serbian). Politika. p. 15.
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