Novi Beograd or New Belgrade (Serbian Cyrillic: Нови Београд) is one of 17 municipalities which constitute the City of Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. It is also one of the 10 urban municipalities which form the Belgrade City proper.
Novi Beograd is located on the left bank of the Sava river, in the easternmost part of the Syrmia region. Administratively, though not residentially, in its northeastern section it also begins along the right bank of the Danube, right before the Sava's confluence. It is generally located west of the 'Old' Belgrade to which it is connected by five bridges (Gazela, Branko's bridge, Old Sava bridge, old and New Railway Bridge) and the construction of the sixth, which is a cause of the heated debate, is about to begin in late 2008. European route E75, with five grade separations, including a new double-looped one at the Belgrade Arena, goes right through the middle of the settlement.
Other geographic features are the peninsula of Mala Ciganlija and the island of Ada Međica, both on the Sava and the bay of Zimovnik (winter shelter), engulfed by Mala Ciganlija, with the facilities of the Beograd shipyard. The loess slope of Bežanijska Kosa is located in the western part of the municipality, while in the southern, the Galovica river-canal flows into the Sava.
Though it has no forests in the real sense, of all urban municipalities of Belgrade, Novi Beograd has the largest green areas, with a total of 3,47 square kilometers, or 8,5 % of the territory. Majority of it is made by the large Novi Beograd-Ušće park. Latest addition to Belgrade parks, Park Republika Srpska from 2008, is located in the municipality, too.
As it was planned and constructed, Novi Beograd was divided into blocks. Currently, there are 72 blocks (with several sub-blocks, like 70-a, etc). Old core of the village of Bežanija, Ada Međica, and Mala Ciganlija, as well as the area along the highway west of Bežanijska Kosa are not divided into blocks, while due to the administrative borders changes, some of the blocks (9, 9-a, 9-b, 11, 11-c and 50) belong to the municipality of Zemun, extending north of Novi Beograd as one continuous built-up area.
Ever since the construction began in 1948, Novi Beograd experienced explosive population growth, but oddly, as the 2002 census showed, the population size actually decreased slightly during the 1990s. Regarding this, and the fact of the general unreliability of the official statistical estimates, it is hard to predict the future population changes in Novi Beograd. With an estimated population of 217,421 on December 31, 2005, and including refugees from Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, the number of people is probably not exceeding 250,000, despite the figure of 400,000 inhabitants often circulating in the press over the last 20 years.
Population of Novi Beograd in various years:
List of the neighbourhoods of Novi Beograd:
Throughout the 18th century, Bežanija's population was exclusively Serbian, but after Ottomans got run out, the arrival of new occupiers, Habsburg forces, encouraged settlement of Germans, Hungarians, and Croats.
Between two world wars of the 20th century, communities sprung up closer to Sava River in Staro Sajmište and Novo Naselje.
First urbanization plans that talk about Belgrade's expansion to Sava's left bank were drawn up in 1923, but lack of funds and manpower needed to drain out the swampy terrain put them on hold indefinitely. In 1924 Petar Kokotović opened kafana on Tošin Bunar with the prophetic name Novi Beograd. After 1945 Kokotović was president of the local community of Novo Naselje-Bežanija which later grew into the municipality of Novi Beograd. . In 1924 airport at Bežanija was built and in 1928 Rogožerski factory was constructed. In 1934 plans were expanded to the created of a new urban tissue which wil connect Belgrade and Zemun, as Zemun was administratively annexed to the city of Belgrade in 1929, losing separate city status in 1934. Bridge over the Sava was also built and a tram line connecting Belgrade and Zemun was established. Also, a Zemun airport was built.
In 1938, a complex of buildings in the community of Staro Sajmište went up. Spread over 15 thousand square meters it hosted fairs and exhibitions designed to show off the Kingdom of Yugoslavia's developing economy. Also this year, the municipality of Belgrade signed a contract with two Danish construction companies to build the new neighborhood. Engineer Branislav Nešić was entrusted with leading the project. He even continued doing it after 1941, which lead to his trial by the Communist authorities after 1945 as a collaborator.
Until May 1942 Germans used Sajmište concentration camp to mostly kill off Jews from Belgrade and other parts of Serbia. From April 1942 onwards, prisoners were transported in from Jasenovac and Stara Gradiška concentration camps run by Croatian Nazi puppet regime - Ustaše. Partisans captured throughout Serbia were also sent to Sajmište. Detainees were also sent in from other parts of Yugoslavia, especially after major German offensives on briefly liberated territories. Liquidations of captured prisoners lasted as long as the camp existed.
Among others, prisoners included women, children and the elderly from Kozara region, entire Jewish families from Belgrade and other cities, Roma families, as well as entire populations of different Syrmian villages.
November 1946 report released by Yugoslav State Commission for Crimes of Occupiers and their Collaborators claims that close to 100,000 prisoners came through Sajmište's gates. It is estimated that around 48,000 people perished inside the camp.
Buildings sprung up one after another and by 1952, New Belgrade was officially a municipality. In 1955 the municipality of Bežanija was annexed to Novi Beograd. It was for years the biggest construction site in Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia and a huge source of pride for country's communist authorities that oversaw the project.
