|Belgrade - New Belgrade|
Novi Beograd or New Belgrade (Serbian Cyrillic: Нови Београд) is the most populous municipality that constitutes the City of Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. It is an pre-planned city, built in 1947 on the left bank of the Sava river which was previously an undeveloped area, opposite of old Belgrade. In recent years it has become the new financial centre of Belgrade and its fastest developing area, with many businesses moving to the new part of the city, due to more modern infrastructure and larger available space.The population of Novi Beograd is almost 400,000 people.
Novi Beograd is located on the left bank of the Sava river, in the easternmost part of the Srem region. Administratively, its northeastern section touches the right bank of the Danube, right before the Sava's confluence. It is generally located west of the 'Old' Belgrade to which it is connected by five bridges (Gazela, Branko's bridge, Old Sava bridge, oldand New Railway Bridge) and the construction of the sixth began in late 2008. European route E75, with five grade separations, including a new double-looped one at the Belgrade Arena, goes right through the middle of the settlement.
The municipality of Novi Beograd covers an area of 40.74 square kilometers (15.7 sq mi). The main physical characteristic of Novi Beograd is its flatness, which poses a high contrast to the old Belgrade which is altogether built on 32 hills. Except for its western section, Bežanija, Novi Beograd is built on terrain that was essentially a swamp when construction of the new city began in 1948. For years, kilometers long conveyer belts were transporting sand from the Danube's island of Malo Ratno Ostrvo, almost completely destroying the island in the process, from which only a small, narrow strip of wooded land remains today. Thus, it is romantically said that Novi Beograd is actually built on an island.
Other geographic features are the peninsula of Mala Ciganlija and the island of Ada Međica, both on the Sava and the bay of Zimovnik (winter shelter), engulfed by Mala Ciganlija, with the facilities of the Beograd shipyard. The loess slope of Bežanijska Kosa is located in the western part of the municipality, while in the southern, the Galovica river-canal flows into the Sava.
Though it has no forests in the real sense, of all urban municipalities of Belgrade, Novi Beograd has the largest green areas, with a total of 3,47 square kilometers, or 8,5 % of the territory. Majority of it is made by the large Novi Beograd-Ušće park. Latest addition to Belgrade parks, Park Republika Srpska from 2008, is located in the municipality, too.
As all of the communist governments considered heavy industry to be the drawing force of the entire economy, it for decades dominated Novi Beograd's economy too: Motors and Tractors Industry - IMT, Metallic cast iron factory - FOM,Beograd (formerly Tito) shipyard, large heating plant in Savski Nasip, MINEL electro-construction company, etc. All of these complexes will be removed and develop in business and residential areas.
In 1990s with the collapse of gigantic state-owned companies, Novi Beograd's local economy bounced back by switching to commercial facilities, with dozens of shopping malls and entire commercial sections. These activities are further enhanced in the 2000s. The 'Open Shopping Mall' or the Belgrade's flea market is also located in Novi Beograd.
New Belgrade become main business district in Serbia. Many companies choose New Belgrade for their headquarters such as Acer, Comtrade group, Imtel Computers, Microsoft , Delta Holding, DHL, Jat, OMV, Siemens, Société Générale,Telekom Serbia, Telenor Serbia, Unilever, Vip mobile, Yugoimport SDPR, Ericsson, Colliers, CB Richard Ellis, Cisco, SAP AG, Hewlett-Packard, Huawei... The Belgrade Stock Exchange is also located in New Belgrade. Other notable structures built not too long afterwards include convention and congress hall Sava Center, Hotel Jugoslavija , Genex condominium, Genex Tower sports and concert venues Hala Sportova and Belgrade Arena, and 4 and 5-star hotels Continental Hotel Belgrade , Holiday Inn, Hyatt Regency ,Tulip Inn,... Many structures are currently under construction like Ada Bridge, Airport City Belgrade, Vienna Insurance Group HQ ,Elektroprivreda_SrbijeHQ. ,IntesaHQ ,..
