Very recently, I had the opportunity to visit the city of Belgrade, in Serbia. The reason of the trip was to attend the MedCLIVAR 2018 conference , which is a conference taking place bi-annually in various Mediterranean cities and gathers scientists that conduct research in the framework of the MedCLIVAR network .
The city where the conference was held this year, was Belgrade, a very picturesque and atmospheric city. It’s pluralistic character was very strongly portrayed on the architecture of the city, on its colors, on the shop fronts even on the pavements of the streets.
Perhaps, one of the most unique attribute of its architecture was the antithesis between the massive soviet settlements that were built so as to satisfy the housing demand of the working class on the one hand, and the imperial-type buildings that facilitated all the governmental services on the other.
This strong contradiction is a distinct characteristic of the so-called “Monumental City” that saw its rise during the 19th century in Paris and Vienna. The “Monumental City” was the city that aimed to engender a sense of imposed respect for the authority and magnify the distance between the common people and their leadership. This same practice was also applied in the Soviet Union and has left a very recognizable print on the urban geography of the cities of the former Soviet Union.
* The author acknowledge support by the DAAD project: "The Mediterranean Hot-Spot: Challenges and Responses in a Changing Environment"