The city


When Serbia became an autonomous principality within the Ottoman Empire in 1830, Belgrade was an oriental town dominated by a fortress on the border, which separated the Orient from the West. With the gradual withdrawal of the Turks, the town started to resemble European towns. Along with the Serbs who came from all corners in order to settle there, merchants, craftsmen, engineers, clerks from the Habsburg monarchy, foreign consuls from the Russian to the French and English contributed to Belgrade’s European image, which made its mark from 1836 onwards.

As of 1841, Belgrade became the capital, which is when its rapid development commenced. All the central state institutions operated in it: the Administrative Town Office, The Court of the Town of Belgrade, The Commercial Court and the Municipality of the town of Belgrade.

Dual authority, Serbian and Turkish, which existed in Belgrade until 1867, was a hindrance for Belgrade’s speedier development since the Turks were not allowed to sell their land within the town walls to Serbs without the pasha’s consent. That is how Belgrade retained its distinct oriental character for another few decades. Despite this, the Turkish town, which spread from Kalemegdan towards Dorcol, was continually downsized. The Serbian town lay from Kalemegdan towards Zeleni Venac, Terazije, Tasmajdan and Palilula and in its establishment western styles prevailed, which were in sharp contrast with the oriental part.

Even though the process of Europeanization of Belgrade’s civic society started in the thirties, new customs and beliefs only prevailed towards the middle of the century, which then took over the social, cultural and political initiative, which it would never again abandon. It changed its urban form, its territory spread and from a small Balkan-oriental town from the beginning of the century it was transformed into a European city, with buildings built in the styles of classicism, neo-renaissance and eclecticism. From the lanterns from the beginning of the 19th century, Belgrade entered a new century with electric lights, regulated streets, plumbing and streetcar traffic. Hospitals were constructed and health services developed. From its illiterate leaders from the beginning of the century, in the 20th century Belgrade had a number of elementary and high schools, scientific institutions and associations, a rich literature and authors who first employed classicism, only to, via romanticism and realism, catch up with European literary movements. During the 19th century fine arts and a large number of other artists emerged in the romanticism, realistic and impressionist movements who were educated in contemporary European schools. Such success was equaled by vocal-instrumental music, practices mostly in the associations, and towards the century, in music schools as well.

By a quantum step, Belgrade reached the end of the century. It managed to rid itself and its population of its oriental clothing and household furniture and transform itself into a contemporary European town, whose social life unfolded with Vienna, Pest and Paris in mind. However, its geopolitical position and historical destiny were, beside the economic and social backwardness, a continual hindrance for its total modernization, since a town which was exposed to the devastation of war every few decades could not maintain its continual development.


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