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Dorćol

Dobračina Street
Dobračina Street
bwd  fwd

Lines: tram 2, 5, 10
 bus 24, 26, 37, 79

 

Dorćol holds a special place in the hearts of Belgradians. As one of the oldest city quarters, it has always been a part of the city that stands out from other areas. Its history tells the story of a cosmopolitan Belgrade where several different nations lived together in peace and understanding. Anybody who lived or still lives in Belgrade has at least once dreamed to have their own apartment there. You might even hear people calling it ‘the Manhattan of Belgrade’, although we wouldn't go that far. For some Dorćol is a status symbol, like a Louis Vuitton bag or Burberry trench coat.

 

Dorćol area

Dorćol is one of the smallest city quarters which encompasses the area between Belgrade Fortress, the Student's Square, Despot Stefan Lazarević Boulevard and the Danube River. It is divided into lower and upper Dorćol, however old Belgradians consider only lower Dorćol, which runs from the Danube to Cara Dušana Street, to be the true Dorćol.


Book of history

With its stories, myths and legends, Dorćol can serve as an intriguing history book. Unfortunately, although many nations have lived in this area, only few left their trace.
Dorćol got its name after the Turkish expression ‘Dörtyol’, which means four roads. Indeed, during the Turk rule, the corner of Kralja Petra, Dubrovačka and Cara Dušana Streets was an important intersection of four merchant roads leading towards Istanbul, Vidin (Bulgaria), Vienna and Dubrovnik. Consequently, Dorćol developed into the region’s trading centre.

A large number of Sephardi Jews came and settled this area in the 15th and 16th centuries, and during Austro-Hungarian rule, many German families also settled here. Before WWII, Dorćol was a rich neighbourhood populated predominantly with Jewish and German families that had stores and workshops here. Unfortunately, the war destroyed a lot of the multinational surroundings, but Dorćol kept the title of one of the most desirable residential areas in Belgrade, right up until today. In the post-war years it has developed into the more modern area that managed to keep spirit of the old days.


Lower Dorćol

For a long time, probably due to the vicinity of the Danube, lower Dorćol was an attractive area to live. Old residents still consider the area bordering the river and the Danube promenade to be the most beautiful part of Dorćol. Particularly during spring and fall time, sitting in the afternoon sun while reading newspapers and drinking coffee just feels really good. While on the promenade, take some time to visit Nebojša Tower and Monument to the Defenders of Belgrade or play a game of tennis at the ‘Novak’ sports courts, where the Serbian Open tennis tournament takes place every spring.


The biggest disadvantage of lower Dorćol is the vicinity of Belgrade’s industrial zone; however, a possible future project to recreate Dorćol Marina could make everything much more attractive. Although the marina lies near the industrial zone, plans are afoot to transform it into a tranquil residential/business/tourist area with parks, green areas, pedestrian and cycling lanes. This quiet oasis would totally change the face of today's Dorćol for the better, making it even more attractive to Belgrade’s visitors and residents.


"Wrinkled" Dorćol

In contrast to this facelift, Dorćol's "wrinkles" also have their own charm. As one of the oldest parts of Belgrade, it still maintains traces of the old times. The biggest witness to this is Belgrade Fortress, however we shouldn't forget the oldest house in Belgrade, 10 Cara Dušana Street. It was built in Baroque style and completed in 1727. While in this area, you might pay a visit to Belgrade Zoo, found inside the walls of Kalemegdan fortress.

Along Cara Dušana Street lies Belgrade’s first gymnasium, one of the most important educational facilities in 19th century Serbia, where all future diplomats, ministers, and university professors were educated. 

Behind here stands the Museum of Science and Technology, a cultural facility dedicated to protecting our scientific heritage while popularising science and its modern achievements. The collection has 5000 objects.

In its vicinity stands Aleksandar Nevski Church built in 1929 in place of a mobile military church that served Russian soldiers during the Serbian-Turkish war of the late 1800s. A couple of steps away is Bajloni green market, a great place to stock up on fresh vegetables, fruit and dairy products.
Right next to the market stands the former Evangelistic church, today the home of avant-garde theater and headquarter of International Theatrical Festival BITEF. Opposite the BITEF building stands Guarnerius, the centre of fine arts owned by respected violinist Jovan Kolundžija. Concerts, lectures, master classes and plays are held regularly at this concert hall which has exceptional acoustics.

