Updated: 5 days ago
When the supreme commander of the Partisan Army Marshal Josip Broz Tito came to power as the leader-for-life of the newly created Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1945 in the wake of his WWII victory, he slowly, over the course of many years, began to accumulate a significant collection of properties across Yugoslavia for the purposes of coordinating his official responsibilities and duties, as well as for his personal relaxation and leisure. Some of these estates and villas were built from scratch, while many others were simply acquired through the process of nationalization, most often from the Karađorđević royal family of Yugoslavia, who were deposed in 1945 by the Yugoslav Constituent Assembly. The villas which Tito accumulated were of a huge variety, from castles, to hunting lodges, to seaside manors, to luxury palaces, and well beyond. Tito was well known for his refined tastes, love of entertaining and desire to impress, so, as such, he used these many villas not only for his stately tasks and personal enjoyment, but also as a means to showcase the splendors and modernization of Yugoslavia to the hundreds of visiting dignitaries and world leaders he would routinely host at his many estates. Also, it must be pointed out that all of these villas were not properties which Tito himself owned personally... all were under the formal ownership of the Yugoslav government. After Tito's passing, there was virtually no property that was left behind that was legally owned by Tito himself as an individual or by his family.
The natural question that many ask after hearing of this vast collection of estates which Tito accumulated is "how many were there?". While seemingly a straightforward question, the exact number is not known for certain, as even today there is much secrecy in some circles about the legacy of government-owned properties which existed during the former Yugoslavia. Surprising revelations about many of Tito's estates continue to be unearthed up to the present day, all while legal restitution battles between current governments and these property's pre-WWII owners still drag on into contemporary times. While some sources assert that there may be as well as over 100 villas which Tito called "home" in one respect or another, in my research for this article I was only able to isolate 34 properties which were either official Tito residences (some used, some unused) or villas in which Tito spent some amount of time. While more examples may exist, this list of 34 is all I was able to find any level of documentation or literature for.
This article looks at each villa in detail, with them all being organized by the former republics in which they existed. Learning about these villas gives one a unique insight into the life of Tito, his interests as a person, how he operated as a statesman, as well as his relationship with his wife Jovanka. Furthermore, detailing the individual history of each villa provides hints at how each region where these villas reside deal with and relate to the lingering legacy of Tito, which is visible still in many cases even 40 years after his death. Some stand as important local tourist attractions, some are locked up tight by private owners, while some sit in a crumbled ruins. This article will operate as a general survey of this unique and historical collection of properties, evaluating their past, present and even future in some cases.
Bosnia & Herzegovina
1.) Vila Kupres, Koprivnica Mountains, BiH
Name: Vila Kupres
Location: Koprivnica Mountains, near Kupres, BiH
Year built: 1972
Coordinates: 44°01'43.1"N, 17°18'17.0"E
Description: Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito was an avid hunter and accumulated hunting lodges across the whole of Yugoslavia. Of particular interest to Tito was hunting bears, of which there were plentiful amounts of in the high mountains of Western Bosnia's Dinaric Alps. As such, a large villa was built for Tito in 1972 in the Koprivnica Mountains between the towns of Kupres and Bugojno. The lodge complex built for Tito, called "Vila Kupres", was characterized by its three levels of swooping horizontal lines and concrete balconies overlooking the mountains. Tito not only hunted the game that was already here in the area, but he also hunted game that was brought in from across Yugoslavia and from around the world. To get around while hunting in these mountains, Tito used a Russian-made Lada Niva SUV that was gifted to him by Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. Tito visited Vila Kupres repeatedly over the years, roughly 17 times, more than any other of his lodges. The only other area where Tito spent more time was at his villas at Belgrade and Brijuni. Official Yugoslav state visits were also held here at the villa, with the most notable one being when Tito hosted Muammar Gaddafi in the late 1970s. In 1974, Tito found that the high altitude of mountains was poorly affecting his health, so he had a second villa in the area built for him in the valley at the nearby town of Bugojno, which he would split time between.
During the Bosnian War, Vila Kupres was used as a strategic military position and command base, suffering significant damage during the process. By the end of the war, it was completely destroyed. In the decades since the end of the war, the ruins of the villa still remain and have been largely forgotten. Articles indicate that the land and the ruins are both still owned by the government. This site is not wise to explore as landmines still exist around the landscape here.
