June 30, 2009

Former Main Telephone Exchange in Belgrade

The Former Main Telephone Exchange (Kosovska Street 47 in Belgarde) is a unique building, made in 1908 in the spirit of serbian-national style. The architect was Branko Tanazevic (1876-1945).
He combined byzantine elements, secessionist elements and moravian style elements in his buldings and created artistically intreesting bulidng that wer representative for serbian identity. He didn't do it in a traditional way but more in a contemporary way. In its time, the buildings lookt really modern.

In the Telephone Exchange, Tanazevic he experimented with an asymetrical facade composition, an secessionistic cuppola, neo-moravian vents, colored surfaces and bas-relief pattern. For the decorative elements he applied pseudo-medieval rosettes and checker-board fields. I his works he often collaborated with decorator Dragutin Inkiostrij (1866-1942).

Another wellknown work from Branko Tanazevic is the "Vukova zadužbina" (Vuk Karadzic's foundation) built in 1913. It's in Kralja Milana 2 in Belgrade. Also this is a good example of serbian-national architecture style. Tanasevic was also often mentioned as a representative of Art Nouveau (Secession Style).

Serbian-national style in architecture (here a link in serbian)

Branko Tanazevic was one of the representative architects who stood for this building style popular between 1850 and the first WW.
Style carachteristics are elements of the serbian-byzantine style that were created first for church architecture. The church architecture was always a symbol also for national identity. With the serbian-national style this byzantine elements found its place also in profane architecture.

June 25, 2009

Spasovdan in Decani Monastery

Writing about Visoki Decani monastery is a big thing. It's one of the most meaningful buildings in the Kosovo and Metohija province, it's in the UNESCO world heritage list (of endangered sites) and it's a very spiritual place. So where to start?

On one side there is the basic information adapted from wikipedia:

Visoki Dečani Monastery is a major Serbian Orthodox monastery, situated in Metohija, 12 km south from the town of Pec. Its cathedral is the biggest medieval church in the Balkans which contains the largest preserved monument of Byzantine fresco-painting.
The monastery was established in a chestnut grove by king Stefan Dečanski in 1327. Its original founding charter is dated to 1330, however. Next year the king died and was buried at the monastery, which henceforth became his popular shrine. The construction activities were continued by his son Stefan Dusan until 1335, but the wall-painting was not completed until 1350.
The cathedral, dedicated to Christ Pantocrator and built from blocks of red-purple, light-yellow and onyx marble, was constructed by master-builders under the Franciscan monk Vitus of Kotor. It is distinguished from other contemporary Serbian churches by its imposing dimensions and obvious Romanesque features. Its celebrated frescoes comprise some 1000 portraits and cover all major themes of the New Testament. The cathedral contains original 14th-century wooden iconostasis, hegumen's throne and carved sarcophagus of king Stefan.
In 2004, UNESCO listed the monastery on the World Heritage List, citing its frescoes as "one of the most valued examples of the so-called Palaeologan renaissance in Byzantine painting" and "a valuable record of the life in the 14th century".

On the other side, there is a lot to say about the actual situation of this outstanding monastery. Taking into consideration that since 1999 more than 160 cultural monuments and religious buildings in Kosovo and Metohija were collapsed, damaged or burnt down, it ask us to pay a special attention to this delicate situation!

The monastery needs renovation and preservation works. But there are real and dangerous risks for the realisation of the project:

Due to the political, ethnic and religious intolerance there is a real danger of the vandalism and destruction from 1999, 2004 and 2007 being repeated. UNMIK and KFOR have not protected the monastery complex and didn’t prevent following "guerilla" attacks and rocket attacks. Protection of the monastery fraternity and monastery complex must be guaranteed!

Unsafe and difficult access to the church complex for Serbian experts make it impossible to realise the reconstruction project. Physical security has to be provided.

Documentation archived in temporary Kosovo institutions – The Institute for Cultural Heritage Protection Kosovo and The Institute for Cultural Heritage Protection Prizren is not available. It has to be made available to the Serbian experts.

Post-War Life of Decani Monastery

Despite its humanitarian role during the war in which the brotherhood saved lives of many Kosovo Albanians, today's Albanian community in general still remains hostile to the monastery as well as to the Orthodox Christian Church in general. Decani monastery is exposed to various kinds of pressures, threats, hate speech and most preposterous infamation. (read here how life is in the monastery)

Among the enormous quantity of freskos, there is one that is truly famous: it's the one that represent the Nemanjic dynasty (here the link to wikipedia, where you can see the fresko)

1327 - Erection of the church

1348 – Completed fresco painting
1947 – Proclaimed to be a cultural monument
1990 – Listed as a cultural monument of special importance
2004 - Registered on the World Heritage List

The Decani Monastery has multiple values: monumental, cultural, historical, religious and national andpresents one of the most essential symbols of national identity of the Serbian people and other ethnic groups in Kosovo and Metohija and wider. People from this area, from Kosovo and Metohija, Serbian Republic and all around the world respect The Monastery Decani as a religious, cultural, historical and monumental site.

