My first visit to the Royal Compound in Belgrade was for an award ceremony. The same approach to the White Palace through the lush trees of the palace park evokes a special fairy-tale atmosphere. What follows is a palace with an enchanting facade, staircase, and all the architectural elements that impress me when I approach the magnificent buildings erected for royal families. Unlike the Royal Palace, built on the highest part of the hill and visible from the surroundings, the White Palace is tucked away and well-hidden from curious eyes.
As a great lover of architecture and art, His Majesty King Alexander I built the Royal Compound, a jewel of Serbia’s historical heritage, at his own expense. The compound consists of two stylistically and ideologically different palaces: the Royal Palace and the White Palace, as well as the park they share, a masterpiece of landscape architecture. The Royal Palace was built as a family house in 1929 and combines stylistic elements of Serbian-Byzantine architecture, Balkan townhouses, and European aristocratic villas, while the White Palace was completed in 1937.
King Alexander was a great admirer of art, supported artists, and engaged in creating the royal art collection. Today, the works of the great Serbian artists Paja Jovanović, Toma Rosandić, Ivan Meštrović, and Jovan Bijelić, as well as ones from other countries, including Palma Vecchio, Ivan Aivazovsky, Jean Baptiste Carpeaux, Antonio Canaletto, Nicolas Poussin, Sebastien Bourdon, and many others are on display in the Royal Compound.
The award ceremony which I attended proceeded slowly as the experience of the court became increasingly intense. Paintings on walls, sculptures on stands, a chamber orchestra, ballet dancers, the guests’ elegant attire… everything exuded courtly splendor. As always, the neoclassical White Palace continues to amaze visitors with its simple yet noble elegance, balance, and design precision, with furniture and interior elements in the Louis XV and Louis XVI styles.
Within the Royal Compound, there is also a royal chapel dedicated to St. Andrew the First-Called, the patron saint of the Karađorđević royal family.
After the ceremony and excitement in the White Palace, I walked through the vast court park, designed in the spirit of English-style landscape architecture. A contrast to this concept appears in views of flower beds, rose gardens, and lawns surrounding both courtyards, which are designed in the French style of strict, symmetrical forms.
His Royal Highness Crown Prince Alexander returned to his homeland permanently in 2001, together with his wife, Her Royal Highness Princess Katherine, and his three sons, Princes Peter, Philip and Alexander. Since then, numerous humanitarian and cultural events, receptions, and artistic and cultural festivities have been organized at the Royal Compound.