Serbia

Guide to Belgrade brutalist architecture

(Last Updated On: 30/08/2019)

Belgrade, Serbia is not the city that everyone likes. But if you are a fan of brutalist and modernist architecture or if you can appreciate some interesting concrete structures, you are in for a treat.

Belgrade brutalist architecture

Belgrade brutalist architecture

Brutalism in Belgrade (or in the former Yugoslavia in general) is different than anywhere else. The whole concept came to the region from the Soviet Union, that Yugoslavia was a close ally with.

But since the Stalin-Tito split 1948 Yugoslavia went its own way and that applied to the architecture too. This is why now you can admire some really amazing Belgrade brutalist architecture when visiting the capital of Serbia.

But you can find some great example of the ex-Yugoslavia school of architecture in other cities in the area too: Skopje, Podgorica, Zagreb, Sarajevo or Ljubljana, just to name a few.

Skopje architecture

Brutalist architecture in Skopje, Macedonia

My fascination with brutalist architecture

I don’t know when exactly I developed a strong interest in brutalism and modernism.

The first time I’ve seen the National Library of Kosovo in Pristina my heart started to beat faster – it was so ugly that I just found it beautiful.

Pristina - Is Kosovo safe?

The funky brutalist building of National Library of Kosovo in Pristina

Over the years I’ve been looking for the funky or weird concrete buildings just about everywhere I go and let me tell you – Belgrade architecture from the 20th century is among the best examples of brutalism you will ever find!

Every time I visit Belgrade I set off for a quest to find even more brutalism gems around the city.

I spent days searching for them and I know I still haven’t seen everything (that’s why I have a few more trips to Belgrade planned for near future). That’s how many amazing concrete buildings you can find there.

During my recent trip to Belgrade I showed you what I managed to find on my Instastories.

Many of you were interested in Belgrade brutalist architecture and asked me to write a guide with all the locations and tips on visiting the places.

And so here you go – here is my guide on Belgrade brutalism. I hope you will find it useful and will enjoy Belgrade architecture as much as I did!

Belgrade architecture hunt – practical information

But before I start telling you about all the buildings let’s focus on some practical information.

Belgrade brutalism architecture is spread all over the city and distances between the places can be significant.

I used public transport and I can recommend you this way of Belgrade sightseeing. It’s cheap, easy to use and efficient.

Buses and trams can take you everywhere you need really.

I will include the exact bus and tram lines to use next to each location so you won’t have to do this part of research yourself.

I used the Easy way website when looking for public transport in Belgrade and it worked just fine. You can check the website here.

To use public transport in Belgrade you will need tickets. The most useful will be a 24-hours ticket – it costs only 250 dinars + 40 dinars for the card.

You can get it in Moj Kiosk (like the one on the picture below), they are located all over the city.

Belgrade kiosk

Sometimes they might not have the cards so you might have to ask in a few of them – recently I got my card in the kiosk at Terazije, and the previous time at the bus stop next to Palace of Serbia.

You might also encounter a bit of a language barrier when buying the ticket.

You need to validate the ticket when entering the bus or tram, there are machines next to each door.

I think it’s enough to validate it only once, during your first journey but I’m not 100% sure so to be on the safe side I validated my card during each journey. There are frequent controls so be sure to have a ticket with you.

To validate the ticket you need to hold it next to the machine until it shows it’s fine. Sometimes it may take a few seconds.

If you have doubts how to do it (I always get anxious before the first trip by public transport in the new city) just enter the bus after everyone else and see what people do, then do the same.

I think you would need to do at least 2 days in Belgrade to see all the architecture gems listed below as getting between them can take a while.

Otherwise, you can just pick the best one and plan your own Belgrade itinerary focused on 20th-century architecture.

Belgrade brutalist and modernist architecture – locations

Below you can find 16 best locations with Belgrade brutalism, as well as tips how to get there.

Genex Tower

“Genex Tower” – known also as Western Gates of Belgrade

Built in 1977

Architect Mihajlo Mitrović

Address: Narodnih heroja 43

How to get there: bus no 65 from Zeleni Venats, in the direction of Novo Bezhanisko Cemetery. The bus stop is called “Uprava Tsarine”.

30 storeys residential tower and a 26 storeys office tower, connected on top with a rotary restaurant (that I believe is not working) is a symbol and the most known example of Belgrade brutalist architecture.

The building is impressive, the second-highest in Belgrade, and can be seen from most of the places in the capital (including Kalemegdan fortress).

It was strategically built on the road leading from Belgrade airport to the city, in the shape of the gate, welcoming all people arriving in the capital of Serbia.

On the street level, you will find here random services like a hairdresser and a shady bar. During one of my visits, there was some nice street art around too but recently it was gone.

