|Native name||Улица кнез Михаилова (Serbian)|
|Length||1,000 m (3,000 ft)|
|Location||Stari Grad, Belgrade|
|Type||Spatial Cultural-Historical Unit of Exceptional Importance|
|Reference no.||ПКИЦ 1|
Knez Mihailova Street, properly Kneza Mihaila (Serbian : Улица кнез Михаилова / Ulica knez Mihailova or Улица кнеза Михаила / Ulica kneza Mihaila, English: Prince Michael's Street), is the main pedestrian and shopping zone in Belgrade, and is protected by law as one of the oldest and most valuable landmarks of the city. Named after Mihailo Obrenović III, Prince of Serbia, it features a number of buildings and mansions built during the late 1870s.
One kilometer long Knez Mihailova Street was protected in 1964 as the spatial cultural-historical unit, the first cultural monument of that type in Belgrade.In 1979 it was elevated to the Spatial Cultural-Historical Units of Great Importance, and as such is protected by the Republic of Serbia.
The street follows the central grid layout of the Roman city of Singidunum, as one of the main access roads to the city corresponds to the modern street today.Ihe main axis of urban development was along the street, which was the main route of communication (via cardo).
The original earthen and wooden fort stretched around the Studentski Trg and Knez Mihailova Street. The oldest Roman graves were discovered in this section, dated to the 1st and early 2nd century. Thermae were located in the Čika Ljubina Street. Also in the Čika Ljubina, remains of the house from the 4th century was discovered in 2008, which included the part of the floor and doorstep of the main entry door. Parts of the walls were decorated with frescoes.An aqueduct was used to conduct water from the modern Kumodraž area. At some point it was joining the aqueduct from the Mokri Lug and then continued further to the castrum. Both Mokri Lug and Kumodraž are hills, so the natural inclination allowed for the water to flow downhill to Singidunum. Aqueducts passed through the modern center of Belgrade, Terazije, and along the Knez Mihailova.
When digging for the future Rajićeva shopping mall began in 2004, remains of the antique and late antique layers were discovered, so as the remains of the southwest rampart route and double trench in the direction of Kralja Petra Street. The trench from the 3rd century was buried and full of coins, lamps, ceramics and jars. Next to this locality, at the corner of Knez Mihailova and Kralja Petra, an area paved with the cobblestone dating from the 2nd century was discovered. It was a public space, located right before the entrance into the fortress. During almost every construction in Knez Mihailova and the neighboring streets where digging is involved, remains are being discovered. In 2008 in Čika Ljubina Street remains of the house from the 4th century was discovered, which included the part of the floor and doorstep of the main entry door. Part of the walls was decorated with frescoes. Similar findings are discovered in Kosančićev Venac and Tadeuša Košćuškog. Remnants of the Roman castrum from the 2nd century were discovered beneath Tadeuša Košćuškog during the reconstruction in June 2009. They were conserved and reburied. In Cincar Jankova Street, five graves from the late 1st century were discovered so as the three canals. Archaeologists expected to find a southeastern route of the castrum ramparts, but due to the mass wasting in the area and the leveling of the terrain, the route was destroyed in time.
During Ottoman occupation, in the first half of the 16th century, the Ottomans repaired the old Roman aqueduct and built a new one along the street with drinking fountains, as the neighborhoods could not develop without the water. They also built gardens and five mosques with adjoining mahalas. When Austrians occupied Belgrade in 1717 they demolished the old houses and mosques and built new buildings.
Reigning prince of Serbia Alexander Karađorđević, built a drinking fountain (česma), which became known as the Delijska fountain, after the name of the street at the time. It was demolished and built three times in the 19th century. The fourth reincarnation of the fountain, which stands today, was built in 1987 within the scopes of a major reconstruction of the street, which adapted it into the pedestrian zone. The present fountain is not on the same location as the old ones and is not identical in terms of architecture, but kept many elements from the old projects.
The street wasn't a continuous thoroughfare at the time, but was a succession of smaller alleys. Apart from Delijska Street, which was named during the Ottoman times, other sections were named by the Ministry of the Interior on 8 February 1848: Kalemegdanska (section from the modern Kralja Petra Street to the Kalemegdan Park) and Vojvodina (from the Kralja Petra to the Terazije). A short section of the Delijska Street remained and is today parallel with the modern Kneza Mihaila. It is the only Belgrade street whose name survived from the Ottoman period.