2.) Vila Gorica, Bugojno, BiH
Name: Vila Gorica
Location: Bugojno, BiH
Year built: 1974
Coordinates: N44°02'25.3", E17°26'33.9"
Description: As the result of Tito often finding his extended stays at his mountain hunting lodge of Vila Kupres leaving him feeling ill, in 1974 he commissioned an additional personal villa to be constructed for himself in the lower valley within the town of Bugojno. The house, when completed, was of a modified A-frame design clad with native wood siding, which all the more gave the structure a rustic "mountain lodge" aesthetic that Tito no doubt desired. When Tito would come to Western Bosnia to hunt, he would largely split his time between staying here at Vila Gorica and up at the lodge at Koprivnica. As a result, Tito was a well known fixture in the small rural town of Bugojno, where he would often walk the town's streets with world leaders which he had brought to hunt with. It is also notable to mention that constructed just a few meters north of Tito's villa was an additional villa meant for notable Yugoslav politician Branko Mikulić, who was from Bugojno and served for many years in the top party leadership of the SR of Bosnia & Herzegovina. Four years after Tito's death in 1980, Vila Gorica was transformed into a museum complex dedicated to the time which Tito spent recreating and hunting in the Bugojno and Koprivnica region. Vintage film footage showing Tito at Vila Gorica can be seen at THIS YouTube link.
As the Bosnian War took hold of this region during the early 1990s, Vila Gorica (along with the Mikulić villa) met a similar fate as the nearby Vila Kupres, with it being used as a strategic military position and later being completely destroyed through the course of the war. Today, the ownership of the ruins of the two villas (and the land they sit on) are contested by several government entities, however, many groups hope to eventually clean up and redevelop these sites. It is also interesting to note that rumors abound that there is an as-of-yet undiscovered network of secret tunnels under Vila Gorica that Tito had built for security (that American media even reported as being inspirations for Saddam Hussein's secret palace tunnel systems), but, as far as I can tell, such tales continue to remain as just myths.
3.) Vila Stojčevac, Sarajevo, BiH
Name: Vila Stojčevac
Location: Mount Igman near Sarajevo, BiH
Year built: early 1950s?
Coordinates: 43°48'30.6"N, 18°17'18.4"E
Description: Located southwest of Sarajevo at the foot of Mount Igman, just a few hundred meters east of the source of the Bosnia River, are the ruins of Tito's sprawling residence which was called "Vila Stojčevac". Built in the early 1950s, Tito used this residence here both for its hunting potential (which was always an important factor for him), as well as for its proximity to the urban/political hub of Sarajevo. The house was in the style of a "modern" rustic lodge, with its form typified by long horizontal low-pitched roof lines and wide open clusters of windows, all clad in a stylized 'log cabin' style facade. The interior of the complex was decorated with massive painted wall murals depicting the history and culture of Bosnia, all painted by the region's most significant artists. In addition, a vast network of tunnels was built under and around the compound, meant to serve as protection as well as clandestine transportation for Tito between sensitive sites.
As has been seen so far on this list with other official residences of Tito's during the Bosnian War, the fate of Vila Stojčevac was no exception, with it being used as a military fortification during the war. Today the villa sits in ruins completely destroyed and devastated, with multiple government agencies conflicted over who has responsibility over the site. Exploration of the site (especially its tunnels) is not recommended as the result of landmines, wild animals and the structure's instability. Impressive drone footage of the site can be seen at THIS Youtube link.
4.) Donje Bare Hunting Lodge, Sutjeska NP, BiH
Name: Donje Bare Hunting Lodge
Location: Sutjeska National Park, BiH
Year built: 1950s?
Coordinates: 43°19'07.1"N, 18°37'48.3"E
Description: Nestled at the edge of the remote lake of Donje Bare high in the Zelengora Mountains are the ruins of Tito's Sutjeska hunting lodge. The Sutjeska region was a pivotal location in Tito's life as a result of the huge battle him and his Partisan Army fought here in 1943 during WWII [more info here], so, not surprisingly, he came back to this region regularly for recreation and relaxation (particularly hunting). However, this hunting lodge which he established on the banks of the remote mountain lake of Donje Bare (most likely during the 1950s) has very little information available about it. However, surviving photos do indicate that Tito spent a good deal of time here. During the Yugoslav-era, the lake region was for Tito's exclusive use only, and it was not until the years following the end of the Bosnian War in the late 1990s that the lake was finally opened to public access. However, it was also during the war that the hunting lodge was completely destroyed. Circumstances surrounding the destruction of the lodge are unknown. The ruined foundation of the lodge still remains and is a popular feature for those hiking to Donje Bare Lake.
