National Bank Building, Belgrade

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National Bank Building
Зграда Народне банке
Zgrada Narodne banke Srbije.JPG
View from outside
Location map Belgrade Central.png
Red pog.svg
General information
Town or city Belgrade
Coordinates 44°49′07″N20°27′14″E / 44.8185°N 20.4540°E / 44.8185; 20.4540 Coordinates: 44°49′07″N20°27′14″E / 44.8185°N 20.4540°E / 44.8185; 20.4540
Construction started1889
Opened15 March 1890;129 years ago (1890-03-15)

The National Bank building in Belgrade (Serbian : Зграда Народне банке у Београду; Zgrada Narodne Banke u Beogradu) is a monument of great importance, located in Belgrade, Serbia, at 12 King Petar St. [1]

Serbian language South Slavic language

Serbian is the standardized variety of the Serbo-Croatian language mainly used by Serbs. It is the official language of Serbia, co-official in the territory of Kosovo, and one of the three official languages of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition, it is a recognized minority language in Montenegro where it is spoken by the relative majority of the population, as well as in Croatia, North Macedonia, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic.

Belgrade City in Serbia

Belgrade is the capital and largest city of Serbia. It is located at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers and the crossroads of the Pannonian Plain and the Balkan Peninsula. The urban area of the City of Belgrade has a population of 1.23 million, while nearly 1.7 million people live within its administrative limits.


The establishment of the National Bank

The establishment of the Privileged National Bank of the Kingdom of Serbia was a long process consequent on the development of the economy, currency and other financial institutions, as well as the needs of economic and political emancipation of the Kingdom of Serbia. The Bank was formally launched after the adoption of the Law on the National Bank, 12 December 1882, which was confirmed by king Milan Obrenovic on 6 January 1883. Under this law, the Bank was established as a privileged institution (for the next 25 years in the form of a joint stock company), with an initial capital of 20 million dinara, and it was envisaged that its activities would be conducted under the control of the state. Officially, the Bank began operations on 1 June 1884. On that date, the bank leased space taken in Knez Mihajlo no. 38 (now No. 50), at the house of Hristina Kumanudi. [2]

Kingdom of Serbia 1882-1918 kingdom in Southeastern Europe

The Kingdom of Serbia was created when Milan I, ruler of the Principality of Serbia, was proclaimed king in 1882.

Milan I of Serbia king of Serbia

Milan Obrenović was the ruler of Serbia from 1868 to 1889, first as prince (1868-1882), subsequently as king (1882-1889).

Serbian dinar currency

The dinar is the official currency of Serbia. The earliest use of the dinar dates back to 1214.

Construction of the building

As its temporary accommodation was inadequate, land was purchased for the construction of a new building in 1886 on the corner of Dubrovacka and Prince Lazar streets.

Lazar of Serbia Medieval Serbian ruler

Prince Lazar Hrebeljanović was a medieval Serbian ruler who created the largest and most powerful state on the territory of the disintegrated Serbian Empire. Lazar's state, referred to by historians as Moravian Serbia, comprised the basins of the Great Morava, West Morava, and South Morava rivers. Lazar ruled Moravian Serbia from 1373 until his death in 1389. He sought to resurrect the Serbian Empire and place himself at its helm, claiming to be the direct successor of the Nemanjić dynasty, which went extinct in 1371 after ruling over Serbia for two centuries. Lazar's programme had the full support of the Serbian Orthodox Church, but the Serbian nobility did not recognize him as their supreme ruler. He is often referred to as Tsar Lazar Hrebeljanović ; however, he only held the title of prince (кнез).

Interior, vestibule of the older part of the building Beograd Narodna banka Srbije Kralja Petra 12 01.jpg
Interior, vestibule of the older part of the building

In 1887, a draft plan for the new building was adopted, drawn up by two architects employed in the Ministry of Construction. However, the Board of Directors decided to assign project development to Konstantin Jovanović, then already affirmed[ clarification needed ] architect, and son of a lithographer Anastas Jovanović. The Bank project was also his first job in Belgrade. Construction of the building was entrusted to contractors Jirasek and Kraus from Szeged. The work lasted from 1889 until its official completion on 15 March 1890. The importance of the new building was reflected in the award to Konstantin A. Jovanović in 1890 of the Order of St. Sava, class III. The bank's report for 1890 said: "...the Bank has a house of which she can be proud of, as can our capital, which she serves to ornament". Great credit goes to architect Kosta Jovanović who developed the plans and under whose supervision the building was constructed. [2]

Szeged City with county rights in Southern Great Plain, Hungary

Szeged is the third largest city of Hungary, the largest city and regional centre of the Southern Great Plain and the county seat of Csongrád county. The University of Szeged is one of the most distinguished universities in Hungary.

