Serbian Capital's Princely Plans for Square Draw Mockery

A plan by the city authorities in Belgrade to reconstruct a central square and erect a soaring 28-metre-high monument to a medieval prince has come under fire from critics, who call it kitschy and complain of an untransparent planning process.

The city government early in February revealed its plans to rebuild the Savski square, which lies in front of the old train station, and adorn it with a massive statue of a 12th-century prince, Stefan Nemanja.

"In this way we will connect the old part of the city with the new, which is the Belgrade Waterfront, and achieve the complete transformation of Savamala," Belgrade deputy mayor Goran Vesic said on February 5, referring to the city's riverside district.

But not everyone is impressed, including architect Dragoljub Bakic. He says the original plan was for the monument to be a more humble 15 metres high - not 28.

"Now this has been doubled - and we don't know why or by whom - or why the monument should be higher than the railway station ... For me this shows a lack of seriousness," Bakic told BIRN.

He also says the city government has not been transparent with the reconstruction plans for the square, and put them on show for just one hour before then taking them down.

"I can't even comment on the plans if the city management doesn't allow them to be seen," Bakic said.

Instead of revealing the plan, the city government published photos of what the square would look like after the reconstruction is finished.

But it is the 28-metre-high monument that has captured most attention on social networks.

"I'm already imagining how the 28-metre-high Stefan Nemanja will shine beautifully when they wrap him in Christmas decorations," one Twitter user jested, referring to the habit...

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