With the descent of Belgrade to the rivers and the construction of the Belgrade Waterfront, the Sava coast once again became the main place of city events, as it was in the romantic era of the beginning of the 20th century when Savamala was the center of high life in the capital. One of the main symbols of that time, the masterpiece of the famous Serbian architect Nikola Nestorovic – hotel “Bristol” – will be back on the map of the most fashionable places in Belgrade and is about to shine with a brilliance that it was known for decades ago.
Sixteen Artists Engaged in Restoration
In addition to building an entirely new city on the right bank of the Sava, which gave Belgrade the image of a modern European metropolis, Belgrade Waterfront is dedicated to restoring the rich architectural heritage of the Serbian capital. After the magnificent building of now defunct Belgrade Cooperative and Sava Square were renovated, while preserving all their historical layers, another marvel of Serbian architecture and a symbol of the late Belgrade Art Nouveau Style – hotel “Bristol” will receive its new look and will join the prestigious “St. Regis Belgrade” and “W Belgrade” as the third hotel on the new waterfront.
Construction work on the reconstruction of “Bristol” is carried out by the construction company “KOTO”, and the restoration of the facade began in February 2022. According to Blagoje Mickovic, director of “ALP engineering”, who is also a subcontractor, the main task of the restorer is to preserve the original facade architecture and, to the extent possible, return it to its original state.
“The restoration of ‘Bristol’ began with the cleaning of the facade, and then experts determined the condition of what was found on it. The parts that broke or cracked were replaced with new ones, and those that only eroded, but are in good condition – were restored”, says Mickovic and points out that the works are slowly coming to an end.
The restoration is being carried out in cooperation with the Belgrade City Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments. In addition to the 16 graduate sculptors and painters who are committedly working on the restoration of the facade of Nestorovic’s architectural building, Belgrade Waterfront is also proud of its cooperation with Miroljub Stamenkovic, a former professor at the Department of Applied Sculpture at the Faculty of Applied Arts. Professor Stamenkovic, one of Serbia’s greatest experts in the field of applied sculpture, is an expert consultant on the creation of new and restoration of existing ornamental facade plastic and guarantees that “Bristol” will once again become a recognizable symbol of Belgrade.
Main Goal is to Preserve Authenticity
Preserved elements of ornamental facade plastic on “Bristol” are used as molds for making new ones, which are then mounted on the facade. These works are carried out by specialized experts in the field of sculpting, and three only five sculptors who possess the knowledge required to tackle the works on “Bristol’s” facade are engaged in the project, which speaks volumes about how much attention was paid to the restoration work in order to restore “Bristol” to its former brilliance.
As it is a unique object of historical and cultural importance for Serbia, the main goal is to preserve its authenticity.
“The good news is that, despite the many destructions that Belgrade was exposed to in the past, the facade has been largely preserved. At the top of the building, just below the dome, there is a facade crown that has protected the parts of the facade below it from rain and corrosion all these decades, which speaks volumes for the architectural ingenuity of Nikola Nestorovic. ‘Bristol has five copper domes that are also in a fairly good condition, but they need to be cleaned and restored”, Mickovic adds.
A Witness to Interesting Times
After architects Nikola Nestorovic and Andra Stevanovic jointly created one of the most impressive buildings of that time in Belgrade, the Belgrade Cooperative, in 1907, the idea of building a hotel was born in order to fully utilize the huge potential of the area on the banks of the Sava. The Belgrade Cooperative entrusted the work to a proven expert, Nikola Nestorovic.
The construction of the hotel began in 1910 and was fully completed in 1912, and due to its exceptional beauty and importance for the urban development of Belgrade, “Bristol” today represents an a cultural monument and is under the protection of the Belgrade City’s Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments since 1987.
During its more than a century of existence, the famous hotel has been visited by numerous famous and influential personalities. Members of the famous Rockefeller family stand out as guests – John Rockefeller Jr, who stayed in Bristol in the 1920s, and then his son David in the late 1970s. Lifetime President of the SFR Yugoslavia Josip Broz Tito and chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov had the opportunity to stay in “Bristol”, and it is also known that the hotel was one of the favorite places of the great Momo Kapor.