Saint Sava First Archbishop of Serbs

Saint Sava, known as the Enlightener, was a Serbian prince and Orthodox monk, the first Archbishop of the autocephalous Serbian Church, the founder of Serbian law, and a diplomat. Sava, born as Rastko, was the youngest son of Serbian Grand Prince Stefan Nemanja, and ruled the appanage of Hum briefly in 1190–92. He then left for Mount Athos, where he became a monk with the name Sava (Sabbas). At Athos he established the monastery of Hilandar, which became one of the most important cultural and religious centres of the Serbian people. In 1219 the Patriarchate exiled in Nicea recognized him as the first Serbian Archbishop, and in the same year he authored the oldest known constitution of Serbia, the Zakonopravilo nomocanon, thus securing full independence; both religious and political. Sava is regarded as the founder of Serbian medieval literature.

After World War I, the Privileged National Bank of the Kingdom of Serbia became the National Bank of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. Between 1922–25, the bank building was extended to cater for its space requirements, to fill the entire area of the city block, in the form of an irregular pentagon. Jovanović again carried out the extension, in a style consistent with the older part of the building. It is a closed block with an internal atrium courtyard, and has been preserved to date. Jovanović modelled the building stylistically on the architecture of late-Renaissance palaces of 16th-century Italy. It also appears to be influenced by Jovanović' professor and prominent Viennese architect Gottfried Semper. [2]

Atrium (architecture) courtyard in a Roman domus

In architecture, an atrium is a large open air or skylight covered space surrounded by a building. Atria were a common feature in Ancient Roman dwellings, providing light and ventilation to the interior. Modern atria, as developed in the late 19th and 20th centuries, are often several stories high and having a glazed roof or large windows, and often located immediately beyond the main entrance doors.

Gottfried Semper German architect

Gottfried Semper was a German architect, art critic, and professor of architecture, who designed and built the Semper Opera House in Dresden between 1838 and 1841. In 1849 he took part in the May Uprising in Dresden and was put on the government's wanted list. Semper fled first to Zürich and later to London. Later he returned to Germany after the 1862 amnesty granted to the revolutionaries.


Jovanović's immediate models were Palazzo Farnese in Rome, designed by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger and Michelangelo (1513, and 1534–46), and Semper's mid-19th-century Oppenheim Palace in Dresden.

Palazzo Farnese palazzo in Rome, Italy

Palazzo Farnese or Farnese Palace is one of the most important High Renaissance palaces in Rome. Owned by the Italian Republic, it was given to the French government in 1936 for a period of 99 years, and currently serves as the French embassy in Italy.

Rome Capital city and comune in Italy

Rome is the capital city and a special comune of Italy. Rome also serves as the capital of the Lazio region. With 2,872,800 residents in 1,285 km2 (496.1 sq mi), it is also the country's most populated comune. It is the fourth most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. It is the centre of the Metropolitan City of Rome, which has a population of 4,355,725 residents, thus making it the most populous metropolitan city in Italy. Rome is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio (Latium), along the shores of the Tiber. The Vatican City is an independent country inside the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city: for this reason Rome has been often defined as capital of two states.

Antonio da Sangallo the Younger Italian architect

Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, also known as Antonio da San Gallo, was an Italian architect active during the Renaissance, mainly in Rome and the Papal States.

The Bank building best embodies a characteristic feature of Jovanović's concept of architectural design: variation on a Renaissance façade theme combined with an eclectic approach obvious in the use of elements of Baroque architectural decoration. [3] The remarkable articulation of this concept makes the National Bank Jovanović's most important work and one of the most important works of academism in Serbian architecture. [4]

Exterior design

The elevations show a tripartite horizontal division typical of academism. The zones are clearly defined by the contrast between the rusticated lower and calmer upper zones, separated by a prominent stringcourse. The heavy and monolithic rustication of the basement and ground-floor zone, tempered by the regular rhythm of arch-headed windows, is a clear reference to the Florentine 15th-century palazzo. The monotony of the ground floor is broken by formal entrances facing Kralja Petra and Cara Lazara streets. The upper zones display less restraint. The strict hierarchy of the first-floor composition pattern is given a more dynamic edge by alternating differently topped windows and accentuating the imposing windows above the entrances. The second-floor zone, simplified by a row of less ornate window openings, is surmounted by a protruding cornice and a balustraded parapet.

