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Belgrade (bĕlˈgrād), Serbian Beograd, city (1991 est. pop. 1,168,454), capital of Serbia, and of the former nation of Yugoslavia and its short-lived successor, Serbia and Montenegro, at the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers. It is the commercial, industrial, political, and cultural center of Serbia, as well as a transportation and communications hub. An industrial city, Belgrade produces a variety of manufactures.

Strategically situated athwart land and river routes between Central Europe and the Balkans, Belgrade has been the target of numerous conquerors throughout history. The city grew around fortresses built by the Celts (3d cent. B.C.), Illyrians, and Romans. Under the name of Singidinum it served as the harbor for much of Rome's Danubian fleet. Captured by the Huns, Goths, Sarmathians, and Gepids, who destroyed its forts, the city was retaken by the Byzantine emperor Justinian in the 6th cent. A.D. It was held in the late 8th cent. by the Franks and from the 9th to 11th cent. by the Bulgars, who refortified it and named it Beligrad (“white fortress”). It was then ruled again by Byzantium before becoming the capital of Serbia in the 12th cent. Before it fell to the Ottoman sultan Sulayman I in 1521, it was under Hungarian control.

The Ottoman Turks made Belgrade their chief strategic fortress in Europe. Although the Austrians stormed it in 1688, 1717, and 1789, they were able to hold onto it only from the Treaty of Passarowitz (1718) until the Treaty of Belgrade (1739). Liberated by Karageorge and Miloš Obrenović during the Serbian uprising of 1806, Belgrade was recaptured by the Turks in 1813. The Turks largely left Serbia in 1815 but kept a garrison in the Belgrade fortress until 1867.

Belgrade became the capital of the Kingdom of Serbia in 1882. Occupied by Austrian troops during World War I, the city was made the capital of the new Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (Yugoslavia from 1929) after the war. During World War II, Belgrade suffered much damage and extreme hardship under the German occupation. It was liberated by Yugoslav partisans, with Soviet aid, in 1944. After the disintegration of the Yugoslav federation in the early 1990s, Belgrade remained the capital of a much smaller Yugoslavia, consisting of Serbia and Montenegro only, until that nation was reconstituted (2003–6) as Serbia and Montenegro. The city was a target of NATO bombers during the Kosovo crisis (1999).

Belgrade is noted for its fine parks, palaces, museums, and churches. The former Kalemegdan citadel is now a military museum. The 16th-century Barjak Mosque was built by Sulayman I. The city is the home of the Serbian Academy of Sciences, a university (founded 1863), a Roman Catholic archbishop, and an Orthodox Eastern patriarch.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Beograd), the capital of Yugoslavia (Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) and of the Socialist Republic of Serbia. Belgrade is located approximately 110 m above sea level on the right bank of the Danube River where it is joined by the Sava River, at the point of intersection of several major river and land routes leading from Western Europe to the Near East and Middle East. It is also located at the point where the Central Danubian Basin, or Pannonian Plain, abuts on the hilly Sumadija region. The climate is temperate and continental. The average temperature in January is –0.2° C; in July it is 22.2° C. Annual precipitation is 634 mm.

Belgrade began to grow rapidly after the founding of the Yugoslav state (in 1918), when it became the capital. The population of Belgrade rose from 112,000 in 1921 to 252,000 in 1930, 385,000 in 1948, 457,000 in 1953, and 778,000 in 1969. The city covers an area of 182.45 sq km.

Administration. Belgrade is directly subordinate in administrative respects to the government bodies of Serbia. The municipal assembly (skupština) is the organ of self-government and consists of five chambers: the municipal council (veče) and four councils of workers’ associations (on the economy, culture and education, social policy and public health, and sociopolitical affairs). Members of the municipal assembly are elected by communal assemblies for a period of four years; one-half of the body is reelected every two years. Belgrade is divided into nine urban and four suburban communes. In each of them the population elects a communal assembly consisting of two chambers—a communal council, elected by all citizens over 18 years of age, and a workers’ council, elected by all citizens working at plants or other establishments or as artisans.


