Savamala – Belgrade’s oldest neighbourhood

Savamala –Belgrade’s oldest neighbourhood

When in Belgrade, you’ll want to spend some time exploring the popular Savamala district. With its old mill, old style architecture and some of the city’s best clubs and restaurants, this neighbourhood is transforming into an innovative, vibrant pearl.

The Savamala district of Belgrade tells a tale for anyone who knows how to listen. Look at the old buildings, walk on the once so glorious streets, and imagine how the oldest neighbourhood of the city used to be. The days of its former glory are past, but from its ashes comes a new beginning for this exciting place. The people of Belgrade have not forgotten Savamala, and by once again filling it with life and popular culture, it is growing to be one of the hottest areas of the city.

A district arises

A little bit of history: It all started when the Austrians conquered Belgrade fortress at the beginning of the 18th century. Then, the inhabitants were pushed out and divided into two towns. At the Sava riverbank, south of the fortress, a town of Serbs emerged. Austrian people, as well as the Germans, decided to settle at the east side. Savamala got its name by combining the name of the river with the Turkish word ‘Mahala’. This means settlement, city area or quart.

The area came to play a very important role in the Serbian Uprising against the Turks, which controlled the Belgrade Fortress at that time. After leading Serbs in the Second Serbian Uprising, Miloš Obrenović ruled the city as Prince of Serbia from 1885-1839. He had a key role when it came to develop Savamala. On his orders, the old dilapidated houses were torn down. The construction of new richly decorated buildings began.

A new beginning

The look of Savamala started to change slowly into a beautiful place. The Prince decided to build his own residence here, which years later became the Ministry of Finance. He also supported the construction of other significant buildings in the district. Like Grand Brewery and the entertainment centre, Djumrukana, which included a theatre. Savamala evolved even more when it became an important river port in the beginning of the 20th century and rich artisan families moved in.

World War I and II also struck down upon Belgrade, and Savamala was heavily damaged. There are still many buildings left though, telling about the rich past of this city area. After the WWII, some of it was reconstructed, but most of the architectural masterpieces were never renewed. The years went by, and this once so beautiful neighbourhood was neglected. The story could have ended here. Luckily it didn’t.

Up from the ashes

Not long ago, Belgrade’s inhabitants started to rediscover this particular district and its important cultural history. They weren’t prepared to give up just yet. The area experienced a cultural explosion and opened its doors for artists, alternative crowds, hipsters and the young cultural elite of the city. The old mill Savamala is now promoted as the new cultural district of Belgrade. Several superb cafés and nightclubs have also contributed to filling it with life and activity. Example – which you should discover – are Beograd Cultural Centre, housing a café and a shop on the ground floor, plus a large gallery and art library on the upper floor, and Disko Klub Mladost, Brankow or Čorba – the location of various night clubs.

There is no telling what exciting and inspiring events will happen here in the near future. You simply must visit and explore for yourself. Surrounded by history and close to all the main sights and attractions, the Radisson Collection Hotel, Old Mill Belgrade in the city centre is the ideal base to exploring Savamala.

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