5.) Vila Lastva, Lastva, BiH
Name: Vila Lastva
Location: Lastva, BiH
Year built: 1954
Coordinates: 42°41'47.5"N, 18°29'18.6"E
Description: In the small village of Lastva, not far from the Herzegovina regional hub of Trebinje, is the only official residence of Tito in Bosnia that still exists up until the present day. Built in 1954, the house is crafted in a traditional 'villa' style out of native stone, fitting in very much with other local structures. Interestingly, despite its surviving through the Bosnian War, not much information is available about Tito's time spent here at this residence. In the post-Yugoslav-era, the house sat idle for many years. Interest in the site was renewed when it was used as a filming location for the 2009 Serbian TV series "Ranjeni orao" (Wounded Eagle). In 2015 the residence was sold by the state to a tourism investor named "Leotar" and development started on renovating the site into a bed & breakfast and winery, which was finally opened in 2019. The official website for the lodging, which kept the historic name "Vila Lastva", can be found at THIS link.
6.) Vila Kumrovec, Kumrovec, Croatia
Name: Vila Kumrovec
Location: Kumrovec, Croatia
Architect(s): Branko Bon
Year built: 1948
Coordinates: N46°04'35.7", E15°40'31.6"
Description: Just on the western outskirts of the small village of Kumrovec (just a few dozen meters away from the Kumrovec Old Village Museum) is situated the local residence which President Josip Broz Tito used during his stays here to his childhood village. Originally created in 1948 as a hotel and designed by notable Croatian architect Branko Bon (who was reputed to be Tito's favorite architect), the building is of a traditional style of local vernacular architecture, yet, also containing playful features of early modernist flair. It was renovated in 1962 in order to accommodate Tito’s living needs, at which point the interior of the home was decorated in an impressive mid-century style, standing in unique contrast to its more traditional exterior. After the dismantling of Yugoslavia, the home was left vacant for many years, with all of Tito’s possessions and personal items left relatively untouched and in place. It was not until 2015 that the Vila Kumrovec was finally opened up to the public for tours. These tours present visitors with a unique glimpse into Tito’s life, as well as a preserved snapshot of the stylistic trends of the Yugoslav-era. For info about touring Vila Kumrovec, see the official website for the Kumrovec Old Village Museum.
7. Castle Tikveš, Tikveš, Croatia
Name: Castle Tikveš
Location: Tikveš, Croatia
Year built: 1890s?
Coordinates: 45°41'55.2"N, 18°50'02.2"E
Description: Near the confluence of the Danube and Drava Rivers is a rich ecological wetland environment that has been renowned for its hunting for centuries, with the region often being referred to as "Kopački Rit". Members of the royal Austro-Hungarian Habsburg dynasty built a hunting residence here around the 1890s, which they called "Castle Tikveš". Sources refer to the style of the castle as "Romantic Historicism", with its red brick facade containing many traditional Austro-Hungarian architectural features, but also some playful Art Nouveau elements as well. After WWI, the royal Karađorđević family of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia used the home for hunting parties. It was after WWII that the property was nationalized by the socialist Yugoslav government and it began to be used by president Josip Broz Tito as an official hunting lodge and residence, while also using the castle as a place to host official guests and dignitaries. Reportedly, Castle Tikveš was among Tito's most prized hunting lodges as a result of the world-class hunting the surroundings offered him. An annex was built off of the rear of the castle in the 1970s, designed in a highly modernist style of architecture (quite incongruent with the old castle), for which Tito could expand his entertaining and hosting capacity. After the death of Tito in 1980, the castle began a long stretch of sitting vacant and unused for many years, but interestingly, in April of 1991, the castle was used to host a summit between Serbian leader Slobodan Milošević and Croatian leader Franjo Tuđman as tensions in the region flared up during the dismantling of Yugoslavia.
Currently, the Kopački Rit Nature Park, which manages the castle now, has plans in motion to renovate and redevelop the castle into a "historical-naturalistic exhibition" which will educate people about the region's important history and environmental offerings (expected to open around 2021). Until this project is completed, the castle's exterior and surrounding grounds are free to explore as part of the nature park. The official website for the Kopački Rit Nature Park can be found at THIS link.
