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The Metamorphoses of a City with a View

The Metamorphoses of a City with a View
By Ana Lazovic -

As an amalgam of built volumes, every city tells its special story. If the history of architecture reflects the history of man, then a study of Belgrade - coveted and conquered by so many down the ages - is to review a past that has been written, wiped out and rewritten numerous times. Architecture explains, symbolizes and helps us understand. Belgrade is a wounded city, the hub of a hateful war and the object of “targeted destruction” by NATO in 1999. Today, Belgrade is also a city in the making in terms of its architecture, urban planning, and socio-economic development. Yet its new forms seem to aspire to “non-identity”. Large foreign investment - thanks to an infinite series of tax reforms - has provided a dynamism that has allowed the country to considerably reduce its public debt, stabilize the exchange rate and curb unemployment. On the real estate front, the government has issued several decrees allowing private investment on public land. However, the new architectural projects thus triggered do not seem to be part of a clear urban development plan. As a result, Belgrade today presents as a medley of different urban identities. Belgrade and the Aesthetic of History The capital of Serbia, Belgrade is also the country’s most populous city with more than 1,500,000 inhabitants in its metropolitan area. Standing at the confluence of the rivers Sava and Danube, it is surrounded by water on three sides. Its strategic position as an important crossroads has made it a coveted location since ancient times. Connected to the Alpine and Dinaric regions via the Sava, but also linked to the Middle East via the Morava and Vardar river basins, it has been contended by waves of settlers. The Celts arrived in the third Century BC. They were followed by the Romans, who made Belgrade a strategic hub. In Justinian times, fortifications were built to stop the barbarians crossing the Danube. Starting with the early Middle Ages - and despite, or...

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