Until the thirties of the last century, along with this oldest house in Belgrade, there were two more that were demolished, and they hid a big secret.
Source: MONDO/Stefan Stojanović
If the road takes you to Dorćol, at 10 Cara Dušana Street, then you must know that you are standing outside the oldest house in Belgrade. You will recognize it first because today there is a bakery and a glass shop on its ground floor, and there is a tram station in front. Apart from its cultural and historical significance, city legends were woven around this house, mostly related to the mysterious tunnels that are located below.
The construction of this house, otherwise the second residential building out of a total of seven, began during the Austrian occupation of Belgrade; more precisely, in 1724, and it was completed three years later. On the order of the Prince of Württemberg, the engineer and colonel of the Austrian army, the Swiss Nicolas Doxat de Morez, built this house in the Baroque style. as a part of a wider plan of reconstruction and strengthening of the Kalemegdan fortress. The oldest house in Belgrade has a happier history than its creator, who was executed by the Austrian imperial authorities on charges of high treason.. There are, however, records that he died in order to preserve information about the secret passages under, that is, around the fortress.
The Germans, who next visited Kalemegdan, i.e. Belgrade, during the Second World War, were fascinated by these same tunnels. Another great legend associated with this house is that they The Germans found the treasure in the tunnels under the house and took it to Berlin. After the war, the inhabitants of this house discovered the tunnels, but they did not explore them because they looked neglected and unstable, so the threat of them collapsing was real.
The oldest house in Belgrade
Source: MONDO/Stefan Stojanović
We will never know for sure what these tunnels were for, since it is still impossible to examine them today, not only because they are extremely damaged, but also under water. The underground passages were flooded when the water level of the Sava and Danube rivers rose. It is also interesting to note that until the thirties of the last century, there were two more in addition to this oldest house in Belgrade, but they were demolished in the meantime. All three were allegedly connected to the fortress by basements and tunnels. The imagination of those who thought about mysterious lagoons and tunnels is fired by the fact that the basement extends along the entire lot on which the house was built.
As for its appearance, the baroque style is particularly highlighted by the arched vaults, which are also visible from the outside. Arched vaults are also in the basement, thanks to which this house has been stable for almost three centuries.
No less famous tenants
The first resident of this house was Elias Fleischmann, a harness maker, councilor in the municipal council and a prominent citizen of that time. There is not much information available about the changes of all the owners, but what they all had in common is that there has always been some craft activity on the ground floor of the house, ever since the retreat of the Austro-Hungarians from Belgrade.
In the middle of the last century, in the basement of this house was the textile workshop “National Hero Anđa Ranković”, the forerunner of the famous textile factory ‘BEKO’, which sprung up just a few hundred meters from this house. Anđa Ranković, after whom the workshop is named, was the first wife of Aleksandar Ranković. She worked as the secretary of the party cell in the workers’ movement of tailoring, textile and abadji workshops, and our history remembers her as an associate of many prominent personalities of that good. Anđa died in battle in the vicinity of Gack, and was declared a national hero posthumously.
In connection with the oldest house in Belgrade, it is also interesting that it opened the first shop – otherwise known as a bakery – that worked twenty-four hours a day, every day in the SFRY. Its owner was Đorđe A. Ilić, the founder and president of the Union of Bakers, the first such guild association since 1945. The Union was remembered for providing assistance to the most vulnerable categories of the population. Thus, the bakery that is located there today bears witness to a small part of the turbulent history of the oldest house in Belgrade.