Bohemian Rhapsody - Skadarlija

The bohemian DNA embedded in the Belgrade cobblestone fascinates anyone who enters this magical corner of true hedonism

Sunday 15th of October 2017

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Skadarska Street or Skadarlija is an inevitable tourist zone where you must at least once wait for the morning. A quarter of bohemia and rich history, romance and fun, is skillfully out of the framework of modern look and proudly cherishes life habits in Belgrade from ancient times. It's not a modern avenue, nor a big boulevard, but a curved sidewalk with cobblestone (we do not recommend walking in high heels), about 500 meters in length, which holds a lot of things that created a special atmosphere and unique feeling.

At the entrance to Skadarlija, next to its flag with symbols of hat, a black stick and a red carnation, the following welcome letter was written in capital letters: "Skadarlija - the center of artistic bohemia, it's the tradition of creation already a century. So visitor, when you come to this corner of Belgrade to entertain and have fun, try to conjure up images of the past times. Remember all those generations of poets and actors, journalists and painters, bohemians famous and unknown ... " That same street accepts everyone, from rich people and respectable artists through the ordinary world who lives in Belgrade ​​and who comes to meet with it. In the same tavern, there is a minister and a painter, a writer and a shoemaker, but also the one who gives the last penny for pleasure. And everyone is fine here.

How was Skadarlija created

The first houses were built back in 1717, and during the 19th century this part of the city got the name Sican-mala (Gypsy mahala) by Roma settlers. According to data from 1909, when there were about 90,000 inhabitants in Belgrade, there were 14 catering facilities in Skadarlija and surrounding streets. After the city's decision to demolish the Dardaneli tavern and build a National Theater on that site, the same fate hit the Theater tavern as well as the Srcka tavern, which was at the site of today's Moskva hotel, art milieu and city bohemians started to gather in Skadarlija. The recognizable appearance that adorns it today is the work of the architect Ugljesa Bogunovic.

Before the adaptation, it was a common street through which Bibija's stream flowed, and the name was given by the Roma belief that Bibija is a symbol of the deity and salvation. The largest curve made by the stream was named after the town of Skadar and since 1872, this part of the city became Skadarlija. When Bajloni's brewery was built, in 1892, during the digging of the earth, a prehistoric skull of homo primigenius was found, which scientists claimed to be the remnant of the "first Belgrader", as well as several teeth of mammoths.

Prominent actors, journalists and writers: Djura Jaksic, Jovan Jovanovic Zmaj, Jovan Skerlic, Zanka Stokic, Cica Ilija Stanojevic, Branislav Nusic and many others used to visit Skadarlija regularly (and some of them lived here). Skadarlija also got under the skin of famous world personalities that visited it. Queen Elizabeth, Spanish King Juan Carlos and Queen Sophia, George Bush Senior, Gina Lollobrigida, Burt Lancaster, Nikita Mihalkov ... They all spent nights with the song and music of the most famous musicians back then, held meetings and wrote the history of an era. Every big celebration after the premiere, the successful play or the publication of the book was celebrated here, and taverns Tri sesira, Dva jelena and others were places for the best festivity.

The first concert hall in Belgrade, where operas were performed, was built right here, as a part of Pasonin bulevar tavern. There was also a big hall for dancing and other festivities. Later, the cinema Balkan was opened in the same place. This part of the city is also the guardian of many monuments, the most famous is the house of Djura Jaksic, a city bohemian and prominent painter and writer, furthermore, a monument to a Skadarlija's drummer which is in the garden of the Ima dana tavern, a monument to the traveling actor, Sebilj fountain - a replica of the same from Bascarsija that Sarajevo donated to Belgrade in 1989 and a new Skadarlija's fountain, the point from where raising flag marks the beginning of the summer season.

Very often we hear the comparison that Skadarlija is the same as Montmartre in Paris, Golden Street in Prague, Plaka in Athens and so on. In each of them there are restaurants, street flower shops, souvenirs, works of art and old crafts. Skadarlija may resemble visually, but the atmosphere is completely unique - pure bohemian. Precisely the greatest bohemians of Serbia created it. They did not hide that they loved such a life, and that a tavern was the other house. For them, taverns mean life, often even more, because life has this disadvantage - it is temporary, unlike a tavern which is eternal.

In summer, the bohemian magic of the city is felt by about 20,000 people every day. In addition to great restaurants and top national specialties, visitors have the opportunity to attend artistic performances in which actors sing and recite while walking dressed in costumes from the early 20th century. City markets set up about twenty colourful stalls where souvenirs and other things can be purchased, and in the house of Dura Jaksic, performances, workshops and reading sections are organized throughout the year.