The monastery is the spiritual, cultural and educational centre in this area and wider. Due to the current political situation, lack of care and maintenance and lack of finance the monastery complex is continuously deteriorating.
By the reconstruction, conversion, rehabilitation and revitalisation of the monastery complex the monastery will again become a historical, religious, cult and cultural site. Also needed are works that will improve the monastery fraternity’s living conditions and protect the monastery complex and its surroundings.

All these picturs were taken by my friend Johanna who took part in the Spasovdan liturgies held in the church of the monastery.

June 12, 2009

Avala Tower near Belgrade almost finished!

Recently a friend told me that he can see the Avala Tower from his 7th floor apartment in Vidikovac and that it looks almost finished. So I went to the beobuild site and downloaded the most interesting pictures to share here and to show how the works are going on.

It's planned to open the tower to the public on the end of July 2009. Works started in the beginning of 2007, so it would just 2 and a half year construction time.

(The original tower took about 4 years).

Here an older post I wrote about the tower where you find basic informations.

June 3, 2009

Hram Svetog Vasilija Ostroskog in Belgrade

This modern orthodox church is situated in the New Belgrade area, on
Bežanijska Kosa neighborhood. It's a work from one of my favorite Serbian modern architects of the older generation: Mihailo Mitrovic.

I wrote already about one of his most brilliant buildings: the Genex Tower Building (West Gate Belgrade) and this church is just another of his ingenious projects!

Besides this was the first church build in the Novi Beograd teritory after WW II. Bezanijska Kosa is one of the newer neighborhoods of Belgrade. Tt formed only in the 18th century, and it grew very fast when New Belgrade was build.

Mihailo Mitrovic followed the old tradition for christian orthodox tradition and the glow of old serbian master builder, and choose the form of the rotunda with low annex buildings, a high clocktower in the west and an apsis with altar in the east.
The composition of the church is traditional but the materials and the building techniques are very modern. The church was built in 1996 and was then consecrated in 2001.

The church patriarch sacred the project, expressing also his advise, that church architecture should go furhter than just copy/paste old church forms. So Mihailo Mitrovic suggested a modern solution but in harmony with the canon of church buildings.
In the end of 1997, the church main building was errected including the high bell tower. The work went on even in the face of 1999 NATO bombing. Some bombs fell down in the vicinity but dind't injured the buidingsite.
The freskoes in the interior are made by Dragomir Marunic, who in 2003 had finished to decorate 1000 m2 in "secco technique". His way of decoarating the iconostasis was in the morava school style used in medieval Serbia.

The windows were decorated with antique glass-works of the famous glass-atelier "Stanisic" from Sombor and t
he mosaic works were done by Vlado Todorovic.

picture above from

This picture shows the amazing works from Dragomir Marunic. Picture from Dragomir Marunic's website.

June 1, 2009

My first award!

Today I got a very apreciated award for creativity from emo-serpica of http://pusti-pricu.blogspot.com. Thank you!

Emo-serpica is an engineer from Belgrade and has also another very inspiring blog (emo-serpica) that I regularly read. I'd like to reccomend you to visit them both.

Now it's my turn to choose 3 blogs I would like to pass on the award.
Of course it's not easy, because there are so many creative blogger doing a great job, and I follow quiet a lot of them. I thought for that, to consider blogs that are creatively dedicated to Serbian culture and tradition. (Even if some of the blogs I would have given the award, already got it!) so here's my choice:

1. Mirjana http://blogserbia.blogspot.com

2. Nemanja http://juznapruga.blogspot.com/

3. Adam

If you don't already know this blogs, I advise you to give a look.
Mirjana is a very creative Serbian who lives in Denmark and writes and shows her way to preserve and live Serbian culture. Nemanja covers a rather unknown area from Serbia (surrounding of Grdelica) with his blog, and mixes creatively researched informations and personal impressions. Adam is a British expat who has made Belgrade his home. In his blog he creatively shares pictures and experiences.

My dear friends on this list above, if you like this award I would like to ask you to:

1. Take the award and put it on your blog
2. You make a link to my blog and write you got the award from me
3. Choose 3 blogs you would like to reward for inspirationa and creativity.

Hvala i srećno!