Creator of the City
The mayor who created the city. He found a degraded and musty Turkish village, and left behind a modern town, transformed by European standards. He arranged the finances, founded the ’City Savings Bank’ which supported entrepreneurs, encouraged the launch of a daily newspaper. He created a general urban development plan and cadaster, listed residents and buildings, brought order to construction. Built a water supply system, a hydroelectric plant, and a sewage system. He designed the streets, squares and intersections that Skopje cannot live without even today. At his funeral, in March 1941, there were 10,000 people. But afterwards, in the newly proclaimed republic and nation, neither the house, nor the grave, nor the family of Josif Mihailović survived in Skopje

Text: Milutin Stančić, Miloš Stojković
Photo: ’Spona’ Archives

Deep in the shadow of Skopje’s ’old town’ and numerous monuments erected in the campaign of ’transformation of the architectural character of the capital of Macedonia’, a narrow alley still bears his name. It is one of the very rare signs that this city still remembers Josif Mihailović (1887–1941), its most important mayor before World War II, a great real estate developer and visionary, a man who was far ahead of his time and the environment in which he lived. The street is near his former family home.
Josif Mihailović was an architect and engineer, an intellectual, a diplomat, a national worker, the mayor of Skopje from 1929 to 1936 and from 1940 until his death in 1941. He gave a lot to Skopje, he is most deserving for the fact that it grew from a former Turkish village into a city, but today it is unrecognized or kept quiet. The Serbian Cultural and Information Center ’Spona’ tried to correct part of that great injustice by organizing an exhibition in the Museum of the City of Skopje dedicated to Josif Mihailović in November 2019. ’


Josif Mihailović was born in the village of Tresonče in Mijak on 15 April 1887, then in the Ottoman Empire (now North Macedonia). His father, Mihailo Đorđević, was in the second half of the 19th century a famous developer, builder and restorer of churches throughout Old Serbia and Macedonia, Raška and Southern Moravia. Josif's paternal grandfather was called Đorđe Vučković. Josif and his paternal ancestors belonged to the Jurukovci family from Mijak. Like all the Mijak people, their patron saint was Saint Nicholas.
Josif's mother, Hristina Đorđević, was born in the neighboring village of Lazaropolje in Mijak, the center of Mijak. She was the granddaughter of the famous head of Lazaropolje, Đurčin Kokal (1775–1863). In turbulent times, when the Ottoman state was gripped by the autocracy of local pashas and janissaries, Đurčin Kokal managed to acquire a large property by trading cattle and livestock products, for which the Mijak region has always been known. In 1801, he founded the first cooperative manufacture for the production of Mijak cheese, which was sold along the Mediterranean. As one of the few literate people of that time, he wrote Nakazanije, the oldest preserved autobiography written on the soil of Slavic Macedonia.
He also spent his wealth on the purchase of Christian slaves throughout the Ottoman state, especially in Thessaloniki and Constantinople. At the time of the collapse of the First Serbian Uprising in 1813, a large number of Serbian slaves from Karađorđe's Serbia, especially girls, were redeemed and rescued from exile in Asia and Africa. The Turkish sultans personally received him, from them he received the right to independently collect taxes from the Mijak people. He also received the title of prince, as well as the right to be a military commander and keep armed Mijak detachments for defense against the renegade pashas of Janjina.
With his own money, he built the Church of St. George in Lazaropolje (1832–1841). In that endowment, in addition to the episcopal throne, the seat of Đurčin himself was decorated, and above it was a fresco of Saint Arsenius, Archbishop of Serbia (1233–1263). According to family legend, he paid for the painting of the church with money won after winning a duel with a renegade janissary, an Arab, somewhere in the Thessaloniki field. He later fell ill with bone cancer, so before his death he had to be carried everywhere.
Đurčin Kokal had twelve children, over a hundred grandchildren and great-grandchildren. One of the sons, Nikola, in the middle of the 19th century was the chief military chamberlain for supplying the Ottoman garrisons in the whole of Rumelia. They say that he particularly excelled during the Crimean War with his organizational skills. He even received a title and was known as Niki Pasha. The name of Kokal's son, father of Hristina, Josif's mother, is not known. But it seems that Josif inherited the abilities of an organizer from his mother's line, and from his father the gift of construction and architecture, precisely those virtues that manifested themselves during his mayorship in Skopje.


