Decadent Belgrade
Sane Mind Serbia

Decadent Belgrade

I’ve written many stellar articles about Belgrade. And rightly so. It is a dynamic and interesting city, that’s rapidly changing. It is still a refreshingly rare non-globalised European city, especially after most western European cities where you see the same shops and restaurant chains over and over again. In that respect, Belgrade is very authentic. When you walk around, you can see numerous small business, such as shops, restaurants, bars and coffee shops, rather than western outlets. But, Belgrade still has a prominent decadent side and it wouldn’t be fair not to mention it. That’s because when you go there, decadent Belgrade is very much in your face.

 

Svetozara Markovića Street Decadent Belgrade
Svetozara Markovića Street

 

I am sure that when all beautiful buildings in Belgrade were built, they were meant to be looked after. Surely, no architect invested significant effort to design elegant and aesthetically pleasing buildings thinking that, one day in the future, they would actually look ugly.

 

Svetozara Markovića Street Decadent Belgrade
Svetozara Markovića Street

 

The communist government, that came in power after the Second World War, did not pay much attention to the decorative side of the city. Perhaps, it was an ideological thing, an aspect that they connected with decadent capitalist societies of the west.

 

Krunska Street Belgrade
Krunska Street

 

Or, it could be that there wasn’t money for maintenance. However, the communist government built the industry, roads, hospitals, schools and huge new residential areas. In communist times, people received flats from the government for free. Apart from factories that previously existed and which are mostly all closed now, everything else constructed during the communist times in Belgrade is still very much in use. And, people will continue to use those facilities for a long time.

 

Liberation Boulevard Belgrade
Liberation Boulevard (close to Slavia Square)

 

But, things have changed and the new city government has invested considerable effort in the past 2 year to improve the city. As I mentioned in my previous posts, they are currently renovating central parts of Belgrade. Also, many previously completely crumbling facades have been brought back to their original splendour.

 

 

King Milan Street Belgrade
King Milan Street

 

I have taken photos for this post completely randomly. It wasn’t a difficult task, because wherever you are in the city, you can see such buildings. Some of them are in the very central area, next to already restored buildings.

 

Terazije Belgrade
Terazije

 

What matters is that they are doing the necessary work now. Of course, the task is enormous and it will take a long time to tilt the balance to the point when only some buildings would need to be renovated, as regular maintenance.

 

Balkanska Street Belgrade
Balkanska Street

 

The above photo is of Balkanska Street. It’s a historical street in the heart of Belgrade, where you can still find some traditional craftsmanship shops. The street was very recently completely renovated, including the subterranean infrastructure. The idea is to bring the street back to its former glory.

 

Balkanska Street Belgrade
Balkanska Street

 

But when you see this building, you understand that there is still much more that needs to be done. The same is repeated all over Belgrade. Even the main and the most important Prince Michael street contains buildings with black facades.

 

Prince Michael Street Belgrade
Prince Michael Street

 

Certainly, there are many buildings that still look bad in the most central pedestrian area, despite the fact that they actually have magnificent facades. It’s just that you can’t see it right now. A good example is the building below, in Tzar Lazar Street.

 

Tzar Lazar Street Belgrade
Tzar Lazar Street

 

If you go to Belgrade in this period, you will see many works everywhere and a city that is changing the way it looks.

 

Obilićev Venac Decadent Belgrade
Obilićev Venac

 

Certainly, there is an element of attraction in this decadence, especially because you can see many improvements at the same time. The potential is huge and once the whole city has been completely restored, it will look much better.

 

Despot Stefan Boulevard Decadent Belgrade
Despot Stefan Boulevard

 

But, there is one more important point to consider.

 

Despot Stefan Boulevard Decadent Belgrade
Despot Stefan Boulevard

 

Right now, Serbia is still a relatively poor country. A building that you can see below almost reflects the current state of affairs in Serbia. It means that Serbia is a cheap country, especially if you compare the cost of everything with more developed western European countries.

 

Zetska Street Decadent Belgrade
Zetska Street

 

It also means that Serbia and Belgrade are excellent value for money. You can go to the best restaurant and have an absolutely exquisite meal for unimaginably small amount of money. If you remain at the “normal” level, the cost of everything is further reduced.

 

Skadarska Street Decadent Belgrade
Skadarska Street

 

In other words, you can feel like a king in Belgrade, even on a relatively small budget. You will not find that in any other European country, although to my knowledge Romania is similarly affordable.

 

King Peter Street Decadent Belgrade
King Peter Street

 

Thus, for as long as buildings remain as you can see them in this post, Belgrade will be an affordable destination. But, that makes me think – what would I prefer? A splendid, but expensive city that shines beautifully or slightly decadent Belgrade that welcomes with its friendliness, openness and down to earth costs?

 

King Peter Street Decadent Belgrade
King Peter Street

 

I like Belgrade as it is right now, but that’s clearly for my selfish reasons. When I am there, I can afford to do things to the extent that I can’t do in other places. In other places, I am very much aware of how much everything costs. In Belgrade, that’s almost irrelevant, because it is so cheap.

 

King Peter Street Decadent Belgrade
King Peter Street

 

But, I need to clarify. Belgrade is cheap for people coming from the west, it is not cheap for an ordinary Serbian person, that earns an ordinary Serbian salary. In fact, Belgrade is very expensive for them.

 

Baba Višnjina Street Decadent Belgrade
Baba Višnjina Street

 

Well, I am looking at Belgrade from my point of view and this article is more for people that intend to visit from other countries. Only in that context, you can understand what I am trying to say.

 

Sinđelićeva Street Decadent Belgrade
Sinđelićeva Street

 

Also, it wouldn’t be fair that someone reads my previous posts and only see many restored and beautiful buildings. Belgrade’s reality is also this. Its decadent, neglected, dilapidated but rather charming side.

 

Republic Square Decadent Belgrade
Republic Square – under renovation May 2019

 

But, don’t worry. Right now, they are doing a lot of work all over the city, as you can see in this photo of Republic Square. I look forward to going back there, to see and document the changes. These are really exciting times for Belgrade, the city is finally recapturing its long neglected and hidden beauty.

The main photo in this post is Bezistan. It’s a pedestrian pass between Terazije and Nikola Pašić Square. Right now, this pass is in a terrible state.

 

 

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02 Comments

  1. Gabriela Mirica

    beautiful and somehow sad …

    October 4, 2019 Reply
    • Vitko Ignjatovic

      Yes, exactly as you said, beautiful and, in fact, very sad. But, things are changing there, although at a slow pace.

      October 4, 2019 Reply

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