Belgrade in motion

Capital of Yugoslavia Belgrade (Serbian: Beograd ), is one of the oldest cities in Europe.

Archeological finds indicate that the site has been inhabited for 7,000 years. Around 600 B.C. the territory of Belgrade was crossed by Thracian-Cimmerian and Scythian tribes, and in the early 3rd century B.C. Celts penetrated into this area. The Celtic Scordisci tribe funded a settlement here named Singidunum. Early in the 1st century, Singidunum was captured by the Romans. For the four centuries following the arrival of the IV Flavin legion in 86 A.D.,the town flourished.

With the Roman Empire, Singidunum was incorporated into the Eastern Empire. Frequent incursions of barbarians during the 5th, 6th and 7th centuries weakened the imperial frontier; Singidunum became the target of Ostrogpoths, Gepids, Sarmatians, Avars and Slavs. Taking advantage of the weak defenses of the Byzantine Empire, during the 6th century, the Slaves increasingly crossed the Danube (the biggest invasion being in 550) and during the 7th century they settled in Singidunum.

On the ruins of the ancient Celtic and Roman Singidunum a new town grew up with a purely Slav name - Beligrad (White Town). Under this name it is mentioned in a historical document from 878.

During the 9th, 10th and 11th centuries, Belgrade fell in turn under Bulgarian, Byzantine and Hungarian rule. With the creation of the extensive empire of Samuilo of Macedonia, Belgrade once more changed hands. Following the collapse of Samulio's empire, it reverted to Byzantium, serving as an important frontier stronghold.

At the time of King Dragutin, in 1284, Belgrade came under Serbian rule for the first time. The city attainted the culmination of its medieval development in the reign of Despot Stefan Lazarevich (1403-1427) when it became the Serbian capital for the first time. It was captured by the Turks on August 29, 1521.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, Belgrade changed hands between Turkey and Austria several times, on each occasion suffering further damage, and being reconstructed. In the Austro-Turkish war of 1717-1718, following his victory at Petrovaradin (Novi Sad), Prince Eugene of Savoy captured Belgrade on August 18, 1717. Aware of its great strategic importance, he ordered the reconstruction of the fortifications according to the Vauban system. After the Austro-Turkish war 1737-1739, Belgrade again came under the Turkish rule and the fortress appearance was once more altered. The cruelty and oppression to which they were subjected roused the Serbian people to rebellion, with the aim of throwing off Turkish rule and its feudal system, in 1804. The Serbian insurgents under Karadjordje (Black George) Petrovich captured the town of Belgrade at the end of 1806, and the fortress early in 1807.

Under Karadjordje (1806-1813), Belgrade became the administrative, political and cultural center of liberated Serbia. From 1807, the highest state body, the Legislative Council met in the city. The first high school for educating the Serbian youth was established.

Belgrade's importance continued to grow during the time of Prince Milosh I Obrenovich, particularly after 1830 when gained autonomy. Around the turn of the century Belgrade expanded rapidly; the influx of people raised its population to 90,000 by 1910.

During World War I, Belgrade was captured by the Austrian army. After the breakthrough on the Salonika front, the Serbian army liberated Belgrade and on November 5, 1918 entered Zemun, just across the river, ending two centuries of Hapsburg rule over the Serbian people living north of the Danube and Sava rivers. The interwar period was one of intensive expansion for Belgrade, capital of the newly-founded Yugoslav state.

Take a look at the motion picture of the house of Yugoslav parlament. (~130KB)

Belgrade Fortress is the historical nucleus of Belgrade, around which the civilian settlement grew up, starting from the time of Singidunum in the Celtic and Roman periods. Numerous remains of the Roman fortification have been uncovered. While the IV Flavian legion was stationed here, the first fort constructed of square hewn stones was erected in what is now called the Upper Fortress Gornji Grad). Parts of the original Roman walls are still visible near the Zindan gate, incorporated in the lower part of the north-west wall of the Upper Fortress, together with remains of a square tower.

Changing hands among the Byzantines, Bulgars, Hungarians and Serbs in the period from the 5th to the 15th century, Belgrade underwent certain changes, additions and repairs without losing its basic form or purpose. The large-scale building works undertaken from 1403-1427 by Despot Stevan Lazarevich gave the fortifications their developed medieval form with a citadel in the north-west corner of the Upper Fortress (Gornji Grad) and an extensive Lower Fortress (Donji Grad) and western and eastern suburbs.Today the remains of Belgrade fortress are incorporated in the large park of Kalemegdan.

Skadarlija was the bohemian area of old Belgrade, located between what are now Cetinjska, Makedonska and Skadarska streets. It grew up spontaneously around the turn of the century, following the building of a brewery here in the last century, which led to the opening of a number of café. Close together in one short street, they became the meeting place of artists and writers, who spent the better part of their lives in the Three Hats (Tri sheshira), Two Deers (Dva jelena), Golden Chalice (Zlatni bokal), Skadarlija, and other hostelries.

Adapted from: "Treasures from Yugoslavia" An Encyclopedic touring guide