Prva kragujevacka gimnazija is the oldest Grammar School in Serbia. This school was established in 1833. The high school in many ways has represented the history of the city. During WWII on October 21st, 1941 a large number of its students and teachers were executed by the German forces. Currently the high school is housed in the same building that it moved into in 1887. The design of the building was completed in Vienna, and the Gimnazija is one of the most beautiful examples of architecture in Kragujevac.
Squeezed between Amidzin konak – Amidza's Abode and Mihailov konak – Mihailo's Palace, stands Galerija Narodnog muzeja – the Gallery of the National Museum, the best, the most spacious and the most prestigious exhibit space in Kragujevac. The building of the Gallery was erected in 1971, based on the project of architect Dragisa Vulovic.
Ground floor of the Gallery is the venue of temporary exhibitions. On the upper floor there is permanent exhibition – The Twentieth Century: Paintings and Sculptures from the Collection of the National Museum in Kragujevac. Among the masterpieces of this collection are works of Sava Sumanovic, Toma Rosandic, Djordje Andrejevic Kun, Petar Dobrovic, Ljubica Cuca Sokic, Nedeljko Gvozdenovic, Zora Petrovic, Risto Stijovic, Ljuba Popovic, Djordje Ilic, Nikola Koka Jankovic, Mira Sandic, Olga Jevric, Olga Jancic, Cvetko Lainovic, Branko Ruzic, Angelina Gatalica… This exhibition was reopened in the May of 2008, after being dislocated due to NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999. Although not huge, it is one of the most representative collections of the Serbian 20th century art.
Spomenik palim Sumadincima – Monument to the Dead Sumadija Warriors is an early masterpiece of Croatian sculptor Antun Augustincic. It was erected in 1932 and it is cross-shaped, with four groups of warriors, and allegorical female figure on the top, with crown on her palm.
After WWII communist regime had the hand with the crown cut (the crown was the symbol of monarchy) and replaced with an odd hand with wreath. In 90s that hand was replaced with hand with crown, work of Nikola Koka Jankovic, as the original hand had been lost (probably – destroyed).
Monument to the Dead Sumadija Warriors is one of the most recognizable symbols of Kragujevac.
Permanent exhibition of Muzej "Stara livnica" – Museum "Old Foundry" depicts the beginnings and development of industrial production in Serbia and in Kragujevac.
The Cannon-foundry was established in Belgrade in 1848, but moved to Kragujevac for security and strategic reasons in 1851. The first head manager of the Foundry in Kragujevac was French artillery major Charles Lubrie, and the first cannon was casted in the 15th of October 1853 in the presence of Aleksandar Karadjordjevic, Prince of Serbia.
Present day museum building was erected in 1882. It is among the rare preserved 19th century industrial structures in Serbia. The construction of the building, influenced by French and German industrial architecture, is connected with Todor Seleskovic, the outstanding technical engineer, one of the heads of the Foundry in the late 19th century. At that period the Foundry was highly modernized. In 1889 it was awarded a prize at the World Exhibition in Paris. Previously, in 1884, the usage of electricity had started. In the Collection of photographs of National Museum Kragujevac there is thrilling testimony of that – photograph of vast number of people with the first working electric bulb in Serbia! Museum exhibition manages to present the atmosphere of the exciting time of local "industrial revolution".
Besides that, the exhibition presents the two appealing artworks: sculpture "Target" by Valery Michieli, cast in 1969, and painting "Kragujevac, the 15th of February 1876", created by Mica Popovic, one of the greatest Serbian artists of the 20th century.
Once located within the "Zastava" factory, Museum "Old Foundry" used to be opened for tourists only in two terms per week. Nowadays the factory fence has been moved backward and the museum can be visited more often and easier.
Okay so it's not exactly in Kragujevac but around 20 kilometres away just off the main Belgrade highway heading north. The wooden village of Etno Selo is a recently built tourist village near the town of Velika Plana. There are holiday cabins, a wooden church, a wooden restaurant and plenty for the kids to do including an outdoor swimming pool and horses. When I was there I had only a handful of other visitors to contend with so I don't know what it's like when it's busy but I really enjoyed it.
