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Skadarlija – The Bohemian Street

Skadarlija (foto: B. Jovanović; TOS)
Skadarlija (foto: B. Jovanović; TOS)

Even though large shopping malls have become the “new centres” of the capital, Skadarlija is still known as the symbol of Belgrade. Skadarlija stands out as a tourist destination, a bohemian quarter, and an unavoidable spot for foreigners.

History of Skadarlija

It’s interesting that a skull of a Homo prima genius and several teeth of a mammoth were found during the construction of the Bajloni brewery near Skadarska Street in 1892. According to scientists, the skull belongs to “the first Belgradian man”, who is presumed to have disappeared during World War I.

The first buildings on the territory of modern Skadarlija were built around 1717. A Gypsy mahala (Šičan-mala) with fourteen houses was on the site in the mid-19th century, and in 1872 it officially became known as Skadarska Street.

In Skadarska, just a few years later, about a hundred houses, an industrial complex “Mala Pivara” (“Little Brewery”), about twenty wells and the Skadarska fountain could be found. In the early 20th century and during the interwar years, Skadarlija slowly gained its tavern charm. To this day cobblestones remain and defend the traditions of this ethno corner of Belgrade.

It’s interesting that until the mid-19th century, a brook ran through the street. “Mala pivara” (“Little brewery”) became known as “Bajlonijeva pivara” (“The Bajloni brewery”), and in the late 19th century famous restaurants such as “Bums Keller”, “Vuk Karadžić”, “Golden Jug”, “Milos Obilić” and “Bandist” were opened, as well as the most famous Belgrade taverns “Tri šešira“ (“Three Hats”) and “Dva Jelena” (“Two Deer”).

According to the “Guide through Belgrade,” in 1909, when about 90,000 inhabitants lived in the city, there were 14 taverns in Skadarska and its surrounding streets.

At the end of the 19th century, near the entrance to Skadarska Street, there was a tavern called “Pašonin Bulevar” (“Pašon Boulevard”). In addition to its garden, it had a large hall for dances and weddings, and was known as the first Belgrade Music Hall. Approximately in 1908 the first plays of the Belgrade Opera were held here. After the opera was closed, a cinema was opened on the same spot, and from 1928 has been called “Balkan”.

Many taverns have disappeared, including the popular “Esnafska kafana” (“The Guild Tavern”), “Vuk Karadžić”, “Zlatni Bokal” (“Golden Jug” – which had the most famous regular guest – Djura Jakšić). In 1929 the famous Josephine Baker stopped by the restaurant “Bums Keller”, and remembered Belgrade for its tasty “ćevapi” (kebabs). “Bums Keller” was mostly visited by Tin Ujevic, the king of Skadarlija. By the mid-20th century other famous taverns were closed down, such as the old “Bandist” and “Philip Brewery”, which had Bora Stanković as its regular guest.

If the capital of the world is Paris, Montmartre is then the capital of Paris; If Belgrade is the crossroad of the world, Skadarlija is then its soul. (Kosta Dimitrijevic)

Many famous people have resided in or near Skadarlija, including writers Djura Jakšić, Jovan Jovanović Zmaj, Antun Gustav Matoš, Bora Stanković, Branislav Nušić, Dragomir Brzak, the Vojislav brothers and Žarko Ilić, as well as actors Milorad Gavrilović, Čiča Ilija Stanojević, Dobrica Milutinović, Milka Grgureva, Žanka Stokić and others.

In the mid-20th century, precisely in 1966, the remodelling of Skadarlija began according to the design of the architect Uglješa Bugunović. The aim was to revive the tradition of the street and to modernize it. Since then, Skadarska has become a pedestrian zone, with its cobblestones, lanterns and candelabras returned, and its taverns “Three Hats”, “Two Deer” and “Skadarlija” rebuilt. “Ima dana” (“There are days”), “Zlatni Bokal” (“Golden Jug”) and “Dva bela goluba” (“Two white doves”) have also been renovated.

In the seventies Skadarlija was “twinned” with the Parisian bohemian district of Montmartre. After its renovation, Skadar Street was visited by Queen Elizabeth, the Spanish King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia, George Bush Sr., Willy Brandt, Margaret Thatcher, Alberto Moravia, Sandro Pertini, Gina Lollobrigida and Burt Lancaster.

Sites and landmarks

The Djuro Jakšić Monument is a symbol of Skadarlija, and was set up in 1990 in front of the number 34, the actual house of Djuro Jakšić. The bronze monument is the work of the sculptor Jovan Soldatović.

The monument to the drummer of Skadarlija, commemorating the actor Rade Šobota is found in the garden of “Ima dana”. It has been there since 1990 and is the work of Tom Serafimovski.

