Vračar (Serbian Cyrillic: Врачар) is an urban neighborhood and one of 17 municipalities which constitute the City of Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. With an area of only , it is the smallest of all Belgrade's (and Serbian) municipalities, but also the most densely populated.
The neighborhood of Vračar is located on the top of the Vračar plateau, partially in the easternmost section of the municipality of Savski Venac
as a result of a series of administrative changes of municipal boundaries after the World War II
. Despite its small area, being located less than a kilometer away from downtown (Terazije
) it borders many other Belgrade neighborhoods: the square and neighborhood of Slavija
to the north, Palilula
to the northeast, Čubura
and Gradić Pejton
to the east, Neimar
to the south and the park and neighborhood of Karađorđev Park
to the southwest. Vračar plateau is one of the highest points in downtown Belgrade
Name Vračar (derived from Serbian word vrač
meaning the 'medicine man
', 'healer') was mentioned for the first time in 1495 in Turkish
documents. In 1560 it is mentioned as the Christian village outside the fortress of Kalemegdan
with 17 houses. It is believed this village is the place where in 1595 the Turkish grand vizier Sinan Pasha
burned at the stake the remains of Saint Sava
, a major Serbian saint, to pacify and punish a rebellious population.
At the beginning of the XIX century Vračar, as a geographical term, referred to a much wider area, from the village of Savamala (present Mostar) on the west to the village of Paliula (present neighborhood of Karaburma), which means it used to cover at least three times larger territory than the municipality covers today. By order of prince Miloš Obrenović, an alternative city centre with western characteristics was designed and built here while city of Belgrade was still under Turkish rule and for three quarters an oriental town with all the characteristics of Islamic architecture. On the other hand, Vračar was built with broad streets and boulevards, first parks and monuments. It was housing all Serbian public buildings and state institutions.
The Times on October 17, 1843 published a text full of exultations. 'Four years have passed since the time when I was last here, and how Belgrade has changed! I have hardly recognised it. The high belfry on the church (Cathedral) now screens by its shadow the Turkish mosques; many shops are now provided with new doors and glass windows, oriental clothing is more rare and houses with several storeys, in European manner, are being built everywhere'.
Many architects-baumeisters (builders) Germans, Czechs, Italians and the Serbians who appeared only at the end of the 1860s built new Serbian Belgrade in Vračar. After 1867, when Turkish military garrisons left the Belgrade fortress Kalemegdan they extended their architectural activities on the ruins of the Turkish houses (Stambol gate, Dorćol, Palilula) and on the ruins of the Serbian huts in the Sava river port, Savamala.
Since 1880s, the neighborhood was roughly divided into Zapadni Vračar (West Vračar) and Istočni Vračar (East Vračar), divided by the road of Šumadijski put (present Boulevard of Liberation). Since 1955 when municipality was officially split into these two, Zapadni Vračar later became core of the new municipality of Savski Venac while the term Vračar became synonym for Istočni Vračar only.
The most dominant feature of modern Vračar is the massive Temple of Saint Sava
. Its decades long, troubled construction shaped not just the present appearance of the plateau, but also the skyline of the entire Belgrade. Plateau has been reshaped in the early 2000s, with fountains, marble access roads to the temple with pillars and children playgrounds added, while the already existing monument to the leader of the First Serbian Uprising
, was erected on a low, artificial hillock. Plateau is also the location of the National Library of Serbia and Karađorđev Park also begins here, while the craftsmen settlement of Gradić Pejton and the bohemian quarter of Čubura nearby.
Small municipality of Vračar borders other five Belgrade municipalities: Voždovac
to the south, Zvezdara
to the east, Palilula to the northeast, Stari Grad
to the north and Savski Venac to the west. It is generally bounded by the three boulevards: Boulevard of Liberation, Southern Boulevard and the Boulevard of King Aleksandar
The Vračar plateau
is on of the highest point in downtown Belgrade, which is generally built on a hilly terrain (32 hills altogether). Almost no geographical features survive today as the area is completely urbanized, except for the small section of Karađorđev Park on the southern slopes of the plateau. Some much larger parks, like major portion of Karađorđev Park or parks Manjež and Tašmajdan
are left just outside the Vračar's administrative borders.
The municipality of Vračar was officially formed in 1952 after Belgrade was administratively reorganized from districts (rejon
) to municipalities. Already on September 1
Vračar was divided into Zapadni Vračar and Istočni Vračar. Year and a half later, on January 1 1957
, parts of Istočni Vračar merged with the municipality of Neimar and the western part of the municipality of Terazije to create new, albeit the smallest one municipality in Belgrade. Zapadni Vračar became municipality of Savski Venac, while the easternmost section of Istočni Vračar became part of the municipality of Zvezdara (local community (mesna zajednica
) of Vračarsko Polje; Zvezdara hill itself was styled Veliki Vračar
- Big Vračar).
Recent presidents of the municipal assembly:
Mrs Dunja Vlahović (b. 1912), who was municipal president from January 1957 when Vračar was restored as one municipality, was one of the first female municipal presidents in Serbia.
District (Serbian: srez) which comprised the suburban area of Belgrade after 1945 was called Vračar District (Vračarski srez) though the name Belgrade District was also used. In 1955 the Vračar District merged with the City of Belgrade and parts of some bordering districts to create new, enlarged Belgrade District.
As the other two central Belgrade municipalities, Stari Grad and Savski Venac, Vračar has been depopulating for the last five decades. Despite that, Vračar is thanks to its small area, by far the most densely populated municipality of Belgrade, with 19.659 inhabitants per square kilometer (2002 census; 29,772 back in 1971). Population of Vračar:
- 1961 census - 88,422
- 1971 census - 84,291
- 1981 census - 78,862
- 1991 census - 67,438
- 2002 census - 58,386
- 2005 estim. - 56,197
If the pre 1955 administrative division remained, population of the municipality would be 91,539 in 2002.
As Vračar has a very small area by itself, its sub-neighborhoods are also small, some of them encompassing only a street or so:
Vračar is a residential and very important commercial part of Belgrade. The talled skyscraper
in downtown Belgrade, the Beograđanka
, Cvetni Trg (famous for its flower shops) and the square of Slavija occupy the western section of the municipality. Other important features are the Temple of Saint Sava
and the National Library of Serbia
on the Vračar plateau, northern section of the big interchange Autokomanda
and the stadium of the FK Obilić
(Miloš Obilić Stadium
) and the Architecture high school in the extreme west of the municipality. Commercial center of the municipality is the area surrounding the Kalenić, largest open green market in Belgrade.
Vračar is twinned with following cities and municipalities:
- Beograd - Izdanje opštine beogradske, 1911;
- Zapisi starog Beograđanina 2000;
- Iz starog Beograda, Živorad P. Jovanović 1964;
- Siluete starog Beograda, Milan Jovanović - Stojimirović, 1971;
- Uspon Beograda, Milivoje M.Kostić, 2000;
- Beogradske gradske pijace, JKP Beogradske pijace, 1999;
- Vračarski glasnik, 1997-2004