The oldest parts of the historic centre of the town nestle directly against Kalemegdan. From the 19th century on, the administrative and political centre of Serbia in the time of Prince Miloš gradually developed here. The Cathedral (Saborna crkva) was built on the site of the old Church of the Archangel Michael (crkva Arhangela Mihaila), and nearby were the important institutions of the Serbia of that time. You can read more about the Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarchate and the Cathedral on the “Religion” page.
One of the few preserved old parts of the town is Kosančićev venac which is located in the southwest of Old Belgrade on a mound facing the Sava River. Back in the middle ages, a Serbian settlement began to develop here with its own church and graveyard. At the beginning of the 19th century this part became the heart of the town from and around which the wider area of Belgrade grew. Today only a few buildings and other features remain which preserve the spirit of old Belgrade. Kosančićev venac, with its cobblestone street, courtyards and buildings snuggling amongst the concrete edifices of a newer age, has preserved a part of the long-gone atmosphere. For this reason it is often used as a location for historical films. In it are the Rectorate of the University of Arts in Belgrade, theCommercial Gallery of Belgrade (“Prodajna galerija “Beograd”), as well as the remains of what was once the National Library, which was demolished in the air-raids of 6th April 1941.
The residence was built by Prince Miloš Obrenović in 1831 in the Serbian-Balkan style from plans produced by the master builder Nikola Živković. It was the home of Miloš’s wife Ljubica and their children, Milan and Mihailo. Today it is a museum and has been restored to its original 19th century appearance.
This building near the Cathedral, in the typical Serbian-Balkan style, was built by the merchant Naum Ičko from the materials that were then in most common use – wood and clay. The building was bought by Prince Miloš Obrenović who presented it to his personal physician who then opened it as an inn. The building has changed hands on a number of occasions and its name has variously been: “Tomina kafana” (“Toma’s Inn”), “Kod pastira” (“At the Shepherd’s”), “Kod Saborne crkve” (“At the Cathedral”), until eventually the church authorities requested that the inn sign be removed as “a sacrilege against the Church of God.” The owner then put up a temporary sign with a question mark which has remained its name to this day.
(Kralja Petra I 12)
This was built in 1890 from plans drawn up by the architect Konstantin Jovanović with a lavish interior in the Italian Renaissance style. It still serves its original purpose today.
(Kralja Petra I 7)
This was built during 1905 and 1906 from the plans of Jelisaveta Načić, the first female architect in Serbia, in the Neo-Renaissance style, on the site of an older building dating from 1846 which housed a school and a reading room.
(Gavrila Principa 5)
This was built in 1830 and has been preserved as the last surviving example of an old Belgrade town house. It got its name from its owner Manak Mihailović, a merchant from Macedonia. The first floor was used as living accommodation while the ground floor housed an inn and a bakery, and later on a post office and various tradesmen’s workshops. Today it is a museum housing an ethnographic collection.
After the Belgrade Fortress, Dorćol is the oldest part of Belgrade. It once covered a small part of the Danube town directly by the crossroads formed by the streets of Cara Dušana (Vidinski sokak) and Kralja Petra (Dubrovačka). This is how it got its name, from the Turkish word “dörtyol” which literally means “the place where four roads cross”. Over the course of time the name was applied to the whole area from Students’ Square to the Danube and from Skadarlija to Little Kalemegdan.
The oldest town house that has been preserved is the one dating from 1724 at Cara Dušana 10, while the most important buildings from the 19th century are the Museum of Vuk and Dositej, St Sava’s House (Dom Svetog Save), the Bayrakli Mosque (Bajrakli džamija), the Church of Aleksandar Nevski (crkva Aleksandra Nevskog), as well as the building of the Pedagogical Academy (today the Pedagogical Museum).
Dorćol was once the home of Turks, Austrians, Jews, Greeks, Cincars and natives of Dubrovnik as well as Serbs. In the 19th century the Jewish quarter was located between the present-day streets of Tadeusa Košćuška, Braće Baruh and Dunavska. The Turkish quarter with its Zerek (a word of Arabic origin meaning “uphill”) straggled around the crossroads formed by what are now known as the streets of Cara Dušana and Kralja Petra. It was inhabited by the most influential Turks. Their houses were hidden by spacious gardens. From 1806 onward, after Belgrade was liberated, the most well-known leaders of the uprising lived here.
Dorćol is now mainly a residential area and a favourite place for lovers of the river to walk. The Quay on the banks of the Danube next to the Sports Centre is especially popular. Strahinjića Bana street with its array of cafés and restaurants is a popular place for evening entertainment.
In 1862 the murder of a young boy at the Čukur Fountain lead to fighting between Serbs and Turks, which was followed by artillery bombardment of the town by the Turkish army. A monument to mark the event was erected on the site in 1931.