The monument of the travelling actor, in honour of Joakim Vujić was made by the sculptor Jovo Petijević, and since 1989 is found on the corner of Skadarska and Gospodar Jevremova.

The new Skadarlija fountain, work of the sculptor Milica Ribnikar, was built in 1966. It is found on the crossroad between Zetska and Skadarska. By raising the bohemian flag here every year, the summer season is proclaimed open.

The Sebilj fountain at the bottom Skadarlija is the replica of the Sebilj fountain found in Baščaršija, which Sarajevo donated to Belgrade in 1989.

Skadarlija in the 21st century

Today, Skadarska is dilapidated, which is mostly noticeable off-season. The large shopping mall is almost completely extinguished, the remaining old buildings have not been renovated in years, the cobblestones need fixing and poverty and crises have driven out the bohemians.

Skadarlija has been neglected and is vanishing. The street where people once lived and lodged, today has become just a stopover; left to visitors, guests and strangers, with no sign of its inhabitants. A hub and promenade no more, today it is just a shortcut to the nearby Strahinjića Bana.

It’s left without spiritual guidance, without an idea of what to do with it, without cultural efforts and tendencies, without genuine concern, without a host. It is always empty, holding onto weak struts of its bohemian and Dionysian myths and history, it lives on in the stories of retired waiters who thought all their guests looked the same in the density of the barbeque smoke.

Today, Skadarlija is only a place of mythic haze, false exclusivity, which is the last place it belongs, deliberately collecting its greatest value – its untouched essence. The walls of the Skadarlija taverns speak no longer, the spirit of the street wandered off with those who gave it its uniqueness and built its identity. Left to commercialization, pliable and pointed, the Skadarlija spirit is no more.

“The decor for dramatic action that is yet to come is the only thing that’s left.” (gisabogunovic.yolasite.com)

However, the Tourist Organization of Belgrade still promotes the bohemian quarter, and every day during the summer months the bohemian street is visited by up to 20,000 people. In summer, the former atmosphere is evoked by actors dressed in civil clothes from the early 20th century. Various programs complement the tavern ambiance, and the “City Market” in recent years has been setting up about twenty-painted stalls during the summer where souvenirs can be bought.

In addition to the culinary, cultural and artistic offers on weekends, a Skadarlija drummer can be seen strolling down the 500 meter long street. The municipality of Stari grad has been trying to actualize the House Djura Jakšić in the past years, so significant programs (exhibitions, concerts, workshops, panel discussions, literary meetings…) can be seen here throughout the year.

Serbian

 

 

Literature

  1. Vučo, Nikola: Bajlonijeva Pivara: 1880-1941, Yearbook of Belgrade, 1976.
  2. Bogunović, Nebojša: Skadarlija, Jugoslavija Publik 1983.
  3. Trebješanin, Svetozar: Remembering the old bohemian quarter, Culture in 1986.
  4. Dimitrijević, Kosta: Life of bohemian Skadarlija, Toplikus, 1990.
  5. Jovanović, Živorad P.: From the Old Belgrade, Turistička štampa, 1994.
  6. Dimitrijević, Kosta: Romantic bohemian Skadarlija, Prometej, 1997.
  7. Vujović, Branko: Belgrade in the past and the present, Draganić, 2003.
  8. Guide through Skadarlija (TOB)

Fast food and bakeries

  • McMeal Gourmet

Corner of Braće Jugović and Skadarska (Braće Jugovića 23)

Working Hours: 00-24

  • Big Pizza

Corner of Braće Jugović and Skadarska (Braće Jugovića 21)

Working Hours: 00-24

  • Skadarlijske kobasice (Skadarlija sausages)

Skadarska 4

Working Hours: 00-24

  • Pekara Spasa (Spasović) – bakery

Skadarska 26

Working Hours: 6:00 to 1:00

  • Poslastičarnica Milica – bakery

Skadarska 45

Working Hours: 7:00 to 22:00

  • Grocery store Višnjica

Corner of Skadarska and Dušanova 98

Shopping

  • Selin

Skadarska 1

Working Hours: 10.00-20.00; Saturdays 9:00 to 15:00; closed on Sunday

Meterage

  • Krojačka radnja (tailor shop)

Skadarska 2

Working hours: 8.00-24.00, closed on Sunday

Open for more than 50 years

  • Butik za decu (Boutique for children)

Skadarska 4

Working hours: 10.00-19.30, closed on Sunday

Exclusively domestic clothing for children up to 16 years

  • Mini Maxi

Skadarska 8

  • Gloss

Skadarska 8

Working Hours: 8:30 to 20:00; Saturdays 9:00 to 15:00; closed on Sunday

Meterage

  • Boutique Tuba

Skadarska 10

Working Hours: 8:30 to 20:00; Saturdays 9:00 to 15:00; closed on Sunday

Women’s wardrobe – all from Serbia

  • Gadgets ‘n’ Toys

Skadarska 10

Working Hours: 10.00-20.00; Saturday 10:00 to 15:00; closed on Sunday

The Gadget shop is a place for him and her, for yourself and others, for the young and old alike and for those who are not yet ready to grow up, or are looking for the perfect gift for their loved ones. 

