Belgrade is the financial centre of Serbia and Southeast Europe, with a total of 17 million square metres (180 million square feet) of office space. It is also home to the country’s Central Bank. Currently, over 700,000 people are employed in 120,286 companies, 60,000 enterprises and 50,000 shops. The City of Belgrade itself owns 267,147 square metres (2,875,550 square feet) of rentable office space.
As of 2019, Belgrade contained 31.4% of Serbia’s employed population and generated over 40.4% of its GDP. The City’s nominal GDP in 2014 was estimated at 16.97 billion USD, amounting to $10,086 per capita. City GDP in 2019 at purchasing power parity was estimated at $52.1bn, which was $32,572 per capita in terms of purchasing power parity.
New Belgrade is the country’s Central business district and one of Southeast Europe’s financial centres. It offers a range of facilities, such as hotels, congress halls (e.g. Sava Centar), Class A and B office buildings, and business parks (e.g. Airport City Belgrade). Over 1.2 million square metres (13 million square feet) of land is currently under construction in New Belgrade, with the value of planned construction over the next three years estimated at over 1.5 billion euros. The Belgrade Stock Exchange is also located in New Belgrade, and has a market capitalisation of €6.5 billion ($7.1 billion).
With 6,924 companies in the IT sector (according to 2013 data), Belgrade is one of the foremost information technology hubs in Southeast Europe. Microsoft’s Development Centre Serbia, located in Belgrade was, at the time of its establishment, the fifth such programme on the globe. Many global IT companies choose Belgrade as their European or regional centre of operations, such as Asus, Intel, Dell, Huawei, Nutanix, NCR etc. The most famous Belgrade IT startups, among others, are Nordeus, ComTrade Group, MicroE, FishingBooker, and Endava. IT facilities in the city include the Mihajlo Pupin Institute and the ILR, as well as the brand-new IT Park Zvezdara.
In September 2013, the average Belgrade monthly salary stood at $635 in net terms, with the gross equivalent at $877. The 2013 Annual Economist Intelligence Unit Survey ranked Belgrade the 86th most expensive out of 131 world cities. According to the 2015 Survey, 73% of the city’s households owned a computer, 65.8% had a broadband internet connection and 73.9% had pay television services.
According Cushman & Wakefield, Knez Mihailova Street is 36th most expensive retail street in the world in terms of renting commercial space.
Long cut off from the international movements, Belgrade is a hub for contemporary art in Europe once again. According to BBC, Belgrade is one of five most creative cities in the world. Belgrade hosts many annual international cultural events, including the Film
Festival, Theatre Festival, Summer Festival, BEMUS, Belgrade Early Music Festival, Book Fair, Eurovision Song Contest 2008, and the Beer Fest. The Nobel Prize winning author Ivo Andric wrote his most famous work, The Bridge on the Drina, in Belgrade. Other prominent Belgrade authors include Branislav Nusic, Milos Crnjanski, Borislav Pekic, Milorad Pavic and Mesa Selimovic. The most internationally prominent artists from Belgrade are Charles Simic and Marina Abramovic.
Most of Serbia’s film industry is based in Belgrade. FEST is an annual film festival that held since 1971, and, through 2013, had been attended by four million people and had presented almost 4,000 films.
The city was one of the main centres of the Yugoslav new wave in the 1980s: VIS Idoli, Ekatarina Velika, Sarlo Akrobata and Elektricni Orgazam were all from Belgrade. Other notable Belgrade rock acts include Riblja Corba, Bajaga i Instruktori and Partibrejkers. Today, it is the centre of the Serbian hip hop scene. There are numerous theatres, the most prominent of which are National Theatre, Theatre on Terazije, Yugoslav Drama Theatre, Zvezdara Theatre, and Atelier 212. The Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts is also based in Belgrade, as well as the National Library of Serbia. Other major libraries include the Belgrade City Library and the Belgrade University Library. Belgrade’s two opera houses are: National Theatre and Madlenianum Opera House.