Sumarice Memorial Park is settled at the western verge of Kragujevac. It is the site of one of the most brutal crimes committed during WWII – Kragujevac massacre. The park, established as the institution in 1953, covers area of about 3.5 square kilometers, and contains the thirty mass graves at the spots of the 1941 executions.
Ten of the graves are marked with monuments. Certainly the best known is "Broken Wing" – Monument to Executed Pupils and Professors created in 1963 by Serbian sculptor Miodrag Zivkovic. Two are made by Croatian artist Ante Grzetic: in 1958 – author's masterpiece "Monument of Pain and Spite", and, eight years later, in 1966 – "Monument of Resistance and Freedom". Among the others are "Hundred for One" by Nandor Glid, cast in 1980, "Monument from People of Croatia", by Vojin Bakic, presented to the city of Kragujevac in 1981, "Against Evil" artwork of Mexican sculptor Miguel Romo, from 1991…
On the south peak of Sumarice park is the grave of 44 Slovak soldiers executed in in June of 1918, after the break of one of the biggest mutinies in the Austro-Hungarian army in WWI. In the central area is old soldiers' graveyard. The furthest north-west area covers the artificial lake called Jezero u Sumaricama – Lake in Sumarice. At the entrance to the park stands magnificent structure of Memorijalni muzej 21. oktobar – Memorial Museum 21st October. The only other public buildings within the park are Hotel Sumarice, restaurant Palisad and new, unfinished Church dedicated to victims of Kragujevac massacre.
Besides being Memorial Park with the aim "to keep and cherish the memory of the tragic event and, in the face of contemporary challenges, raise awareness of the young about it so that past crimes could not happen again", Sumarice is simply – the beautiful park. Citizens of Kragujevac do spend time in it during all seasons.
Saborna Crkva Svete Bogorodice – the Church Cathedral of Holy Mother of God known as Nova crkva – the New Church was built in late 19th century – works started in 1869, and the building was completed probably in 1884. Andreja Andrejevic, architect of this church, was educated in Russia, and influence of Russian school of building orthodox churches is very present – this church is an interpretation of Byzantine churches and Serbian medieval sacred architecture. It is milestone, and since then Serbian churches have been built in that style.
The bell tower is later addition – it was built in 1928 to the design and project by the Russian architect of uncertain name, mentioned as Monida Maksejev but also as Leonid Maktejev.
The church iconostasis was painted in 1926 by the Russian artist Andrei Bitsenko, very active in Serbia between WWI and WWII, author of frescoes in Ruzica church in Belgrade, frescoes and iconostasis of Church Cathedral of Saint George in Smederevo… The frescoes are of the recent date, painted between 1979 and 1992 by Nikola Kudumnakis, Adonis Stergiu and Miloje Milinkovic.
Vlaja Nikolic Rakidzija's (rakidzija literally means rakija maker) Palace was built in 1912. Architecture of this Secession style building was influenced by Viennese or the Peshta styles of that time. Corner of this building, huge for Kragujevac of that time, has beautiful small cupola with human figure in ornamental wreath beneath.
Now, there are two banks in this building.
Konak kneza Mihaila – Knez Mihailo's Palace was built in 1860, in a style of Austrian Classicism. Knez Mihailo Obrenovic, educated in Europe, founded a building that was strong contrast to its oriental surrounding.
Nowadays Knez Mihailo's Palace is part of National Museum Kragujevac complex, and it is venue of temporary exhibitions.
In the ground floor lobby of the palace is displayed recently cast Bust of Knez Mihailo – copy of Enrico Pazzi's sculpture carved in stone in 1874. This bust was the preparation for Pazzi's masterpiece – Equesterian Monument of Knez Mihailo.
Gornji park – the Upper Park is kind of entrance to Sumarice Memorial Park. It is nice place, and many people use to take a walk there, especially with their children. There is square with the fountain with "Wounded Soldier" sculpture, work of Dragan Panic, in the middle of the park.
