The modernization and urban transformation of Belgrade in the 19th and early 20th century
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The main goal of the paper is to highlight some important issues connected with the process of urban and architectural modernization of Belgrade in the late 19th and early 20th century and its impact on further development of the city and the contemporary state. Its focus is on the important political, social and cultural changes and urban and architectural transformation of the city from Levantine to a European one. After the Serbian Principality was established in the early 19th century influences of European culture and classical architecture started to come in, but an Ottoman way of living was still quite obvious. In spite of all the significant changes taking place by 1867 after the Turks and their army left the Serbian towns, still, there were no political, social or economic conditions necessary for the radical urban and architectural transformation of Belgrade and other settlements. But the process of social and cultural changes already started, focusing on emancipation from th...e influences of the East and on further development by adopting western social and cultural values. The changes were supported by the Austrian Empire and many Serbs, who were born and educated there, come to Serbia. An extensive transformation of the Belgrade old town surrounded by a trench started according to a plan made by Emilijan Josimović in 1867, which proposed replacement of the Levantine morphology with a regular orthogonal city matrix. The intention was to follow what Vienna and Budapest had done in their reconstructions at that time. After the proclamation of Kingdom in 1882, an extensive transformation of Belgrade started and its growth into a modern western town as a result of foreign investments, coming mostly from the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. Particularly important was the construction of the railway tracks, connecting Serbia with its northern and eastern neighbouring countries. The turn of the century was marked by intensive constructions. In the early 20th century, the European influences in architecture and urbanism were quite strong and the first Master Plan of Belgrade was made by a French architect Alban Chambond in 1912. He covered the town with a new orthogonal street network, with numerous diagonal directions, in the spirit of the 19th-century French academic town planning. He also proposed the formation of eleven monumental ensembles with imposing public buildings. He planned a circular boulevard, in the Haussmann style scale, thus clearly dividing an urbanized area from its periphery. However, the Master Plan did not consider problems of the inherited urban structure and those of the poor infrastructure. And for that reason, the Belgrade engineers and architects criticized the city authorities for their inadequate approach to resolving the infrastructural problems of the city. Some of these problems were solved after the WWI, but many are still present in our days.
Keywords:Levantine city / western city / modernization / urbanism / architecture
Source:Planning Capital Cities: Belgrade, Bucharest, Sofia, 2015, 20-42
- Graz : Verl. der Techn. Univ. Graz