Sunday, 26 February 2012

Novi Sad – Stari Grad

Novi Sad is a charming city; it’s not too big and it’s not too small. Picturesque houses, popular public parks, long boulevards, the mighty Danube river and its bridges, skilfully decorated churches, respectable scientific institutions, interesting museums, fine restaurants, pleasant terraces, many sports facilities, modern shopping malls, and last but not least the friendly inhabitants, they all contribute to the loveliness of this town. And though the city is relatively young, it has an impressive history. And there’s more: the fortress of Petrovaradin and the natural reserve Fruška Gora with its monasteries just outside Novi Sad. These places made history since medieval times.

In my Dutch language weblog Mijn Novi Sad I wrote about the old centre of Novi Sad, Stari Grad in Serbian. In Stari Grad you’ll find Dunavska park, the esplanades Ulica Dunavska and Zmaj Jovina, the central square Trg Slobode with its nineteenth century buildings and the city hall, five prominent museums, several Serbian Orthodox churches, a Roman catholic church, a Jewish synagogue, the Serbian National Theatre and many more.

After WWII the city centre was victim of an urge for renovation. Not all ‘improvements’ are, in my opinion, a change for the better. Take Trg Galerija, the square with three notable museums: the Galerija Matice Srpske, the Pavle Beljanski Memorial Collection and the Galerija Rajka Mamuzića. It is a humble square; part of it is a parking lot. But what makes the matter really worse: the square is hidden out of sight behind an ugly office block from the sixties along Bulevar M. Pupina. This busy six-lane road cuts through the old city centre. And that’s a real pity.

I’m not a town planner, but out of love for Novi Sad I’ll make some recommendations. Pull down the office block along Bulevar M. Pupina between Banovina and the monument for the demolished Armenian church. Transform the Bulevar M. Pupina between Banovina and Ulica Jevrejska as well as Trg Galerija into a pedestrian area. Build below this pedestrian area an underground car park (and pull down the parking garage next to Uspenska church). Give Ulica Kralja Aleksandra and Trg Slobode a facelift. If my development scheme will be realised, Novi Sad can boast a very fine city centre, with a pedestrian area extending from the museums at Trg Galerija to the museums along Ulica Dunavska. If I were Mayor of Novi Sad, I would go for it.

By the way, if you’re interested in pictures of Novi Sad before (and after) the renovations, take a look at Stare fotografije Novog Sada (a Facebook account). 

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