Now over 1,2 million square meters is under construction in New Belgrade. Estimated value of construction in next two and half years will be over 1,5 billion Euros. Currently finished projects in New Belgrade are Delta City, Sava City, Univerzitetsko Selo and Ušće Tower.
Neighbourhoods of Novi Beograd
Just like other municipalities of Serbia, Novi Beograd is further divided into local communities (Serbian: mesna zajednica). Apart from Bežanija and Staro Sajmište, no other neighbourhoods have historical or traditional names, as Novi Beograd didn't exist as such. However, in the five decades of its existence, some of its parts gradually became known as distinct neighborhoods of their own.
List of the neighbourhoods of Novi Beograd:
Several more neighbourhoods are currently under construction: Airport City Belgrade, Delta City, Park Apartments,Savograd and Univerzitetsko Selo.
First historical mention of human settlement on the territory of today's New Belgrade goes back to Turkish occupation of Serbia. It is found in the 1713 book Kruševski pomenik that notes the existence of ethnic Serb village named Bežanija as early as 1512. It also mentions the village had 32 houses, a number that grew to 115 by the year 1810.
Throughout the 18th century, Bežanija's population was exclusively Serbian, but after Ottomans got run out, the arrival of new occupiers, Habsburg forces, encouraged settlement of Germans, Hungarians, and Croats.
Between two world wars of the 20th century, communities sprung up closer to Sava River in Staro Sajmište and Novo Naselje.
Sajmište concentration camp
In 1941, German forces occupied much of the Kingdom. Nazi secret police, Gestapo, took over Sajmište. They encircled it with several rings of barbed wire turning it into what they referred to as "collection center" - a euphemism for a prison. It eventually became an extermination camp.
Until May 1942 Germans used Sajmište concentration camp to mostly kill off Jews from Belgrade and other parts of Serbia. From April 1942 onwards, prisoners were transported in from Jasenovac and Stara Gradiška concentration camps run by Croatian Nazi puppet regime - Ustaše. Partisans captured throughout Serbia were also sent to Sajmište. Detainees were also sent in from other parts of Yugoslavia, especially after major German offensives on briefly liberated territories. Liquidations of captured prisoners lasted as long as the camp existed.
Among others, prisoners included women, children and the elderly from Kozara region, entire Jewish families from Belgrade and other cities, Roma families, as well as entire populations of different Syrmian villages.
November 1946 report released by Yugoslav State Commission for Crimes of Occupiers and their Collaborators claims that close to 100,000 prisoners came through Sajmište's gates. It is estimated that around 48,000 people perished inside the camp.
On July 9, 1987, Belgrade City Assembly decided to make Staro Sajmište a cultural site, thereby protecting it from real-estate expansion development.
On April 21, 1995, a monument in remembrance of Sajmište victims was unveiled along Sava, one day ahead of the 50-year anniversary of Hitler admitting defeat on April 22, 1945.
It was on April 11, 1948, three years after World War II ended, that the ground was broken on a huge construction project, which would give birth to what is known today as New Belgrade.
Buildings sprung up one after another and by 1952, New Belgrade was officially a municipality. In 1955 the municipality of Bežanija was annexed to Novi Beograd. It was for years the biggest construction site in Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia and a huge source of pride for country's communist authorities that oversaw the project.
During first three years of construction alone, over 100 thousand workers and engineers from all over the freshly liberated country took part in the building process. Work brigades made up of villagers brought in from rural Serbia provided most of the manual labour. Even high school and university student volunteers took part. It was backbreaking labour that went on day and night. With no notable technological tools to speak of, mixing of concrete and spreading of sand were done by hand with horse carriages only used for extremely heavy lifting.
Before the actual construction started, the terrain was evenly covered with sand from the Sava and the Danube rivers in an effort to dry out the land and raise it above the reach of flooding and underground streams.
