Sunday, June 10, 2007

Zemun my Hometown

This POST will be about my hometown Zemun ( Taurunum )

Zemun (Земун) is a major suburb of Belgrade ( Serbia ) situated at the confluence of river Sava into Danube. The municipality of Zemun has a population of 152,950 (2002 census) with 145,751 in urban Zemun.

- History -

The area of Zemun has been inhabited ever since the Neolithic period. The first Celtic settlements in Taurunum happened in the 3rd century BC. Taurunum became part of the Roman province of Pannonia around year 15. After the Great Migrations the area was under the authority of various tribes and states. The Frankish chroniclers of the Crusades mentioned it as Mallevila, a toponym from the 9th century.

The first written records mention this city in the 12th century. The name Zemun is believed to be derived from Slavic word "zemlin" meaning "earth". By the end of the 12th century it passed from Byzantine rule to the Kingdom of Hungary, and remained under it until the start of the Ottoman wars in Europe. After the nearby Serbian state fell to the Ottoman Empire in 1459, Zemun became an important military outpost. It finally fell to the Ottomans on July 12, 1521. In 1541, Zemun was integrated into the Srem sanjak of the Buda pashaluk.

Zemun and the southeastern Srem was taken by the Austrian Habsburgs in 1717 and became a feudal property of the Schönborn family. Zemun was the site of a peasant revolt in 1736, as well as continued border wars with the Ottomans. The Treaty of Belgrade of 1739 finally fixed the border, the Military Frontier was organized in the region in 1746, and the town of Zemun was granted the rights of a military commune in 1749. In 1754, the population of Zemun included 1,900 Orthodox Christians, 600 Catholics, 76 Jews, and about 100 Roma. In 1777, the population of Zemun numbered 1,130 houses with 6,800 residents, half of which were ethnic Serbs, while another half of population was composed of Catholics, Jews, Armenians and Muslims. Among Catholic population, the largest ethnic group were Germans.

Zemun prospered as an important road intersection and a border city. In 1816 it was greatly expanded by mass resettlement of Germans and Serbs in the new town suburbs of Francstal and Gornja Varoš, respectively. In the 19th century, Zemun reached 7,089 residents and 1,310 houses. Zemun also became important in Serbian history as the refuge for Karađorđe in 1813 as well as many other people from the nearby Belgrade and the rest of Serbia which was still under Ottoman rule.

During the Revolution of 1848-1849, Zemun was one of the de facto capitals of Serbian Vojvodina, a Serbian autonomous region within Habsburg Empire, but in 1849, it was returned under the administration of the Military Frontier. With the abolishment of the Military Frontier in 1882, Zemun and the rest of Srem was included into Croatia-Slavonia, an autonomous Habsburg crownland. The first railway line that connected it to the west was built in 1883, and the first railway bridge over the Danube followed shortly thereafter in 1884.

During the First World War in 1914, Zemun changed hands between Serbia and Austria-Hungary, finally ending up in Serbia on November 5, 1918. The town became part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later Kingdom of Yugoslavia). The inter-war period was marked by political struggle between the city gentry (organized into the Serbian Radical Party, Serbian Democratic Party and the Croatian Peasant Party) and the more socialist parties supported by the ethnic Germans.
The start of the unification with the city of Belgrade happened in 1934 when the municipality services of Zemun were united with those of Belgrade. Two intra-city bus lines were started that connected Zemun with the parts of Belgrade, and the general shift of attention towards this issue was supported by the growing Serbian population of Zemun.

The Zemun airbases originally built in 1927 were an important geostrategic objective in the Axis invasion of April 1941. During the war the city was controlled both by the Nazi-sponsored military government of Serbia and the nearby Nazi-puppet Croatia. After the end of the Second World War and the Partisan victory in 1945, the once independent city of Zemun officially became part of Belgrade.

During the regime of Slobodan Milošević, Zemun became a stronghold of notorious Zemun clan, one of principal organized crime cartels in Belgrade. Bosses and prominent members of this clan have been trialled and convicted for the assassination of Serbian prime minister Zoran Đinđić.


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