The Palace Complex at Terazije was established between mid-nineteenth century, and the beginning of the third decade of the twentieth century as the first royal residence in Serbia designed and built in accordance with an urban plan. It formed the most important micro ambiance of the central urban zone that started a transition from oriental Belgrade to a modern capital with a European character. The development stages in the formation of the complex, starting from the initial construction of the Simić building (The Old Residence, 1840-42), through the decoration of the Palace garden and yard, construction of the Little Palace (around 1845), followed by the Palace of the Crown Prince Mihailo (Ministries of Foreign Affairs and the Interior, 1858), and construction of the Old (1881-84) and the New Royal Palace (1911-1922), indicate complexity of the socio-political circumstances of this period in Serbian history, but also of the development of architectural, stylistic and artistic characteristics of the capital’s architecture. Engagement of leading architects, artists, decorators and craftsmen in designing, decoration and furnishing of the edifice and the premises of the palace complex reflects a general picture of the transforming Belgrade’s spiritual and cultural climate, through changing its daily life habits, in which the royal residences often served as a model and an initiator of change. Gradually, a complex mosaic was built intertwining the artistic and the political concepts: from the original idea of the architect, Aleksandar Bugarski, for a tripartite composition of the complex, from which only the Old Palace of King Milan Obrenović was realized, to the completing of the complex with the New Palace according to the design of the architect Stojan Titelbah, to converting the New Palace into a museum institution (The Crown Prince Pavle Museum, 1934-1936), and afterwards to reconstructing both structures and the entire area (1947-53) into a seat of new state authorities. Establishing a harmonious relationship between the structures and their natural and urban environment emphasized specific values of the area based on its accessibility and availability.


Role of the army in the development of Belgrade was not directly but rather indirectly linked to the development of urban and regulatory planning. Namely, the cartographic work of army-hired officers and experts represents an important legacy in the urban planning history. In addition to this role, military skills were greatly appreciated in the first institutions that regulated the construction and architectural projects in Serbia. Military barracks in Belgrade from the time of Prince Miloš served as inspiration for the construction of other public buildings. Military facilities, which were not separated from buildings for civilian use, had been built in the vicinity of the Great Barrack. There was no plan for creating a separate military district but the idea was to have military facilities located close to each other, so as to ensure efficient functioning of the army. Therefore, the locations chosen for certain military facilities had not always been optimal solutions when it came to their function and meaning. Many of them were built as representative buildings in order to emphasize the important role of the Serbian army in the realization of the objectives of national policy. After gaining independence in 1878, military facilities progressively occupied the surroundings of Belgrade in addition to the central parts of the city. On the one hand, this came as a result of the development of Belgrade and the new needs of its residents, and also due to the growing army and its subsequently increased demands for modern training which needed to be conducted in a free and uninhabited area. These challenges were resolved spontaneously, leading to solutions that failed to fulfil all military requirements and needs which were also at the expense of the needs of the municipality of Belgrade.


Reviewing any historical topic, when urban architecture is concerned, invariably imposes questioning of the categorical instruments we use. By implicating that we know the subject and the instruments by which we define it, and by staying within the set boundaries of consideration, we may easily slip into misunderstanding. It is therefore necessary to precisely determine the concepts of architectural history, architectural critique and the theory of architecture. They all comprehend different timelines differently while the history of architecture and architectural critique do not provide the same kind of feedback to the concept of Architecture or the City. In this sense, a desired concept of “critical history” must be additionally profiled. Differentiating history from historiography, as well as a history of events from a history of existence of trans-temporal physical structures, are the first steps towards a more flexible, more precisely determined and a more socially useful differentiation of domains. Taking one of many possible examples, a space called Terazijska terasa in Belgrade, we can find a mishmash of logics and actions which has, due to lack of public critical dialogue about the proposed urbanistic decisions, destroyed a very rare opportunity to create outstanding topographic interventions and urban growth ideas.


So far, the historiographic thought has not paid enough attention to the processes of transforming urban patterns of Belgrade, caused by changing socio-economic interests. Evasive in real time and comprehensible only from a time distance, the cultural identity of the Serbian capital has often changed over the last two centuries, in parallel with its spatial growth, dense development and demographic boom. Its transformations, sometimes radical and sometimes more moderate, were primarily dictated by war destructions, discontinued social developments, overturning of political systems and with it ruling and architectural ideologies, which resulted in too many different styles and non-harmonized height lines of the constructed edifices. The alternations were usually initiated by decisions of state urban planners or spontaneous, mainly unjustified manifestations of “silent” building evolution. These transformations of the Serbian capital which first occurred in a vassal and then in an independent Serbian and later Yugoslav state, had different impacts on the existing system of the city structures and the city life. According to critical thought so far, these transformations can be differentiated by the scope of their completion, civilizational appropriateness (or inappropriateness), degree of justifiability, urbanistic-architectural methodology and ideological-economic platforms that inspired them.