Belgrade has some beautiful neighborhoods and streets, but it is not a pearl of urban design.

Serbia's capital is often noisy, hectic, exhausting.

More than two million people live in its catchment area, but it sometimes appears that the city produces noise for four million.

One reason for this is the large number of traffic jams.

They are also formed because Belgrade is the largest city in Europe without a metro.

Anyone who wants or has to get from A to B here only has options above ground, and these are often hopelessly clogged.

In Western Europe, only one other city with more than a million inhabitants, Birmingham, also lacks a subway.

Otherwise it only exists in Eastern Europe: Odessa, Rostov, Ufa, Voronezh, Perm and Volgograd are also metropolises with no public traffic.

Michael Martens

Correspondent for Southeast European countries based in Vienna.

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The former capital of Yugoslavia will no longer belong to the cities without a false bottom in a few years.

Construction of the urban subway is due to begin in November: two lines, 42 stops, construction costs 4.6 billion euros.

There is still no funding for a planned third line.

A large part of the order, like many infrastructure projects in Serbia recently, such as motorways, bridges, sewage treatment plants or railways, went to China: The “Power Construction Corporation” from Beijing is the most important contractor.

The French groups Alstom and Egis are involved as smaller partners and are to take on almost a third of the order volume.

The schedule is ambitious

Line one should be ready in 2028, the second in 2030. Given the history of the former Roman settlement Singidunum, the schedule is ambitious - archaeological finds could cause significant delays. In Saloniki, where the metro has been under construction for more than 15 years, you can tell a song about it: every few meters, the rich history of the 2300-year-old city halts the construction work. Something similar is known from Istanbul. Years ago, in one of his fits of anger, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan once berated archaeologists who allegedly delayed the construction unnecessarily: "First there was archaeological stuff, then pots and pans, then this, then that. Is any of this stuff more important than people?"

Even in Belgrade's soil there is probably no shortage of ancient this and that, especially since the underground will to a certain extent connect the Habsburg Monarchy and the Ottoman Empire: One of the lines will begin in the Belgrade suburb of Zemun, which belonged to the Habsburg Empire until 1918 and in German Semlin was called. Semlin, once the last railway station of the dual monarchy, is to be the first station on line two of the Belgrade Metro in the future. From there the route runs in the direction of the Save, the former border river between the empire of the emperor and the sultan, and then further into the city center. Deputy Mayor Goran Vesić, who is coordinating the metro project, announced that Belgrade's deputy mayor Goran Vesić, who is coordinating the metro project, announced that the metro from the south-western to the north-eastern outskirts of Belgrade will only take around 25 minutes.recently optimistic.

Many Belgrade residents may not quite believe that yet.

No wonder, because Belgrade has been fantasizing about building a metro for a century.

A general plan from 1923 already provided for a subway, but after the First World War the city ran out of money.

The communists took up the idea again after 1945, but also in the fifties, sixties, seventies and eighties all plans disappeared again in the drawers.

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