There are many foreign cultural institutions in Belgrade, including the Spanish Instituto Cervantes, the German Goethe-Institut and the French Institut français, which are all located in the central pedestrian area of Knez Mihailova Street. Other cultural centres in Belgrade are American Corner, Austrian Cultural Forum, British Council, Chinese Confucius Institute, Canadian Cultural centre, Hellenic Foundation for Culture, Italian Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Iranian Culture centre, Azerbaijani Culture centre and Russian centre for Science and Culture. European Union National Institutes for Culture operates a cluster of cultural centres from the EU. Following the victory of Serbia’s representative Marija Serifovic at the Eurovision Song Contest 2007, Belgrade hosted the Contest in 2008.
There is more than 1650 public sculptures on the territory of Belgrade.
The most prominent museum in Belgrade is the National Museum, founded in 1844 and reconstructed from 2003 till June 2018. The museum houses a collection of more than 400,000 exhibits (over 5600 paintings and 8400 drawings and prints, including many foreign masters like Bosch, Juan de Flandes, Titian, Tintoretto, Rubens, Van Dyck, Cézanne, G.B. Tiepolo, Renoir, Monet, Lautrec, Matisse, Picasso, Gauguin, Chagall, Van Gogh, Mondrian etc.) and also the famous Miroslav’s Gospel. The Ethnographic Museum, established in 1901, contains more than 150,000 items showcasing the rural and urban culture of the Balkans, particularly the countries of former Yugoslavia.
The Museum of Contemporary Art was the first contemporary art museum in Yugoslavia and, following its foundation in 1965, has amassed a collection of more than 8,000 works from art produced across the former Yugoslavia. The museum was closed in 2007, but has since been reopened in 2017 to focus on the modern as well as on the Yugoslav art scenes. World class artist Marina Abramovic who was born in Belgrade, had exhibition in Museum of Contemporary Art in 2019. And according New Your Times, that was one most important cultural happenings in the world in 2019. Exhibition was seen from almost 100.000 visitors. Marina Abramovic had stage speech and performance in front of 20.000 people.
The Military Museum, established in 1878 in Kalemegdan, houses a wide range of more than 25,000 military objects dating from the prehistoric to the medieval to the modern eras. Notable items include Turkish and oriental arms, national banners, and Yugoslav Partisan regalia.
The Museum of Aviation in Belgrade located near Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport has more than 200 aircraft, of which about 50 are on display, and a few of which are the only surviving examples of their type, such as the Fiat G.50. This museum also displays parts of shot down US and NATO aircraft, such as the F-117 and F-16.
The Nikola Tesla Museum, founded in 1952, preserves the personal items of Nikola Tesla, the inventor after whom the Tesla unit was named. It holds around 160,000 original documents and around 5,700 personal other items including his urn. The last of the major Belgrade museums is the Museum of Vuk and Dositej, which showcases the lives, work and legacy of Vuk Stefanovic Karadzic and Dositej Obradovic, the 19th century reformer of the Serbian literary language and the first Serbian Minister of Education, respectively. Belgrade also houses the Museum of African Art, founded in 1977, which has a large collection of art from West Africa.
With around 95,000 copies of national and international films, the Yugoslav Film Archive is the largest in the region and among the 10 largest archives in the world. The institution also operates the Museum of Yugoslav Film Archive, with movie theatre and exhibition hall. The archive’s long-standing storage problems were finally solved in 2007, when a new modern depository was opened. The Yugoslav Film Archive also exhibits original Charlie Chaplin’s stick and one of the first movies by Auguste and Louis Lumière. The Belgrade City Museum moved into a new building in downtown in 2006. The museum hosts a range of collections covering the history of urban life since prehistory.