In the middle of the 19th century, the upper part of the street bordered the garden of Prince Alexander Karađorđević. After the implementation of the 1867 city of Belgrade regulation plan by Emilijan Josimović, the street soon gained its current look and architecture. Josimović’s plan marked the beginning of the city’s broader metamorphosis from oriental to the western urbanism.Prior to Josimović, only a short part of what is today Knez Mihailova, called ″Delijska street″, actually existed as a street. Works on construction of the new street began in spring of 1869. Josimović's plan successfully transformed the existing incomplete trail into the proper street which directly connected downtown Belgrade with the fortress, thus establishing a direct communication between the inner and outer neighborhoods. City founded its first street naming commission in 1864. The commission worked for 6 years, and the Knez Mihailova was the first street they named.
Houses were built there by the most influential and wealthiest families of the Serbian society, most of them merchants. In 1870, two years after the assassination of Prince Mihailo Obrenović, the city authorities officially named the street - Ulica Kneza Mihaila (Prince Michael Street) instead of ″Delijska″.The Hajduk Veljko kafana situated on the street, was the first location where the Belgraders could hear the phonograph, in 1896, while in 1906 it became the first cinema in the city.
In the early 20th century, a wealthy merchant Vlada Mitić opened the first department store in Belgrade at No. 41. It was the first building specifically projected to be a large, modern store. Mitić implemented the novelties like the delay in payment and modernized advertising of the goods.
Young volunteers, members of the Youth work actions, participated in the street's reconstruction in 1949.In 1980, the detailed regulatory plan for the street and its historical surrounding was adopted, which expires in 2021.
In the late 20th century, from mostly shopping area it evolved into the cultural center of the city. In 1987 there was a major reconstruction of Knez Mihailova and its transformation into the pedestrian zone. After six months of construction works, the street was open on 20 October 1987. It was paved with the black granite slabs from Jablanica, while a drinking fountain, made of white marble from Venčac, was erected in memory of former Delijska fountain which was further down the street. Previously nonexistent oak avenue through the middle of the street was also introduced, so as vintage looking candelabra which resemble the historical, gas ones. Commemorative plaque for Emilijan Josimović was placed near the “Ruski car” restaurant. During the reconstruction, when the old pavement was removed, an old plaque dedicated to the young volunteers who reconstructed the street in 1949, was found and the two plaques are now exhibited next to each other.
The entire project of the reconstruction was developed by architect and urbanist Branislav Jovin. 940 m (3,080 ft) long section from "Ruski Car" to Kalemegdan Park. The section, 16 to 28 m (52 to 92 ft) wide and covering 13,500 m2 (145,000 sq ft), was to be paved with the 8 cm (3.1 in) thick slabs of Jablanica granite, but the commission opposed this. City monuments preservation institute, on the other hand, objected to the planting of the oak avenue, with 14 trees, because the street had no trees before the reconstruction either. Jovin managed to push both of his ideas. In 1988 area around the Palace Albania, Hotel Majestic and “Jadran” cinema were also reconstructed, and a new fountain and mini-amphitheatre were placed in the section of the street where it enters the Republic Square.Works began in May 1987, and were finished in six months, on 20 October. They also included introduction of the district heating which shut down 28 individual mechanical rooms in the street. Experts commission tried to change the project, especially paving of the
Reportedly, as of mid-2010s, much of the street's real estate is owned by Serbian tycoons of the day such as Dragan Đurić, Miroslav Mišković, Miodrag Kostić, Philip Zepter, Radomir Živanić, Vojin Lazarević, Tahir Hasanović, and Radivoje Dražević and it houses their respective business holdings.
In October 2020, a new, detailed regulatory plan was announced. The area is bounded by the streets Knez Mihailova, Kralja Petra, Uzun Mirkova, Studentski Trg, Vase Čarapića, Republic Square, Sremska, Maršala Birjuzova, Carice Milice, Cara Lazara, Gračanička and Pariska, and covers 18 ha (44 acres). Art historians and conservationists proposed the expansion of the Knez Mihailova's spatial unit (declared in 1964) to include Republic Square, green area along the Pariska Street and blocks surrounding Palace Albanija.
Knez Mihailova is a common meeting point for Belgraders. The street has been named one of the most beautiful pedestrian zones in South East Europe and is a constant buzz of people and tourists. Thousands of people stroll along the street every day as it is the shortest path from Terazije to Kalemegdan park and fortress.
The street is home to Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SANU), Instituto Cervantes, Goethe-Institut, Institut français de Serbie, as well as many other leading shops and several cafes.
In December 2006, BusinessWeek magazine included the street as one of Europe's notable Christmas shopping sites.One can find international clothing brands such as Mango, Zara and Zara men, Gap, Nike men and women, Replay, Diesel, Terranova, Sephora, New Look, Swarovski, Cesare Paciotti, Tally Weijl, Miss Sixty, Bata, Bally, Aldo, Adidas, Vapiano, Monsoon Accessorize and many more shops.
