Is This Belgrade?
Sane Mind Serbia

Is This Belgrade?

When I saw a building in the main photo of this post, I asked myself: “Is this Belgrade“? Well, it is. Undoubtedly, it’s one of the most recognisable buildings in the city centre that everyone living in Belgrade knows. But it looks completely different right now, which you will see later. However, after approximately 90 years this iconic edifice will return to its original glory.

But let me explain first what this building is, its location and why I’m dedicating this whole post to it. I intend this post to be more of an essay on how Belgrade could’ve looked compared to how it’s now. So, let’s start from the beginning.

 

 

SAVA SQUARE

 

I wrote about Belgrade Waterfront in my previous post. There, I asked a question whether that whole new project that they are doing by the Sava river was a missed opportunity. Read that post, especially because in there I presented a frame within which they are developing this part of the city.

Perhaps, Sava Square is the most important point within that frame. It’s a big square in front of the former main railway station. In order to build Belgrade Waterfront, they closed and moved the station to another location within the city. They also removed platforms, tracks, in other words everything. They will open a museum in the station building, but they don’t know which one yet.

Additionally, the whole square was restructured, the road and tram tracks were repositioned to run around the edge of the square. Finally, they erected a monument to Stefan Nemanja.

 

Is this Belgrade?
Sava Square

 

Stefan Nemanja was the Grand Price of the Serbian Grand Principality between 1166 and 1196. He founded the Nemanjic dynasty and, by founding what would eventually become the Serbian Empire and Serbian Orthodox church, he became one of the most important persons in Serbian culture and history.

 

Is this Belgrade?
Stefan Nemanja

 

 

POST OFFICE BUILDING

 

Believe it or not, a building in the picture below will become a building that you can see in subsequent photos which show how it looked when it was constructed in 1929. However, it was heavily damaged during bombing raids by Americans and British at the end of the Second World War, in 1944.

After the war, the new communist government decided not to restore the Post Office building to its original look. Rather, they opted for architecture to suit the needs and aesthetic requirements of the newly defined socialist society. If you ask me, it was clearly a criminal decision. Just look at this building. I’m sure that it wouldn’t have been possible to re-construct the original masterpiece into something uglier than this.

 

Is this Belgrade?
Post Office building

 

So, I’ve read that they will demolish this edifice and will construct a new one, to look exactly the same as the original building that you can see below.

 

Is this Belgrade?
Original Post Office building

 

I need to make several observations now. This particular building is being done as part of the wider Belgrade Waterfront project. Certainly, they can’t allow the ugly looking building to stand immediately next to the beautifully restored former railway station and the square in front of it. The city government didn’t allow its demolition without rebuilding the original edifice instead.

Now, have a look at the photo below. When finished, this building will complete the frame within which they are creating the whole Belgrade Waterfront project. Do you like what you see in the background? Don’t you think that, perhaps, buildings in a similar architectural style and height would’ve been more appropriate?

 

Is this Belgrade?
Belgrade Waterfront

 

 

IS THIS BELGRADE?

 

It’s a pity that, after the Second World War, the successive communist city governments didn’t restore many other buildings, damaged or destroyed in bombing raids, to their original look. For example, the Royal complex in King Milan street doesn’t look the way it looked before the war. The National Library building, destroyed by Germans in the 1941, is another example. In fact, when you walk along Belgrade’s central streets, wherever you see a new and ugly construction, there existed a beautiful building that became a war casualty.

Warsaw and Dresden, two heavily bombed and destroyed cities, have been rebuilt to look exactly the same as they looked before the war. Belgrade would’ve also looked a lot different now, had they done the same.

But all this is actually very symptomatic in Belgrade. Is it because there is no money or interest? Let’s have a look at the rest of Sava Square that they never show in Belgrade Waterfront promotional materials. Certainly, the square, the railway station building and Stefan Nemanja monument all look beautiful.

 

Is this also Belgrade?
Savska street

 

In these two photos you can see building directly opposite the the Post Office building. Is this Belgrade Waterfront too?

 

Is this Belgrade?
Sava square

 

They finished restoring Sava Square just over four years ago, but they left the rest of the square without doing anything. A building covered by big advertisements, that you can see below, has been abandoned for years.

 

Is this also Belgrade?
Is this Belgrade?

 

This is what you see on the other side, in Karadjordjeva street. If they restore these buildings, they will look fine and will additionally embellish the whole area.

 

Is this Belgrade?
Karađorđeva street

 

I hope that they’ll do something about this, although I’m not holding my breath.

 

Is this also Belgrade?
Karađorđeva street

 

 

IS THIS BELGRADE WATERFRONT TOO?

 

They should’ve sorted out these buildings already. The question is, what are they waiting for? You see all this when you go to see Sava square and the new monument there. Is it because buildings across the road don’t belong to the Belgrade Waterfront project and the city or someone else has to pay for restoration works?

At this point, let’s wait to see what’ll happen in the future. Maybe it’s too early to comment now, after all they are still developing the whole area. Otherwise, I look forward to seeing the Post Office building in its original splendour.

 

 

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