The Museum of Yugoslav History has collections from the Yugoslav era. Beside paintings, the most valuable are Moon rocks donated by Apollo 11 crew Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins while visiting Belgrade in 1969 and from mission Apollo 17 donated by Richard Nixon in 1971. Museum also houses Joseph Stalin’s sabre with 260 brilliants and diamonds, donated by Stalin himself. Museum of Science and Technology moved to the building of the first city’s power plant in Dorcol in 2005.
Belgrade has wildly varying architecture, from the centre of Zemun, typical of a Central European town, to the more modern architecture and spacious layout of New Belgrade. The oldest architecture is found in Kalemegdan Park. Outside of Kalemegdan, the oldest buildings date only from the 18th century, due to its geographic position and frequent wars and destructions.
The oldest public structure in Belgrade is a nondescript Turkish türbe, while the oldest house is a modest clay house on Dorcol, from late 18th century. Western influence began in the 19th century, when the city completely transformed from an oriental town to the contemporary architecture of the time, with influences from neoclassicism, romanticism, and academic art. Serbian architects took over the development from the foreign builders in the late 19th century, producing the National Theatre, Old Palace, Cathedral Church and later, in the early 20th century, the National Assembly and National Museum, influenced by art nouveau. Elements of Serbo-Byzantine Revival are present in buildings such as House of Vuk’s Foundation, old Post Office in Kosovska street, and sacral architecture, such as St. Mark’s Church (based on the Gracanica monastery), and the Temple of Saint Sava.
In the socialist period, housing was built quickly and cheaply for the huge influx of people fleeing the countryside following World War II, sometimes resulting in the brutalist architecture of the blokovi (“blocks”) of New Belgrade; a socrealism trend briefly ruled, resulting in buildings like the Trade Union Hall. However, in the mid-1950s, modernist trends took over, and still dominate the Belgrade architecture. Belgrade has the second oldest sewer system in Europe.
Lying on the main artery connecting Europe and Asia, as well as, eventually, the Orient Express, Belgrade has been a popular place for travellers through the centuries. In 1843, on Dubrovacka Street (today Kralj Petar Street), Serbia’s knez Mihailo Obrenovic built a large edifice which became the first hotel in Belgrade: Kod jelena (“at the deer’s”), in the neighbourhood of Kosancicev Venac. Many criticised the move at the time due to the cost and the size of the building, and it soon became the gathering point of the Principality’s wealthiest citizens. Colloquially, the building was also referred to as the “old edifice”. It remained a hotel until 1903 before being demolished in 1938. Later on, numerous hotels were built in the second half of the 19th century: Nacional and Grand, also in Kosancicev Venac, Srpski Kralj, Srpska Kruna, Grcka Kraljica near Kalemegdan, Balkan and Pariz in Terazije, London, etc.
As Belgrade became connected via steamboats and railway (after 1884), the number of visitors grew and new hotels were open with the ever luxurious commodities. In Savamala, the hotels Bosna and Bristol were opened. Other hotels included Solun and Orient, which was built near the Financial Park. Tourists which arrived by the Orient Express mostly stayed at the Petrograd Hotel in Wilson Square. Hotel Srpski Kralj, at the corner of Uzun
Mirkova and Pariska Street was considered the best hotel in Belgrade during the Interbellum. It was destroyed during World War II.
The historic areas and buildings of Belgrade are among the city’s premier attractions. They include Skadarlija, the National Museum and adjacent National Theatre, Zemun, Nikola Pasic Square, Terazije, Students’ Square, the Kalemegdan Fortress, Knez Mihailova Street, the Parliament, the Church of Saint Sava, and the Old Palace. On top of this, there are many parks, monuments, museums, cafés, restaurants and shops on both sides of the river. The hilltop Avala Monument and Avala Tower offer views over the city.
Elite neighbourhood of Dedinje is situated near the Topcider and Kosutnjak parks. The White Palace, house of Karadjordjevic Royal Family, is open for visitors. The palace has many valuable artworks.
