Getting the chance to travel anywhere around the world is no doubt a very useful experience for architects and architecture students. Not only could we see how other countries develop their building and construction industry but we will also learn the culture and reasoning behind it which is the ultimate essence that drives architecture in its very nature. Serbia, a country filled with history from the antiquity era to the modern days, has its buildings shaped around the culture that plays a big part in the civilians’ lives. Thus, these are 15 places we feel architects should visit in Serbia

1. St. Sava Temple

Located at the Vračar plateau in Belgrade, Serbia, it was intended to be the main cathedral as well as bishopric seat of the Serbian Orthodox Church. It is ranked as one of the largest churches in the world, the largest Orthodox church in Serbia while being one of the largest Eastern Orthodox churches. 

As the name suggests, it is dedicated to the founder of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Saint Sava. The architects – Bogdan Nestorović and Aleksandar Deroko – were finally chosen in 1932. It features the Serbo-Byzantine Revival or Neo-Byzantine architecture with Hagia Sophia being its main precedent. The first brick was laid in 1935 but was only completed in 2014 after seeing a lot of Serbia’s history including when Yugoslavia was in occupation in 1941. 

According to an article by Radio Television of Serbia (RTS), the temple might indirectly become the “New Hagia Sophia” following the wish of the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić after Hagia Sophia was converted o a mosque in July 2020. Following this possibility of change in its status, it is definitely one of the buildings for architects to visit in Serbia.

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St. Sava Temple ©Andrija12345678

2. Saint Petka’s Chapel

St. Petka’s Chapel is the oldest church in Belgrade or its bigger context the Pirot district in Serbia. It is situated about 10km west at the foot of the Belava Mountain and was declared as a Culture Monument of Exceptional Importance in Serbia back in 1967 which has led to the preservation of its frescoes and architecture in 1979. 

The frescoes had undergone the final restoration phase somewhere between 1975 & 1978 by a picture restorer named Zdenka Živković. From the outside, it presents the ordinary look of a chapel made of stone but the fresco inside is the highlight of this historical building. 

In the 19th century, a narthex featuring an open wooden porch was added to the chapel. There are many historical details behind the St. Petka’s Chapel that adds to its value and perhaps even more valuable to architects interested in conservation.

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Church of St. Petka before reconstruction ©Nebojsa Boric

3. The Belgrade Fortress

According to an article by Politika Online, The Belgrade Fortress is estimated to receive over 2 million visitors yearly from all foreign, domestic, or Belgrade local visitors. With that estimation, it is known to be the most visited tourist attraction site. 

This stone fortress is located in Stari Grad (literally “Old City”) which is one of the municipalities of Belgrade. It has existed over a long course of time and had seen much of Belgrade’s history with some sources saying from way back in the Classical Antiquity era and built by the Eastern Roman Emperor, Justinian the Great and Stefan Lazarević. 

There are 4 sections to the fortress with two of those sections making the fortress itself. On this very note, there are lots for architects to discover within the fortress such as Ružica Church (literally “Little Rose Church”) that was built in the early 15th century and much more that we definitely couldn’t fit them all in this single article.

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Belgrade Fortress, Kalemegdan Park, Belgrade, Serbia ©Andrija12345678

4. Prince Mihailo Monument

The monument of Prince Mihailo could be found in the main Republic Square in Belgrade with the right hand pointing towards Old Serbia. It was made by the Italian sculptor, Enrico Pazzi in 1882. 

It is considered the oldest memorial and declared as a Monument of Culture of Great Importance in 1979 which puts it under the protection of the Republic of Serbia. Being in the capital of Serbia, we could look at this magnificent work of art and reflect upon the city that is built around it.

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Prince Mihailo Monument ©Goran Aleksic

5. Oplenac

Oplenac or also known as St George’s Church in Oplenac is a church-cum-mausoleum of the Serbian and Yugoslav royal house of Karađorđević. It was founded by King Peter I of Yugoslavia. It could be said to follow the Morava style which flourished in the Serbian Late Middle Ages. It is located at the top of the Oplenac Hill in Topola. It features five domes with all of the facades in white marble. 