Furthermore, the representative offices of various airlines such as Aeroflot, flydubai, Emirates, Qantas, Turkish Airlines, Qatar Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Air France are located in Knez Mihailova.
In terms of real estate value, the property in and around Knez Mihailova Street is among the most expensive in Belgrade. The latest confirmation of this occurred in late November 2007 when the 485m2 parcel belonging to state owned company Jugoexport was sold for €15 million, which works out to some €32,000 per square meter (~ $35,741 as of August 2016 rates).
Near the end of the street, between Knez Mihailova and Uzun Mirkova, a large complex of Rajićeva Shopping Mall was constructed. It was the location of the house of politician Toma Vučić Perišić. It was demolished in 1950 and the trolleybus roundabout was built, named Rajićeva, after the street. In 2000 an architectural design competition for this location was announced and the winning project was the one by Milan and Vladimir Lojanica. In 2003 the trolleybuses were removed from the location and in 2009 the government's permit for construction was granted. The construction itself was troubled and long. Fellow architects were mostly against the project. Zoran Manević, former president of the Club of Architects, called it a "monstrosity" while member of the Academy of Architecture, Branko Bojović, said there are many cultural issues why it shouldn't be built, naming just one of them, the Roman remains in this entire section of Belgrade, which are shallow and conserved under the ground. Another problem was the restitution as many objects were confiscated by the Yugoslav Communist authorities after the World War II. The construction dragged on for years. Israel investor, "ABD", daughter company of "Ashtrom", cited the reasons for that as the long and complicated process of obtaining permits, unregulated property ownership, archaeological explorations and financial problems due to the global economic crisis. The complex consists of the shopping mall, the first in downtown Belgrade, with 15,300 m2 (165,000 sq ft), which was open on 14 September 2017. There is also an underground garage with 450 parking spots. Much larger section, a luxurious Mama Shelter hotel with 60,000 m2 (650,000 sq ft) was opened in March 2018.
The criticism of the project continued, both for its location in old section of Belgrade's downtown and the appearance of the building itself, which is described as an unfitting architecture for the location or as a "foreign body in Knez Mihailova".Architect Bojan Kovačević said that the edifice is twice the size of what was allowed in the beginning and that, with its capacity and appearance, it is a synonymous for the violence against the city. He asked: "is Rajićeva bringing any luck to Belgrade? Hardly". Writer and former ambassador Dragan Velikić called it "architectural abomination in the heart of Belgrade - steel jaws of the shopping mall which swallowed the building of the City Library", referring to the edifice as the Rajićeva Cave. Architect Slobodan Maldini said that the project ruined both the archaeological locality and the architectural core of the city, and that the protected zone of Knez Mihailova has been degraded by it.
Famous Serbian architect Mihajlo Mitrović, however, praised the project, saying that it is the pride of the contemporary architecture in the world. The project was awarded the prize for architecture at Belgrade's Architectural Salon and architect Snežana Ristić wrote: "There is lot of arguing about this object. Ones are against the modern object in the old city core and wish to see a polished, eclectic house like the ones with the 19th-century façades; others find lots of quality in this modern edifice for the modern times; third believe that shopping mall shouldn't be built at all and that some cultural venue should have been constructed instead; fourth still have nostalgic memories of an open space and trolleybuses roundabout". Architect Branislav Stojkov also praised the building and the small square on the Knez Mihailova side, stating that the architect beat the investor, as the building is full of light and air.
For decades, a 200 m (660 ft) long tunnel has been proposed in the ending section of the street. It would follow the route of the Pariska Street, between the streets of Gračanička and Uzun Mirkova, allowing the ground level to be turned into a plateau with a fountain. This extension of the Knez Mihailova Street would create a continuous pedestrian zone from the Terazije, Republic Square and Palace Albania to the Kalemegdan Park, the Belgrade Fortress and the rivers. It was envisioned by the first phase of the planned Belgrade Metro, 1973-1982.
A bit longer version, that would go from the Gračanička Street to the monument of Rigas Feraios in the Tadeuša Košćuškog Street, resurfaced in 2012, in conjunction with the project of connecting the Savamala port and the fortress. In March 2012 it was announced that the construction will start by the end of the year. However, the planners from the 1970s version were against the execution, because they believed that the entire complex could only exist, if there are already functioning subway lines, which as of 2018, are still not built. Due to the price, general halt of the subway construction and constant changes in its routes, the project hasn't materialized yet.
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