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The Forgotten Shopping Malls of Belgrade

Belgrade's shopping malls were built seemingly overnight in the 1990s, and seem to have been abandoned with the same swiftness.

by Lazara Marinković, text by Iva Parađanin
01 April 2016, 5:00am

Piramida shopping mall

This article originally appeared on VICE Serbia

During the 1980s and 1990s, dozens of shopping malls were erected in the Serbian capital of Belgrade representing at the time a new, modern shopping experience in the formerly Communist city. They were built almost overnight, and seem to have been abandoned with the same swiftness. They smell of mildew and decay now – the shop windows plastered with newspaper sheets. People who used to come here now shop online, or have moved on to bigger, shinier, newer shopping malls where only international chains and rich local tycoons can afford to rent a space.

I went to visit some of them, to see the state they're in now. One of these malls is Staklenac ("Glass house" in Serbian) – a hideous glass makeshift construction built for temporary use, 27 years ago. It was, unsuccessfully so, built in the image of London's Crystal Palace. Only a couple of shops inside it are open now – some fast food places and newsstands, an internet café and a yoga place. There are days when nobody comes in.

Cumic, a tiny mall in the heart of Belgrade, is an exception. Most shops are as abandoned as in any other mall of its kind, but a collective of 20 Serbian designers are renting a wing of the building to sell their work. Still, one of the designers told me that although they now have a shop in the heart of Belgrade, they mostly sell online.

Piramida shopping mall

Staklenac shopping mall

Staklenac shopping mall

Sparrows at Staklenac shopping mall

Cumic shopping mall

Cumic shopping mall

Zeleni Venac shopping mall

Zeleni Venac shopping mall

Stankom shopping mall

Window shopping for cats

Shopping mall in Banovo Brdo, a suburb of Belgrade

Piramida shopping mall

Piramida shopping mall

Stankom shopping mall

Piramida shopping mall

Staklenac shopping mall

Staklenac shopping mall

Cumic shopping mall

Cumic shopping mall

Piramida shopping mall

Zeleni Venac shopping mall

Shopping mall in Banovo Brdo, a suburb of Belgrade

Stankom shopping mall

Stankom shopping mall