|Belgrade - Vracar|
Vračar (Serbian Cyrillic: Врачар) is an urban neighborhood and one of 17 municipalities which constitute the City of Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. With an area of only 297 hectares (734 acres), it is the smallest of all Belgrade's (and Serbian) municipalities, but also the most densely populated. Vračar is one of the three municipalities that constitute the very center of the city (together with Savski Venac and Stari Grad).
The neighborhood of Vračar is located on the top of the Vračar plateau, partially in the easternmost section of the municipality of Savski Venac as a result of a series of administrative changes of municipal boundaries after the World War II. Despite its small area, being located less than a kilometer away from downtown (Terazije) it borders many other Belgrade neighborhoods: the square and neighborhood of Slavija to the north, Palilula to the northeast, Čubura and Gradić Pejton to the east, Neimar to the south and the park and neighborhood of Karađorđev Park to the southwest. Vračar plateau is one of the highest points in downtown Belgrade
Name Vračar (derived from Serbian word vrač meaning the 'medicine man', 'healer') was mentioned for the first time in 1495 in Turkish documents. In 1560 it is mentioned as the Christian village outside the fortress of Kalemegdan with 17 houses. It is believed this village is the place where in 1595 the Turkish grand vizier Sinan Pasha burned at the stake the remains of Saint Sava, a major Serbian saint, to pacify and punish a rebellious population.
At the beginning of the 19th century Vračar, as a geographical term, referred to a much wider area, from the village of Savamala (present Mostar) on the west to the village of Paliula (present neighborhood of Karaburma), which means it used to cover at least three times larger territory than the municipality covers today. By order of prince Miloš Obrenović, an alternative city centre with western characteristics was designed and built here while city of Belgrade was still under Turkish rule and for three quarters an oriental town with all the characteristics of Islamic architecture. On the other hand, Vračar was built with broad streets and boulevards, first parks and monuments. It was housing all Serbian public buildings and state institutions in Belgrade, known as a place where the remains of the Serbian Saint Archbishop Sava Nemanjic were burned by Turks. The Masonic Temple on this site was destroyed during the German bombing of Belgrade on 6 April 1941. Today, it is the site of the biggest Christian Orthodox Cathedral in the world.
The Times on October 17, 1843 published a text full of exultations. 'Four years have passed since the time when I was last here, and how Belgrade has changed! I have hardly recognised it. The high belfry on the church (Cathedral) now screens by its shadow the Turkish mosques; many shops are now provided with new doors and glass windows, oriental clothing is more rare and houses with several storeys, in European manner, are being built everywhere'.
Many architects-baumeisters (builders) Germans, Czechs, Italians and the Serbians who appeared only at the end of the 1860s built new Serbian Belgrade in Vračar. After 1867, when Turkish military garrisons left the Belgrade fortress Kalemegdan they extended their architectural activities on the ruins of the Turkish houses (Stambol gate, Dorćol, Palilula) and on the ruins of the Serbian huts in the Sava river port, Savamala.
Since 1880s, the neighborhood was roughly divided into Zapadni Vračar (West Vračar) and Istočni Vračar (East Vračar), divided by the road of Šumadijski put (present Boulevard of Liberation). Since 1955 when municipality was officially split into these two, Zapadni Vračar later became core of the new municipality of Savski Venac while the term Vračar became synonym for Istočni Vračar only.
The most dominant feature of modern Vračar is the massive Temple of Saint Sava. Its decades long, troubled construction shaped not just the present appearance of the plateau, but also the skyline of the entire Belgrade. Plateau has been reshaped in the early 2000s, with fountains, marble access roads to the temple with pillars and children playgrounds added, while the already existing monument to the leader of the First Serbian Uprising, Karađorđe, was erected on a low, artificial hillock. The plateau is also the location of the National Library of Serbia and Karađorđev Park also begins here, while the craftsmen settlement of Gradić Pejton and the bohemian quarter of Čubura nearby.