History. In ancient times there was a fortified settlement of Celtic peoples called Singidunum at the site of present-day Belgrade; later there was a Roman city by the same name (from the first century B.C. through the fourth century A.D.). In the sixth century the city belonged to the Byzantine Empire. It was first called by its Serbian name in the ninth century. In the ninth and tenth centuries the Bulgars held Belgrade; in the 11th and 12th centuries it came under Byzantine rule again, and after that was successively held by the Bulgars, Hungarians, and Serbs. From 1427 it served as a border fortress for the Hungarians, and at its walls in 1456 the troops of the Hungarian commander J. Hunyadi defeated the army of the Turkish sultan. In 1521, Belgrade was taken by the Turks. During the wars between the Austrians and the Turks, Belgrade passed into Austrian hands three times (in 1688–90, 1717–39, and 1789–91). Freed from the Turkish yoke in 1806, Belgrade became the capital of the autonomous principality of Serbia, which after 1882 became the Kingdom of Serbia. From 1813 to 1830 it was under Turkish control, and until 1867 the Turks maintained a garrison in the fortress located in the center of the city. During World War I Belgrade was twice occupied by Austrian troops (Nov. 18–Dec. 2, 1914; and Sept. 26, 1915–Oct. 18, 1918). On Dec. 1, 1918, Belgrade became the capital of the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, which was renamed Yugoslavia in 1929. On Apr. 13, 1941, Belgrade was seized by fascist Germany, and on Oct. 20, 1944, it was freed by troops of the Soviet Army and the National Liberation Army of Yugoslavia. In November 1945, Belgrade was proclaimed the capital of the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia (since 1963, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia).

Economy. Belgrade is the largest economic center of Yugoslavia. Of the total economically active population of Belgrade (293,600 persons as of October 1966), 82,500 work in industry, 39,400 in construction, 26,300 in transportation, 48,700 in trade and services, and 27,800 in handicrafts. Belgrade is a major transportation center. Its railroad freight turnover was about 3.5 million tons, 6.4 million passengers were served, and the freight turnover at the river port was 2.9 million tons (all in 1966). Air connections are provided by the airport at Surčina. There are roughly 170 industrial plants concentrated in Belgrade, of which 17 have more than 1,000 employees. In Belgrade and its suburbs (Zemun, Železnik, Rakovica, and others), which are closely tied to it economically, there are metalworking and machine-building plants (motor vehicle and aircraft industry, agricultural machinery, electrical engineering machinery, and so on), as well as chemical, textile (mostly wool), leather and footwear, woodworking and paper, and food enterprises (including flour mills and meat- and sugar-processing plants). There is also a printing industry.


Architecture and city planning. The historic center of Belgrade includes the Upper and Lower fortresses on the hilly right bank of the Sava River (where it flows into the Danube). There, in the park Kalemegdan, the remains of Roman and medieval stone walls, as well as fortifications and towers from the 18th century, may be found. Among the buildings dating from the 17th through the early 19th century are the Bajrakli-Dž;amija mosque (c. 1690), the Dositej Museum (mid-18th century), and the home of Princess Ljubica (1829–36). The regular planning and construction of the city’s center dates primarily from the second half of the 19th century and the early 20th century. Structures in an eclectic style from this period include the National Theater, the Old Palace, the Terazije complex, and many parks and boulevards. After 1945 the center of the city was rebuilt (Marx and Engels Square), sport and trade complexes were erected, and the Belgrade Industrial Fair Center was built. Since the 1960’s a modern, openly planned complex called Novi Beograd (New Belgrade) has been under construction on the left bank of the Sava River; it includes the Federal Executive Council building, a student community, public and residential buildings, and Lenin Boulevard.

The Serbian Academy of Sciences and the University of Belgrade (founded in 1863) are located in Belgrade. Museums include the People’s Museum, which has historical, archaeological, and ethnographic exhibits as well as national and foreign art objects; the Museum of Modern Art; the City Museum; the Ethnographic Museum; and the Belgrade city art gallery. There is also a zoo.

At Mount Avala, 20 km from Belgrade, there are monuments to the Unknown Soldier (1934–38, sculptor I. Meŝtrović) and Soviet heroes (members of a Soviet military delegation who perished in an airplane crash in 1964; sculpture by J. Kratohvil, 1965).



Hronologija naprednog radničkog i narodnooslobodilačkog pokreta Beograda. Belgrade, 1960.
Novi Beograd. Belgrade, 1961.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


the capital of the Union of Serbia and Montenegro and of Serbia, in the E part at the confluence of the Danube and Sava Rivers: became the capital of Serbia in 1878 and of Yugoslavia in 1929. Pop.: 1 280 639 (2002)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
About how far would you have to travel from Ljubljana, capital of the former Yugoslav republic of Slovenia, to Belgrade, capital of Yugoslavia? --