Planning Capital Cities

(Barré) #1

peace treaties in Paris in 1919/20, however here the situation was even more
pronounced. Belgrade, the centre of ‘Serbian-dom’ was the new capital not
just of Serbia but of a supranational (Muslims, Germans, Hungarians, Albanians,
Italians) and a south Slavic (Croats and Slovenes being the most pronounced
along with Serbs) state.

Acceptance of the capital as a symbol of the state faltered not only on the
reservations of national minorities, but also – at least during the first two
generations – even on the cultural and social homogeneity of the nation itself.
The vast majority of Romanians, Bulgarians and Serbs were until the middle of
the 20th century by and large agrarian and rural and had difficulty identifying
with the modern capitals, characterized at the base level by an unusual/foreign
lifestyle. Only in the socialist period did this imbalance begin to dissipate,
helped along by industrialization, although still persists even to this day.^13

As Bucharest, Belgrade and Sofia assumed the roles of capitals of their
respective nations, the quandary relating to orientation vis-a-vis other capitals
was quickly resolved (see the article of Grigor Doytchinov). This question was
not only reflective of the external relations localized in the capitals of their
governments, but also represented a conscious effort to stylistically mould
the national headquarters to fit a national ideal. Urban development of the
three cities shows that until 1945 Western models (Paris, Berlin, Vienna) were
followed, while in the first decades after 1945, this role was assumed by Moscow
(see the articles of Miruna Stroe, Grigor Doytchinov, Aleksandra Đukić). In this
respect, Belgrade is not comparable to Bucharest and Sofia, because of the
fact that following the Tito-Stalin split, Yugoslavia was not part of the Eastern
Bloc. This ultimately afforded Belgrade more room for manoeuvring, at least
stylistically. However, it is not surprising that in the post-Socialist period, from
1989 onwards, Western models for urban-planning are again being followed,
not least owing to the financing of these efforts by foreign (western European)
investors (see the articles of Eva Vaništa Lazarević, Milena Vukmirović, Angelica
Stan, Mihai Alexandru, Yani Valkanov) without which they would by and large
be impossible.

Closing remarks

The comparison of the developments of capitals in Europe shows that examples
such as London, Paris or Rome are indeed very representative but ultimately
atypical, because in most other cases, the situations were quite different: the
process of development lasted both long and short and was to a large extent
determined by the stability of the states they represented and later, the need
of those states for a central place of power and organization. The European
capitals only received a decidedly national character – in theory or reality –
rather late, i.e. in the 19th century. While most Western capitals only gradually
assumed national symbolism, those new and emerging capitals in eastern and
South Eastern Europe entered this process almost immediately.

Capital city as national vision at the Serbs, Bulgarians and Romanians
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