Mihailo Đorđević, Josif's father, was a bricklayer and restorer of Serbian monasteries and churches in Kosovo, in Metohija, throughout Macedonia, in Old Raška. In the Church of the Presentation of the Virgin in Lipljan, in 1899, he signed as a restorer of the frescoes ’Master Mihailo Đorđević, from Debor’. He was also the master craftsman during the construction of the Church of the Holy Trinity in Kumanovo in 1901/1902, the Church of Saint Sava in Kosovska Mitrovica and many others. Mihailo also built a luxurious family house in Skopje, near today's ’Red Cross’ building (designed by Mihailović). The house existed until the 1963 earthquake.
Josif and his father met for the last time in Prizren, in the winter of 1915, during the retreat of the Serbian army and people towards Greece. After the occupation of Serbia, Mihailo Đorđević was interned in a camp in Bulgaria that same year. Due to very bad treatment and the winter, he fell seriously ill. He was released to return to Tresonče, where he died in 1917.
Josif Mihailović was appointed mayor of Skopje on St. Sava’s Day in 1929. The city's finances had to be settled first. He founded the ’City Savings Bank’, which provided favorable loans to artisans, merchants and entrepreneurs. The daily Skopski glasnik was launched. Then he personally worked on the creation of the modern General Urban Development Plan of the city (1930), with aerial photographs and the development of the city cadaster. For the creation of the Skopje cadaster, the General Directorate for Cadaster at the Ministry of Finance hired 450 students, surveyors from all secondary technical schools in the country, as well as 25 assistants, geodetic engineers. Organized in this way, the city cadaster was completed in just six weeks, with a simultaneous census of buildings and population. The creation of the cadaster and the General Urban Development Plan, on a scale of 1:500, cost the municipality 800,000 dinars. The plan became law. Since then, citizens have been given the opportunity to build only according to plan and with the permission of experts.
In addition to this, during the time of Mayor Mihailović, important residential buildings were built in Skopje, a geodetic survey was carried out, a water supply system was built from the spring of Rašče near the village of Raduša, the ’Matka’ hydropower plant on the Treska River, sewage system... Some of the streets, squares and intersections, especially in the central part of Skopje (the central city square Macedonia, the streets that today are called Ilindenska, 11. oktobar, Orce Nikolov...), were laid out by that first urban development plan.


In April 1936, Josif Mihailović briefly lost his position as mayor due to a conflict with Milan Stojadinović (then Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia) and the intention to provide Skopje with a cheap source of electricity, the future hydroelectric power plant ’Saint Andrej’ near the village of Matka. But on 20 February 1940, he returned to the office.
At an already mature age, in 1936, Josif married Vukosava Smiljanić, born in Belgrade. His wife, Vukosava, comes from the respectable Smiljanić family, originally from the village of Ravni in Zlatibor, the most famous of whom today is priest Milan Smiljanić, and at that time her father, Milivoje Smiljanić, was president of the Chamber of Engineers and secretary of the Sokol Association of the Kingdom.
In 1938, Josif and Vukosava had a daughter, Mirjana Mihailović.
The following year, in 1939, they moved into a building near the City Hall and Kale Fortress that Joseph had designed for his family. Today, after many upheavals and changes, the occupation by various officials and other things, the Embassy of Albania is located in that house.
After complications caused by an appendectomy, on 11 March 1941, at 08:15 AM, Josif Mihailović died of sepsis in the ’Balkan’ sanatorium in Skopje. He leaves behind his wife Vukosava, pregnant with her second daughter Svetlana (died as a child, during the war in 1944, from a stomach disease), and daughter Mirjana.
In honor of ’the greatest mayor that Skopje has ever had’, the city councilors then decided to name Justinijana Prvog Street after Josif Mihailović. Josif's wife, who remained a single mother, was provided with one-time financial assistance from the city budget. On the day of his funeral, over ten thousand residents of Skopje took to the streets of the city to pay their last respects to their favorite mayor.
Not long after the death of Josif Mihailović, World War II broke out on the territory of Yugoslavia. After Josif's death, his widow Vukosava left for Belgrade, but after the April bombing and occupation of the country, she was forced to return to Skopje. Soon, high-ranking Bulgarian officers moved into Mihailovic's home, and widow Vukosava and her daughters were evicted and forced to live in auxiliary rooms.