And they had reason to be boastful. During first three years of construction alone, over 100 thousand workers and engineers from all over the freshly liberated country took part in the building process. Work brigades made up of villagers brought in from rural Serbia provided most of the manual labour. Even high school and university student volunteers took part. It was backbreaking labour that went on day and night. With no notable technological tools to speak of, mixing of concrete and spreading of sand were done by hand with horse carriages only used for extremely heavy lifting.
Before the actual construction started, the terrain was evenly covered with sand from the Sava and the Danube rivers in an effort to dry out the land and raise it above the reach of flooding and underground streams.
Among the first to go up was the SIV building, incorporating some 75,000 square meters of usable space which has for years since housed different Federal Executive Councils (Savezno izvršno veće) of Federative People's Republic of Yugoslavia (FNRJ) and Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRJ), as well as Governments of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SRJ). It was a place where Council of Ministers of Serbia and Montenegro met, and office of the President of Serbia and Montenegro. Its future purpose is yet to be determined.
First buildings for classic residential purposes were built as pavilions close to the area known as Tošin Bunar (Toša's Well). Studentski Grad (Student City) complex was also built around the same time to meet the residence needs of the growing University of Belgrade student body that came from other parts of Serbia.
Other notable structures built not too long afterwards include convention and congress hall Sava Center, Genex condominiums, NIS Petrol-Jugopetrol headquarters, sports and concert venues Hala Sportova and Belgrade Arena, and 5-star hotels Continental Hotel Belgrade and Hyatt Regency.
Now over 1,2 million square meters is under construction in New Belgrade. Estimated value of construction in next two and half years will be over 1,5 billion Euros. For the purposes 2009 Summer Universiade which will held in Belgrade, new complex of 14 modern buildings - Univerzitetsko selo (popularly called Belville) - is now building at Novi Beograd.
As all of the communist governments considered heavy industry to be the drawing force of the entire economy, it for decades dominated Novi Beograd's economy too: Motors and Tractors Industry - IMT, Metallic cast iron factory - FOM, Beograd (formerly Tito) shipyard, large heating plant in Savski Nasip, MINEL electro-construction company, etc. All these coplexes will be removed and develop in bussines and residential areas.
In 1990s with the collapse of gigantic state-owned companies, Novi Beograd's local economy bounced back by switching to commercial facilities, with dozens of shopping malls and entire commercial sections. These activities are further enhanced in the 2000s. The 'Open Shopping Mall' or the Belgrade's flea market is also located in Novi Beograd.
Museum of Contemporary Art is located in Ušće which is also projected by the city government as the location of the future Belgrade Opera. The issue became highly controversial in the 2000s as the general feel of the population, ensemble of the opera and most prominent architects and artists is that it is a very bad location for the opera, while the city government stubbornly insists against the popular wishes.
For decades, the only church in the municipality was an old Church of Saint George in Bežanija. Construction of the new church in Bežanijska Kosa, the Church of Saint Basil of Ostrog, began in 1996, while the construction of the Church of Saint Demetrius of Salonica, which is considered the first church in Novi Beograd, began in 1998. Both are still not completed.
List of schools in Novi Beograd:
Novi Beograd offers rich night life along the banks of Sava and Danube, right up to the point where the two rivers meet. What started mostly as raft-like social clubs for river fishermen in 1980s expanded into large floats offering food and drink with live turbo folk performances during the 1990s.
Today, it is unlikely that one would walk a 100 meter stretch along the rivers without encountering a float. Some of them grew into entire entertainment complexes rivaling clubs in Belgrade's downtown core. While most of the floats used to be synonymous with turbo folk in what was essentially a stereotypical kafana setting, a recent trend saw many turned into full fledged clubs on water with elaborate events involving world famous DJs spinning live music.
This across-the-board brutalist architectural approach led to many apartment buildings and even entire residential blocks looking monumental in an awkward way. Although the problem has been alleviated to certain extent in recent decades by addition of some modern expansion (Hyatt and Intercontinental hotels, luxury Genex condos, Ušće Tower, Belgrade Arena, Delta City, etc.), many still complain about what they see as New Belgrade's "grayness" and "drabness". They often use the derisive term "spavaonica" ("dormitory") to underscore their view of New Belgrade as a place that doesn't inspire creative living nor encourage healthy human interaction, and is only good for overnight sleep at the end of the hard day's work.
This opinion has found its way into Serbian pop culture as well.
In an early 1980s track called 'Neću da živim u Bloku 65', popular Serbian band Riblja čorba sings about a depressed individual who hates the world because he's surrounded by the concrete of New Belgrade, while a more recent local cinematic trend sees New Belgrade presented somewhat clumsily as the Serbian version of black American ghettos like those found in Harlem, Brooklyn and The Bronx. The most obvious example of the latter would be 2002 movie 1 na 1, which portrays a bunch of Serbian teenagers who rap, shoot guns, play street basketball and seem to blame many of their woes on living in New Belgrade. Other films like Apsolutnih 100 and The Wounds also implicitly paint New Belgrade in the negative light but they have a more coherent point of view and place their stories within the context of the 1990s when war and international isolation truly did push some Serbs, including those inhabiting New Belgrade, to desperate acts.