Memorijalni muzej 21. oktobar – Memorial Museum 21st October has the "mission to explore, collect and present material" about Kragujevac massacre, one of the most brutal crimes committed during WWII, and "to cherish the memory of innocently executed citizens."
The construction of the museum building designed by architects Ivan Antic and Ivanka Raspopovic, had started in 1967 and the museum was opened on the 15th of February 1976. Its magnificent, massive red brick structure is one of the finest achievements of the 20th century Serbian architecture. "Even though the building is functionally museum, structurally it represents a specific monument laden with symbolics. Red bricks should evoke the blood of the murdered patriots, whilst 33 turrets of different or identical heights serve as symbolic links among 30 tombs in Sumarice park and 3 tombs in the neighbouring villages. The lack of windows symbolises the hopeless situation the captives found themselves in, inhumanely condemned to death. Museum foundations are shaped like the Cross, Christian symbol of suffering."
The permanent exhibition presents the history of the massacre – its causes, occurrences, reactions… Deeply moving last messages of the victims are displayed, as well as their belongings. Besides that, the three powerful artworks – "Kragujevac October" by Nandor Glid, "The Death of the Mastodont" and "Break on East" by Oto Logo, in the surreal ambient of the museum, along with music and voice whispering the names of executed, make the permanent exhibition very, impressive and emotionally disturbing.
Special part of the permanent exhibition is series of 27 paintings "Kragujevac 1941" – "associative and abstract view of tragic execution in Kragujevac, raised at higher level of universal thought about drama of living in tragic relation to destruction and death", artwork of famous Serbian and Montenegrin artist Petar Lubarda. He painted the series between 1966 and 1968, and presented it to Memorial Museum in 1969. The paintings, in accordance to his will, have never been departed from Kragujevac.
Crkva Svetog Duha – the Church of the Holy Spirit known as Stara Crkva – the Old Church was built in 1818 by master Milutin Godjevac. It was the first building in new capital of Serbia, built by the decision of Milos Obrenovic, and, according to the tradition, he had to use all of his diplomatic skills to have this church built, but just very small because it had to be smaller than mosque near it. The churchyard was the first Assembly of modern Serbia. The church was enlarged, and bell tower was built in 1907. The constructor was Jovan Ilkic, one of the best Serbian architects of that time.
Today, it is quiet and calm place, surrounded by the trees, a bit off the main streets, although in the center of the city.
Amidzin konak – Amidza's Abode, built about 1818, was the house of Sima Milosavljevic – Pastrmac called Amidza, Obrenovic Court housekeeper, and it is the only remain building of court complex. It represents Balkan-Oriental style in architecture.
Nowadays it is part of National Museum Kragujevac complex, but, unfortunately, just its exterior of this building can be seen at the moment.
The establishing of the first Grammar School in 1833 in Kragujevac is the beginning of modern education in Serbia. This school – Kragujevacka gimnazija was the first high school in Serbia, but not the first Serbian school – the Grammar School in Sremski Karlovci was established in 1791, but, at that time, it was in Austro-Hungarian Empire.
The high school was situated in an inappropriate building for 55 years, until 1888 when it was moved to the very same building it is housed today. It is pretty certain that the plan for the Gimnazija building was created out of Serbia, probably in Vienna. The architect is unknown, but, according to some recently discovered data, the building may be the artwork of Vladimir Nikolic. Gimnazija is the best of Kragujevac 19th century architecture and construction.
Ceremonial hall of Gimnazija (behind 5 large windows on the 1st floor) is the place in which many cultural events occur.
Square in front of Gimnazija is Djacki trg – Pupils' Square and there is Monument of Vuk Karadzic, work of sculptor Aleksandar Zarin, erected in the late 20th century, on it.
National Bank Palace is one of the finest buildings erected in Kragujevac in the first half of the 20th century. It was completed just before the country had been involved in WWII. This massive, monumental structure is the artwork of architect Bogdan Nestorovic, son of architect Nikola Nestorovic, constructor of the District Court Palace.