There’s a saying: “If these walls could talk”. I suppose our old believed that that way they could learn what was happening in the most intimate moments of a lifetime. In the meantime, the walls have spoken. And we learned the tumultuous history of many famous buildings.
From The Residence of Princess Ljubica where we learned about the stories from the time of the first reign of Prince Milos Obrenovic, to the White Palace that with its stormy past provides enough elements for a good love thriller. There are so many of these magnificent buildings which have survived both their creators and their tenants. But one of them especially stands out with its unobtrusive and subdued beauty. It lies in the center of Belgrade. This is the old DIF building.
The story of the Old DIF, an unusual cultural monument, is a story of community, mutual help, faith and hope, defiance and survival in difficult times. The idea for the construction of this object for specific purposes was initiated by the members of Hawk society Matica, and it was thanks to their financial contributions that the building was built. Many people gave their donations. Imagine this scene today. It sounds impossible. But then everything was possible.
It started with the City of Belgrade donating one plot in Deligradska street. The construction began in 1929 based on a project by the architect Momir Korunovic. The cornerstone was laid out by the King of Yugoslavia, Alexander I Karadjordjevic who also donated a hundred thousand dinars for the construction of “Hawk home Belgrade Matica”. After seven years the construction was completed. The newly built building featured sports and cultural activities. Then the Ministry of Physical Education became interested to use this home that will later become the temple of physical education. The government passed the bill allowing a one-year course with 25 subjects for teachers of physical education. An admission exam was organized and during the three days in September 1938, 51 attendees were admitted. The home was officially opened in the Small Hall of Hawk house Belgrade. This is how the 2-semester school for physical education was formed. There teachers of physical education were recruited. From there love for one’s own body began spreading.
Several months later, the School for Physical Education was established, with the curriculum of 31 courses and the aim to train teachers of physical education, who will later carry out expert and scientific research in this field. Planning was serious then.
During the first year, in 1939, there were 33 male and 25 female students in the School. So began a great story that lives on even today. Totally unobtrusive, but very successful.
The story of the Old DIF, an extraordinary cultural monument, is a story of community, mutual help, faith and hope, defiance and survival in difficult times
History of loving one’s own body
History notes that since November 11, 1944, when the Ministry of Education of Democratic Federative Yugoslavia decided to open a one-year higher course, physical training courses were organized in the School. On July 16, 1946, the Government of the People’s Republic of Yugoslavia passed a Decree that gave State Institute for physical science the rank of a high school of general public importance. Then, in 1948, four-year courses were organized and the School became the institution for higher education. Plans for the future were made. And then the future came.
From 1947 to 1968, the Museum of Physical Culture was located in the 27 Deligradska street (you should write down this address), and this institution worked as a museum collection.
After 30 years in Deligradska 27, the School was moved to a new building in Kosutnjak, and in the same year the Belgrade city assembly handed over the building to the City Center for Physical Culture, which, after reconstruction of the interior of the building and the facade, opened in 1971.
The walls of this temple are adorned with some exciting drawings and messages: “Those who lose once will learn how to win”… “The weakest throw the strongest punch.” And when you go to the pool and sauna, it says: “Wounds are the medals of brave “.
Now, forty years later the building is waiting for another reconstruction.
The interesting fact is that since 1944 this building had the only hall that was used for the next ten years for volleyball and basketball practices and games. There is also the mural “King Peter the First crosses Albania” which waited for many years, until 1968, to see the light of day, thanks to a group of athletes, former hawks. Again, this fellowship showed.
I’ve visited this architectural beauty with the director Vladimirov Jankovic and as I walked through the building I saw writings on the walls: “Those who lose once will learn how to win”.
A couple of steps later stands a motivational message: “The weakest throw the strongest punch.” And when you go to the pool and sauna, it says: “Wounds are the medals of brave.”
Like every city beauty, this one is a constant target of suitors. There were “buyers” who wanted to use the building in Deligradska No. 27, but beauty decided to stay alone and defiant. She can.
Still. We’re hoping she will be able to restore her gowns.