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Kragujevac (Serbian Cyrillic: Крагујевац) is a city in Serbia, the largest city of the Šumadija region and the administrative centre of Šumadija District. It is situated on the banks of the Lepenica River.

Despite its late foundation (1476), Kragujevac is the city of many firsts. Being the first capital of modern Serbia (1818- 1839), the first constitution in the Balkans was proclaimed in this city in 1835. Further on, the first full- fledged university in the newly independent Serbia was founded in 1838, preceded by the first grammar school (Gimnazija), Printworks (both in 1833), professional National theatre (1835) and the Military academy (1837).

Belgrade took the lead by becoming the seat of throne in 1841, marking the beginning of Kragujevac's slow decline. The University of Kragujevac was not reestablished until 1976. Contemporary Kragujevac is known for its weapons, munitions and Zastava car factory, which produces the Yugo, Florida, Zastava 10 (Fiat Punto, by licence) , Opel Astra by GM licence and Skala automobiles. It is the fourth largest city in the country after Belgrade, Novi Sad and Niš.

The name of the town derived from Serbian word "kraguj", which is a name used for one sort of the bird (hunting hawk), thus the name means "the place of the kragujs". In Turkish, the town is known as Alacahisar.

Kragujevac was first mentioned in the medieval period as related to the public square built in a settlement, while the first written mention of the city was in the Turkish Tapu-Defter in 1476. Over 200 archaeological sites in Šumadija confirm that the region's first human settlements occurred 40,000 years ago, during the Paleolithic era. Kragujevac's history runs deeper than that of Serbia's capital city, Belgrade.

Kragujevac experienced a lot of historical turbulence, not always without severe casualties. First mentioned in Turkish documents from the 15th century as a "village of Kragujevdza" (the name is derived from the bird griffin - "kraguj" in Serbian);

The city is located at crossroads. Given this location, the city has been devastated many times and has suffered great losses of life in a number of wars throughout history. It began to prosper after Serbia's liberation from Turkish rule in 1818, when Prince Miloš Obrenović proclaimed it the capital of the new Serbian State. The first Serbian constitution was proclaimed here in 1835 and the first idea of independent electoral democracy. The first law on the printing press was passed in Kragujevac in 1870. Kragujevac, the capital, was developing and cherishing modern, progressive, free ideas and resembled many European capitals of that time.

Apart from contemporary political influence, Kragujevac became the cultural and educational center of Serbia. Important institutions built during that time include Serbia's first secondary school (Gimnazija), first pharmacy, and first printing press. Kragujevac gave rise to many international scholars, professors, academics, scientists, artists and statesmen.

The turning point in the overall development of Kragujevac was in 1851 when the Cannon Foundry began production, beginning a new era in the city’s economic development. The main industry of the 19th and 20th century was military production. Kragujevac became one of Serbia’s largest exporters in 1886, when the main Belgrade – Niš railway connected through Kragujevac.

New centuries brought new wars. During World War I, Kragujevac again became the capital of Serbia (1914-1915), and the seat of many state institutions - even the Supreme Army Command was housed within the Court House building. During the war, Kragujevac lost 15% of its population.

Kragujevac underwent a number of ordeals, the worst probably having been the October massacre of many males and a number of schoolchildren during World War II, when the Nazis shot and killed between 2,300 and 7,000 people from October 19 to October 21, 1941, in retaliation for a partisan attack on German soldiers - 50 people for one wounded, 100 for a dead soldier. Among the killed was a whole generation of boys taken directly from the school. The monument for the executed pupils is a symbol of the city. This atrocity has inspired a poem Krvava bajka (Bloody fairy tale) by Desanka Maksimović, a well known Serbian poet from the former Yugoslavia.

