Captain Miša’s Mansion

Belgrade, Serbia | C.1863

Photo Credit: Dasha Lukyanova

Bearing the name of Serbia’s second richest businessman during the 19th century, Captain Miša’s Mansion is most certainly a commandeering building for both its prestige and design. The Mansion was gifted to the country by Captain Miša Anastasijević, who at the height of his career owned a fleet of 80 ships and employed 10,000 individuals.

Mihailo “Miša” Anastasijević rose to prominence by way of his successful business partnership with the Prince of Serbia and grew his monumental wealth through salt exports, going on to become the first public benefactor of Serbia. Despite his title, the Captain was far from a sailor hardened by years on the high seas; rather, the Prince gave him his nickname of “Captain of the Danube” to honor his successful exporting ventures out of the city’s waterway.

The Captain initially planned for the Mansion to be used as a future royal residence for his daughter, but when her husband’s royal prospects were ruined, the Captain opted to donate the building for education. In 1863, the Belgrade Higher School took residence. Over a century later, the Mansion has maintained Captain Miša’s mission and is used as the administrative building for the University of Belgrade.

What Captain Miša may not have imagined is that the halls of his Mansion would one day house organizers set on overthrowing the Serbian government. Many students from the University of Belgrade were members of ‘Otpor’, a civic protest group, with grand intentions to overthrow President  Slobodan Milošević in favor of democratic reforms. Otpor grew to attract 70,000 members, and proved successful on October 5, 2000 when it successfully ousted President  Milošević’s administration.

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