University of Basel

SIBA – A Visual Approach to Explore Everyday Life in Turkish and Yugoslav Cities, 1920s and 1930s

The National Library building

The National Library building, © Photoarchive Borbaenlarge


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Object:The National Library building
Description:View of the front of an imposing, large building with flags above the door. It has two floors and a roof storey. The entrance is hidden behind a massive loggia with four double coloums. The balcony above features four allegoric statues. The windows and the corners of the building are richly decorated with identical stucco female faces and Corinthian capitals.
Comment:The National Library (Narodna biblioteka), founded in 1832, is Serbia’s oldest cultural institution. In 1920, after several relocations, it moved into a former cardboard factory owned by industrialist Milan Vapa in Kosančićev Venac street and served as the central state library of Yugoslavia despite the fact that the building was not adapted for this purpose. During the bombing on 6 April 1941, the Library was burnt to the ground and a large part of its collection was completely destroyed. Exactly thirty years later, on 6 April 1973, the new National Library building opened its doors on Vračar Hill, where it is still situated today.
Date:Not before 1920, Not after 1941
Location:Belgrade, Stari Grad
Country:Serbia (contemporary)
Yugoslavia (historical)
Type:Photographic plate
Creator:Grdijan, Svetozar (probably)
Dimensions:Negative: 90mm x 130mm
Keywords:180 Total Culture > 184 Cultural Participation
340 Structures > 341 Architecture
520 Recreation > 529 Recreational Facilities
650 Government Activities > 658 Public Education
340 Structures > 342 Dwellings
180 Total Culture > 186 Cultural Identity and Pride
Bibliography:Vujović, Branko (1994): Beograd u prošlosti i sadašnjosti. Beograd: Draganić, 189-190.
Background of the National Library of Serbia Building. Source: (accessed 23.04.2016).
Copyright:Photoarchive Borba
Archive:Borba fotodokumentacija, Belgrade (Collection Vreme), Inv. No.: Borba.biblioteka
Editors:Milanka Matić, Nataša Mišković