The location of the City of Kragujevac and its vicinity was settled in prehistoric times as demonstrated by numerous objects and archaeological monuments.
Kragujevac was first mentioned in 1476, after the fall under Turkish rule, in the Tapu-Defter (census, cadastral book). It consisted of a public square built in a settlement with 32 houses. From that time on it was desolated like all of Sumadija. Kragujevac was revived in the second half 15th century when Turks erected a new settlement on the left bank of the river Lepenica.
The settlement was named after the bird Kraguj, a type of eagle, that according to popular beliefs, lived in the nearby forests. The majority of the population were Turks until the liberation people’s uprising, except in the periods of two Austrian occupations, in 1689-1690 and again in 1719-1738. During these periods, a significant arrival of a Christian population is recorded.
Kragujevac began to prosper in 1818 when it was proclaimed the capital of the new Serbian State on May 6th, St. George’s Day. Because of its favorable central geographical position, nationally homogeneous population, unlike Belgrade which had a heavy Turkish population, Prince Milos chose Kragujevac to become the center of the state. Relocating the capital from Mala Crnuca to Kragujevac, Prince Milos opened one of the most significant pages in the history of this City. The new town was developed in contrast of the inherited Turkish settlement.
In the period that followed, a series of institutions were established. Newspapers – “Novine Srbske” with the editor Dimitrije Davidovic, musical organizations, “Knjazevko – Srpska Banda”, founded by Joseph Slezinger, theater, “Knjazevsko- Serpski Teatar”, operated by Joakim Vujic, the first grammar school, in 1833, the Lyceum high school in 1838, the first gallery, the first court “ Sud kragujevacki” 1820, and a museum and library.
By establishing the new capital, Prince Milos Obrenovic founded the new Kragujevac. In the area of the today’s Mali park, the Prince erected a new city center with the most significant buildings of the new state. A court complex, consisting of the Prince residence and other buildings, an Assembly, a church, an archdiocese building, an arsenal, a theater, a school, military barracks, a pharmacy, a hospital, and other buildings for a thriving capital city. The new Kragujevac developed around that hub, increasing the number of the citizens and area, slowly assimilating the inherited Turkish structure.
When the capital was moved to Belgrade in 1841, a period of stagnation in Kragujevac began. Despite it, Kragujevac remained the hub of political life and all important assembly sessions continued to be held there as in the period of Prince Milos reign until 1878. It remained important to the history of the country, as the Sretenje Assembly session, when the first Constitution of the Principality of Serbia was adopted there as well as the Berlin Congress Treaty Proclamation, which declared Serbia an independent state.
The year of 1852 was crucial for the new history of Kragujevac, when the foundry was moved from Belgrade to Kragujevac, and the first canon was cast in the presence of the Prince Aleksandar Karadjordjevic, gaining this Balkan settlement the status of the cradle of Serbian industry.
Between the two World Wars, the development of a military industry impacted the spatial development of Kragujevac. New settlements were built with especially interesting planned settlements, the Old and New workers colonies. Military Technical Works significantly expanded and along with the development of new manufacturing plants, other important building were built such as a new District Hospital, a Teacher’s School, a stadium and a hippodrome. The river bed of Lepenica was channeled, and new bridges were built. The rail lines were extended towards Kraljevo. A modern water system with a reservoir was constructed, and the city was connected to the electrical grid of Serbia.
During World War II, Kragujevac was exposed to devastation. One of the gravest tragedies was a mass killing of the civilian population, including 300 pupils of the grammar school on October 21, 1941.
After World War II
The first two decades after World War II were marked by a period of recovery. Kragujevac joined in European progress when in 1955, the first Fiat 750 was manufactured in the Crvena Zastava plant. Over three decades 923,487 Fiat 750’s were produced, and the car is unofficially proclaimed as “national class & rdqyo”. The development of the automobile industry is attributed to the growth of the suburban areas of Stanovo, Belosevac, and Bresnica. Higher education institutions were founded including the Faculties of Mechanical Engineering and Economics, as well as health and physical culture facilities including a stadium, and a shooting range, as well as an Administration building. Planning and implementation were started on public housing along with the wider zones of individual dwelling. Apart from the construction of the Factory “Crvena Zastava”, other industrial complexes were developed such as “Filip Kljajic”, “21 Oktobar”, “Proleter”, and “Partizan”. A Memorial Park “Kragujevac’s October” of significant dimensions was founded. The water system in Grosnica was extended to the existing water system. A sewage network is constructed along with a heating system for the central city zone.
Urban and overall development of Kragujevac was interrupted because of a serious production cuts in the automobile industry due to the economic crises, dissolution of the country, and international sanctions. Annual automobile production dropped from 200,000 to several thousand.
Despite all the hardships it faced, Kragujevac and its citizens always maintained hope for the future.
Today, Kragujevac is a city with an infrastructure, a geostrategic position and an available labor force that can guarantee successful business development. Along with two centuries of industrial tradition, Kragujevac is recognized for its openness to new ideas, educated young population, and its experienced, productive work force.
With arrival of Fiat & rdquo and its subcontractors from 2012, Kragujevac is again one of the leading highly developed hubs of the automobile industry and Hi-tech in Southeast Europe.
The arrival of German Siemens is the project that opens a new page in the development of Kragujevac in 2018, the year when city marks its two hundredth anniversary of being proclaimed first capital of modern Serbia. Kragujevac, that in the middle of the 19th century started to manufacture arms, at the beginning of 20th century trucks, in the mid of 20th century cars, and then busses at the beginning of 21st century, in 2018 started to produce trains that will run on the railroads of European capitals.