1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Belgrade

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BELGRADE (Servian, Biograd or Beograd, i.e. “White Castle”), the capital of Servia. Pop. (1900) 69,097. Belgrade occupies a triangular ridge or foreland, washed on the north-west by the Save, and on the north-east by the Danube; these rivers flowing respectively from the south-west and north-west. The sides of the triangle slope down abruptly towards the west, more gradually towards the east; at the base stands the cone of Avala Hill, the last outpost of the Rudnik Mountains, which extend far away to the south; and, at the apex, a cliff of Tertiary chalk, 200 ft. high, overlooks the confluence of the two rivers, the large, flat island of Veliki Voyn and several smaller islets. This cliff is crowned by the walls and towers of the citadel, once white, but now maroon with age, and, though useful as a prison and barracks, no longer of any military value. Behind the citadel, and along its glacis on the southern side, are the gardens of Kalemegdan, commanding a famous view across the river; behind Kalemegdan comes Belgrade itself, a city of white houses, among which a few great public buildings, like the high school, national bank, national theatre and the so-called New Palace, stand forth prominently. The town was formerly divided into three parts, namely, the Old town, the Russian town (Sava-Makhala or Save district), and the Turkish town (Dorčol, or Cross-road). A great change, however, took place in the course of the 19th century, and the old divisions are only partially applicable, while there has to be added the Tirazia, an important suburban extension along the line of the aqueduct or Tirazi. A few old Turkish houses, built of plaster, with red-tiled roofs, are left among the ill-paved and insanitary districts bordering upon the rivers, but as the royal residence, the seat of government, and the centre of the import trade, Belgrade was, after 1869, rapidly transformed into a modern European town, with wide streets, electric tramways and electric lighting. Only the multitude of small gardens, planted with limes, acacias and lilacs, and the bright costumes of the Servian or Hungarian peasants, remain to distinguish it from a western capital. For a town of such importance, which is also the seat of the metropolitan of Servia, Belgrade has very few churches, and these are of a somewhat modest type. There were, in 1900, four Servian Orthodox churches, including the cathedral, one Roman Catholic chapel, one Evangelical chapel (German), two synagogues and one mosque. This last is kept up entirely at the expense of the Servian government.

The highest educational establishments are to be found in Belgrade: the Velika Shkola (a small university with three faculties), the military academy, the theological seminary, the high school for girls, a commercial academy, and several schools for secondary education on German models. A commercial tribunal, a court of appeal and the court of cassation are also in Belgrade. There is a fine monument to Prince Michael (1860–1868) who succeeded in removing the Turkish garrison from the Belgrade citadel and obtaining other Turkish fortresses in Servia by skilful diplomacy. There are also an interesting national museum, with Roman antiquities and numismatic collections, a national library with a wealth of old Servian MSS. among its 40,000 volumes, and a botanical garden, rich in specimens of the Balkan flora. To promote commerce there are a stock and produce exchange (Berza), a national bank, privileged to issue notes, and several other banking establishments. The insurance work is done by foreign companies.

The bulk of the foreign trade of Servia passes through Belgrade, but the industrial output of the city itself is not large, owing to the scarcity both of labour and capital. The principal industries are brewing, iron-founding and the manufacture of cloth, boots, leather, cigarettes, matches, pottery, preserved meat and confectionery. The railway from Budapest to Constantinople crosses the Save by a fine bridge on the south-west, above the landing-place for steamers. Farther south is the park of Topchider, with an old Turkish kiosk built for Prince Milosh (1818–1839) in the beautifully laid-out grounds. In the adjoining forest of lime-trees, called Koshutnyak or the “deer-park,” Prince Michael was assassinated in 1868. Just opposite the citadel, in a north-westerly direction, half-an-hour by steamer across the Danube, lies the Hungarian town of Semlin. For administrative purposes, Belgrade forms a separate department of the kingdom.

The first fortification of the rock, at the confluence of the Save and the Danube, was made by the Celts in the 3rd century B.C. They gave it the name of Singidunum, by which Belgrade was known until the 7th century A.D. The Romans took it from the Celts, and replaced their fort by a regular Roman castrum, placing in it a strong garrison. Roman bricks, dug up in the fortress, bear the inscription, Legio IV. Flavia Felix. From the 4th to the beginning of the 6th century A.D. it often changed its masters (Huns, Sarmatians, Goths, Gepids); then the emperor Justinian brought it once more under Roman rule and fortified and embellished it. Towards the end of the 8th century it was taken by the Franks of Charlemagne. In the 9th century it was captured by the Bulgarians, and held by them until the beginning of the 11th century, when the Byzantine emperor Basil II. reconquered it for the Greek empire. The Hungarians, under king Stephen, took it from the Greeks in 1124. From that time it was constantly changing hands—Greeks, Bulgarians, Hungarians, replacing each other in turn. The city was considered to be the key of Hungary, and its possession was believed to secure possession of Servia, besides giving command of the traffic between the Upper and the Lower Danube. It has, in consequence, seen more battles under its walls than most fortresses in Europe. The Turks used to call it Darol-i-Jehad, “the home of wars for faith.” During the 14th century it was in the hands of the Servian kings. The Servian prince George Brankovich ceded it to the Hungarians in 1427. The Turkish forces unsuccessfully besieged the city in 1444 and 1456, on which last occasion a glorious victory was obtained by the Christian garrison, led by the famous John Hunyady and the enthusiastic monk John Capistran. In 1521 Sultan Suleiman took it from the Hungarians, and from that year it remained in Turkish possession until 1688, when the Austrians captured it, only to lose it again in 1690. In 1717 Prince Eugene of Savoy conquered it for Austria, which kept it until 1739, improving the fortifications and giving great impulse to the commercial development of the town. From 1739 to 1789 the Turks were again its masters, when, in that last year, the Austrians under General Laudon carried it by assault, only to lose it again in 1792. In 1807 the Servians, having risen for their independence, forced the Turkish garrison to capitulate, and became masters of Belgrade, which they kept until the end of September 1813, when they abandoned it to the Turks. Up to the year 1862 not only was the fortress of Belgrade garrisoned by Turkish troops, but the Danubian slope of the town was inhabited by Turks, living under a special Turkish administration, while the modern part of the town (the plateau of the ridge and the western slope) was inhabited by Servians living under their own authorities. This dual government was a constant cause of friction between the Servians and the Turks, and on the occasion of one conflict between the two parties the Turkish commander of the fortress bombarded the Servian part of the town (June 1862). The indirect consequence of this incident was that in 1866, on the categoric demand of Prince Michael of Servia, and under the diplomatic pressure of the great powers, the sultan withdrew the Turkish garrison from the citadel and delivered it to the Servians.  (C. Mi.)