 

Take a break
Visit Rex cultural center that promotes values of open and democratic society, culture and art through various film screenings, projects and lectures. Jevrejska 16, www.rex.b92.net

Upper Dorćol

Until WWII upper Dorćol was populated by a large Jewish community. Unfortunately today only the old Jewish Museum at 71a Kralja Petra Street stands as a reminder of this heritage. The headquarters of Belgrade Jewish community are located in the same building.
Just around the corner stands Belgrade’s only mosque. According to historical sources, the city used to have more than one hundred mosques but over time they were all demolished, except for this one. Bajrakli mosque still serves as a place of prayer for Belgrade Muslims. 
Not so far from the mosque stands Čukur česma monument (and drinking fountain!). In this place Turkish soldiers killed a young Serbian boy, resulting in one of the Belgrade’s biggest uprisings against their rule. This monument commemorates all who died fighting for independence of Belgrade and Serbia.


Cultural center

As one of tBelgrade’s cultural centres, Dorćol has a couple of important museum and galleries. The Museum of Vuk and Dositej is dedicated to the life and work of the two great educators of Serbian people, Vuk Karadžić and Dositej Obradović.

The Ethnographic Museum on Student's Square shows life in the Balkan region, using a collection of 160,000 objects from the lives of both rural and urban populations. The Frescoes Gallery is one of the most important cultural facilities dedicated to the preservation and restoration of frescoes from Serbian monasteries, many of them under UNESCO protection. Its collection is representative and gives good insight into the development of art inside the Orthodox church in Serbia.

You can also visit Museum of Theatrical Arts and the National Theater Museum.
 Student's Square, which represents the western edge of Dorćol, is one of the main city squares, is the centre of student life with a couple of universities located around it. Just below this square lies Academic Park, a former Turkish graveyard. In the midst of the park stand three statues dedicate to three big players in Serbian history: Dositej Obradović (great educator), Josif Pančić (renown botanist) and Jovan Cvijić (renown geographer and scientist).
On the square youll also find the Kolarac concert hall and gallery as well as the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra. Nearby stand two of the most important cultural facilities in Serbia, the National Theater and the National Museum.


Fashion and Art

Many people wait for the day when Dorćol will officially become like Soho, an art quarter with cute, colorful designer stores and art studios. Although there are stores and studios, they work individually and without any overriding official support that would enable visitors to have more insight into their work.
 Despite that, young Serbian fashion designers have managed to find a way to distribute their works in stores and studios around area. While walking around, you will come across smaller as well as larger stores and studios where you can buy uniquely designed clothes, shoes, hats, bags, jewellery and other accessories.


Besides fashion designers, other artists have also found their base in Dorćol. Oriented predominantly towards modern and conceptual art, Dorćol galleries always offer new and exciting exhibitions. Many young, unestablished painters and students of art are given the opportunity to show their talent in these galleries.
At the other end of the spectrum, very often artists will use open spaces, aka public walls, to show off their talent. So pay special attention to Dorćol’s street art – it’s usually there to send a clear message about a contentious issue! Although street artists are usually anonymous, their works have gained a lot of attention and are much photographed.

Take a break
Visit Supermarket, conceptual space where many young designers exhibit and sell its work.
Višnjićeva 10, www.supermarket.rs

Dorćol nightlife

Although Dorćol residents are not so fond of its nightlife scene, the area remains the trendiest city location for good times after dark. You can choose between Skadarlija and Strahinjića bana Street, which represent a real contrast between old and new, traditional and modern age, established and contemporary... We suggest that you try both, no matter what your personal opinion is.

If you prefer modern, your first stop should be Strahinjića Bana. This street is popularly called Silicon Valley because it attracts predominantly girls with a lot of "plastic parts" that are looking for their sugar daddies. However, there are also plenty of "normal" people who come here for the good music and atmosphere. Just ask for Pastis, Insomnia, Kandahar...

On the other hand, if you want to experience spirit of old, Bohemian Belgrade, visit some of the restaurants in Skadarlija. Menus of national cuisine with a lot of meat specialtes, rakija and local music promise good fun in ambient old-time settings. If you prefer cafes that are less crowded, Dorćol offers plenty of other good places with jazz, rock or contemporary music where you can relax at the end of a fun day of sightseeing.

Reminders of past rulers are everywhere - from grandiose Habsburg boulevards to cafes that recall the bygone days of Communist Yugoslavia.

Lonely Planet Magazine