Kragujevac (Serbian Cyrillic: Крагујевац) is the fourth largest city in Serbia. It is the administrative centre of Šumadija District, located on the banks of the Lepenica River and surrounded by mountains Rudnik, Crni Vrh and Gledić mountains. According to the 2011 official results, the city has a population of 179,417 citizens.
The name of the town originates from the archaic Serbian word "kraguj", a name of a particular species of hawk that lived in this area, so the name means "hawk's nesting place". The kraguj became the symbol of the city and today it has a special place on the coat of arms of the city of Kragujevac.
Over 200 archaeological sites in Šumadija confirm that the early settlements existed in this area about 40,000 years ago, during the Paleolithic era.
The first written evidence of the town was in the Ottoman Tapu-Defter in 1476, where it was referred to as a "village of Kragujevdza".
Early modern Kragujevac
The town was under Turkish and Austrian reign couple of times during XVI and the beginning of the XVII century. In 1815, it was liberated during the Second Serbian Uprising and 3 years later the Serbian prince Miloš Obrenović proclaimed it the capital of the new Serbian State. In early modern Kragujevac, the first Serbian Constitution was proclaimed in 1835. Also the first law on the printing press was passed in 1870. Apart from its political influence, Kragujevac also developed into modern cultural and educational center of modern Serbia like many other European capitals of that time.
Kragujevac was home to the first grammar school in Serbia (Gimnazija), first pharmacy and first printing press.
The area of rapid economic development started in the midst of 19th century, when the Cannon Foundry began with the production.
Kragujevac of the 20th century
During World War I, Kragujevac once more became the capital of Serbia (1914–1915) where many state institutions were located, among which is the Supreme Army Command.
In the period between two World Wars, Kragujevac remained the cultural, political and industrial center of Serbia. It was the place of the biggest automobile industry in the region which was recognized worldwide and which employed tens of thousands people.
During the Second World War, Kragujevac went through a number of ordeals. In memory of the victims, civilians and pupils from the First Grammar School who lost their lives on 21st October 1941, the site of this tragic event was turned into the Memorial Park which became one of the symbols of the city.
The Memorial Park spreads over the area of 352 hectare with the museum "21. October" at its entrance dedicated to the victims.
Nowadays, the City of Kragujevac is getting more attractive place to live in, to start one’s business, and interesting destination for foreign tourists. It is the city of competent and optimistic young people who are encouraged to stay here.
The University of Kragujevac with its twelve faculties and their 20.000 students from Serbia and abroad makes the city of Kragujevac one of the largest university centers in Serbia and the region.
As Chech historian Konstantin Jiricek once said:
"...If you want to see true Serbian town, you should visit Kragujevac."