Interior design

Interior design of the building Zgrada Narodne banke Srbije u Ulitsi kralja Petra.JPG
Interior design of the building

The artistically rich design of interior spaces includes a large number of functional and decorative arts and crafts objects, which form an integral part of the architecture of the building. Particular emphasis was placed on the design of functional nodes: the vestibule in the earlier part of the building and the counter hall in the later one. Being accessible to the public, these spaces were elaborately decorated in the neo-Renaissance style, with a composition pattern based on contrasts between full and empty surfaces, and calm monochrome and vibrant polychrome details, on the generous use of floral ornamentation, and on the alternation of different materials.

Interior design of the building Beograd Narodna banka Srbije Kralja Petra 12 18.jpg
Interior design of the building

The general impression of luxury and monumentality of the interior is reinforced by an ensemble of decorative wall painting, one of the best preserved and most prestigious created in the early 20th century. It followed European trends of the time and was conceived as fully subordinate to architecture. This type of decorative painting is understandably devoid of the painter's personal touch and probably follows a pattern of central-European origin. The painted decoration of the part of the building constructed in 1925 shows the same pattern, iconography and style as the older part. Its iconography displays a compilation of motifs based on free quotation from various mythologies and artistic traditions. The symbolism of the decoration, through the motifs of cornucopias, sphinxes, gryphons and, the central one, Mercury, clearly refers to the function of the building, conveying the idea of success, affluence and prosperity. To be singled out in terms of artistic merit is the allegorical bust of Serbia, a work of the sculptor Đorđe Jovanović originally intended for the monument to the heroes of the Battle of Kosovo in Kruševac. Set up in the vestibule of the older part of the building, the bust underscores the national character of the establishment. Until the Second World War the interior was adorned with the portraits of all previous governors of the National Bank, oils on canvass painted by Uroš Predić.

The National Bank building is representative both of contemporary European trends in the style of academism, and of the work of Konstantin Jovanović, Serbia's best connoisseur of academic architecture. The architect's distinctive interpretation and the institutional importance of the National Bank make this building a remarkable testament to the social aspirations and economic and architectural achievement of the Kingdom of Serbia and the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. It was designated a heritage property [5] of outstanding significance in 1979.

See also

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  1. Завод за заштиту споменика културе града Београда (in Serbian). Office of the Republic for Protection of Cultural Monuments - Belgrade, Retrieved 18 June 2014.
  2. 1 2 3 National Bank building, Retrieved 18 June. 2014.
  3. О архитектури Народне банке у Београду: Љиљана Бабић, Живот и рад архитекте Константина А. Јовановића, посебни део, ЗАФ VI-2, Београд 1961; Љиљана Бабић, Живот и рад архитекте Константина А. Јовановића, општи део, ЗАФ V-6 1960; Љубомир Никић, Из архитектонске делатности Константина Јовановића у Београду, ГГБ XXIII, Београд 1976. 127-130; Др. Дивна Ђурић Замоло, Градитељи Београда 1815-1914, Београд 1981. 55; Гордана Гордић, Палата Народне банке, Наслеђе II, Београд 1999. 85-94; Вера Павловић-Лончарски, Гордана Гордић, Архитект Константин А. Јовановић, Београд 2001; Александар Кадијевић, Естетика архитектуре академизма (XIX-XX век), Београд 2005. 314, 315, 354; Иван Клеут, Градитељски опус Константина Јовановића у Београду, ГГБ LIII, 2006. 214-249; Документација Завода за заштиту споменика културе града Београда.
  4. Завод за заштиту споменика културе града Београда, 10.10.2013, каталози 2012, Народна банка у Београду, аутор, Александар Божовић.
  5. Завод за заштиту споменика културе града Београда, 10.10.2013, Каталог непокретних културних добара на подручју града Београда, Народна Банка


CHPIB Documentation.