After the war, the new communist authorities used the Mihailović family house as a residence, without any compensation. The rich interior (furniture, piano, collections of weapons and icons, library...) was looted by the ’tenants’ Kenan Sejfula, Lazar Koliševski and others. Most of Joseph's personal legacy was destroyed by the Bulgarians. Part of the materials and documents were destroyed by Vukosava herself after November 1944, out of fear of the communists. When the new government announced that they would destroy his burial place, the remains of Josif Mihailović were transferred from Skopje to Belgrade in 1946. They were buried in the Smiljanić family tomb, at the New Cemetery, where they still rest today. Due to pressure from the Macedonian communist authorities, Josif's widow Vukosava and daughter Mirjana moved from Skopje forever. They had to sell the house for pennies after the earthquake in Skopje in 1963. Then it was used as a restaurant under the name ’Macedonian House’ until the end of the 20th century. When the restaurant was closed, under strange circumstances, the fresco Seir by Lazar Ličenoski that had decorated Joseph's home disappeared. It depicted Joseph's famous ancestor Đurčin Kokal throwing a stone from his shoulder.
Josif's wife Vukosava Mihailović died in Belgrade in 1983.
Mirjana Mihailović graduated from school of music in Belgrade, and earned a degree in architecture in 1963. Already in 1964, she voluntarily went to help rebuild Skopje, hit by a devastating earthquake, and at the same time to resolve the status of the family home. In one of the documents preserved in the files of the Udba, an associate of the Service, a professor at the Faculty of Architecture, reports that Mirjana is a great expert, but that she is politically unfit.
Although she was born in Skopje, and was a university professor, she could never obtain citizenship of the newly formed Macedonian state, so she was prevented from seeking the return of her father's property in the restitution procedure. She retired in 2005 as a full professor at the Faculty of Architecture in Belgrade (Department of Physics and Materials, head of the Department of Structures) and an associate professor at the Faculty of Architecture in Skopje since its foundation.  She died in 2007 in Belgrade. The heirs of Josif Mihailović still live and work in the Serbian capital.
After World War II, Josif Mihailović remained ’conspicuously forgotten’. In that period, the citizens of the Macedonian capital did not pay a proper tribute to their greatest architect and visionary, the creator of modern Skopje. After all the incredible things we have seen in the past decades, it may be understandable. But not honorable, not acceptable.


Intentionally or not
Josif Mihailović is known for transforming Skopje, a former Turkish village, into a modern European city. Therefore, there is some strange irony, ’some impudence’, in that his name is given to an alley in a part of today's Skopje that has retained the appearance of a Turkish village from Ottoman times.


We are coming soon
The legacy of Josif's heirs preserves a letter that he sent from Belgrade to his father Mihailo before the liberation wars in 1912. The letter reads: ’We are coming soon!’ That cry of Josif Mihailović, then a volunteer in the Chetnik detachment of Doksim Mihailović, remains their family motto to this day.


Josif Mihailović was awarded many domestic decorations: the Order of the Yugoslav Crown of the 2nd and 3rd degrees, Order of Saint Sava of the 2nd, 4th and 5th degrees, Order of the White Eagle of the 5th degree and the Commemorative Medal of the Great Serbian Retreat. Among foreign decorations, he is he was decorated with the French Legion of Honor (Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur), Polish Order of the Restoration of Poland (Order Odrodzenia Polski, Polonia Restituta), Czechoslovak Order of the White Lion (Řád Bílého lva), Greek Order of the Phoenix (Τάγμα του Φοίνικος) of the 2nd and 3rd degrees... As one of the biggest contributors to the construction of the Church of St. Sava in Belgrade, on Vračar, his name was inscribed on the board of benefactors in the Small Church of St. Sava, where his name still stands today.

From now on you
can buy National Review at Trafika sales outlets

Србија - национална ревија - број 82 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 82 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 81 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 80 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 79 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 78 - руски

Serbia - National Review - Tourism 2020

Србија - национална ревија - Број 77

Србија - национална ревија - Број 76

Србија - национална ревија - Број 75
Србија - национална ревија - ФранкфуртСрбија - национална ревија - МоскваСрбија - национална ревија - Москва
Србија - национална ревија - ПекингСрбија - национална ревија - број 74
Србија - национална ревија - број 73

Србија - национална ревија - број 72Туризам 2019.
Србија - национална ревија - број 71
Србија - национална ревија - број 70Србија - национална ревија - број 69Србија - национална ревија - број 68Србија - национална ревија - број 67Tourism 2018
Србија - национална ревија - број 66
Serbia - National Review - No 65
Serbia - National Review - No 64Србија - национална ревија - број 63
Србија - национална ревија - број 62
Србија - национална ревија - број 61

Србија - национална ревија - број 60
Србија - национална ревија - број 59
Serbia - National Review - No 59
Serbia - National Review - No 58

Serbia - National Review - No 56
Serbia - National Review - No 55
Serbia - National Review - No 54
Tourism 2016
Српска - национална ревија - број 53
Српска - национална ревија - број 12-13
Srpska - National Review - No 12-13
Serbia - National Review - No 51

Serbia - National Review - No 49
Serbia - National Review - No 49
Serbia - National Review - No 48
Serbia - National Review - No 46
Serbia - National Review - No 46
Serbia - National Review - No 46Serbia - National Review - No 46, russianSerbia - National Review - No 45Srpska - No 6
SRPSKA - National Review - No 5Tourism 2014SRPSKA - No 2
Tourism 2013
SRPSKA - National Review - Special Edition

Battle above Centuries
Legends of Belgrade
History of the Heart


Чувар светих хумки
Србија од злата јабука - друго издање
Orthodox Reminder for 2013
Пирот - Капија Истока и Запада
Беочин - У загрљају Дунава и Фрушке Горе
Србија, друмовима, пругама, рекама
Србија од злата јабука
Туристичка библија Србије

Коридор X - Европски путеви културе
Београд у џепу
Тло Србије, Завичај римских царева
Добродошли у Србију