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Belgrade (City, Yugoslavia [Serbia])


Last modified: 2003-01-03 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Belgrade city]by Jorge Hurtado

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Origin of the coat of arms and flag

Early reports

In Belgrade, one of the oldest European cities, on the crossroads of East and West, the first mention of the Belgrade coat of arms originates from the time of the son of emperor Lazarus (Lazar), despot Stephen (Stefan) Lazarevic, when Belgrade became the capital of the Serbian state for the first time (1403), but until today it is not determined how it looked like.

The next coat of arms is from the period of the Hungarian domination and is shown in the armorial collection of Fugeric honour miror from 1555.

The tradition of the coat of arms of Belgrade was interrupted under Turkish occupation, since Turks did not have such kind of symbols, but was resumed after the Austrian take-over of Belgrade in XVIIIth century. At that time, after a proposal by the imperial governor, prince Alexander of Wuertenberg, the Court War Council adopted in year 1725 a new seal and coat of arms. The literature also mentions the coat-of-arms in Brockhausen Encyclopaedia, one in Larousse Encyclopaedia and a so-called "ancient coat of arms of the city".
The first two coat of arms are considered as dubious by experts, while the third one is considered as a wrong interpretation of Roman coins from the first century A.D.. It is important to note that all of those coats-of-arms are known only from prints or literature.

In the project of Law on communities of 1914, a new coat of arms with national symbols in it was proposed, but there is no evidence that this Law was ever adopted due to the war events of that year.

1931 symbols

The action of establishment of the Belgrade coat of arms was resumed once again in 1931, by the president of the community (mayor) of the city of Belgrade, Mr. Milan Nesic. An increased committee, formed of artists, heraldrists, university professors, generals and state secretaries, considered, as it is stated in the official gazette, the task "very seriously, with much will and care". The committee had sessions several times and considered the issue, so that the first session of a smaller committee on 19th May 1931 adopted the following conclusions:

  • 1. The coat of arms of should be in shape of a shield with pointed end in the bottom;
  • 2. The elements of the coat-of-arms should be:
    • national colours
    • river, as symbol of the original power of Belgrade
    • Roman vessel (trireme), as symbol of the age of Belgrade
    • white walls with tower and open gates; walls shall represent the merchant city, the tower the the city and open gates the free market.
  • 3. The ground in the bottom of the shield, between the rivers and under the walls should be red, as symbol of blood, eternal suffering of Belgrade; the rivers should be white according to the rules of heraldry; the walls and towers white, as symbol of the "White City" (Beograd = White city); the sky blue as symbol of hope and faith in better future.

On the contest made according to this, the sketch coded "Red three" won by a great majority. It was the work of Belgrade painter Djordje Andrejevic-Kun. As suggested by the jury, the sketch was modified in minor details, and awarded and officially adopted as the sketch of the coat of arms, printed in colours in Beogradske opstinske novine no. 1/32. The same year, according to an article on Spasovdan ceremony (being also the day of Belgrade), from the same newspapers, it was worn "the flag with the new coat of arms of Belgrade".

1991 symbols

After the World War II, with changed social atmosphere, the city seemed to forget its coat of arms. The legal solutions are from total absence of the regulations on coat of arms, over the use of term "emblem" without blazon, to the regulations with blazon of a stylization without following documentation.

With the confussion made by the use of two coats of arms, heraldically unacceptable, and with critical reactions of the citizens, in the beggining of 1991, the Assembly of the City of Belgrade initiated a procedure to solve the problem. A working group was formed by Mr. Dragomir Acovic, our highest authority in heraldry and the chairman of the Serbian Heraldic Society "White Eagle", Mrs. Mira Kun, the daughter of Djordje Andrejevic-Kun, Mr. Branko Miljus, painter, and Mr. Tomislav Lakusic, the secretary of the Assembly.
The working group concluded to restoration of the coat of arms of 1931, with three minor correction in graphical layout of the coat of arms, blazon of the coat of arms and the flag of the city. With statute of the City of Belgrade of 1991, the suggested designs were adopted, and formally and legally confirmed importance and value of the Belgrade coat of arms of 1931.

Legal provisions

The standards of the coat of arms and flag of the city of Belgrade and graphical standards for their representation were made by Serbian Heraldic Society "White Eagle", and were published in Slizbeni list grade Beograda (Official gazette of the city of Belgrade) nr. 14/96 for the coat-of-arms, and nr. 8/97 for the flag.

Source: Serbian Orthodox Church website. Text translated by Zeljko Heimer 17 April 1999

Greater and middle coat of arms

On the Serbian Orthodox Church website, there is representation of the Belgrade coat of arms as eustcheon on white eagle, with mural crown, and orders, captioned: "The greater coat of arms of the city of Belgrade, proposed by Serbian Heraldic Society "White Eagle".
Similarly, there is a coat of arms with crown and orders, captioned: "The middle coat of arms of the city of Belgrade, proposed by Serbian Heraldic Society "White Eagle""

It is not clear if these two coat of arms are also officially adopted arms, or only versions that were not finally adopted.

The four orders in the coat of arms are described as follows:

The city of Belgrade carries 4 orders of merit:

1. Order of the Legion of Honour. Awarded to the City on 21 December1920.

Established on 19 May 1802 by Napoléon Bonaparte. Awarded in five grades as the highest order in France. The order was awarded to the city by Marshall of France and honourary vojvoda of Serbian Army Louis Franchet d'Esperey. Except Belgrade, only two cities not in France were awarded it: Liège (Belgium) and Luxembourg.

2. War Cross. Awarded to the City on 8 October 1925.

Established by Czechoslovakian temporary government in Paris on 7 November1918 as the highest State war order in one grade. It was awarded for courage and initiative in battle against enemy and for heroic deeds in combat for independence 1914-1918.

3. Order of Karadjordje Star with Swords. Awarded to the City on 18 May 1939.

Established in four grades on 1 Janury 1904 by King Peter I of Serbia. The group with swords for war merits was established on 20 October1912. The minister of the army and navy, army general Milutin Nedic, as representative of HM King Peter II of Yugoslavia, awarded this highest war order to the president of community of Belgrade, Mr. Vlado Ilic on Spasovdan ceremony.

4. Order of People's Hero. Awarded to the City on 20 October1974.

Established on 15 August 1943 in one grade as the order for people that gained title of People's Hero, established some time earlier. The design was made by Djordje Andrejevic-Kun, and plastic design by Antun Augustincic.

Source: Serbian Orthodox Church website. Text translated by Zeljko Heimer 17 April 1999