Savamala is only half a mile from Belgrade´s city center. It has a colorful history as port and center of trade and commerce and was once the most modern and urbane quarter of the city. Today, Savamala shows a rich heritage of valuable historical buildings from the 19th and early 20th century and a few relics from the Ottoman Empire. Many historical buildings were lost in the Second World War when Belgrade, in 1941 and 1944, suffered under air raids – first by the German and later by allied forces.
Savamala also hosts major city infrastructure, including the nearby main train station, the bus terminal and two of the city’s main bridges, connecting the city center to New Belgrade over the River Sava. However, Savamala is economically underdeveloped and socially disadvantaged, and has a reputation as a home to outcasts, prostitution, and criminality. Many buildings are vacated and in a state of dilapidation. The former Sava port is used as a cemetery for abandoned hulks. Karadjodjeva Street, in days gone by one of Belgrade´s most glamorous streets, today serves as a main traffic artery, used by heavy trucks –a constant source of noise and pollution– on route to the new Danube port and destinations across the River Danube.
The reasons for the poor condition in which Savamala is now found reach back into the era of socialist Yugoslavia, when the quarter was disregarded as the legacy of feudal and capitalist eras.
More than thirty years after Marshal Tito’s death and more than ten years after the Balkan wars of the 1990 have ended, the sad state of Savamala has hardly improved. However, the city authorities and private investors are aware of the untapped potential of Savamala. The prospect of a future “creative quarter” of Belgrade as a business and tourist attraction exits the imagination of planners and decision-makers alike. Cultural Initiatives such as the Cultural Center Grad (KC GRAD), Mikser Festival, or the Design Incubator Nova Iskra are forerunners of this development.
However, due to economic and political circumstances, the promising future of new master plans seem a distant prospect. Many property issues are still unsolved and further complicated by difficult legal procedures. Due to limited public resources, urgent investment in infrastructure and public spaces has been put on hold. The combined impact of these challenges and the current financial crisis has effectively resulted in the collapse of the real estate market and investor economy.
Savamala´s future prospects seem unclear. The post-war experience, however, shows that a combination of weak public authorities and influential tycoons would leave very little room for socially and culturally sustainable development in Savamala. But perhaps, the times of crises are times of opportunity, too. Liberated from the economic and bureaucratic restraints of a prospering real estate market, Savamala currently offers ideal conditions to put alternative forms and approaches of city quarter development to the test.
2 Brace Krsmanovica Street
The Spanish House used to be a customs office, and was later turned into a navigation museum. After the shift from a planned economy to a market economy, the building was taken over by a private investor, who intended to have it renovated and turn it into a hotel. The old inner walls were almost completely removed, and some new elements were added. However, the investor eventully fell into financial difficulties and had to give up on his idea of a hotel. In 2012 Goethe-Institut Belgrade was given a temporary licence to use it, and they transformed the Spanish House by means of the so-called temporary architecture into a space for cultural events. Top
4 Brace Krsmanovica Street
The European Center for Culture and Debate KC Grad was established due to joint efforts of the independent Belgrade cultural institution Cultural Front (Kulturni front) and the Amsterdam-based "Felix Meritis" Foundation. KC Grad organizes exhibitions, conferences, debates, book promotions, workshops, music events, film showings and other events.
Kraljevica Marka 12
Das Manak-Haus ist eines der fünf traditionellen osmanischen Wohnhäuser, die heute noch in Belgrad zu sehen sind und die vorherrschende osmanische Architektur der Vergangenheit erkennen lassen. Es wurde Anfang des 19. Jahrhunderts als Wohngebäude und Schankwirtschaft (Kafana) des Kaufmanns Manak Mihailovic errichtet. Heute gehört das Gebäude zum Ethnographischen Museum.
12 Kraljevica Marka Street
Manak's House is one of the five residential buildings in the traditional Ottoman style that can still be seen in Belgrade. They help us visualize what the prevailing Ottoman architecture was like. It was built in the early 19th century as a residential building and an inn for the merchant Manak Mihailovic. Today this edifice belongs to the Ethnographic Museum (Etnografski muzej).
50 Karadordeva Street
Bristol Hotel was built in the classicist style in 1912. It is one of the oldest hotels in Belgrade.
46 Karadordeva Street
Mikser is considered to be one of the most popular Serbian festivals, and it is expected to become a platform for strengthening cultural and creative industries in South-East Europe. Mikser Haus provides space for conferences, seminars, workshops and other activities. Many events of the festival are held at Mikser Haus.
14 Gavrila Principa Street
Behind a small window with red and white check curtains, there is an authentic and charming candy store – the Bosiljcic Confectionery Store, where sweets have been made since 1936. This confectionery store is one of the oldest shops of that kind in Belgrade. Those who visit the shop dive into the tempting world of sweets, where they can find boxes of chocolates, colorful lollipops of various shapes, gingerbread hearts, jelly bonbons and other goodies.
43 Gavrila Principa Street
The activities of NOVA ISKRA are focused on professionalization of design in Serbia and other countries in the region and to the connecting designers and manufacturers.
Branko's Bridge (Brankov most) was built in 1955 on the ruins of King Alexander's Bridge (Most kralja Aleksandra) (1934-1941), which was destroyed during the Second World War. Officially, the bridge was named the Bridge of Brotherhood and Unity (Most bratstva i jedinstva); however, the citizens of Belgrade called it Branko's bridge, after Brankova Street, which flows into it. Brankova Street was named after Branko Radicevic, a poet, a famous representative of the Serbian Romanticism.
The catacombs are actually a labyrinth of underground passageways beneath the very center of Belgrade. The Belgrade catacombs were built in Roman times, and for a long time, they were used for storing ammunition and food, served as wine cellars, as shelters and dressing stations for the wounded. The Second World War was the last time they were used for those purposes. Top
59 Karadordeva Street
The G12HUB Gallery (G12HUB) is an art and technology center dedicated to the promotion and development of intermedia art and performance. The G12HUB's goal is to provide funds for digital research and production as well as to encourage and promote experiments which are something between art, science and live performance.
Kraljevica Marka 1
1 Kraljevica Marka Street
As we can see from the gallery's name, the Magacin Gallery (Warehouse Gallery) is located in the former Nolit's Warehouse, in the vicinity of the main intercity bus terminal. The gallery is the centre of the independent Belgrade cultural scene. The Magacin Gallery is also a venue for exhibitions, concerts, public discussions, film showings and many other cultural and artistic events.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Karadordeva Street was considered to be the most fashionable street in Belgrade. The street was named after Karadorde, the leader of the First Serbian Uprising (1804-1813), who led his insurrectionists to a storm against the city walls exactly along this way.