January 2, 2010

Slavija Circle in Belgrade


Trg Slavija (Трг Славија) is not known for its beauty or for architectural masterpieces, the first impact with the enormous circle is the impression of a traffic chaos (one of the few places in Belgrade where cars, trams, trolleybus and normal buses meets)  in the middle of peculiar buildings.

At the first glance I liked just one building: the old Hotel Slavija build in the manner of social realism in 1962.

In these days however it has lost a bit of its glamour, it's run as a two-stars Hotel but lacks all kind of charm.
Also the economic pressure takes a toll on the buildings: their facades are covered  with  big advertisments that change also the look of the place.
Also the nearby newer building (built in 1989, the Slavija Lux, an upgrade version of the original Slavija) is covered by sponsored ads.

Look to Hotel Slavija and to Slavija Lux (Foto Tanjug)

The place that still in the 1880's was a large pool on the eastern outskirts of the city, where the inhabitants of Belgrade went hunting wild ducks and boating on the pond, became now a rather expoited lot.
It probably started when a well-known Scottish businessman and Nazarene Francis Mackenzie, bought a large piece of land above the present square and made lots for sale. Mackenzie built a house for himself at the place (where the old "Slavija" cinema used to be) which in 1910 was turned into the Socialist People's Center, a gathering place of the worker's movement. The other, smaller buildings at the corner of Kralja Milana and the square, where the famous cafés "Tri seljaka" and "Rudničanin" used to be, were destroyed before and during World War II.
After World War II, the new Communist government re-buried the remains of the leading Serbian Socialist Dimitrije Tucović at the central square plateau in 1947 and a bronze bust of Tucović was erected (in communist times the place was named Square of Dimitrije Tucović and after 2000 it went back to its old name "Slavija" (meaning "land of the Slavs").

View to the streets Makenzijeva and Svetog Save in a postcard from 1936. Slavija was already a lively place.

Another old postcard of Trg Slavija. On the right is the "old" Hotel Salvija.

Between advertisement covered buildings and advertisement covered buses originates an interesting and colorful chaos.

Here an interesting 360° view of the square (use link )

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