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Ušće (Serbian Cyrillic: Ушће, pronounced [ûːʃt͡ɕe]) is an urban neighborhood of Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. It is located in Belgrade's municipality of Novi Beograd. Ušće is located on the mouth of the Sava river into the Danube, thus the name (ušće is Serbian for confluence). It occupies Novi Beograd's Blocks 10, 13, 14, 15 and 16 on the Sava's left and the Danube's right bank, covering a tip of land that overlooks the islands of Little War Island and Great War Island to the north and the old core of Belgrade, the fortress of Kalemegdan to the west. Ušće borders the neighborhoods of Staro Sajmište and Savograd on the south. As a compact grassy and forested area it stretches along the bank of the Danube into the Block 10, to the Zemun municipality and the Hotel Jugoslavija and the ENJUB shopping mall.
A sandy beach with the cabins, kafanas and barracks, used as sheds by the fishermen, occupied the area of the modern quay, north of the Branko's Bridge. It was one of the favorite vacation spots of Belgraders during Interbellum. People were transported from the city by small boats and the starting point was a small kafana "Malo pristanište" in Savamala. Occupying the left bank of the Sava, it was on the location of the access ramp for the future King Alexander Bridge. The objects were demolished manually, including numerous kafanas: "Ostend", "Zdravlje", "Abadžija", "Jadran", "Krf", "Dubrovnik", "Adrija", etc. The only one that wasn't demolished was "Nica", predecessor of the modern Ušće restaurant. In total, 20 proper objects and 2,000 cabins, barracks, sheds, etc. were demolished, jointly by the municipalities of Zemun and Bežanija, which owned half of the land each, and the proprietors of the objects. The plan was to build an embankment instead. However, the beach itself survived the construction of the bridge in 1934 as it only made access easier. The beach was finally closed in 1938 when the construction of the embankment began. The beach itself was called Nica (Serbian for Nice, in France) after one of the kafanas.
Like all of Novi Beograd, Ušće is flat, and without buildings to hide that fact like in the rest of the municipality, that is quite obvious here. With only three buildings and several smaller edifices, Ušće is the least urbanized section of Novi Beograd but some residential blocks are administratively attached to the local community of the same name, which had the population of 9,991 in 2011.
Ušće is a vast grassy and forested area 2.5 km × 1 km (1.55 mi × 0.62 mi) along the river banks. As such, it is used by many Belgraders as a recreational area or as a place for organizing political gatherings or musical concerts. However, many areas are not cultivated, but left to grow wild. During the high levels of the Danube and the Sava, bank areas are always flooded.
As maintained open parkland with high levels of human activity, Ušće is characterized by low diversity of breeding landbirds, but in winter the banks are very popular among birdwatchers as it is possible to observe rare and interesting waterbirds swimming at the confluence off the banks of Great and Little War Island. Ušće is one of the most important eBird hotspots in Belgrade with its own webpage: Ebird Hotspot
Much of Ušće already is, or is projected to be, a large park. On 24 August 2017, the mayor of Belgrade, Siniša Mali, announced a massive works in the park which would, as he described it, look like a Central Park in New York City or a Gorky Park in Moscow. The entire project, which would arrange the area of 88 ha (220 acres) between the Branko's Bridge and Hotel Jugoslavija, is based on the ideas of Jan Gehl. The entire project is to be finished by 2020. Park will be divided in 7 zones. Two zones closer to Zemun and Zemunski Kej will be "Movement" 1,280 m2 (13,800 sq ft) and "Nature" 763 m2 (8,210 sq ft).
They will be mostly nature and sports oriented with various sports terrains and children playgrounds. Next zone "Serbia" ("Serbia 1" 370 m2 (4,000 sq ft) and "Serbia 2" 824 m2 (8,870 sq ft)), will be adapted for the promotion of Serbian culture, folklore, gastronomy, etc. The next two zones are "Music" and "Water", while the two closest to the Branko's Bridge, surrounding the Museum of Contemporary Arts, are "Art" and "Science". They will cover 2,800 m2 (30,000 sq ft) and some works in it started immediately. For 2018, Mali announced the construction of the gondola lift, which will connect the geographical tip of Ušće with Kalemegdan, and of a giant Ferris wheel across the Great War Island. He confirmed the erection of a tall flagmast.
The flagmast was already brought up before. Without any previous public mention of the project, Mali announced on 26 June 2017 construction of the 120-metre-high (394 ft) flagmast in Ušće, which would hold the Serbian flag, 20 m (66 ft) by 30 m (98 ft). He already declared it a symbol of Belgrade which would bring many tourists who will take photos with the mast, which is "important for the entire Serbia" and will make Belgrade a modern and more beautiful city. He also added that the project is an "initiative of president Aleksandar Vučić".
