Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Dositej in Belgrade - The Road to Higher Education

By Lola Tapuskovic

Belgrade, July 12, (Serbia Today)- The exhibition „Dositej in Belgrade – the road to higher education“ opened on July 7th in the national landmark building „The Question Mark“, which is also the location of the oldest tavern in Serbia, built in the middle of the 18 century. The organizer of this exhibition is the Foundation “Dositej Obradovic with the support of the City Government. It was envisioned as one of the follow-up events of the 25th Universiade held in Belgrade this summer.
Dositej Obradović was born in the village of Čakovo (now Ciacova, Timiş County, Romania) in Banat, probably in 1739. He was from his early age imbued with the passion for study. In1757, he became a monk in the Serb Orthodox monastery of Hopovo (in Srem region) and acquired the name Dositej (Dositheus). After devouring the contents of the monastery’s library he hungered for further learning in 1760, left the monastery of Hopovo bound for Hilandar, Mount Athos.
For forty years thereafter, he traveled Europe and Asia Minor: Albania, Dalmatia, Corfu, Greece, Hungary, Turkey, Germany, Romania, France, Russia, England, Italy, Poland. Finally, he went to Belgrade, at the invitation of Karađorđe Petrović, to become a Minister of Education in the newly organized government. He died in 1811.
Obradović helped introduce to the Serbs the learning of Western Europe. As one of the most influential proponents of Serbian national and cultural Renaissance, he was advocating ideas of European Enlightenment and Rationalism. He and Vuk Karadžić, whom Obradović influenced, are recognized as the fathers of modern Serbian literature. Also, Obradović introduced potato cultivation in Serbia because the population of Serbia often suffered from famine at that time.
Obradović, besides Serbian, spoke 10 other languages. He translated into Serbian many western European classics, including Aesop's Fables.
The exhibition “Dositej in Belgrade – the road to higher education“ according to Mirjana Dragas, the director of the Dositej Obradovic Foundation, is the part of one of Belgrade’s tourist routes this Summer called “Dositej’s road to higher education”. It starts at the Monument of Dositej at the Studentski Square, then goes to the Vuk and Dositej Museum, continues to Saborna Cathedral, where Dositej was laid to rest, and finishes in “Question Mark” It is believed that Dositej Obradovic was a regular guest of the tavern “Question Mark” in the years between 1807 untill 1811, when he died.
“Especially for this exhibition, - Mrs. Dragas said, -the Foundation published a catalogue about Dositej’s life in Belgrade, his biography and a special map of his European travels. Many photographs are included, as well as that of his birth house in Chakovo, Romania. The catalogue is so compact, it could be used as a professional tourist guide.”
“At the moment we are preparing several events for the next year as a part of the celebration of the 200th Anniversary of the Dositej’s appointment to the position of the Minister of Education in the very first Government of Serbia.” Mrs. Mirjana Dragas told Serbia Today.

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