Kragujevac (Serbian Cyrillic: Крагујевац) is
the fourth largest city in Serbia, the main city and
administrative centre of the Šumadija region .It is situated
on the banks of the Lepenica River. On the 2002 census, the
city proper had 147,473 residents. Kragujevac was the first
capital of modern Serbia (1818–1839), and 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
Contemporary Kragujevac is known for its
weapons, munition, and Zastava car factory, which produced
the Yugo, Florida, Zastava 10 (Fiat Punto, by licence) and
Skala automobiles until Fiat bought it in 2008.
The name of the town derived from the archaic Serbian
word "kraguj", which is a name used for one sort of the bird
(hunting hawk), thus the name means "hawk's nesting place".
Interestingly, old maps show the name as Krakow.
Over 200 archaeological sites in Šumadija confirm that
the region's first human settlements occurred 40,000 years
ago, during the Paleolithic era. Kragujevac was first
mentioned in the written form in the 15th century where
Turkish reffered to it as a "village of Kragujevdza". The
town itself gained prominence during the Ottoman period
(1459- 1804) as the central point in the Belgrade Pashaluk.
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 and built the Amidža Konak.
Kragujevac, the capital, was developing and cherishing
modern, progressive, free ideas and resembled many European
capitals of that time.
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 main industry of the 19th and
20th century was military production.
During World War I, Kragujevac again became the capital
of Serbia (1914–1915), and the seat of many state
institutions. During the war, Kragujevac lost 15% of its
population.The social aspect, especially theater life in
Kragujevac between the two wars was very vibrant. There were
many cultural institutions in the city which began to grow
into a large cultural and industrial hub of Central Serbia.
Kragujevac underwent a number of ordeals, the worst
probably having been the October massacre during World War
II. The Kragujevac massacre was the slaughter of 2,300 to
5,000 civilians—mostly Serbs and Roma, women and
schoolchildren—in Kragujevac by Nazi soldiers 20–21 October
1941. The killings went on from October 19 to October 21,
1941, in retaliation for a supposed partisan attack on
German soldiers. 50 people were shot per wounded German
soldier, while 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. Although the Italian auto manufacturer,
Fiat, reopened the factory according to the deal, 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.
There is a city fair – Sumadija fair located in the
industrial area “Servis dva” where one of three planned
halls of Sumadija fair is built. Sumadija fair serves the
entire southern region stretching from Sava and Danube and
represents one of more important institutions that
contribute to positioning Kragujevac as the regional,
commercial as well as fair centre of Central Serbia.