Today, Skadarlija is usually presented in tourist publications as a bohemian district of Belgrade, in whose taverns the most famous Serbian writers, actors, painters and all fans of unconventional socializing used to gather, but today also as a place with several good restaurants with excellent food.
The history of Skadarlija, which is mentioned in tourist guides and told to tourists, has been written since the first years of the last century, from the moment when the guarded kafana "Dardaneli" was demolished across the road from the National Theater, in the area where the Serbia National Museum is today. . Guests of Dardaneli, actors, writers, singers, journalists with regret followed the demolition of the kafana, which was their favorite meeting place more than three decades before, and spontaneously chose the ground floors of Skadarska Street for their new Mecca, assuming those parts of Belgrade that aspired to height. Before that event, which took place in 1901, it is noted that the area of Skadarlija until the middle of the 19th century was mostly a deserted outskirts of the city between the "town in the trench" and the village of Palilula.
Unlike the Sava part of Belgrade outside the trench, this part of the town, according to Palilula, was spontaneously inhabited - just as the trench itself disappeared, which was no longer maintained and which the then inhabitants buried and bridged it according to their needs. The first inhabitants of today's Skadarlija are mentioned around 1825. The Roma first built their dwellings there, so this area first got its name Šićan-mala, which meant gypsy mahala. It was not until the middle of the 19th century that the construction of slightly better houses and neighborhoods began to take the form of an urban ambience. Multi-story houses are also being built, but this trend in the transformation of Skadarlija was interrupted by the beginning of the First World War, and with the acquisition of some later circumstances, Skadarlija remained mostly filled with single-story houses.
Among them, the oldest preserved and known as "Štihina kuća", during one reconstruction, was annexed to the tavern "Tri šešira". Štih's house was named after its owner Vladan Štih, and it was built before 1878. The tavern "Tri šešira" was opened in 1864, and until that year there was a workshop in the house for making hats by master Dimović. Instead of the written company, the workshop had three tin hats hanging at the entrance, so it got the name that the kafana kept. Skadarlija was inhabited by small craftsmen, caterers and merchants, and some of its inhabitants lived from renting apartments. Among the data on Skadarlija in the 19th century, it is stated that an open canal stretched through its middle, which turned into a stormy river flow during heavy rains. That canal was the border between the Dorcol and Palilula neighborhoods.
The left side, where the "Three Hats" tavern was located, belonged to the Dorćol neighborhood, and the right, with the "Two Deer" tavern, to the Palilula neighborhood. The tavern "Dva jelena" was opened around 1862. Skadarlija was first drawn on one plan in 1854, and in 1867 it was also drawn on the plan of the urban planner Emilijan Josimović. The official name - Skadarska Street - was given to this area in the middle of 1872. Only briefly, during the Austro-Hungarian occupation, Skadarska was named Ružina Street. In some old houses that still exist today, such as the one in number 36, which houses the restaurant "Ima dana", as well as in the house of Katarina Hristodulo, number 27, lived a constellation of the most famous Serbian actors and other artists from the late 19th century. and the beginning of the 20th century. What has preserved Skadarlija to this day are not its architectural values, but the spirit with which they gave it and the stamp that was imprinted on it for decades by the greats of Serbian culture, mostly writers and theater successors.
There is no one who could list all these names, but let's mention at least the most famous ones - Đuro Jakšić, Stevan Sremec, Janko Veselinović, Branislav Nušić, Radoje Domanović, Antun Gustav Matoš, Brana Cvetković, Bora Stanković, Tin Ujević, Rado Drainac, Gustav Krklec, Uncle-Ilija Stanojevic, Milorad Gavrilovic, Milka Grgurova, Vela Nigrinova, Dobrica Milutinovic, Zanka Stokic… The ideas about protecting Skadarlija and saving it from demolition in the periods of economic and construction prosperity of Belgrade date back to the end of the First World War, but there were also opponents of those ideas. The Decree on the Protection of Belgrade Antiquities, which dates from 1935, stipulates that "its current regulation will be preserved in Skadarlija, and the houses where Đura Jakšić, Milorad Gavrilović, Čiča Ilija Stanojević and Dimitrije Ginić lived will be marked with inscriptions, plaques and reliefs. portraits of these artists. " However, the prevailing belief was that Skadarlija was worthy of protection. According to the decision of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of the city from July 28, 1967, Skadarlija was protected as a spatial cultural-historical whole.
