Art things to do in Belgrade
In a city full of history, museums, monuments, and galleries there are so many things you can see, especially if you are an art lover. The spirit of Belgrade is what foreigners like the most.
Don’t miss these 15 things in Belgrade!
Construction works on the temple dedicated to one of the greatest Serbian saints started in 1895, thanks to the Society for the Construction of the Church of Saint Sava on Vracar. The place was chosen according to the location where it is believed that in 1595 the Turks under Sinan Pasha burned the relics of Saint Sava, the first Serbian archbishop. The idea was to move the smaller church, located in the same place, to build a temple. Construction was financed by voluntary contributions from citizens, as well as domestic and foreign organizations.
The Millennium Tower, Gardos or Sibinjanin Janko’s tower, was erected in 1896 as one of the seven monuments built by the Austro-Hungarian authorities to mark the 1000th anniversary of their arrival in the area of the Pannonian plateau. The tower in Gardos marked the imaginary southernmost point of the monarchy, and in addition to this, two monuments were erected in Hungary (Pannonhalma and Opusztaszer) and Slovakia (Nitra and Devin) and one in Romania (Barosevo) and Ukraine (Mukachevo). Seven structures correspond with the seven tribes from which the Hungarian people originated, and the Gardos Tower is the only preserved monument from this group outside the territory of Hungary.
Apart from the Temple of St. Sava, which is reviewed in a separate article, the capital of Serbia has numerous churches that deserve to be visited, and here is a shortlist of those you shouldn’t leave out during your Belgrade visit.
The Cathedral Church of St. Michael the Archangel is one of the largest churches built in the Principality of Serbia (1815-1882) and one of the oldest churches in Belgrade. It was erected across the Building of the Patriarchate, and it represents a national symbol of independence and liberation from Turkish slavery.
St. Mark’s Church
One of the most beautiful churches in the capital was built in the Tasmajdan park in the Serbo-Byzantine style. The building was erected according to the architectural project of Petar and Branko Krstic between 1931 and 1940. An interesting fact is that at the time of its construction, there was no larger Orthodox church on the territory of Yugoslavia.
Ruzica Church (Church of Virgin Mary)
Although there are no reliable facts about the exact date or who was responsible for the construction, Ruzica is considered the oldest church in Belgrade. It was built on the Kalemegdan Fortress on the site of the namesake church from the period of Despot Stefan Lazarevic (1377-1427), which was destroyed by the Turks during the conquest of Belgrade. The current building was a gunpowder magazine in the 18th century and a military church from the 19th century.
The Victor Monument
The statue of the Victor, the symbol of Belgrade and one of the most photographed monuments of the capital, is the achievement of one of the most prominent Yugoslav sculptors, Ivan Mestrovic. It was built in 1928 on the plateau of the Upper Town of the Belgrade Fortress, in honor of the tenth anniversary of the breakthrough of the Salonika Front.
Monument of Gratitude to France
This magnificent piece of Ivan Mestrovic is located at the end of the main alley of Kalemegdan Park. It was commissioned as a sign of gratitude and honor of cooperation between Serbia and France during the First World War. The bronze sculpture was placed on the current site in 1930.
Black Horses at Play
The bronze group displayed in 1939 at the very entrance to the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia is a masterpiece made by the Serbian sculptor Toma Rosandic.
Monument to the Unknown Hero
Another masterpiece by Ivan Mestrovic that adorns the capital was created in the period between 1934 and 1938.
Monument to Prince Mihailo
Prince Mihailo Obrenovic was considered the liberator of the Serbian people from Turks, who, as a skilled diplomat, managed to regain many Serbian cities (Belgrade, Smederevo, Kladovo, Uzice, Sabac…).
National Museum in Belgrade was founded in 1844, thanks to the initiative of the Head of the Ministry of Education and “the father of Serbian drama” Jovan Sterija Popovic. It was built on the Republic Square on the site of the famous Belgrade tavern Dardanelles, which gathered bohemians and intellectuals of the capital. The building dates from 1903, and it was built for the Treasury Directorate. Subsequently, the Fund Mortgage Bank was transferred to it, and since 1952, the museum has been housed in the building.
The collection consists of more than 400,000 archeological and artistic objects from prehistory, antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the New Age.