8.) Lividraga Lodge, Gorski Kotar Mountains, Croatia
Name: Lividraga Lodge
Location: Gorski Kotar Mountains, Croatia
Year built: 1958
Coordinates: 45°28'44.0"N, 14°35'16.4"E
Description: Located high in the Gorski Kotar Mountains of Croatia is a rustic hunting lodge built for Josip Broz Tito called "Lividraga Lodge". Built in this remote alpine setting in 1958 for Tito to capitalize on the region's impressive grouse hunting offerings (as well as a place for him to conduct more private political affairs), the lodge is in a traditional A-frame style with a foundation of local stone, all perched on a hillside overlooking the beautiful Lividraga Meadow. Not a lot of information is available about the time which Tito spent here at the lodge, but after the Yugoslav-era the lodge remained in a good condition (possibly because of its remoteness). The Lividraga Lodge today is managed by the Croatian Forestry Agency. Information about visiting and staying at the lodge can be found at THIS link.
9.) The White Villa, Brijuni Islands, Croatia
Name: The White Villa
Location: Veli Brijun in the Brijuni Islands, Croatia
Architect(s): Jože Plečnik
Year built: 1953
Coordinates: 44°55'07.7"N, 13°44'59.5"E
Description: Tito first became enchanted by the Brijuni Islands in 1947 and was insistent upon making the archipelago's main island, Veli Brijun, the site for his personal summer residence and island retreat. The islands of Brijuni had been used since ancient times, with many Roman ruins existing across the islands. However, the waterfront site on Dobrika Bay which Tito desired to place his new personal palace was already occupied by two old villas created by the region's former Austro-Hungarian rulers in 1901 (which were named "Weinberger Villa" and "Feilchenfeld Villa"). Tito had both of these villas demolished in 1950 and three years later to make room for his new villa. At the time of the early 1950s, Tito was not yet much of a fan of the modernist architectural aesthetic, as such, he had the villa crafted in a more traditionalist style, hiring famed Slovene architect Jože Plečnik to design the palace. In 1953 construction completed on his new home that was subsequently dubbed the "White Villa" (Bijela vila), which, at 3,000 sq m in size, instantly became the most immense and luxurious single villa ever built upon the island. It was from here at the White Villa that Tito hosted some of the most significant luminaries and leaders from around the world, both for business dealings in international diplomacy as well as for fun and leisure... or, as a 2019 Time Out article puts it: "listing all of the international political figures who visited Tito on Brijuni would add up to an A-to-Z of pretty much everyone who held any importance in the years 1954-1980." However, it wasn't long after building the White Villa that Tito realized that he needed a more intimate and secluded villa in the Brijuni Islands for conducting more intimate and secluded business and engagements. As a result, he built a new villa on the nearby island of Vanga just two years later in 1955.
In the years after the Yugoslav-era, the White Villa continued to be used through the 1990s and early 2000s as a summer villa by politicians of the new Croatian government. However, it is used less and less in recent years, leaving the palace largely vacant a majority of the time, yet still completely off-limits to public tours or visitation. There do not seem to be any plans to open the White Villa up to the public anytime soon.
10.) Vanga Island Villa, Brijuni Islands, Croatia
Name: The Vanga Island Villa
Location: Vanga Island, Brijuni, Croatia
Year built: 1955
Coordinates: 44°54'41.6"N, 13°43'38.4"E
Description: As Tito increasingly found his main Brijuni residence at the White Villa less private and secluded as he would prefer, he began to migrate many of his activities to a new compound he was creating on a tiny island just off of the west coast of the main Brijuni island called 'Vanga'. in 1955, Tito commissioned a new expansive villa on Vanga to be his primary secluded hideaway where he would conduct his most sensitive political dealings, while also having it as a place to entertain his most exclusive guests. As a result of this purposeful isolation, it became one of the most secretive and mysterious locations in all of Yugoslavia. The architecture of the Vanga Island compound was one part traditional Mediterranean villa (with its red tile roof and native stone) and one part exquisite 1960s Yugoslav styling (with its breezy open plan layout and modernist interior). It was here that Tito hosted some of the world's most influential leaders like Haile Selassie, Queen Elizabeth II, King Hussein of Jordan, among others. In addition to official business, Tito also used his Vanga Island Villa for entertaining many of the most notable celebrities of his era, such as Sophia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor, Orson Wells, Richard Burton, Josephine Baker and many more.
