Prokop (Serbian Cyrillic: Прокоп) is an urban neighborhood of Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. It is located in Belgrade's municipality of Savski Venac. Major facility in the neighborhood is the new Belgrade Centre railway station, opened for limited use in 2016.
Prokop, seen from the highway
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Prokop is located at the southern edges of downtown Belgrade to which it is directly connected by the Kneza Miloša street. It borders the area of former Zapadni Vračar on the north, Mostar and Senjak on the west and Dedinje on the south. It is bounded by three boulevards: Franše D'Eperea (named after general D'Esperey and in fact a part of A1 highway), Vojvode Putnika and Kneza Aleksandra Karađorđevića (named after Prince Alexandre).
Prokop is located in the eastern section of the former neighborhood of Jatagan Mala. Previously, it was a geographical reference, as the area was located in the lower valley of the now underground stream of Mokroluški Potok. The earth and gravel were dug here and used to cover and drain the swamps on the Sava's right bank, so that neighborhoods of Savamala and Bara Venecija could be constructed, along with the building of Belgrade's central railway station. After the works were completed, the area around Mokroluški Potok was left as a steep, elongated cut in the ground and so got its name (Serbian prokop, cut or dug through).
As an eastern extension of the already impoverished shanty town Jatagan Mala, Prokop was even more destitute and was considered one of the poorest neighborhoods of Belgrade. Due to that, as well as the lack of any communal infrastructure or plans for the area, and a fact that geographically the settlement actually existed at the bottom of a big hole, during rains floods and mudslides were common, like in the winter of 1935. Jatagan Mala was demolished in the mid-to-late 1960s.
As a curiosity, the daily newspaper Politika from 8 March 2007 reprinted its own article from 1957 about Prokop. The article, titled "For how long will Prokop defy the construction of the city", colors Prokop as a black hole in the city center and describes the project of the reconstruction of the Franše d'Eperea street (modern highway) which would include an artificial lake with lots of restaurants, foreseeing that Prokop will be the most beautiful part of Belgrade. In another reprint, Politika published its article from 1 April 1965 about Prokop titled New settlement on Čukarica will be built for the inhabitants of Prokop. In it, Prokop is depicted as the largest informal settlement in Belgrade which basically has no roads, grocery stores and is regularly being flooded during rains. Demolition of Prokop was scheduled for 1965 but had to be postponed and instead of the settlement, whose inhabitants were to be resettled to the neighborhood of Čukarica, a large garage and depot for Belgrade’s public transit company GSP Belgrade was to be built. Both projects were scrapped later.
In February 1969 another relocation was announced. The municipality of Savski Venac obtained 270 apartments in the neighborhoods of Žarkovo and Kanarevo Brdo, so the moving of the population by the spring brought the closing of the slum section of the neighborhood, which was, at the time, one of the oldest surviving such parts of the city.
The ill-fated construction of the new railway station which was supposed to replace the old one in Savamala has lasted for decades. The official work began in 1977, it was halted in the 1980s, resumed in the 1990s and halted again in 2000. Originally, in the late 1960s, it was supposed to be constructed near the present interchange of Autokomanda, but the idea was suddenly dropped, and one of the major authorities at the time, Branko Žeželj, picked Prokop instead, which ultimately left the Autokomanda interchange unfinished. Despite constant attempts to build it and upgrade it, after years of starting and then halting works and bankrupted companies, Prokop railway station is still just one of a dozen secondary stations in Belgrade.
After the Avala Tower was destroyed in NATO bombing of Serbia 1999, certain Russian companies offered to build a new, higher (300 meters) TV tower in Prokop. No one took it seriously so the news was mostly used for publicity purposes.
The construction of the Belgrade Waterfront and track removal in Savamala restarted the construction of the station once again in December 2014. Energoprojekt AD was once again selected as the contracting company and was given nearly 26 million euros and 14 months to complete the construction. For the first time the deadline was kept and the station was officially opened on 26 January 2016.
- "U Prokopu poćela da se odronjava zemlja", Politika (in Serbian), 21 February 1935
- B.Trbojević (12 February 1969). "Нестаће Маринкова бара и Прокоп" [Marinkova Bara and Prokop will disappear]. Politika (reprint on 12 February 2019, page 20) (in Serbian).
- Osnovni skupovi stanovništva u zemlji – SFRJ, SR i SAP, opštine i mesne zajednice 31.03.1981, tabela 191. Savezni zavod za statistiku (txt file). 1983.
- Stanovništvo prema migracionim obeležjima – SFRJ, SR i SAP, opštine i mesne zajednice 31.03.1991, tabela 018. Savezni zavod za statistiku (txt file). 1983.
- Popis stanovništva po mesnim zajednicama, Saopštenje 40/2002, page 4. Zavod za informatiku I statistiku grada Beograda. 26 July 2002.
- Stanovništvo po opštinama i mesnim zajednicama, Popis 2011. Grad Beograd – Sektor statistike (xls file). 23 April 2015.