Even if you’re not shopping, this bustling fresh produce market – the oldest in Belgrade – is worth a visit; it’s always buzzing and the colourful stalls make for great photographs.
Zeleni Venac is located in downtown Belgrade, just few minutes away to the east of Terazije, the designated center of the city, down Prizrenska street. It borders the neighborhood of Savamala to the south, while the northern border is Brankova Street. The car tunnel (Terazije tunnel) under Terazije connects it to Republic Square while underground pedestrian passage connects it to Terazije and Prince Michael Street via Prizrenska and Sremska streets, respectively. Population of the local community of Zeleni Venac was 3,517 in 2002.
It’s across from a huge bus hub; lines run to and from Novi Beograd, Ada Ciganlija, Zemun (and elsewhere) from here.
Zeleni Venac is built in the area that was previously part of the trench which surrounded the Kalemegdan fortress in the 18th century. When the trench was covered, a pond was formed. As Belgrade grew around it, the pond became a popular hunting attraction (for fowls, ducks, etc.) for the inhabitants of Belgrade.
The name of the neighborhood means the green wreath. Venac is usually used in Belgrade’s geography in term of a round street (Obilićev Venac, Kosančićev Venac) or a rim of the river (Savski Venac, Dunavski Venac). However, in this case, it is used in the word’s initial usage, meaning wreath. On the location of the present McDonald’s restaurant in the Brankova Street, for decades was located kafana Zeleni venac whose logo was a green wreath. Belgrade historians still debate whether the neighborhood was named after the kafana or the opposite. Kafana was demolished in the 1960’s.
Originating from 1847, Zeleni Venac is the oldest still active green market in Belgrade and due to its size, longevity and wide varieties of goods that can be bought in it, it has been nicknamed “Queen of the markets” and placed under the state protection. The market was open in 1926 and was intended to be the central city open market, being closest to the city center. It was the most modern open greenmarket on the Balkans at that time as it included running water, sewage system, brick-walled shops and stores and gauged weighing scales.