Mayor Siniša Mali claimed the money for the project, 200 million dinars, has already been marked in the city budget, due to the previous "savings". Asked how is that a priority when one third of Belgrade still has no sewage system, Mali said that both the sewage and the mast are needed. Dragoljub Bakić, member of the Serbian Academy of Architecture, said that the city government treats Belgrade as the "prey" they won, labeling their politics as an "urban reality show as they bomb us every day with some other nonsense".
Rodoljub Šabić, state Commissioner for the information of public importance, publicly criticized the project on Twitter and was slammed by the author of the idea, president Vučić on the press conference who said that Šabić is "against the Serbian flag" and that "those who never do anything, criticize all the time". Šabić replied that Vučić always subjectively and without any criteria defends people from his close circle and that being against the pole which would cost 1,65 million euros is not the same thing as being against the Serbian flag. He added that it would be better to buy something meaningful, like the MRI for some hospital.
Mali announced the expansion of the project. Apart from the one tall, whose price in few days grew to 230 million dinars (1.9 million euros), 30 additional flagmasts, each 30 m (98 ft) high, are planned. Three of them will be placed on ten entry points into the city. They will cost additional 134 million dinars (1.1 million euros), so 31 flagmasts will cost the city almost 3 million euros. Reminded that for that money a kindegraten or a school could have been built, Mali said "don't your worry about it" and that we are "rich enough country and rich enough city", repeating Vučić's claim that those who are against the project actually don't like the Serbian flag.
Three days later, Mali changed his statement and said that the idea is not Vučić's but is actually a joint decision of the city and the state.
Construction of the gondola lift was confirmed in March 2018 when the idea of a pedestrian bridge was dropped after it has been described as "complicated" and "unstable". On the Kalemegdan side, the station will be dug into the hill, 1 m (3 ft 3 in) below the fortress' Sava Promenade. On the Ušćе side, the starting point will be next to the Skate Park, across the Ušće Tower. The entire route is 1 km (0.62 mi) long, of which 300 m (980 ft) will be above the Sava river itself. Estimated cost is €10 million and duration of works 18 months, but it is still not known when the construction will begin. The criticism of the project continued, from the officially used name (gondola instead of a traditional Serbian žičara) and chosen location, to the route, especially the Kalemegdan station.
Friendship Park (Serbian: Парк пријатељства, translit. Park prijateljstva) is a section of the park bounded by the Nikola Tesla Boulevard on the south and the esplanade along the Danube on the north. It covers an area of 127 ha (310 acres) and is specific for the fact that most of the trees are planted by the politicians, artists and celebrities. It was founded in 1961, during the 1st Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Belgrade. The first seedling was planted by the Serbian politician Voja Leković but followed by Josip Broz Tito and Jawaharlal Nehru.
In the next decades they were followed by over 180 people, including Gamal Abdel Nasser, Haile Selassie, Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Archbishop Makarios III, Elizabeth II, Mikhail Gorbachev and Ion Iliescu, who planted the last "celebrity" tree in 1993 and the park deteriorated due to the lack of maintenance. It was renovated in the mid-2000s and in 2007 the initiative was started to restore the tradition of planting the trees. In 2007 each tree got a memorial plaque with the names of the persons who planted it and the new seedlings were planted by the members of the EYOF and the members of the Rolling stones. Projects for the park caused controversies since the early 2000s. Immediately after the NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999, the monument "Eternal fire" was built as a pet project of Mirjana Marković, the wife of Slobodan Milošević and later the stir was caused by the proposal for construction the building of the Belgrade Opera in the park. Idea was later dropped.
Ušće has only three buildings, but two of them are monumental. One is the Palace of the Federation (Serbian: Палата Федерације, Palata Federacije), a seat of the former federal governments of Yugoslavia and Serbia and Montenegro (also called the SIV building). Another monumental building is the Ušće Tower, with 134 m(antenna) of height almost tallest building in the Balkans (it was second tallest before the NATO attack on Serbia in 1999 when Avala TV Tower just outside Belgrade was razed). Third important building is the Museum of Contemporary Art, close to Sava river's left bank.
In January 2018, it was announced that the construction of a twin building to the Ušće Tower, a 103.9-metre-tall (341 ft) Tower II, will start in February. The foundation stone was laid on 27 February 2018. The building will be 22-stories high and the entire project will cost €65 million.
Other facilities in the neighborhood are several restaurants along the river banks. Oldest and the best known is the restaurant "Ušće". It was built in 1960 by Stojan Maksimović and entered Serbian textbooks of architecture as the first public facility of the contemporary architecture in Belgrade. The interior design was work of Mario Maskareli. Due to its location, near the confluence and close to the river with the view on Kalemegdan, Cathedral Church and the old section of Belgrade across the Sava river, the restaurant was featured in numerous movies, music videos and broadcasts. The restaurant was refurbished and ceremonially reopened on 1 June 2017 under the name of "Nacionalna Klasa". Only five days later, on 6 June, the restaurant was partially burned in the fire.