Ada Ciganlija is a former island on the Sava River, and Belgrade’s biggest sports and recreational complex. Today it is connected with the right bank of the Sava via two causeways, creating an artificial lake. It is the most popular destination for Belgraders during the city’s hot summers. There are 7 kilometres of long beaches and sports facilities for various sports including golf, football, basketball, volleyball, rugby union, baseball, and tennis. During summer there are between 200,000 and 300,000 bathers daily.
Extreme sports are available, such as bungee jumping, water skiing, and paintballing. There are numerous tracks on the island, where it is possible to ride a bike, go for a walk, or go jogging. Apart from Ada, Belgrade has total of 16 islands on the rivers, many still unused. Among them, the Great War Island, at the confluence of Sava, stands out as an oasis of unshattered wildlife (especially birds). These areas, along with nearby Small War Island, are protected by the city’s government as a nature preserve. There are 37 protected natural resources in the Belgrade urban area, among which eight are geo-heritage sites, i.e. Strazevica profile, Masin Majdan-Topcider, Profile at the Kalemegdan Fortress, Abandoned quarry in Barajevo, Karagaca valley, Artesian well in Ovca, Kapela loess profile, and Lake in Sremcica. Other 29 places are biodiversity sites.
Tourist income in 2016 amounted to nearly one billion euros; with a visit of almost a million registered tourists. Of those, in 2019 more than 100,000 tourists arrived by 742 river cruisers. Average annual growth is between 13% and 14%.
As of 2018, there are three officially designated camp grounds in Belgrade. The oldest one is located in Batajnica, along the Batajnica Road. Named “Dunav”, it is one of the most visited campsites in the country. Second one is situated within the complex of the ethno-household “Zornic’s House” in the village of Bacevac, while the third is located in Ripanj, on the slopes of the Avala mountain. In 2017 some 15,000 overnights were recorded in camps.
Belgrade has a reputation for vibrant nightlife; many clubs that are open until dawn can be found throughout the city. The most recognisable nightlife features of Belgrade are the barges (rafts) spread along the banks of the Sava and Danube Rivers.
Many weekend visitors – particularly from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia – prefer Belgrade nightlife to that of their own capitals due to its perceived friendly atmosphere, plentiful clubs and bars, cheap drinks, lack of significant language barriers, and a lack of night life regulation. One of the most famous sites for alternative cultural happenings in the city is the SKC (Student Cultural Centre), located right across from Belgrade’s highrise landmark, the Belgrade Palace tower. Concerts featuring famous local and foreign bands are often held at the centre. SKC is also the site of various art exhibitions, as well as public debates and discussions.
A more traditional Serbian nightlife experience, accompanied by traditional music known as Starogradska (roughly translated as Old Town Music), typical of northern Serbia’s urban environments, is most prominent in Skadarlija, the city’s old bohemian neighbourhood where the poets and artists of Belgrade gathered in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Skadar Street (the centre of Skadarlija) and the surrounding neighbourhood are lined with some of Belgrade’s best and oldest traditional inns, which date back to that period. At one end of the neighbourhood stands Belgrade’s oldest beer brewery, founded in the first half of the 19th century. One of the city’s oldest inns is the Znak pitanja (‘?’).
The Times reported that Europe’s best nightlife can be found in Belgrade. In the Lonely Planet 1000 Ultimate Experiences guide of 2009, Belgrade was placed at the 1st spot among the top 10 party cities in the world.
Sport and recreation
There are approximately one-thousand sports facilities in Belgrade, many of which are capable of serving all levels of sporting events.
During the 60s and 70s Belgrade held a number of major international events such as the first ever World Aquatics Championships in 1973, 1976 European Football Championship and 1973 European Cup Final, European Athletics Championships in 1962 and European Indoor Games in 1969, European Basketball Championships in 1961 and 1975, European Volleyball Championship for men and women in 1975 and World Amateur Boxing Championships in 1978.
