Old telephone exchange

The Modern Serbo-Byzantine architectural style, Neo-Byzantine architectural style or Serbian national architectural style is the style in Serbian architecture which lasted from the second half of the 19th century to the first half of the 20th century. This style originated in the tradition of medieval Serbian-Byzantine school and was part of international Neo-Byzantine style.

History and characteristics

Cathedral of Saint George, Smederevo
Saint Spyridon Church, Trieste

The beginning of the modern Serbian-Byzantine style lies in the romantic spirit, which was prevalent in Europe in the first half of the 19th century, and in the Serbian lands appeared by the mid-century and was alive to its last decades. The beginning of this style can be seen as "resistance" to newcomers' influences of the "western-style" (Classicism, Neo-Baroque) in the Principality of Serbia.[1] The style is characterized by forms and decorations from the Serbian-Byzantine architectural heritage.[1] This architectural approach is not strictly tied to the church architecture; in fact, the style was prosperous in secular architecture. It is also closely linked to the influence of Art Nouveau.[1]

The Modern Serbo-Byzantine architectural style consists of three periods: the first or early period represents a combination of "western-style" with elements of Byzantine architecture. A typical example is the Church of St. George in Smederevo, where the longitudinal basis (characteristic of the West) appears five domes in the form of so-called. "Greek cross". The second period is related to the expansion and strengthening of Serbia, now as a kingdom (1882–1914). During this period, the style is "determined". Numbers of churches are being built, rarely other forms of construction. Examples outside the territory of the Kingdom of Serbia are rare. The third and final period is related to the time between the two world wars, when there was a sudden expansion of the style across the whole of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, later Yugoslavia, although its presence was much more dominant in the east, "Serbian" (mostly Central Serbia) part of the work of the Kingdom. Examples of the western part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia are rare and are mainly related to specific examples of church architecture of the Serbian Orthodox Church. In addition, there are examples related to the Serbs in the diaspora, like the Church of St. Spyridon in Trieste, designed by Carlo Maciachini. Buildings in this period are equally religious and secular.

The Second World War and after was a turning point; after the war with the advent of communism, all forms of historicism in Serbian architecture are discarded, including Serbo-Byzantine style.[1] After the fall of socialist Yugoslavia, Serbo-Byzantine style returned through the construction of new religious buildings such as churches and monasteries.


Prominent architects of this style are (ordered by the time in which they were active):


St George's Church, Oplenac
Old Post Office, Belgrade
Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Banja Luka
Serbian Orthodox Cathedral in Niš
Vuk's foundation

Early period (around 1850-1880)

Middle period (1880-1914)

Late period (1914-1941)

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Carlton, Richard; Bešo, Smajo, eds. (2019). "Perspectives on cultural heritage loss and reconstruction 20 years after the end of conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina". Heritage Under Pressure – Threats and Solution: Studies of Agency and Soft Power in the Historic Environment. Oxbow Books. pp. 244–258. ISBN 9781789252477.

Further reading