Castles of Serbia

Hotel Moskva (Moscow)


Hotel Moskva (Serbian for Moscow), built in 1906, is one of the oldest hotels in Belgrade, but also in the whole of Serbia. Apart from being a hotel, the Moskva Hotel building is one of the most recognisable buildings in Belgrade, a valuable architectural monument and as such is under the protection of the Government.

Hotel Moskva is located on Terazije, in the heart of downtown Belgrade. It is located at the intersection of three streets: Terazijska, Prizrenska and Balkanska. From its location at the top of Terazije Square, you can enjoy a fantastic view of New Belgrade, across the Sava River. In addition to other business facilities in the area, across from Prizrenska and Terazije, there are two more hotels, Balkan and Kasina. Nearby are the Albanija Palace and the Terazije Fountain, built in 1860. The inn “Velika Srbija” (Greater Serbia) used to be located on the land currently occupied by the hotel.

Construction of the “Moscow” hotel began in 1906 and it opened its doors on January 16, 1908. The importance it had at that time is also shown by the fact that it was opened by the King of Serbia, Petar I Karađorđević. It was built with Russian capital, hence the name. Shortly after its opening, it became the headquarters of the Olympic Committee of Serbia and the Club of Journalists and Writers. In 1923, the hotel was taken over by Poštanska štedionica, and in 1938 it was transferred to the National Bank of Yugoslavia. During the Second World War, the hotel was the headquarters of the Gestapo in 1941, transforming it into a headquarters, and renamed Velika Srbija, the original name of the inn. The headquarters had its own electricity generator and water taps and was one of the last facilities liberated at the end of the war. During the German retreat in 1944, original paintings by great masters, gold and silverware belonging to the hotel were looted. In the post-war period, it became a favourite place of the cultural elite. The winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Ivo Andrić, had his own table in the restaurant, and the poet Vasko Popa was also a frequent guest.

The director of the Serbian Shipping Company, Svetozar Vukadinović, who was the owner of the Velika Srbija inn in Terazije, travelled to Russia, where he had previously been an emigrant, to find an insurance company that would build a magnificent building on his property. The chief director of the company Rossiya (Россiя) Roman Ivanovich Poitzl agreed to Vukadinovic’s idea.

The competition for the building of the Rossiya insurance company was announced in October 1904. Zagreb architect Viktor Kovačić won the first prize in the competition, while Jovan Ilkić won the second prize. Nevertheless, the directorate of the insurance company Rossiya decided on Ilkić’s project. The hotel was designed by the architect Jovan Ilkić with a group of architects from Russia, in the Art Nouveau style, very risky at the time, giving Belgrade a modern face during the transformation that took place at the beginning of the 20th century.

The most impressive feature, even at first glance, is the smooth, shiny facade made of ceramic mosaics. It originally had 36 rooms, but after many renovations it currently has 132 rooms (of which 40 are duplexes) and 6 suites. The building was built in such a way that it somewhat imitates the elements of Russian architecture, both historical and modern. The judging panel that was supposed to supervise the work was made up of six architects: two from Russia, two from Austria-Hungary and two from the Kingdom of Serbia, thus demonstrating an equilibrium in the aspirations of European and Russian architecture. The surface of the external walls from the first floor to the roof is covered with yellowish tiles and decorated with green ornaments. The ceramic lining was brought from Pécs, from the Zholnay factory, where the molds used to cast it are still kept today. In this way, Hotel Moskva leans stylistically on the Hungarian Art Nouveau across the Sava and Danube rivers, most pronounced in Subotica.

Hotel Moskva was visited by celebrities such as Serbian generals Živojin Mišić and Petar Bojović, inventor Mikhail Kalashnikov, scientist Albert Einstein, athletes Anatoly Karpov, Garry Kasparov and Carl Lewis, actors such as Robert De Niro, Kirk Douglas, Milla Jovović, Jack Nicholson and Michael Douglas, film directors such as Alfred Hitchcock, Roman Polanski and Miloš Tren, politicians such as Nikola Pašić, Rajiv Gandhi, Yasser Arafat, Indira Gandhi, Muammar el Gaddafi, Leonid Brezhnev and Richard Nixon, singers and tenors such as Luciano Pavarotti, Yves Montan, Ray Charles and Bob Geldof, writers such as Maxim Gorky, Orson Welles, Rebecca West, Jean-Paul Sartre, among many others. Portraits of famous guests can be seen in the hotel corridors.