The idea to display the majority of Yugoslav art of the 20th century in the same place was born in 1958, and it was implemented by the decision to establish the Modern Gallery. The following year, for the needs of the collection, an edifice was built in New Belgrade (at the mouth of the river Sava), according to the architectural project of Ivan Antic and Ivanka Raspopovic. The construction works lasted from 1960 to 1965, and after their completion, the Modern Gallery accepted the current name: the Museum of Contemporary Art.
The building in Toplicin venac, which houses the Museum of Applied Arts, was built between 1927 and 1929 in the academic style. Stevan Belic created an architectural project, and the facade was made according to the design of Nikola Krasnov. The building used to house the Spanish Embassy, law offices, and fashion salons.
Art collections are divided into several departments:
– Period furniture
– Metal and jewelry
– Textile and costumes
– Ceramics, glass, and porcelain
– Collection of contemporary applied arts and design
– Photography and applied graphics
– Collection of architecture, urbanism, and architectural design.
Pavle Paja Jovanovic (1859-1957) was a Serbian painter, a member of several prestigious institutions, including the Serbian Royal Academy, and one of the most prominent domestic artists in history. The opus of the great representative of Serbian academic realism includes over 1,100 pieces, with an accent on the topics related to folklife and history, which influenced the culture and historical consciousness of his compatriots. The famous Serbian painter found his place in the book “The 100 Most Prominent Serbs”.
The Museum of History of Yugoslavia was built in Dedinje in 1996 by merging two institutions: the Memorial Center “Josip Broz Tito” and the Museum of the Revolution of Yugoslav Nations and Ethnic Minorities. The institution had the same name until the end of 2016 when it was renamed the Museum of Yugoslavia, as it is called today. It consists of the House of Flowers, the Old Museum and the Museum “May 25th”.
The legacy of Petar Lubarda is a representative collection that the artist bequeathed to the city of Belgrade. It is located in Iliciceva Street no. 1, in a villa assigned to the artist to be used until the rest of his days. The institution belongs to the Heritage House from Belgrade since 2007, and from 2008 to 2011, extensive restoration and conservation works were carried out, followed by opening the collection to the public.
Prince Milos Obrenovic (1780-1860), the founder of a modern Serbian state, built a residence on the estate in Topcider in 1831. The chief architect of his time, Hadzi-Nikola Zivkovic, was engaged in the project. The prince spent his last days in this residence, and after his death, the structure fell into oblivion. After the First World War, it housed the Museum of Hunting and Forestry for a short time and subsequently the Museum of the First Serbian Uprising. Since 1966, the Residence of Prince Milos belongs to the Historical Museum of Serbia.
According to the idea of Prince Milos Obrenovic (1780-1860), between 1829 and 1830 were carried out construction works on the mansion which was supposed to be the home of his family and his residence in Belgrade. The edifice was erected under the supervision of Hadzi-Nikola Zivkovic, the prince’s chief architect, in Kneza Sime Markovica Street no. 8, near the Patriarchate building. The residence was named after Milos’s wife Ljubica, and in addition to the princely couple, their sons Milan and Mihailo also lived there.
Svetogorska Street number 17 in Belgrade preserves the home of the extraordinary artistic value of the famous Serbian statesman and diplomat Jevrem Grujic (1826-1895). Grujic was the initiator of Serbian liberalism and a central figure of the St Andrew’s Day Assembly. The building which houses his collection today was erected for Jevrem’s daughter Mirka – the court lady of Queen Marija and the president of the Circle of Serbian Sisters. Descendants of this prominent family, willing to present their art collection, opened their home to the public in 2015, known as the Museum of Jevrem Grujic. It is the first private home declared a cultural heritage monument of the city of Belgrade (1961).
The Royal Compound in Dedinje was built as the residence of the Karadjordjevic dynasty, and it consists of the Royal Palace, the White Palace, and the Royal Chapel of Saint Andrew the First-Called.
Passionate art lovers and collectors, architect Milan Sekulic (1895-1970) and his wife Pava bequeathed a collection of icons to the city of Belgrade in 1970, and today it represents the largest collection of its kind in Serbia. The assortment is the property of the Belgrade City Museum and it is situated in the apartment of Sekulic’s family in the center of the capital (Uzun Mirkova Street no. 5) in a building that the architect personally designed. In addition to icons, the Sekulic family bequeathed to the city several items from the domain of applied art, primarily handmade furniture designed by the owners themselves.