Belgrade for art lovers

The Residence of Princess Ljubica

One of the Most Representative Examples of Civil Architecture of the First Half of the 19th Century in Belgrade.

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.

Prince Mihailo lived in this residence until 1842, and afterward, various state institutions were situated in it. Extensive restoration works which adapted the building for the permanent exhibition were carried out between 1971 and 1979. Today, the residence belongs to the Belgrade City Museum.

The Residence of Princess Ljubica

The edifice contains architectural elements typical for the Serbo-Balkan townhouses. It has three levels: basement, ground floor, and first floor, as well as a four sloping side roof which carries an octagonal dome that served as a watchtower. Premises of the ground floor and the first floor are grouped around a central hall similar to the old-fashioned enclosed courtyards, typical for oriental construction. In the middle of the facade, facing the street and the courtyard side, is doksat, an architectural element resembling a porch typical for Balkan and Orient. European architectural influences can also be recognized on the building, especially in the rooflines, pilasters, and profiled cornices.

The main room on the ground floor is a semicircular divanhana, an outmoded living room equipped with minderluk (Turkish sofa). In its central part is a brazier, a stove that heated the room.

Divanhana – an outmoded living room

Princess Ljubica’s room contains the only authentic piece of furniture that the family used – sofra, a low dining table. Among the displayed items in this room, the dominant one is the shirt known as dolamica in which the prince’s son Mihailo was baptized.

Princess Ljubica’s room

Next to the princess’s room is an old-fashioned bathroom known as amamdzik, and the Turkish bath (amam) with underfloor heating, was added in 1836.

An old-fashioned bathroom

On the same floor is a room equipped according to the Turkish-Balkan style, a Turkish room, and a salon Barlovac whose furniture is typical for Biedermeier.

The upper floor was completely occupied by private rooms, and therefore divanhana at this level was used for family gatherings. There are also two salons and a workroom with Biedermeier furniture. The larger salon is adorned with a Portrait of Savka Obrenovic (the third daughter of Milos and Ljubica) painted by Miklos Barabas in 1845. The small Biedermeier salon was typical for respectable Serbian houses of that time, and the workroom deserves special attention thanks to 13 lithographs by Vilhelm Kyhn made at the end of the 19th century.

Divanhana – Private rooms

The first floor also contains a neo-baroque salon, a neo-rococo working room, and an Alt Deutsch salon with a Portrait of Mihailo Obrenovic made by Stevan Todorovic (1865-1868). On the same level is a salon decorated following the principles of the style of Napoleon III, enriched with solid wood furniture decorated with nacre and a luxurious mirror which was gradually becoming a symbol of social status. The salon of Queen Natalija (wife of King Milan Obrenovic) was decorated in the same style and equipped with expensive furniture, which reflects the influences of the European courts.

The third divanhana is the smallest in size, and it served as an intimate family room.

In September 1980, a permanent museum exhibition entitled “The Interiors of 19th-Century Homes in Belgrade” was set up in the residence. It consists of more than 450 pieces of applied arts of the 19th century that belonged to members of the Obrenovic family as well as other prominent families in Belgrade.

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