You might try to sneak inside the residential part, on the left side when facing the building – I almost did it but for some reason, I chickened out in the very last moment (which even I was surprised about as I love exploring all kind of weird places).

On the right side, I managed to get to the foyer but the security guy told me it’s closed and I can’t take pictures inside. Which is a shame as the place has this nice, old-school look.

The best place to take a picture of Genex Tower is the overpass Bulevar Arsenija Čarnojevića at Omladinskih brigada street.

Belgrade brutalist architecture

Belgrade brutalist architecture

Belgrade brutalist architecture

Belgrade brutalist architecture

Belgrade brutalist architecture

Belgrade brutalist architecture

Novi Beograd town hall

Built between 1961 – 1971

Architects: Stojan Maksimovic, Branislav Jovin

Address: Bulevar Mihajla Pupina 167

How to get there: buses no 16, 65, 72, 75, 77, 78, 83 (all of them go from the bus stop near Palata Srbije, all but 78 and 83 go from Zeleni Venats). Bus stop: HO Novi Beohrad / Archive / Ulaz u Pariske Komune (depending on the bus you take).

Belgrade brutalist architecture

Belgrade brutalist architecture

Belgrade brutalist architecture

SIV 3 office and a police station

(Police Departament/Ministry of Internal Affairs)

Address: Omladinskih brigada broj 1, Belgrade, Republic of Serbia

Built in the late 70-s

How to get there: The building is next to the Novi Beograd town hall so all the same buses go there: no 16, 65, 72, 75, 77, 78, 83 (all of them go from the bus stop near Palata Srbije, all but 78 and 83 go from Zeleni Venats). Bus stop: HO Novi Beohrad / Archive / Ulaz u Pariske Komune (depending on the bus you take).

Belgrade brutalist architecture

Belgrade brutalist architecture

Belgrade brutalist architecture

Palace of Serbia

Palace of Serbia (Palata Srbije)

Address: Boulevard Mihaila Pupina 2

Built between 1947-59

Architects: Mihailo Janković, Vladimir Potočnjak(till 52′), Anton Urlih, Zlatko Nojman, Dragica Perak

How to get there: buses no 16, 65, 67, 71, 72, 75, 77, 78, 83 (all but 78 and 83 go from Zeleni Venats; 78 and 83 depart from next to the central bus station). Bus stop: Palata Serbia

The original project was more in the brutalist style, as numerous buildings in the Soviet Union. However, after the Tito-Stalin split the design was changed into modernism.

The building was finished in 1959 and since the opening has been serving as the government office. Today a few cabinet-level ministers have their offices in here.

Palace of Serbia is huge. It is difficult to take a good picture of the building as it simply doesn’t fit in the screen. You can take pictures from each angle and they all will be pretty impressive.

Since it is a functioning office you can go inside, from Monday to Friday in the working hours.

I was always there over the weekend so I only could see the interior on the pictures I found online. Next time I will plan my visit there smarter as the interior looks equally interesting as the outside design.

Belgrade brutalist architecture

Belgrade brutalist architecture

Belgrade brutalist architecture

Novi Beograd

How to get there: Blok 22 and 23 can be reached by trams no 7, 9, 11L, 13 from Ekonomski Faculty (next to the central bus station). Tram stop is Sava Centar for Blok 22 and Blok 23 for Blok 23.

Novi Beograd is a huge residential part of the capital of Serbia, across the Sava river from the center of Belgrade.

The works here started in 1948 and they are still going, however, most of Novi Beograd is built in the brutalist style.

This place is like a huge playground for all the concrete fans! Literally, as there are even concrete playgrounds with slides etc.

Novi Beograd is divided into so-called Blocks. Visiting them all would take too much time, besides not all of them are all that interesting.

I suggest visiting Block 22 and Block 23, that are just across the Sava river and near Sava Centar (more on it later). These two will give you a perfect idea of how Novi Beograd looks like.

Other interesting parts are Block 30 (across the street from Palace of Serbia), Block 28 or Block 61, 62 and 63.

Belgrade brutalist architecture

Belgrade brutalist architecture

Belgrade brutalist architecture

Belgrade brutalist architecture

Belgrade brutalist architecture

Sava Centar

Sava Centar Congress Centre

Address: Milentija Popovića 9

Built between 1975-79

Architect Stojan Maksimovic

How to get there: trams no 7, 9, 11L, 13 from Ekonomski Faculty (next to the central bus station). Tram stop is Sava Centar. You can also take buses 17,18, 70, 74 or 88 that cross Gazela Bridge.

Sava Centar is the large congress, cultural and business center, the biggest one in former Yugoslavia and one of the biggest ones in Europe.

It was built to host the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe summit in 1977, however, the whole building was completed two years later.

From the outside, Sava Centar doesn’t look that impressive. But you should definitely go inside and see the interior – it’s amazing, so old-school and a bit futuristic for its times.