Since the early 2000s Belgrade again hosts major sporting events nearly every year. Some of these include EuroBasket 2005, European Handball Championship (men’s and women’s) in 2012, World Handball Championship for women in 2013, European Volleyball Championships for men in 2005 for men and 2011 for women, the 2006 and 2016 European Water Polo Championship, the European Youth Olympic Festival 2007 and the 2009 Summer Universiade. More recently, Belgrade hosted European Athletics Indoor Championships in 2017 and the basketball EuroLeague Final Four tournament in 2018. Global and continental championships in other sports such as tennis, futsal, judo, karate, wrestling, rowing, kickboxing, table tennis and chess have also been held in recent years.
The city is home to Serbia’s two biggest and most successful football clubs, Red Star Belgrade and Partizan Belgrade. Red Star won the UEFA Champions League (European Cup) in 1991, and Partizan was runner-up in 1966. The two major stadiums in Belgrade are the Marakana (Red Star Stadium) and the Partizan Stadium. The rivalry between Red Star and Partizan is one of the fiercest in world football.
The Stark Arena has a capacity of 19,384. It is used for major sporting events and large concerts. In May 2008 it was the venue for the 53rd Eurovision Song Contest. The Aleksandar Nikolic Hall is the main venue of basketball clubs KK Partizan, European champion of 1992, and KK Crvena zvezda.
In recent years, Belgrade has also given rise to several world-class tennis players such as Ana Ivanovic, Jelena Jankovic and Novak Djokovic. Ivanovic and Djokovic are the first female and male Belgraders, respectively, to win Grand Slam singles titles and been ATP number 1 with Jelena Jankovic. The Serbian national team won the 2010 Davis Cup, beating the French team in the finals played in the Belgrade Arena.
Belgrade Marathon is held annually since 1988. Belgrade was a candidate to host 1992 and 1996 Summer Olympic Games.
Fashion and design
Since 1996, semiannual (autumn/winter and spring/summer seasons) fashion weeks are held citywide. Numerous Serbian and foreign designers and fashion brands have their shows during Belgrade Fashion Week. The festival, which collaborates with London Fashion Week, has helped launch the international careers of local talents. British fashion designer Roksanda Ilincic, who was born in the city, also frequently presents her runway shows in Belgrade.
In addition to fashion, there are two major design shows held in Belgrade every year which attract international architects and industrial designers. Both the Mikser Festival and Belgrade Design Week feature lectures, exhibits and competitions.
Belgrade is the most important media hub in Serbia. The city is home to the main headquarters of the national broadcaster Radio Television Serbia (RTS), which is a public service broadcaster. The most popular commercial broadcaster is RTV Pink, a Serbian media multinational, known for its popular entertainment programmes. One of the most popular commercial broadcasters is B92, another media company, which has its own TV station, radio station, and music and book publishing arms, as well as the most popular website on the Serbian internet. Other TV stations broadcasting from Belgrade include
1Prva (formerly Fox TV), Nova, N1 and others which only cover the greater Belgrade municipal area, such as Studio B.
High-circulation daily newspapers published in Belgrade include Politika, Blic, Alo!, Kurir and Danas. There are 2 sporting dailies, Sportski zurnal and Sport, and one economic daily, Privredni pregled. A new free distribution daily, 24 sata, was founded in the autumn of 2006. Also, Serbian editions of licensed magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Cosmopolitan, National Geographic, Men’s Health, Grazia and others have their headquarters in the city.
Belgrade has two state universities and several private institutions of higher education. The University of Belgrade, founded in 1808 as a grande école, is the oldest institution of higher learning in Serbia. Having developed with much of the rest of the city in the 19th century, several university buildings are recognised as forming a constituent part of Belgrade’s architecture and cultural heritage. With enrolment numbers of nearly 90,000 students, the university is one of Europe’s largest.
