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2012, br. 13, str. 9-25
jezik rada: srpski
vrsta rada: neklasifikovan

Kapija cara Karla VI u Beogradu



(ne postoji na srpskom)
Belgrade’s built heritage bears little evidence of the age of baroque. The extensive demolition of its fortifications by the Ottoman Turks after their re-conquest of the fortress in 1740 and the bombardment during the First World War obliterated virtually all structures built during the period of Austrian Habsburg rule between 1717 and 1737. The only surviving are a few fortress gates with baroque-style portals, among which a special place is held by the Lower-Town gate named after the reigning Habsburg emperor, Charles VI. Unlike the other fortress structures, the Gate of Charles VI went undamaged through the First World War. In 1941 and 1942, during the German occupation of Belgrade, it was thoroughly renovated, as part of the intended transformation of the Lower Town into Prince Eugene’s memorial park, only to suffer heavy damage in the Anglo-American air raids launched on Easter Sunday 1944. A bomb that hit in its immediate vicinity left most of the south-west room (VI) on its side in ruins and the entire gate considerably shaken. The gate was a vaulted 16.5m-long passage through a masonry-faced earthen rampart, and had six rooms (I-VI) of different sizes abutting on its sides. Two main, structurally independent, building phases have been identified. The earlier phase involved building the vaulted passageway with two rooms (I and II) on the sides, aligned with the outer portal. The later phase involved adding, concurrently with the building of the inner curtain wall, four structurally connected rooms on the inner side of the gate. Of these, two larger (III and IV) are still standing, while the other two, considerably smaller (V and VI), are archaeologically identifiable. From the earlier building phase, especially noteworthy are the carved limestone portals. In the age of baroque, when the symbolic marking of urban environments became an important architectural consideration, town and fortress gates assumed particular significance. In the case of Belgrade, this found its best expression in the gate honoring Charles VI. Even though it was not the main city gate, its location at the entrance to the Lower Town from the direction of the former main thoroughfare (today’s Cara Dušana Street) fundamentally influenced its style. Symbolically a triumphal entrance to the occupied or, from the perspective of Christian Europe, liberated city, the gate epitomized the strength and triumph of the new ruling power, the emperor and his newly-acquired possession-the Kingdom of Serbia. The outer of two gateway portals of equal architectural importance, the one through which the fortress was accessed, was meant as the triumphal arch honoring the army and its sovereign, with imperial cipher featured on the front. The inner one, leading from the fortress into the civilian town, was conceived as the gate of the capital city of the Kingdom of Serbia, whose coat-of-arms-a boar’s head pierced with an arrow-inside an ornate cartouche, constituted the central motif. The dual nature of the gateway laid emphasis on the dual function of the city at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers as a military stronghold and a civilian settlement, an essential feature of its dramatic history swaying between war and peace. The sense of measure in the design of the gate betrays an accomplished architect of refined sensibility. Its main façade, accessed by way of a wooden bridge, was reflected in the still water of the river port, which added to the impression of volume and monumentality. A sense of strength, as an effect of the dynamic balance of all architectural elements, was enhanced by the sculptures with the motif of knightly armor of glory symbolizing military triumph and the achieved peace. In symbolical terms, the sculptures placed on the sides highlighted the central motif mounted on the top of the triumphal arch above the oval tympanum with the imperial monogram at the center - a cuirass with banners and, in front of it, cannon barrels and two war drums. The two façades do not show the expected stylistic closeness to the early 18th-century architecture of Vienna. Elements of French baroque classicism and some deeper stylistic features bring them closer to the German baroque of the period, which has led researchers to attribute the gate to the Wurzburg court architect Balthasar Neumann, one of the most prominent architects and engineers of the German baroque. Such a bold attribution is not groundless, given the information about his stay in Belgrade in the early years of Austrian rule. Neumann had been attached to the army that seized Belgrade in 1717. He took a study trip to Italy, apparently returning to Belgrade the very next year, where he took part in drafting the first blueprints for a baroque-style reshaping of the city. It has been convincingly suggested that, apart from the Gate of Charles VI, Neumann also designed the Great Well (popularly called ‘Roman’), located in the Upper Town of the fortress. The complex structural design of the Well closely resembles the well in the fortress of Orvieto, which Neumann is known to have visited. Balthasar Neumann’s few months in Belgrade ended in 1719, which makes it possible to establish the exact date of his design for Charles VI’s Gate. Construction probably began in the early 1720s but, given the two observed building phases, the question remains open as to how long the process took. At any rate, it appears reliable that the Gate was completed before 1736.


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