Among the first to go up was the SIV (Savezno izvršno veće) building, which housed the Federal Executive Council. The building has 75,000 square meters of usable space. Built during the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, it was also used during the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia before its dissolution. The building has been renamed Palace Serbia, and now houses some departments of the Serbian government.
First buildings for classic residential purposes were built as pavilions close to the area known as Tošin Bunar (Toša's Well). Studentski Grad (Student City) complex was also built around the same time to meet the residence needs of the growing University of Belgrade student body that came from other parts of Serbia.
Culture and education
For a settlement of such size, Novi Beograd has some strange cultural characteristics, influenced by the Yugoslav communists' ideas how a new and modern city should look like. If it can be understood why there were no churches built, a fact that a city of 250,000 has no theaters and only one museum (out of the residential area) is much less comprehensible, underlying the decades long Belgrader's feel of Novi Beograd being nothing more but a big dormitory.
Museum of Contemporary Art is located in Ušće which is also projected by the city government as the location of the future Belgrade Opera. The issue became highly controversial in the 2000s as the general feel of the population, ensemble of the opera and most prominent architects and artists is that it is a very bad location for the opera, while the city government stubbornly insists against the popular wishes.
For decades, the only church in the municipality was an old Church of Saint George in Bežanija. Construction of the new church in Bežanijska Kosa, the Church of Saint Basil of Ostrog, began in 1996, while the construction of the Church of Saint Demetrius of Salonica, which is considered the first church in Novi Beograd, began in 1998. Both are still not completed.
Novi Beograd offers rich night life along the banks of Sava and Danube, right up to the point where the two rivers meet. What started mostly as raft-like social clubs for river fishermen in 1980s expanded into large floats offering food and drink with live turbo folk performances during the 1990s.
Today, it is unlikely that one would walk a 100 meter stretch along the rivers without encountering a float. Some of them grew into entire entertainment complexes rivaling clubs in Belgrade's downtown core. While most of the floats used to be synonymous with turbo folk in what was essentially a stereotypical kafana setting, a recent trend saw many turned into full fledged clubs on water with elaborate events involving world famous DJs spinning live music.
Criticism and public image
Not much attention was paid to detail and subtlety when New Belgrade was being built during late 1940s and early 1950s. The objective was clearly to put up as many buildings, as fast as possible, in order to accommodate a displaced and growing post World War II population that was in the middle of a baby boom.
This across-the-board brutalist architectural approach led to many apartment buildings and even entire residential blocks looking monumental in an awkward way. Although the problem has been alleviated to certain extent in recent decades by addition of some modern expansion (Hyatt and Intercontinental hotels, luxury Genex condos, Ušće Tower,Belgrade Arena, Delta City, etc.), many still complain about what they see as New Belgrade's "grayness" and "drabness". They often use the derisive term "spavaonica" ("dormitory") to underscore their view of New Belgrade as a place that doesn't inspire creative living nor encourage healthy human interaction, and is only good for overnight sleep at the end of the hard day's work.
This opinion has found its way into Serbian pop culture as well.
In an early 1980s track called 'Neću da živim u Bloku 65', popular Serbian band Riblja čorba sings about a depressed individual who hates the world because he's surrounded by the concrete of New Belgrade, while a more recent local cinematic trend sees New Belgrade presented somewhat clumsily as the Serbian version of New York ghettos like those found in Harlem, Brooklyn and The Bronx. The most obvious example of the latter would be 2002 movie 1 na 1, which portrays a bunch of Serbian teenagers who rap, shoot guns, play street basketball and seem to blame many of their woes on living in New Belgrade. Other films like Apsolutnih 100 and The Wounds also implicitly paint New Belgrade in the negative light but they have a more coherent point of view and place their stories within the context of the 1990s when war and international isolation truly did push some Serbs, including those inhabiting New Belgrade, to desperate acts.