  • Trafika (Newsstand)

Corner of Skadarska and Bulevar Despota Stefana

  • Beotrafika

Corner of Skadarska and Bulevar despota Stefana 1a (odd number side)

Working Hours: 7.00-24.00

  • Prodavnica Mala tajna (Little Secret shop)

Skadarska 9

Working Hours: 8.00-24.00; Sunday 14.00-24.00

  • Gallery and antique shop Ninke

Skadarska 15

Working hours: 12:00 to 22:00

  • Menjačnica (Currency exchange office)

Skadarska 20

Working Hours: 9:00 to 20:00; Saturdays 9:00 to 15:00

  • Gallery Montmartre

Skadarska 24

Working hours: 18:00 to 22:00, closed on Sunday

  • As Gallery

Skadarska 27

Working Hours: 10.00-21.00; Saturday 12:00 to 21:00; closed on Sunday

Restaurants and bars

  • Herceg Novi

Skadarska 6

Working Hours: 9.00 – 5.00, closed on Sundays

  • Familija Bistro

Skadarska 7

Working Hours: 8:00 to 1:00

  • Dva bela goluba (Two White Doves)

Corner of Skadarska and Bulevar despota Stefana (even number side)

Working Hours: 10.00-24.00, weekends until 1:00

Home cooking, old music

  • Dunja (Quince)

Skadarska 9

Working hours: 10.00-24.00, weekends: till late into the night

Tavern of the association of amateur singers, dancers, actors and musicians

  • Campo de Fiori

Skadarska 11

Working hours: 12:00 to 23:30

Italian restaurant

  • Guli

Skadarska 13

Working hours: 12:00 to 23:30; weekends until 00:30

Pizzeria / Restaurant – Mediterranean cuisine

  • Red Cafe Bar

Skadarska 17

Working Hours: 11:00 to 1:00

  • Caffe Hand Made

Skadarska 19

Working Hours: 11.00.1.00

  • Šešir moj (My Hat)

Skadarska 21

Working Hours: 9:00 to 1:00

Home cooking, old music

From summer 2014: Šešir moj 2 (My hat 2)

  • Caffe Šikarica

Skadarska 22

Working Hours: 10.00-24.00

  • Restoran Zlatni Bokal (Golden Jug Restaurant)

Skadarska 26

Working hours: 10:00 to 2:00

Home cooking, old music

  • Tri šešira (Three Hats)

Skadarska 29

Working Hours: 11:00 to 1:00

Home cooking, old music

  • Etno pub Kapetan Koča putuje (Ethno pub Captain Koca travels)

Skadarska 30

Working Hours: 12:00 to 2:00

Home cooking

  • Restoran Dva jelena (Restaurant Two Deer)

Skadarska 32

Working hours: 11:00 to 1:00

Home cooking, old music

  • Restaurant Le Petit Piaf

Skadarska 34

Working hours: 11:00 to 1:00

Home cooking, old music

  • Putujući glumac (Travelling Actor)

Corner of Skadarska and Jevremova 65

Working hours: 10:00 to 1:00

  • Restaurant Skadarlijski boem

Skadarska 36

Working Hours: 9:00 to 23:30

Home cooking

  • Ima dana (There are days)

Skadarska 38

Working Hours: 11:00 to 1:00

Home cooking, old music

  • Sioux Club

Skadarska 40a

Working Hours: Friday and Saturday 22:00 – 5:00

  • Restaurant Skadarlijska noć (Skadarlija Night)

Skadarska 40a

Working hours: 10:00 to 1:00

Home cooking

  • Velika Skadarlija (Great Skadarlija)

Corner of Skadarska and Cetinjska 17

Working Hours: 8.00-24.00

Home cooking, old music

Hostel

  • Hostel Sunrise

Skadarska 15/1

skadarlijasunrise.com

office@skadarlijasunrise.com

+381 11 72 34 813

Houses

  • House of Djura Jakšić

Skadarska 34

Opening hours: 10:00 to 15:00 and 18:00 to 22:00; Saturday 18:00 to 22:00; closed on Sunday

Exhibitions, presentations, concerts, debates

(Recent changes in the text: June 9, 2014).

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