Belgrade brutalist architecture

Belgrade brutalist architecture

Belgrade brutalist architecture

25th May Museum

Address: Mihajla Mike Jankovića 6

Architect: Mihajlo Janković

Completed: 1962

How to get there: Trolleybus no 40 from Main Post Office, bus stop: Museum of Yugoslav History

25th May Museum was opened on 25th of May 1962, as a gift from the City of Belgrade to beloved president Josip Broz Tito for his 70th birthday.

Now it is part of the Museum of Yugoslavia. Inside you can visit the exhibition from the times of Yugoslavia, showing years of Tito’s presidency.

In another pavilion, so-called House of Flowers, you will find Tito’s tomb.

Belgrade brutalist architecture

Belgrade brutalist architecture

Eastern Gate

Eastern Gate of Belgrade, known also as Rudo Buildings

Address: Rudo

Built in 1976

Architect: Vera Ćirković

How to get there: bus no 17 from Sava Centar to the final stop – Koniarnik. Trams no 6, 7, 14 to the final stop – Ustanichka.

On the other side of Belgrade, built on the hill, you will find so-called Eastern Gate (known also as “Rudo”) – a complex of three residential buildings guarding the city.

Each of them has 28 floors, with around 1,4 thousand inhabitants. You can also find some street art around.

Belgrade brutalist architecture

Belgrade brutalist architecture

Belgrade brutalist architecture

Belgrade brutalist architecture

Toblerone building

Karaburma Housing Tower Building

Address: Mije Kovačevića 9

Built in: 1963

Architect: Rista Šekerinski

How to get there: buses no 25, 27 (from Republic Square), 32, 66 or trams no 3, 12 to the stop Omladinski Stadion.

This residential building looks like a Toblerone chocolate is a must to see for all the fans of brutalist architecture!

It’s impressive to see how far the imagination of the architects could go and how funky structures were built from the concrete. I only wish to see how the flats with triangle shapes look like inside.

Belgrade brutalist architecture

Belgrade brutalist architecture

25 May Sportcenter

Address: Tadeuša Košćuška 63

Built between 1973-75

Architect Ivan Antic

How to get there: buses no 5A, 24 and 79 to the final stop – Dopchol (Milaln Mushkatirovich Sports Centre).

The sports center, located at the shore of Danube river, has numerous features such as the swimming pool, sauna, restaurant or gym.

The most interesting part is the concrete triangle overhanging above the walking and cycling path.

From here you can also enjoy nice views over Danube river and walk around in a very pleasant part of Belgrade.

Belgrade brutalist architecture

Belgrade brutalist architecture

Belgrade brutalist architecture

Belgrade brutalist architecture

Museum of Contemporary Art

Address: Ušće 10

Buildig finished in 1985

Architects: Ivan Antić and Ivanka Raspopović

How to get there: Buses no 15, 60 or 84 through Brankov Bridge. You can also walk here from Zeleni Venats, there are nice views from the bridge to central Belgrade.

The Museum of Contemporary Art is located just across the Sava river from the Kalemagdan fortress, through Brankov Bridge.

The building was designed by successful duo Ivan Antić and Ivanka Raspopović and finished in 1965.

I haven’t visited the museum itself (never have enough time, there are always too many things to do in Belgrade and the museum was closed for renovation until recently) but the building itself was interesting to go all the way there.

Next time I will definitely go there, especially that among around 8.000 exhibits they have works of Marina Abramović.

Belgrade brutalist architecture

Avala Tower

Address: Beli Potok, Serbia

Built in 1965

Architects: Slobodan Janjic, Ugljesa Bogunovic

The impressive Avala Tower was badly destroyed during the NATO bombings in 1999, what you can see now is a very well reconstruction.

The tower is located a bit outside of the center so you should plan a bit more time for the visit.

I haven’t made it there yet (although that was the plan during my last visit but it was way too hot), only saw it from away and it was already pretty spectacular.

My friend Emily has visited the tower and have a very detailed article about it. Click here to read all about visiting Avala Tower.

Belgrade brutalist architecture

Photo by Emily Lush

Museum of Aviation

Formerly the Yugoslav Aeronautical Museum.

Address: Nicola Tesla Airport

Built between 1975-89

Architect: Ivan Štraus

How to get there: Bus no 72 from Zeleni Venats or A1 from Slavia Square all the way to the airport.

Another place I saw only from the passing bus, although I could have very well visited it.

The Museum of Aviation is located near the airport, although getting there might be a bit annoying with the traffic (that’s why I just gave up).

I read recently the museum was sold to the private owner so fingers crossed the building will remain in the same style.