Different elements of the church were imported from other countries such as the mosaic of the portal that was made in Venice or the floor made in Munich. Much like the aforementioned St. Petka’s Chapel, the insides of the Oplenac is filled with paintings of various figures such as King Peter I. It also features an icon patterned after Da Vinci’s Ultima Cena (The Last Supper).

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Crypt of the Oplenac ©Pudelek

6. Crkva Svetog Marka (St. Mark’s Church)

Crkva Svetog Marka is a Serbian Orthodox Church built in the Serbo-Byzantine Style much like the aforementioned St. Sava Temple. However, different from St. Sava Temple that was based on Hagia Sophia, the precedent for the current form of St. Mark’s Church is the Gračanica Monastery. 

One apparent distinction between St. Mark’s Church and St. Sava Temple is that St. Mark’s Church has much more modest and less-noticeable domes. It is located near the Parliament of Serbia in Belgrade. It was dedicated to the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Mark. It was built by Belgrade architects, Petar And Branko Krstić and was completed around 1940. 

Before having the appearance it has today, the earlier, old church was made of wood but was heavily damaged in the 1941 German bombing of Belgrade. As it was the largest Serbian church before St. Sava Temple had surpassed it, it is truly one of Serbia’s gems that architects must visit.

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Crkva Svetog Marka ©ZoranCvetkovic

7. Avala Tower

Avala Tower is a telecommunications tower located on Mount Avala, Belgrade. The current tower was a reconstruction from 2006 after the original tower, destroyed in 1999 during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. Its design was made by architects Uglješa Bogunović and Slobodan Janjić. It features an enclosed observation deck located at 122m height above ground. Its cross-section is an equilateral triangle which is rare with its legs making a tripod to symbolise the Serbian tripod chair also known as tronožac. 

In 2004, Radio Television Serbia (RTS) started a series of fund-raising to rebuild the tower. Many parties had joined efforts in collecting money for the reconstruction and at the end of 2006, RTS announced the commencement of the reconstruction with over €1 million. The current tower is approximately 2 meters higher than the original tower with reinforced concrete being the main material.

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Avala Tower ©Wander-Lush

8. Gradska Kuca (City Hall) at Subotica

The City Hall dominates the centre of Subotica and becomes a landmark of the city. It was designed by Budapest architects, Marcell Komor and Dezső Jakab following the Hungarian Art Nouveau architecture. It was built between 1908 and 1910 with a symmetrical plan consisting of four entrances that leads to four inner courtyards or atriums. It features a tower with a viewing platform that sees a great extent of Subotica and its surrounding. 

Filled with patterns and arts that could resemble the cultures of the community, that makes it a wonderful venue to hold services or functions such as concerts, weddings or even important events. With its location at the centre of the city, it is no doubt that architects should pay a visit to see this wonderful Serbian building whenever they are in Subotica.

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Gradska Kuca ©visitsubotica.rs

9. St. Michael’s Cathedral

St. Michael’s Cathedral is a Serbian Orthodox cathedral church located in the old part of Belgrade. In short, it is known just as Saborna crkva (literally “the cathedral church”) which is more common than its formal name. It is among the important places of worship in Serbia and in 1979, it was declared as a Cultural Monument of Exceptional Importance. 

Several elements of the interior, such as the gold-plated iconostasis, were done by  Dimitrije Petrović, a sculptor while elements such as the icons on the iconostasis were painted by Dimitrije Avramović, a preeminent painter in his era. 

St. Michael’s Cathedral also contains a treasury that keeps applied art objects such as golden products from the 18th and 19th centuries and other objects that have high historical and cultural value. Being one of the biggest and oldest religious buildings in Belgrade, it is a treasure worth seeing by architects during their visit to Serbia.

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St. Michael’s Cathedral ©Ulrich Latzenhofer

10. Monastery of Ljubostinja

This monastery at the small valley of the Ljubostinja river is a Serbian Orthodox monastery that is dedicated to the Holy Virgin. It was founded by Empress Milica and is believed to have been built between 1388 and 1405. It features a dome and was built in trimmed stones with plaster added to the façades and painted as an imitation to masonry using stones and bricks. 

