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Spatium  2012 

Water, society and urbanization in the 19th century Belgrade: Lessons for adaptation to the climate change

DOI: 10.2298/spat1228053c

Keywords: Belgrade , 19th century , urban history , waterscape , climate change

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Abstract:

This paper traces urban history of Belgrade in the 19th century by looking into its waterscape in the context of its transformation as the capital of the Princedom of Serbia. Aiming to underline the importance of water as a resource, with the view to contemporary environmental concerns, we explore how citizens historically related to waterscape in everyday life and created a specific socio-spatial water network through use of public baths on the river banks and public fountains, water features and devices in the city. The paper outlines the process of establishing the first modern public water supply system on the foundations of the city’s historical Roman, Austrian and Ottoman waterworks. It also looks at the Top ider River as the most telling example of degradation of a culturally and historically significant urban watercourse from its natural, pastoral and civic past to its current polluted and hazardous state. Could the restitution of the Top ider River be considered as a legacy of sustainability for future generations, and are there lessons to be learned from the urban history which can point to methods of contemporary water management?

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