Liberation of Belgrade


Awakening of national consciousness and events related to the slaughter of the knezes led to organization of the First Serbian Insurrection in 1804. The insurrection led by Karađorđe from the very beginning was also aimed at liberation of Belgrade. After two years of fight, the town was conquered on January 8, 1806. Around 25,000 Serbian insurrectionists led by Karađorđe Petrović found the town in ruins. It became the capital of recently liberated part of Serbia and a symbol of freedom-loving tradition of its population. After renewal it also became an important economic, trade and cultural center. Already in 1807, the Praviteljstvujušči Sovjet (Serbian government) had its meeting in Belgrade, and in 1811 the first ministries were established there. The persons of high reputation and intellectuals move to Belgrade from Vojvodina and other regions. Among them were Sima Milutinović and Dositej Obradović, who in 1808 founded the first Great School.

The dynamic development of Belgrade was interrupted by Turkish conquest in 1813, and the repressions which followed led to the insurrection in 1815. The leader of the insurrection, Knez Miloš Obrenović, managed to introduce more of diplomacy into relations with the Turks. Granting certain privileges, he moves Serbian population from the south to Belgrade, causing the Turks to sell their land and houses at prices far below real value. The Turks kept the fortress, while the town came to the hands of the Serbs. The first important buildings were built in the town: the residence of Kneginja Ljubica, the Cathedral, the Palace complex in Topčider... Beside its economic function Belgrade also became an important cultural center. In 1835, a printing-house was moved from Kragujevac to Belgrade, and the "Novine Srpske" newspaper started to be published. The Theological School and the first gymnasium (secondary school) were founded and the town became a shelter for numerous cultural workers of the time like: Vuk Karadžić, Sterija Popović, Joakim Vujić, Dimitrije Davidović and others.

The presence of the Turkish army in the fortress was an obstacle to the development of Belgrade. However, the events related to the killing of a Serbian boy at the famous Čukur fountain, when the Turks from the fortress bombarded Belgrade, led to negotiations about the final retreat of the Turkish army from the Serbian towns. After 346 years of rule, the Turks left Belgrade for good on April 18, 1867, and Knez Mihailo Obrenović moved the capital from Kragujevac to Belgrade.

That was a new stimulus to faster economic and cultural development of the town. In the second half of the XIX century it was brought closer to Europe in the aspect of city planning etc. The Kneza Mihaila Street had the central position and it was the shortest connection between the fortress and the town. It soon became the most important trade and business center of Belgrade and it has kept that role until today. The old crafts were replaced by industry, and the trade and traffic were enhanced by the construction of the Belgrade-Niš railway in 1884. The town got electricity, trams, a steamboat society and important scientific and cultural institutions (the Great School in 1863, the National Theatre in 1869.).