Savamala, Belgrade

I have just returned from Belgrade, the Serbian capital, where I have been doing research for the fourth edition of my Bradt Serbia guide that will be published next summer sometime. Belgrade never was the white city that its name (Beo = white, grad = city) suggests but some parts are certainly more grey than others. One such ‘grey area’ is the Savamala district that lies along the traffic-choked thoroughfare of Karadjordjeva close to the railway station and River Sava port. Heavy traffic, air pollution and decades of neglect have seen to it that, at first glance at least, this would appear to be one of the more down at heel neighbourhoods in the city. A closer look, though, reveals a wealth of wonderful, if slightly crumbling, architecture in Secessionist style.

The best of all the buildings here, albeit in poor shape these days, is the Geozavod building that started life as an Austro-Hungarian stock exchange before later becoming Yugoslavia’s State Geological Institute. Normally it is impossible to get inside as the building is considered to be unsafe but as it has been used to house this year’s 53rd October Art Salon I managed to gain access thanks to my artist friend Ivana.

Evidence of the building’s original use can still be seen on the ground floor, where as well as solid German-made safes, the exchange counters are still in place, their  marble and finely engraved glass pristinely preserved. Elsewhere a broken clock and cupboards filled with dusty tomes tell of its time as a geological institute. A portrait of Tito adds to the feel of a vanished world -the once powerful and influential nation that was Yugoslavia.

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About East of Elveden

Hidden places, secret histories and unsung geography from the east of England and beyond
This entry was posted in Balkans, History, Travel and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Savamala, Belgrade

  1. Evocative photographs. Certainly capture a sense of faded grandeur. Interesting to see the little intimations of nature clinging on in almost all of the exterior shots. The plant on the roof line, of the Geozavod; the little patch of green underneath the lampost…

  2. dianajhale says:

    Fascinating to see this now. I never managed to get there. Just bought a book yesterday on Central European Architecture c1870-1918 (my favourite period) so can see how it compares!
    The glass screen is interesting.

  3. Martin says:

    I spent a few happy days in Belgrade back in the early 80s as part of an inter-rail trip around Europe, doesn’t look like it’s changed at all!

  4. Terrific images, Laurence. A few years ago I spent some time in Savamala and was drawn to its faded and evocative mood. There was nowhere else in the city where I found quite the same feeling, like it had been cut adrift somehow. Thanks for sharing this view, and amazing to see inside the Geological Institute!

  5. Bill Murray says:

    Welcome back Laurence and thanks for these photos. Looking forward to reading more.

  6. Thanks to all all for your thoughtful comments.

  7. Hello, very nice photos and article abot Belgrade. I myself run a blog and a city guide about Belgrade.
    I would like you to be our guest blogger on http://www.stillinbelgrade.com
    We could re-blog this post and you can promote your tourist guide on our blog or something more about Belgrade!!

    If you are interested this is my email stillinbelgrade@gmail.com

    Regards,

    hope to hear from you

  8. Hi Christine (or is it Dragana?), thanks for your comment on my Savamala post. I am happy that you reblog this post on http://www.stillinbelgrade.com, and it would be nice if you could mention my Serbia book ton your blog oo. I am currently busy updating my Serbia guide for its new (4th) edition, which will be published later this summer.
    All the best, Laurence

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