Today there are two palace complexes in Belgrade, – the one in town comprising the Old Palace (Stari dvor) and the New Palace (Novi dvor), and the one in Dedinje, which includes the Royal Palace (Kraljevski dvor) and the White Palace (Beli dvor).
The Old Palace, which was the home of the Serbian Obrenović dynasty was built between 1882 and 1884 and designed by the architect Aleksandar Bugarski in the Academic style of the 19th century. It was built with the intention of surpassing all the previous residences of Serbian rulers, for use by the newly created Kingdom of Serbia with King Milan Obrenović as head of state. After reconstruction following the heavy damaged suffered during both world wars the appearance of the Palace differs significantly from the original design.
From 1903 to 1914 the Palace was the residence of the Karađorđević dynasty. From 1919 to 1920, sessions of the interim National Assembly were held there and right up until 1941 it was used for court entertainment and receptions for high ranking foreign visitors. Renovation after the Second World War took until 1947, after which it housed, in turn, the Presidium of the National Assembly, the government offices of the Federal National Republic of Yugoslavia, the Federal Executive Council, and since 1961 it has been the home of Belgrade City Assembly.
The external architecture of the building makes it one of the most beautiful creations of the Academic architecture of the 19th century in Serbia. The most elaborate section is the façade facing the garden with its protruding terraces which give a closer link to the garden. The most characteristic motives on this façade are the Caryatids at first floor level, which stand above the terrace at the ends of the façade and carry the richly ornamented tympanums of the windows at each end. The caryatids appear again on the façade facing Kralja Milana, and below them are a row of palace columns. On the façade that faces the garden the columns alternate with richly decorated windows.
From the central hall one enters first into the Red Drawing Room where your attention will probably be drawn most of all by the Portrait of a Girl (“Portret devojke”) painted by Đura Jakšić in 1862. On the left as you enter the Yellow Drawing Room a facsimile of a letter from Pope John VIII dated 16th April 878, the oldest written document mentioning the Slavic name of Belgrade, ‘Beograd’, is displayed. In the adjoining Yellow Drawing Room there are a number of exquisite paintings by Sava Šumanović, Jovan Bijelić, Petar Lubarda, Miodrag-Bata Mihailović, Ljuba Lah, Jovan Zonjić, Peđa Milosavljević, Peter Omčikus and Vasa Pomorišac, as well as sculptures in wood by Rista Stijović. From the Yellow Drawing Room one enters the Ceremonial Hall, a ballroom which leads out onto the terrace. The interior of the Drawing Room was designed by Belgrade City Museum in the 19th century and is in the spirit of the times when the palace was built.
Today the Old Palace houses the Belgrade City Assembly and the Mayor’s Office.
The New Palace was built for the residential needs of the Karađorđević dynasty during the period from 1911 to 1922. The building was designed by the prominent Belgrade architect Stojan Titelbah, on the site of the demolished Palace of the Prince Regent Mihailo Obrenović.
The building of the New Palace with its four floors and characteristic angular spire is one of the finest architectural achievements of Belgrade from the period after the First World War. On the first floor were the King’s and Queen’s private offices: bedrooms with adjoining apartments, studies, drawing rooms, a library and dining room. On the second floor were the English and Japanese Drawing Rooms, bedrooms and a library. The furniture and décor show the distinctive styles of Louis XIV, XV and XVI.
The New Palace was the official residence of King Aleksandar Karađorđević from 1922 to 1933, after which the Palace was handed over at the wish of the King to Prince Pavle’s Museum, which moved into the building in June 1934. The museum’s collection was housed in the New Palace until 1948 when the building was made available to the National Assembly.
Today the New Palace is the Office of the President of the Republic of Serbia.
The Royal Palace in Dedinje was built during the period from 1924-1929 by order of King Aleksandar I as the official royal residence. It was designed by the architect Živojin Nikolić and the academician Nikolaj Krasnov from the Royal Academy. Today it is the home of the heir to the throne, Aleksandar II and his family.
It is a large impressive villa of white stone in the Serbian-Byzantine style. The Palace is surrounded by pergolas, terraced gardens, fishponds, a pavilion and a bandstand. A superb view of Dedinje, the Košutnjak woods, Topčider and Avala stretches out from the crest of the hill where the Palace stands.
The stone-paved Ceremonial Hall is decorated with copies of frescoes from the monasteries of Dečani and Sopoćani. The Blue Drawing Room is decorated in the Baroque style, while the Golden Drawing Room is in the Renaissance style, as is the Large Dining Room. The marble columns in these rooms bear a luxuriously coffered wooden ceiling with bronze chandeliers. These rooms are decorated with valuable paintings, wooden chests and articles from the royal collection. The rooms of the Great and Small Libraries are decorated in the same Renaissance style.
The building of the White Palace, which is part of the Royal Palace complex, was built to the wishes of King Aleksandar I as a residence for his sons. It was built from 1934 to 1937 to a design by the architect Aleksandar Đorđević. The ground floor of this Classical building contains a Ceremonial Hall and a suite of Drawing rooms decorated in Louis XV and XVI style with Venetian chandeliers. It also contains the Palace Library, which used to contain 35,000 books, and the Ceremonial Dining Room furnished in Chippendale style.
Within the Palace complex on the south side is the Palace Family Chapel which is linked to the main building by a columned portico. The Chapel is dedicated to St. Andrej First-called (Sveti Andrej Prvozvani) (the patron Saint of the Karađorđević family). The chapel is modeled on one in the Monastery of St. Andrija at Treska in Macedonia, which was built by Andrija, son of King Vukašin in 1389. The Chapel was designed and built at the same time as the main building.
The Tourist Organization of Belgrade has a regular schedule of guided tours around the Palace Complex in Dedinje.