The first market in Belgrade named St. Andrew’s market (more commonly known as the Big Market) was founded in 1824 at Students’ Square. By that time, the farmers brought their products to the City entrances for sale, but the Turkish soldiers forcibly bought their produce and then sold the products in the City at much higher prices. After the frequent complaints on the violence and bullying by the Turkish soldiers, Belgrade Vizier organized a meeting of all the renowned Turks and Serbs in Belgrade in his Quarters in order to discuss the founding of a central market place in Belgrade. Thus, in the very heart of the City’s social life, and in the vicinity of the road to Istanbul, the first market emerged.
According to the agreement between Serbs and Turks, everyone was allowed to exhibit their products at the Big Market and hence, shortly the Big Market became the main place for supplying with groceries in Belgrade. Following the departure of the Turks, Emilijan Joksimovic, architect and the professor at Belgrade Higher School recommends the relocation of the market. However, only a part of this idea had been implemented – a part of the free space around the market was transformed into a park, whereas the primitively arranged and dysfunctional Big Market kept operating until 1926.
In addition to the Big Market, there were other markets in Belgrade: Flower Square, founded by the Society for the embellishment of Vracar, then Fish Market, Livestock Market and Wheat Market in Zemun, as well as the market on Senjak. Even back then, Belgrade also had a private market, Palilula market, owned by the Society “Milosevac”.
City Authorities closed the Big Market in 1926 and built three new markets instead – Zeleni venac, Kalenic and Jovanov Markets. As the population in Belgrade increased, the new markets kept growing – Djeram in Smederevo, as well as markets in Dusanovac, Vozdovac and Karaburma.
Zeleni Venac is considered to be the oldest market in the Balkans that is still functioning. The records say that even back in 1847 it used to be a market place, and in 1885 pursuant to the decision of the authorities of the City of Belgrade, the location was transformed into one of seven cab stations in the City. In 1918, it was the place where the First Assembly of Greengrocers was held and in 1926 it became the most modern market of its times. Thanks to good organization, modern stalls and wider assortments of goods, the people named it to be the Queen of green markets. The same title is still preserved today, as after the reconstruction finished at the beginning of 2007, the market was enriched with new contents while maintaining its authentic image. Because of its architectonic design, the building ornamented with the cupola at the top, Zeleni Venac market has been placed under the state protection as the cultural monument.
The recognizable symbol of Belgrade is also the Kalenic market, raised on the property which was left to the city by a benefactor, Mr. Vlajko Kalenic, and the location was originally named Kalenic Threshing Floor. The market office was officially formed in 1933 and the market was expanded for a large number of stalls. Kalenic market has the largest tourist potential and due to the outstanding quality and wide assortment of produce displayed at the market, the citizens ranked it as the most noble of all markets in the City.
Bajloni Market was opened in 1927 and it was named after its founder, the Czech – Mr. Ignjat Bajloni. At first, it functioned as the wholesale market and after the Second World War it was renamed into Skadarlija market and became a green market. The popular inn called “Saran” (Carp) will be long remembered in the history of the market, where the traders and farmers used to celebrate good sales on the market.
According to some historic records, at the end of the 118th century, the farmers fetched their goods to their customers in Zemun ‘on their feet, to institutions and houses, as at the time the noble people would not show up at the market, and only the poor supplied themselves directly from the markets. The goods were transported by the tandems, and also by carriage. Watermelons and grapes were taken by rivers from Stari Slankamen; cabbage was brought from the best fields in Lido, whereas the Germans at the old Zemun market used to sell their goods: butter, milk cream and specialty cheese. In addition to the Green market, there was once a Fish market in Zemun at the river bank and in a way it remained a tradition until this very day. The specialty of that market has always been the sale of fresh water fish that the Danube fisherman caught.
Nowadays, Zemun market is located at Masarikov Square and the street named Gospodska, divides the market into two halves. On the same site, all the way until 1960 there used to be a Wheat market, paved with macadam, also called Turkish cobble, where the traders and farmers brought the wheat for sale on horse carriage.
The history of Belgrade markets is the history of Belgrade, and Public Utility Company “Belgrade City Markets” endeavor to preserve the history and to adapt it to the needs of a modern era.