Way back to past: New (Novi) Belgrade
New Belgrade is located on the left bank of the Sava. Administratively, its northeastern part begins on the right side of the Danube, just before the confluence of the Sava and the Danube. It is located northwest of “old” Belgrade, with which is connected by 6 bridges (Branko’s Bridge, Gazela, Old Sava Bridge, Old and New Railway Bridge, and the newest, via Ada Ciganlija, opened in 2011).
The European road E-75 passes through the center of New Belgrade. The main physical feature of New Belgrade is its flat terrain. Apart from Bezanija, its western part, New Belgrade was built on an area that was basically a swamp when the construction of a new city began in 1948. For years, sand from the Danube Small War Island was brought to New Belgrade, until a small narrow forested belt of land remained, which still exists today.
Other geographical features of New Belgrade are the Ada Ciganlija peninsula and the island of Ada Medjica, both on the Sava and Zimovnik Bay, which surrounds Mala Ciganlija, where the Belgrade shipyard facilities are located. The light plateaus of Bezanijska kosa are located in the western part of the municipality, while the Galovica canal flows in the southern part, which flows into the Sava.
Of all Belgrade’s city municipalities, New Belgrade has the most green areas.
The number of inhabitants living in this Belgrade municipality is around 220,000.
New Belgrade is one of the few settlements that was planned. According to the urban setting based on international ideas, architecture of international spirit, New Belgrade is a unique city of “light, sun and future”. It is characterized by wide boulevards and so-called blocks, residential neighborhoods, about we will write in this article. New Belgrade has 200 solitaires and six hundred large residential buildings. One of the most famous is the “West Gate of Belgrade”, on the right side of the highway towards Sremska Mitrovica, with two skyscrapers connected by a bridge at the top.
The first historical trace of the settlement of the territory of present-day New Belgrade leads to the time of Turkish rule. The Krusevo monument (1713) records that the village of Bezanija existed in 1512. There were 32 houses at that time, and by 1810 their number had increased to 115. In the 18th century, the population was exclusively Serbian. After the departure of the Turks, during the Austro-Hungarian Empire, other nationalities also immigrated: Germans, Hungarians and Croats. Between the two wars, Novo Naselje and Staro Sajmište sprang up in the vicinity of the village of Bezanija. As early as 1923, the first urban plan was built, which foresaw that Belgrade would expand and move to the left bank of the Sava. Conditions did not allow this idea to materialize.
The construction of New Belgrade began three years after the Second World War, on April 11, 1948, when the cornerstone of New Belgrade was laid, and in the spring of 1948, a settlement surrounded on all sides by sand and swampy soil began to be built on the left bank of the Sava. The buildings sprang up one after the other, and four years later (1952) the municipality of New Belgrade was founded. The area has been turned into the largest construction site in the country, this part of Belgrade has unexpectedly quickly become a “city within a city”. It became the largest municipality in the Old Yugoslavia.
As we have said, the biggest characteristic of New Belgrade are the blocks, residential districts that got their names by their numbers. The authors of the blocks are urban planners Jovan Mišković and Milutin Glavicki. The first buildings in New Belgrade are Pavilions – the first New Belgrade block 1. Their architect was Branko Petričić, who worked out a plan for New Belgrade from the railway to the Danube. The part across the track is not tertiary, except for the first row of blocks. He named the blocks for that territory by numbers, starting from Block 1 across the road from the municipality, which was the first to be built, then Block 2 towards Zemun, Block 3, Block 4,…
Mišković and Glavičić worked on a plan to expand Belgrade towards the Sava and Bezanija. And that part is called Blokovi (Blocks), before that Pig Beach. When you look at that part of the construction, the question is how did the numbering go at all? Why is Block 50 going, followed by Block 6, or why is Block 45, and opposite it 72. Jovan Mišković explained that it was done so that urban planners and people on the ground could best understand each other, that the municipality subsequently expanded and that it was reason for skipping numbers. He had no other explanation. Even those who have been involved in the whole story from the beginning are not sure what logic was applied when assigning the numbers.
On the left bank of the Sava, in three five-year plans, a new city was to emerge with embankments, wide streets, numerous promenades and all the modern requirements of modern urbanism. New Belgrade is divided into nine construction sites. The Palace of the Presidency of the Government and the hotel building on the Danube are the largest started facilities. The first building was named construction site number VII, the second construction site number VIII. These buildings were to be erected on unsafe, underwater terrain. It was therefore necessary to overcome the problem of the soil, which dies even under the weight of small buildings, let alone such colossi, which should be raised on it. Many constructors gave up such work in advance. But among those who were supposed to do the job was a larger number of those who believed in their own strength. The workers’ brigades worked continuously day and night for two whole years and came to positive results. Before the still unclear forms of certain parts of the future city sprang up in that part, persistent examinations were performed on that terrain. Experts also came to the machines for construction in the wetland, which were similar to the towers for drilling oil sources. Experts called them simply “makare”. About thirty such machines broke into the ground, sometimes 30m deep, into pylon poles. How deep the pylons will go was determined by technicians and surveyors, who examined the terrain and performed preliminary soil drilling. When the pylons penetrated into the depth, as much as it was necessary, cement was poured into their cavity and iron rods “anchors” were placed. That is how the pillars on which the building of the Presidency of the Government rests were placed. Only after that, the construction of the concrete structure began. For the delivery of materials needed for the construction of the building, a railway was set up, somewhere with several tracks. Trains and trucks brought thousands of tons of various construction materials every day, which quickly disappeared either in a wooden structure for reinforcement, or in the spacious jaws of a huge “Wolfkran” crane, which had the task of delivering concrete to the left and right wings of the building. In 1948, the entire right wing was raised. In 1949, the entire construction was completed and the palace of the Presidency of the Government was placed under the roof. The construction of a representative hotel, which lay on the swampy ground, was similar. Another construction system was applied to it. Instead of pillars, the building rests on a thick reinforced concrete slab, which maintains the safe position of the building with proper loading. On the hotel building, the planned task for 1949 was completed with 122%.
The student settlement is called construction site number IX, which included not only the student’s residential buildings, but also two five-storey residential buildings with a hundred apartments for employees, then the Faculty of Forestry, Economics, Law, Hydrometeorological Service, Cultural Center and many other facilities. Construction site number IX worked on 262 facilities for two years, most of which were completed quickly. Among other things, apartments were built for 5,000 professional workers of the company “New Belgrade”. At the end of July 1949, this construction site won the transitional flag of the federal government, as the best in the country. The student settlement in the current framework includes four L-shaped blocks, which were completed at the end of 1949. Each of their buildings is 102 meters long and can accommodate 4,000 students.
Of the three construction sites at the time, the largest was a residential colony – construction site number VI. Its facilities were not the largest but there were the most. 42 buildings were built on it. This housing colony comprises 2,800 apartments.
An average of about 100,000 people, young people, experts, took part in the construction of New Belgrade every year.
When in 1952. formed the municipality of New Belgrade, had 8,000 inhabitants. In order to continue and more successfully build New Belgrade, in April 1956, the Directorate for the Construction of New Belgrade was formed. Since 1960, activities on the construction of residential buildings have started again, and in 1962, the final regulation plan was built.
The third phase of the construction of New Belgrade was marked in 1968, when the youth work brigades continued the construction of residential and business facilities.
Today, New Belgrade is the most urbanized municipality in Serbia. Business and financial center. Also, it is still being built. New settlements are still emerging. One of them is Belgrade Waterfront, on the bank of the Sava. Belgrade itself is one of the few cities (capitals) that lies on two large, international rivers, which makes its architecture and beauty unique.