A brewery on the Skadarlija


The Skadarlija, Belgrade’s bohemian street descends from the old town to the suburbs. Its lower end at the market is marked by an Ottoman-style fountain, a copy of the Sebilj at the Sarajevo market, while the upper end by a memorial column, whose long text lists the great kafanas – cafés, music pubs – working in the street in the past century, as well as the great poets, painters, musicians and other literati that made the kafanas famous in Belgrade and across the country.


Some nearby pubs were made famous by other kinds of people. Near the upper part of the Skadarlija stood the kafana Kod Albanije, founded in 1860, where the assassins of Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo weaved their plans in 1914. Once we dedicated a special picture post to their oeuvre in Sarajevo, let us have a picture of its Belgrade bridgehead as well. In 1939 it was replaced by the Palata Albanija.


In the early 19th century, after the removal of the ramparts of the fortress of Belgrade, Gypsies settled here, along the Bibijin stream running down between the ramparts, which also determined the trail of the Skadarlija. The Gypsy quarter, like the Albaicín in Granada, Rixdorf in Berlin or Tabán in Budapest, soon became a bohemian residential area, and later a suburban party neighborhood, far from the iron fist of urban regulation. Its development was facilitated by the large brewery built in 1892 by the Czech Bajloni company in the lower part of the street, which constantly supplied the kafanas with fresh Aleksandar beer.


In 1945, the brewery was merged in the all-encompassing state-owned BiH brewery chain, which went bankrupt in the early 2000s. The huge block of the factory was recently converted for new purposes. On its Skadarlija Street front, the Bohemian Hotel has opened, which, with the factory’s preserved façade and its painted retro architecture, as well as with the use of industrial elements in the interiors and rooms, strives to maintain the visual heritage of the neighborhood. And within the factory’s block, corridors, inner courtyards and warehouses, a seemingly spontaneous maze of small bars developed, enlarging the street’s old school entertainment choice with the characteristic ruin pub feeling of recent decades.

The forced rest imposed by covid is used for renovation in the Skadarlija district. The allegedly hundred-year-old cobblestones are being re-laid on the streets, and the ruin pubs reconsider their furnishings. A walk in the once bustling, now empty complex is a spooky urbex experience. It is like wandering among the ribs of a long-extinct gigantic animal with an unknown anatomy. What would Berlin not give for such a scenery, magnificently ruined and then set up with a well-thought-out spontaneity.



Slonovski Bal: Papazička Rečenica. From the CD Slonovski Bal: Džumbus (2006)

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