The embankment along the rivers has been turned into the long promenade, which connects the promenade in Staro Sajmište (on the south, along Sava) and Zemunski Kej (on the north, Danube). The section of the Ušće promenade between the Branko's Bridge and the Hotel Jugoslavija has been renamed to the "Quay of the king Alexander I Karađorđević" on 29 June 2017.
Ušće was also the site of temporary street circuit where races were held since 1967. and were held almost every year afterwards. The track (in a 2.310 meter configuration) encompasses roads around the blok 15 (Ušće park), passing near the Ušće Tower, along the Branko's Bridge and then along the Sava bank, with its start-finish straight just across the eternal fire monument. The circuit is popularly known as "a circuit without right hand turn", although it has two slight right-handers, and it is famous for its high speed S-curve near restaurant "Ušće" and Museum of Contemporary Art, on Sava coast, which exist because the road had to navigate around the previously made Ranney collector. The first race was held on 30 April 1967. but the most remembered is the one held in 1969. (on a 4.350 configuration) when around 40.000 spectators flocked to see powerful Fiat Abarths in European Touring Car Challenge, and Formula Vee cars race on the streets. After poor management and maintenance of roads and circuit, and race cars reaching high speeds in 1990s and 2000s, FIA and drivers continuously criticised the safety of the track, lack of proper barriers and run-off areas. After many unfortunate events, and a fatality in 2005, the circuit was taken off the calendar and "Grand Prix of Belgrade" was subsequently replaced with a race held in Batajnica Air Base. Despite these events, the race on Ušće was held in 2008, and never again. The rich history of races held on Ušće have gained somewhat a "classic" status in Serbia and former Yugoslavia, with meany people's associations on hearing the word "Ušće" firstly reminding them about the race.
After 20 years of skateboarders' activism to get one, the first skatepark in this part of Europe was opened on 28 September 2008. It is located in the Block 15, across the Ušće Tower and covers an area of 2,200 m2 (24,000 sq ft), which made it the largest one in the region when opened. Originally, it had 15 elements but after the 2011 reconstruction, 6 new elements were added. Apart from the everyday use (entrance is free for everyone with skateboards, rollers and bicycles), local and international competitions are being held at the park.
In 1961 an all-Yugoslav architectural design competition for the "Museum of the revolution of the nations and nationalities of Yugoslavia" was announced. It was to be built in Block 13, on the location between the modern Palace Serbia and Ušće Tower. Out of 29 design entries, the project of Vjenceslav Richter was chosen. Construction began only in 1978 and it was envisioned as a square with the alley, eternal flame and the monument to the President of Yugoslavia, Josip Broz Tito. The museum was planned to cover an area of 15,200 m (49,900 ft) but only the basement was built with the iron rods, for the projected reinforced concrete pillars, protruding above the ground ever since.
As the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra has no building of its own, and after the proposed locations for it on Vračar, near Gradić Pejton, or near the Hotel Jugoslavija, on the Danube river's bank, on 12 October 2016 the city announced an architectural design competition for the new building of the Belgrade Philharmonic on the location of the proposed museum and the surrounding terrain, 47.2 ha (117 acres) in total. In January 2017, out of 34 design entries, the one by Dragan Marčetić and Milan Maksimović won the competition. The central hall will have 1,500 seats and the 400 m2 (4,300 sq ft) large stage. The smaller hall was designed to have 400 seats, as well as the outdoor hall. The building will cover an area of 27,000 m2 (290,000 sq ft). A park and lookout are planned on the roof while coffee shops, restaurants and luxury boutiques will cover 19,000 m2 (200,000 sq ft). The surrounding area will include bicycle paths, a small square, a fountain and an underground garage for 3,960 cars. The estimated value of the project is 30 million euros.
Additionally, Marčetić and Maksimović also envisioned four 24-story skyscrapers west of the Palace Serbia, between the new Philharmonic and the YU Business Center shopping mall. The proposed skyscrapers will have a total floor area of 200,000 m2 (2,200,000 sq ft) and a two-level underground garage with 47,000 m2 (510,000 sq ft).
Due to its central location and wide-open space, Ušće has hosted some mass gatherings:
- On November 19, 1988, Slobodan Milošević (at the time Chairman of the Serbian Communist League's Central Committee) addressed the crowd of more than 100,000 people as the main speaker at a mass rally that took place as integral part of "anti-bureaucratic revolution" and in essence served as Milošević's unofficial inauguration.
