March 21, 2010

Serbia's Pavilions at World Exhibition 1900 in Paris

World Exhibitions have always been a great opportunity for a nation to get international exposure. Also for Serbia, the pavillons were a character of national presentation on the international stage, where the changing of paradigms were represented in the architecture of the pavillons.

Paris 1900 Exposition Universelle International
Serbia got a prominent location direct at the Seine river near the Pont de l'Alma and presented itself with a church-like pavillon in full Serbo-byzantine style (it almost looks like St. Mark's Church in Belgrade). It was a collection of national myths, a display of pre-ottoman grandeur, a journey in the past. It looked like a medieval serbian-orthodox monastery idealizing the image of the past.
But what was the reason for Belgrade architect Milan Kapetanovic (in collaboration with the ministry of construction architect Milorad Ruvidic), who never used that style in his architecture and would never has used it before, to produce such a project?

Interior of the Pavilion
Train-wagons full of domestic goods from Serbia 
were brought to Paris to be displayed in the pavillon

In that time Serbia was a monarchy, from 1815 to 1903 Serbia was ruled by the House of Obrenovic (except from 1842-58 when it was under the House of Karadjordevic) and Istanbul had finally recognized this monarchy (after ottoman had occupied the territory for a long time). In 1882 Serbia was raised to kingdom (under Milan Obrenovic) and was accepted from all the important powers of Europe. After ottoman occupation and finally a independent kingdom, it's not surprising, Serbia wanted to celebrate its roots a present a pavillon in the most typical Serbian style. 

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