In the city center, right next to the Republic Square, the National Museum and the National Theater, there is the famous Knez Mihailova Street, better known as “Knez”. There is no person who stepped on the soil of Belgrade without visiting this street. Every building, every stone, fountain and monument in Knez Mihailova has its own story that occupies a special place in capital’s history.
While this part of Europe was ruled by the Romans, one of the main access roads, the Via Cardo, stretched through part of today’s Knez. There is no evidence that this location was inhabited in the Middle Ages. With the renovation of the water supply system in the 16th century, the location became populated. And then, whoever conquered Belgrade, adjusted the look of this location to their needs and their rule. During Ottoman empire, there were mosques; then came the Austrians and demolished the existing houses and mosques and gave a new look to the street.
Thanks to Emilijan Josimović, urban planners from the 19th century, Knez Mihailova acquires a look that is kept to this day with minor changes. At that time, the route to the Kalemegdan fortress was established as the shortest way from the town to the fortification. Commercial and trade spirit of this street originates from that period, and no matter that some buildings were demolished or how much they adjusted to the urban plan, Knez has kept the look from the beginning of the 20th century. Until 1987, vehicles passed through Knez Mihailova Street. Nevertheless, this was a favorite place for the promenade, which was very popular in the 1930s. When it was finally turned into a pedestrian zone, it received the status of the cultural center of the capital.
Names of the streets are changing according to history, but this is one of the few streets that has not changed its name since its creation in form in which it is today. It was named after Prince Mihailo Obrenović, whose monument is located on the Republic Square – a famous monument Kod konja (next to the horse). Prince Mihailo was a great reformer who invested a lot in the development of Serbian education and culture. He gave his support to Vuk Karadžić, Đuro Daničić, Branko Radičević, which was of the most importance to development of Enlightenment in Serbia.
This 800 meter long street is the source of uninterrupted events in Belgrade. In the summer, the cafe gardens are moved to the main street, ice cream, popcorn, souvenirs are sold… In the winter, it is the turn for roasted chestnuts and corn. The fountains are open from March, April until the first icy days. Street musicians provide the basis for this special mini-cosmos.
At the very entrance, we are greeted by the Palace of Albania, an imposing building, at one point in time it was the tallest one in this part of Europe, as if it is welcoming us, and at the same time telling us that it is watching how we behave. Across from it is the famous Mitić department store, where the Belgrade Department Store used to be, a counterpart to Paris’ Lafayette. Next are the Press House, Russian Tsar cafe, Progress gallery, and the Palace of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts. Numerous endowments – Nikola Spasić, Ilija Kolarac. In addition to the Russian Tsar, the favorite places in Knez are the Snezana confectionery, today the Rajićeva shopping mall, as well as numerous others that have been successfully serving tourists and those who want to be tourists in their own city.
New Year holiday season is upon us, the lights are already hanging and are turned on. Take a walk and feel the magic of the paved street where many great loves began and where the murmur of water, the murmur of people and the violin go together as if someone had deliberately arranged it that way.