In the post-Yugoslav-era, the villa at Vanga Island fell into a sort of contained stasis, remaining essentially untouched for several decades and completely off-limits to the public. However, in 2018, news began to surface that Brijuni National Park (the entity which now managed the island) would soon be opening up Tito's Vanga Island Villa for tourism and public visitation. As of 2020, such ambitions have not yet been met, but it still seems from all reports that such plans to open to the public this long secret island are still underway. A vintage Yugoslav-era documentary video touring the Vanga Island estate can be watched at THIS YouTube link.
11.) Vila Dalmacija, Split, Croatia
Name: Vila Dalmacija
Location: Split, Croatia
Year built: 1914
Coordinates: 43°30'16.1"N, 16°24'32.6"E
Description: Nestled within the Marjan Hill Forest Park along Split's Adriatic coast is the resplendent seaside chateau known today as "Vila Dalmacija". The villa was built in 1914 by Czech entrepreneur Franjo Schiller, which he originally dubbed "Vila Schiller". However, just two years after the end of WWII in 1947, Tito noticed the villa on a visit to Split and decided to nationalize the property for use as one of his personal residences. It was at this point that the residence was given its new name "Vila Dalmacija". Some assert that Tito chose Marjan Hill as his place of residence in Split because during WWII the Partisan song "Marjane, Marjane" (which was about Marjan Hill) was among his most favorite wartime tunes to hear his soldiers sing. Unfortunately, sources do not provide much information about Tito's time here at his Split villa or how often he visited or stayed here in his time spent traveling across Yugoslavia. However, what sources do say is that during the Yugoslav-era, it was considered the "hot spot of communist elite" in Split. Furthermore, the site must have most certainly been of strategic significance to Tito, since a large network of underground tunnels and defensive bunkers were built adjacent to the Vila Dalmacija, with photos and a map of the tunnels available at THIS link.
After Tito's passing, the Vila Dalmacija was used less and less, however, the most significant use of villa in the post-Tito era was in March of 1991 when the villa was used to host what was the first meeting between the three leaders Alija Izetbegović, Slobodan Milošević and Franjo Tuđman for the purposes of avoiding war across the former Yugoslav region (which they ultimately failed in succeeding at). After the end of the Yugoslav Wars, the Vila Dalmajica began to be used as a special event location, most notably for weddings, for which it quickly became the most exclusive venue. However, operating as an exclusive government-owned venue has meant that the site has been off-limits to the general public. Many recent news reports indicate that the city of Split is working to increase access to the site, potentially with even offering tours of the interior of Tito's villa (which is reportedly still in its original condition), but as of yet such plans are yet to manifest. Meanwhile, in 2014, the villa was used as a shooting location for episodes for season 5 of the HBO television show "Game of Thrones", which has further increased touristic interest in the site.
12.) Vila Dunavka, Ilok, Croatia
Name: Vila Dunavka
Location: Ilok, Croatia
Year built: [unknown]
Coordinates: 45°12'06.5"N, 19°16'45.5"E
Description: One of the lesser-known residences of President Tito was his country estate near the Danube River which was known as "Vila Dunavka". Part of an estate known as "Pajzoš" that originally belonged to Vukovar's Count of Eltz, Tito most likely chose this site as one of his estates not only because of the beautiful scenery, vinyards and on-site winery (Tito was a huge fan of wine), but also because the estate resides directly on the Croatian-Serbian border, giving its location somewhat of a symbolic quality. Perhaps it was because of this symbolism that on April 15th, 1952, Tito (who was born in modern-day Croatia) married his wife Jovanka Budisavljević (who was an ethnic Serb) here at Dunavka. As photographic records show, Tito came to Dunavka many times over the years, to engage in diplomatic meetings, as well as recreation, hunting and tending to his massive winery. However, detailed information about what sorts of affairs transpired at Vila Dunavka are sparse.
During the era of the Yugoslav Wars, the villa and its compound was used as an army barracks and as a military camp. However, by the end of the region's conflicts, the Vila Dunavka and its many surrounding out-buildings were all completely destroyed. Today, nothing remains but ruined overgrown foundations. The property of the former villa and winery are currently owned by the Croatian government.