The new life of Skadarlija according to the idea of the architect Uglješa Bogunović
The invaluable credit for the preservation of Skadarlija and its present life belongs to the late architect Uglješa Bogunović. "They smell like linden trees, children's laughter rings. One city is born, one part of the city dies. Old and new, one in front of the other. One natural theme and one old problem. Squeezed, endangered and naive: on this terrace small and intimate, still living part of old Belgrade. In this part of the town, two or three houses are under state protection. One plane tree covered the street, and two little sparrows, without worries, were sitting at the bakery company. It says: "Hot burek and buns". Clouds float in the sky. It's good for me, good in this space, I look in every opening with flowers. I am filled with joyful peace in the quiet evening and I think. My thoughts are architectural again. One old problem can be highlighted from several sides. Everyone has the right to their own point of view, everyone has their own threshold from where the view rejoices. On these walks, my "belief" about architecture was confirmed. Suddenly, everything that is quiet and small, intimate and cheerful becomes monumental…
This is how this famous architect wrote in "Politika" in 1957 in his "Meditations on the Revitalization of Skadarlija", stating, among other things, how the Danes saved the old in an unusual way houses from all over their country by carefully building them up and transferring them to the city of Arkus, facsimile renovating them in a settlement, a kind of museum and giving them for free use to artists, scientists, academics so that they would only carefully maintain their new home. About ten years later, Ugljnja Bogunović, together with his like-minded people, managed to realize his ideas and breathe new life into Skadarlija, the old bohemian refuge. Almost four decades ago, Skadarlija, with the exception of spaces and squares in large European cities, which had to choose mainly because of the magnificent and historically significant buildings, became among the first in Europe to be an exclusively pedestrian empire. The years of the best famous "Skadarlija evenings" have begun, which even today begin at the end of April and last until the cold autumn days.
The old brewery has become a precious space, a stage for rock concerts and performances of a new expression, and the "New Sensitivity" theater. In the eighties, the brewery was reconstructed, but there was no place for such facilities, but even those for whom the space in the reconstructed building was intended did not show the expected interest. Even today, the most famous taverns in Skadarlija are the oldest ones - "Three hats" and "Two deer". "Skadarlija" originated from the former "Small Brewery". "Zlatni bokal" is one of the old restaurants in Skadarlija, and Uglješa Bogunović tried to keep the renewed "Zlatni bikal" from the warmth and intimacy of the old one. Pashona's "Boulevard", "Booms-Keller", "Vuk Karadzic", "Guild Cafe", "Bandist" disappeared forever, but some new ones were opened, such as the restaurants "Ima dana" and "Dva bela goluba".
House of Đuro Jakšić
The most famous and one of the oldest houses in Skadarska Street is the one in number 34 - the house of the poet, painter and bohemian Đuro Jakšić. The poet spent the last years of his life in it. He died in 1878. A memorial plaque with an inscription and a relief portrait of Đurin was unveiled in 1935. Later, after the death of Đuro Jakšić, the actor Čiča Ilija Stanojević lived in this house, and then the actor and director Dimitrija Ginić. The house of Đuro Jakšić was reconstructed in the middle of the eighties of the last century. There are almost no days without a program on the premises of the house.
Dozens of literary evenings, music programs, theater performances and art exhibitions are organized annually. The house of Đuro Jakšić is located in the fund of the Public Company "Business Premises of the Municipality of Stari Grad", and the Cultural Council of the Municipal Assembly of Stari Grad takes care of the programs of cultural events in it. The municipality of Stari grad has supported many good ideas with initiatives, various actions and financial means, which affirm Skadarlija as a place of important cultural events and influence the preservation of its monumental and ambient values.