It could be said that it follows the Morava Style and was built by Rade Borović. It also hosts a highly valuable iconostasis, painted by Nikola Marković later on in 1822. Not all paintings of the monastery are preserved which among the ones being preserved are the portraits of Prince Lazar and Princess Milica. Although it is not the biggest or oldest place of worship in Serbia, it is still worthy to be visited while you’re in Serbia.

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Monastery of Ljubostinja ©Tekiii

11.Bali-Begova Mosque

Bali-Begova Mosque does not look like the typical mosque with extravagant domes but it could be said that it still follows the Ottoman architecture style. This masonry mosque is located in Niš, Serbia. The mosque features a single dome on top of the main praying hall with arches on the façades that leads to the entrances. 

Being a bit further away than the surrounding buildings, the quiet location of the mosque gives tranquillity to the visitors and worshippers who enter it. This modest appearance and the tranquillity that it brings makes it a valuable work to be visited in Serbia.

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Bali Begova Mosque ©Wikimedia Commons

12. The Church of Holy Emperor Constantine and Empress Hellen

The Church of Holy Emperor Constantine and Empress Hellen is located at St. Sava Park. As the name suggests, it is dedicated to Emperor Constantine who is the Roman emperor born in Niš, and also his mother Helena. The contemporary form of the church makes it distinct from the other churches mentioned before as it shows how it is not built in the same era as the other historical ones.

A great time to visit this church would be on 3rd June every year as many religious, cultural, and even social events happen in a celebration dedicated towards the Holy Emperor Constantine and his mother Empress Helena. The church becomes the host for central events such as The Divine Liturgy and Procession.

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The Church of Holy Emperor Constantine and Empress Hellen ©TripAdvisor.com

13. Kula Bogojvar (Bogojvar Tower)

The Bogojvar Tower or Owl’s Tower was built in 1891 located in Palić which is approximately 7km away from Subotica. It oversees the nearby Lake Palić and the surrounding vicinity including Villa Lujza. It is part of a local nobleman’s – Lajoš Vermeš – great legacy. He built various facilities including a sports complex with the will to revive the Olympic Tradition. 

Some of the facilities still exist on the shores. The tower was intended as an accommodation for the competing athletes in the Olympic Games. Its Swiss Art Nouveau style features interesting architectural languages such as the decorative pepper tile roof. It is not open for reservations to the public now but the nearby Villa Lujza is and it is worth staying for people who are interested in witnessing the great legacy of Lajoš Vermeš themselves.

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Kula Bogojvar ©Miljan Simonović

14. Menrat’s Palace

This palace in Novi Sad was made by architect Lipot Baumhorn. It follows the Art Nouveau Style and had been targeted for demolition several times especially during the construction of Mihajlo Pupin Boulevard. It is an accommodation able to be reserved by the public and the sculptural façade is very suitable for the purpose of attracting people alongside its strategic location in the city

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Menrat’s Palace (Novi Sad) ©TripAdvisor.com

15. Church of the Ascension, Belgrade

The church is located in downtown Belgrade and was declared a cultural monument in 1969. The church is surrounded by important buildings such as the Building of the Finance Ministry and Beograđanka. Its completion in 1863 was made possible by donations from the public. 

It features one of Belgrade’s air raid shelters beneath it. It was designed by Pavle Stanišić and Jovan Ristić following Romanticism with its precedents coming from old Serbian monasteries. One of the distinct features of the church is its black Hungarian marble stairs. The interior is filled with paintings and works done by figures such as Nikola Marković and Andrej Bicenko. As it was partially built due to military complex, it had also served as a military church in Serbia

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Church of Ascension ©Sinobador
Aiman Zafran Mohammad Tarmizi
Author

Aiman Zafran is a Malaysian architectural assistant who graduated with BA (Hons) Architecture from the Manchester School of Architecture. With interests in computational design, technology & psychology, he’s always curious about how far we could stretch the limits of architecture & improve the lives of people. For him, thinking through words is as useful as drawings when it comes to understanding architecture.

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