The city is also home to 195 primary (elementary) schools and 85 secondary schools. The primary school system has 162 regular schools, 14 special schools, 15 art schools, and 4 adult schools, while the secondary school system has 51 vocational schools, 21 gymnasiums, 8 art schools and 5 special schools. The 230,000 pupils are managed by 22,000 employees in over 500 buildings, covering around 1.1 million square metres (12 million square feet).
Belgrade has an extensive public transport system consisting of buses (118 urban lines and more than 300 suburban lines), trams (12 lines), trolleybuses (8 lines) and S-Train BG Voz (6 lines). Buses, trolleybuses and trams are run by GSP Beograd and SP Lasta in cooperation with private companies on some bus routes. The S-train network, BG Voz, run by city government in cooperation with Serbian Railways, is a part of the integrated transport system, and currently has three lines (Batajnica-Ovca and Ovca-Resnik and Belgrade centre-Mladenovac), with more announced. The BusPlus ticketing system based on contactless smart cards began operating in February 2012. Daily connections link the capital to other towns in Serbia and many other European destinations through the city’s central bus station.
Beovoz was the suburban/commuter railway network that provided mass-transit services in the city, similar to Paris’s RER and Toronto’s GO Transit. The main usage of system was to connect the suburbs with the city centre. Beovoz was operated by Serbian Railways. However, this system was abolished back in 2013, mostly due to introduction of more efficient BG Voz. Belgrade is one of the last big European capitals and cities with over a million people to have no metro or subway or other rapid transit system, though Belgrade Metro is in its planning stages
The new Belgrade Centre railway station is the hub for almost all the national and international trains. Currently, the high-speed rail that will connect Belgrade with Novi Sad, Subotica and Budapest is under construction, with the first half of 2020s planned for its beginning of operation.
The city is placed along the Pan-European corridors X and VII. The motorway system provides for easy access to Novi Sad and Budapest to the north, Nis to the south, and Zagreb to the west. Expressway is also toward Pancevo and new Expressway construction toward Obrenovac (Montenegro) is scheduled for March 2017. Belgrade bypass is connecting the E70 and E75 motorways and it is currently under construction.
Situated at the confluence of two major rivers, the Danube and the Sava, Belgrade has 11 bridges, the most important of which are Branko’s bridge, the Ada Bridge, Pupin Bridge and the Gazela Bridge, the last two of which connect the core of the city to New Belgrade. In addition, an inner semi-ring is almost done and include a new Ada Bridge across the Sava River and a new Pupin Bridge across Danube River, which eased commuting within the city and unload the Gazela and Branko’s bridge traffic.
The Port of Belgrade is on the Danube, and allows the city to receive goods by river. The city is also served by Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport, 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) west of the city centre, near Surcin. At its peak in 1986, almost 3 million passengers travelled through the airport, though that number dwindled to a trickle in the 1990s. Following renewed growth in 2000, the number of passengers reached approximately 2 million in 2004 and 2005, over 2.6 million passengers in 2008, reaching over 3 million passengers. All-time peak, with over 4 million passengers, was accomplished in 2014, when Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport became the second fastest growing major airport in Europe.
International cooperation and honours
Belgrade’s sister and twin cities:
Coventry, UK, since 1957
Chicago, USA, since 2005
Ljubljana, Slovenia, since 2010
Skopje, North Macedonia, since 2012
Shanghai, China, since 2018
Belgrade has received various domestic and international honours, including the French Légion d’honneur (proclaimed 21 December 1920; Belgrade is one of four cities outside France, alongside Liège, Luxembourg and Volgograd, to receive this honour), the Czechoslovak War Cross (awarded 8 October 1925), the Yugoslavian Order of the Karadjordje’s Star (awarded 18 May 1939) and the Yugoslavian Order of the People’s Hero (proclaimed on 20 October 1974, the 30th anniversary of the overthrow of Nazi German occupation during World War II). All of these decorations were received for the war efforts during World War I and World War II. In 2006, Financial Times’ magazine
Foreign Direct Investment awarded Belgrade the title of City of the Future of Southern Europe.