- On March 11, 1991, Milošević's regime organized a large counter-rally in direct response to March 9th Protest two days earlier. The gathering was seen as the regime's attempt at showing that anti-regime protesters of the prior days were a lone, politically instrumentalized, and misguided group of destructive-minded youth. Milošević himself did not address the crowd, but some of the most prominent members of his Socialist Party of Serbia did. The crowd on hand mostly consisted of older generation members, many of whom were workers and pensioners bussed in for the occasion from other parts of Serbia.
- On October 16, 2014, a military parade by the Serbian Army was held in front of more than 100,000 spectators for the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Red Army liberating city of Belgrade from Nazi Germany. The parade was also part of Russian president Vladimir Putin's official visit. Besides Putin who was the parade's centerpiece guest, the main stand featured Serbian dignitaries, president Tomislav Nikolić and prime minister Aleksandar Vučić as well as Republika Srpska president Milorad Dodik and Repiblika Srpska prime minister Željka Cvijanović.
Concerts and festivals
- On July 3, 2004, the rock band Riblja Čorba and the Belgrade faction of the rock band Zabranjeno Pušenje headlined a day-long anniversary concert before 40,000 spectators that came out to celebrate Riblja Čorba's 25th and Zabranjeno Pušenje's 20th anniversary. However, the concert is best remembered by the fact that Zabranjeno Pušenje performance ended after about half an hour, as the band performed world music material they recorded as The No Smoking Orchestra, and the angry fans threw various objects on stage. Other acts that performed included Negative, Prljavi Inspektor Blaža i Kljunovi, Bjesovi, Alogia, Roze Poze, Abonos, Kraljevski Apartman, Đorđe David, and others.
- On June 17, 2006, Serbian turbo-folk singer Ceca Ražnatović performed for more than three hours in front of the crowd of more than 100,000 people, in support of her Idealno loša album that got released the same day.
- On July 14, 2007 The Rolling Stones finally played a concert in Serbia after several previous cancellations. The 2-hour show in front of approximately 70,000 people was part of their A Bigger Bang Tour.
- On June 24, 2008, The Police played a concert in front of the crowd of 27,104 people as part of their reunion tour, with Counting Crows performing as the opening band.
- Since 2008 Belgrade Beer Fest is held at Ušće every August.
- On August 24, 2009, Madonna performed at Ušće in front of 39,713 people as part of the second leg of her Sticky & Sweet Tour.
- On June 19 and June 21, 2010, Ušće Fest was held, with Bajaga i Instruktori and Vlado Georgiev playing on the 19th, and Billy Idol performing on the 21st. The festival was originally organized as a three-day event, but the scheduled performance by Goran Bregović and Severina on the second night, the 22nd, got cancelled due to stormy weather.
- On June 25, 2011, Zdravko Čolić performed a 4-hour concert in front of 100,000 people.
- On May 8, 2012, Metallica held a concert in front of approximately 30,000 people; they performed their 1991 eponymously titled album in its entirety. The concert featured Gojira and Machine Head as the opening bands.
- From June 27 to June 30, 2012, Belgrade Calling festival was held at Ušće. The first night of the festival featured Jessie J, Orbital, Example, Public Enemy, S.A.R.S. and Dubioza Kolektiv. The second evening of the festival featured Ozzy Osbourne (featuring Geezer Butler and Slash), The Cult, Black Label Society, Paradise Lost, Satyricon and Sanatorium. The third evening of the festival featured Faith No More, Public Image Limited, The Sisters of Mercy, The Darkness, The Horrors and Ugly Kid Joe. The last evening of the festival was free, and featured Serbian acts only: Straight Mickey & The Boys, Snakes, Sharks and Planes, Bjesovi, Svi Na Pod, Eva Braun, Goribor, Darkwood Dub, Kanda, Kodža i Nebojša and Block Out.
- Depeche Mode performed at the park on 19 May 2013 during their Delta Machine Tour, in front of a sold out crowd of 27,198 people. The band had previously been scheduled to perform at the park on 20 May 2009 as part of their Tour of the Universe, but the concert was cancelled due to singer Dave Gahan's severe bout of gastroenteritis.
- On 15 June 2013, Jelena Karleuša performed a concert called Viva La Diva show in front of more than 10.000 people.
- On 28 June 2013, Svetlana Ražnatović Ceca performed the biggest concert of her career which initiated her Poziv Tour in front of more than 100,000 people, promoting the album Poziv.
- From 2014, CoffeeFest (Literary Serbian: Кофифест, Kofifest) a regional, annual coffee festival is held every last weekend in September on the Ušće street in Belgrade, Serbia across the Ušće Shopping Center.
- On 17 June 2015, Robbie Williams performed at the park as part of his Let Me Entertain You Tour, in front of 33,000 people.
- On 20 June 2015, Smak played a concert in front of 25,000 people.
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