Belgrade brutalist architecture

Photo by Mark Bennetts

Hotel Jugoslavija

Address: Bulevar Nikole Tesle 3

Built in: 1969

Architect: Lavoslav Horvat

How to get there: Bus no 15 or 84 from Zeleni Venats

When the Hotel Jugoslavija was opened it was among the most luxurious hotels in Yugoslavia and among the most beautiful ones in Europe.

Over the years the place decayed and the hotel lost its beauty and charm.

There are plans to rebuilt it as one of the luxurious chain hotels in the near future.

Belgrade brutalist architecture

Photo by Mark Bennetts

BIGZ building

Address: Bulevar vojvode Mišića 17

Built in: 1941

Architect: Dragiša Brašovan

How to get there: Buses no 23, 36, 37, 46, 55, 58 across Gazela bridge to the bus stop Mostar or trams no 3, 12, 13 to the same stop.

A real gem of modernist architecture in Belgrade. BIGZ building was designed to serve as the printing and publishing house.

BIGZ building, as a cultural monument, is under protection. Still the place in a sort of decayed state.

When I visited the place a few years ago, on Sunday afternoon, I was a bit reluctant to go inside and explore it solo.

But of course, the curiosity was stronger, besides I could hear some nice rock music coming from the upper floors.

I went all the way up to the last floor, used my flashlight a lot since it was dark inside and it was a bit scary although nothing happened.

Besides the music studious there were also other art centers and offices.

Apparently BIGZ is an important place on the Belgrade’s cultural scene, I must have been just unlucky with my timing.

If you like street art there are some interesting and some terrible works inside.

Belgrade brutalist architecture

The Air Force Command Building

Address: Avijatičarski trgu br. 12

How to get there: buses no 17, 45, 73, 83, 84 to the bus stop Zemun (Post Office)

Another impressive modernist building, located in the Zemun part of the city.

I saw it only from the passing bus on my way to Novi Sad and it surely was amazing!

You can read more about the building at my friends Mark’s and Kirsty’s website.

Belgrade brutalist architecture

Photo by Mark Bennetts

Other places I haven’t seen yet but are on my list:

Map of brutalist architecture in Belgrade

I put together all the places on the map so you can have them all in one place. Click here to access the map.

If you would like to download the map just open it in the new window, click on the three dots in the upper left corner and then download the .kml file. Send it to your phone and open with maps.me application (the free, offline maps that work great everywhere!).

If you know any other great locations with Belgrade brutalist architecture please share them in the comments below so I can visit them next time too.

You should also join my Facebook group about traveling in the Balkans. It’s a great community of like-minded travelers and we discuss the architecture too! Click here to join!


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Belgrade brutalist architecture


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7 Comments

  • Reply
    Nicolás
    01/09/2019 at 07:03

    ¡Qué hermoso artículo! Muy buena frase la que dice “era tan feo que lo encontré hermoso” Tal cuál. Es así. Son edificios “pesados” pero creo que son “lindos” porque no están en donde uno vive.
    Saludos

    • Reply
      kami
      15/09/2019 at 15:27

      Gracias!

  • Reply
    thiago
    15/09/2019 at 19:45

    Thank you very much. I recently came back from Beograd and I wish this well-written guide was available back then. Seriously, this is the kind of thing I would expect to see at the Tourist Information Center. Congratulations. I missed the Toblerone, Easter Gate and Avala. The first two because we did not have enough time. The last one because it was far away. Next time for sure, this time with your guide. =)

    • Reply
      kami
      04/10/2019 at 21:36

      Thank you for your comment, that means so much to me! Belgrade has some spectacular brutalist architecture so there is always a reason to go back :)

  • Reply
    Jasmine
    27/09/2019 at 08:54

    Great article, love the photos

  • Reply
    Rolf Mellberg
    23/10/2019 at 09:04

    We came back from Belgrade yesterday after four days and I am digesting my impressions with help of the web. (thanks for your excellent site!!!)

    When approaching the west gate comming from the airport, the wide strait road itself is a symbol (or metaphor if you like) of a parade with Tito in the middle. To the right you can see four buildings, 45 degrees twisted towards “the parade”, metafors for soldiers saluting Tito himself. This feeling is so strong all the way to the Gazela bridge. The individ is so tiny, the collective is so massive!!!

    This (and much of Belgrade) must be a very unique heritage and I just fear that it will not be preserved for the afterworld. Huge amouts are now invested in the Belgrade Waterfront an area with no unique features; you can find such areas in hundreds aroud the globe, but how can money be found to perserve Belgrads unique brutalist heritage and make it to the citys pride?

    This city feels like an exiting drama, empowered by the quite recent violent history. A drama filled of melancholy to the tunes of Saban Saulic and others.

    After travelling a lot on the balkans during 15 years, I now know: Belgrade is it´s heart.

    • Reply
      kami
      06/11/2019 at 22:49

      Thank you for your comment, Rolf. I agree with every single sentence you wrote here.

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