In the post-war period, Kragujevac developed more industry. Its main exports were passenger cars, trucks and industrial vehicles, hunting arms, industrial chains, leather, and textiles. The biggest industry, and the city's main employer was Zastava, which employed tens of thousands. The industry suffered under economic sanctions during the Milošević era, and was all but destroyed by the NATO bombing campaign in 1999. Despite a possible deal with the Italian auto manufacturer, Fiat, to reopen the factory, the city currently suffers from widespread unemployment.

Since 1976, Kragujevac has grown as a university centre. The University of Kragujevac includes the Faculties of Medicine, Engineering, Law, Economics, Philology, Arts, Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

The architecture of Kragujevac displays a fusion of two different styles -- traditional Turkish (nowadays almost completely gone) and 19th century Vienna Secession style. Modern conceptions also appear throughout the city, firstly in the shape of post-war concrete (usually apartments designed to house those left homeless during World War II), and secondly the up-to-date glass offices reflecting the ambitious business aspects of modern architects.

Some important buildings and institutions in Kragujevac include:

The old church of Descent of the Holy Spirit was built in 1818, as a part of Prince Miloš' court. Its interior was decorated from 1818 to 1822. The new belfry was built in 1907.
The Old Parliament was built in the court of the church where the first parliamentary meeting was held in 1859. Many events of great historical importance, such as verifying the Berlin Congress decision about the independence of Serbia, took place there. After undergoing reconstruction in 1992, the building was converted into a museum.
The Amidža Konak was built by Prince Miloš in 1820 as a residential house. It is one of the finest examples of regional architecture in Serbia. It now houses an exhibition from the National Museum.
The Prince Mihailo Konak was built in 1860. Its architecture blends local tradition with European architectural concepts. The building is now the National Museum.
The High School (Gimnazija) was built between 1885 and 1887 according to designs from the Ministry of Civil Engineering. It is one of the city's oldest edifices designed in a European style, in the tradition of the oldest Serbian Gimnazija from 1833. Some famous Serbian scientists, artists and politicians were educated in this school.
These institutions continue to promote cultural activities in modern-day Kragujevac: "Joakim Vujić" theater (founded in 1835), National Library "Vuk Karadžić" (1866), Cultural and Artistic Group "Abrasević" (1904).
The "Kragujevac October" Memorial Park, located in Šumarice, commemorates the tragic events of October 21, 1941.
The National Museum has various displays including those pertaining to archeology, ethnic diversity, the history of Kragujevac and Šumadija and many paintings. The archeology department has a rich collection of 10,000 display items and over 100,000 study items. The painting department has over 1,000 pieces of prominent Serbian art of extraordinary value.
The "Zastava Museum" is located within the old gun foundry and exhibits the history of industrial development in Kragujevac and Serbia.
The Historical Archives of Šumadija collects and files the archives and issues of the seven municipalities of Šumadija and has at its disposal 700 meters of archive issues with 780 registries and hundreds of thousands of original historical documents.
Tourists may also be interested in the range of scenic attractions nearby, including the Aranđelovac, Vrnjačka Banja, and Mataruška Banja, Karađorđe's castle, the Church of Saint George in Topola 40 km away, the Old Kalenić monastery 55 km away, the resorts of Rogot (28 km) and Stragari (34 km) with old monasteries of Blagoveštenje and Voljavca.

Sister cities

Suresnes sister cities agreement, as seen in Kragujevac city hall first floor Suresnes, France (1967)
Piteşti, Romania (1971)
Ohrid, Republic of Macedonia (2001)
Bydgoszcz, Poland (1971)
Bielsko-Biała, Poland (2002)
Springfield, Ohio, U.S. (2002)
Reggio Emilia, Italy (2004)
Karlovac, Croatia
Mogilev, Belarus (2006)

Other forms of cooperation and city friendship similar to the twin/sister city programmes:

Trenčín, Slovakia
Carrara, Italy
Bat Yam, Israel (1992)
Drama, Greece
Hanover, Germany
Ingolstadt, Germany (2003)
Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Foča, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Opole, Poland
Sin Chon, South Korea

Postal code 34000
Area code(s) (+381) 34
Car plates KG

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