13.) Vila Izvor, Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
Name: Vila Izvor (aka: "Objekt 99")
Location: near Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
Architect(s): Zvonimir Marohnić & Rikard Marasović
Year built: 1953
Coordinates: 44°54'09.9"N, 15°34'18.2"E
Description: Deep within the Lika region's rolling forested hills (only 2km northwest of Croatia's famous Plitvice Lakes) is a now ruined and destroyed estate originally known by the mysterious and clandestine code-name "Objekt 99", but today it is known by its true title, "Vila Izvor". This remote and secluded rural compound was created exclusively to be one of Josip Broz Tito's personal residences. According to sources, this enormous 6,500 sq m complex was built between 1949 and 1953 using prisoner labor from such sites as Goli Otok, Gradiška, Lepoglava and Mitrovica, with even the furniture of the villa being constructed by prisoner craftsman. At the time of its completion, it is purported to be the most expensive single residence in Yugoslavia. Vila Izvor was the work of the Croatian architect team Zvonimir Marohnić & Rikard Marasović, the latter whom is widely known for his work creating the innovative Children's Health Resort at the Dalmatian coastal town of Krvavica in 1961. The villa sits at the source of the River Plitvice, which is from where the residence gets its name "Izvor", which means "well spring" in English.
The architecture of the villa is characterized by its use of Medvednica stone (from Zagreb) and wood paneling from native trees, with these two elements coming together to create what is almost akin to a modernist fortress, especially in the way which the main stone tower of the villa resembles a castle keep. The interior of the villa was said to be decked in the most luxurious furnishings of any of Tito's Croatian villas, with marble stairs, lacquered woodwork and plush carpeting. In addition, the villa hosted such modern amenities like a bowling alley, a cinema, ballrooms and other such facilities. Like other villas on this list belonging to Tito, this one also is alleged to host around its grounds a complex network of underground tunnels and passageways. While Tito only visited this villa a few times, it was often used by other Croatian communist officials and military leaders during the Yugoslav-era, with numerous locals recounting that many of these gatherings often descended into notoriously decadent and wild events.
Villa Izvor was completely devastated during the Yugoslav Wars, with its being used as a strategic military site. Afterward, it was looted of all valuables and today sits as a ruin that is mostly only visited by vandals and curious explorers. The land on which the ruin sits is currently under the management of Plitvice Lakes National Park, which has recently proposed the idea of turning the abandoned space into a scientific research center, but as of 2020, no efforts have yet been put towards such ideas.
14.) Vila Kupari, Kupari, Croatia
Name: "Vila Kupari" or "Vila Borovka 1"
Location: Kupari, Croatia
Architect(s): David Finci
Year built: 1966
Coordinates: 42°36'56.1"N, 18°10'47.4"E
Description: Located just a few hundred meters away from the now ruined and abandoned Kupari resort complex on Croatia's Adriatic coast (just 8km southeast of Dubrovnik) is one of Tito's seaside estates called "Vila Kupari", which is also sometimes referred to as "Vila Borovka 1". A smaller villa, built adjacent to this primary one, was also constructed at this site intended for Tito's wife Jovanka and was called "Vila Borovka 2". Both villas were built in a high modernist architectural design, characterized by their sweeping concrete horizontals with dramatic upwardly curving tips, almost akin to the work which architect Le Corbusier designed in Chandigarh, India during the early 1950s. The designer of both Tito's and Jovanka's villas here at Kupari was Sarajevo architect David Finci, who had just a few years earlier created the massive Hotel Pelegrin complex at Kupari, whose design was clearly used as an inspiration for Tito's villa. Interestingly, after completing Tito's villa at Kupari at the age of 35, Finci immediately travelled to New York City for an architectural scholarship which he had won, and would subsequently go on to stay in America the rest of his life, creating dozens of major architectural works predominately in New York, New Jersey and California.
Not much is known about Tito's time here at Kupari, but, as with other of his Yugoslav villas, this one also had an extensive network of underground tunnels, chambers and defensive bunkers built around this complex which could reportedly house around 30 people for up to 80 days in case of an emergency. In the post-Yugoslav-era, the Croatian government inherited the property, using it for various political and military meetings, all the while continuing the villas tradition of secrecy and seclusion. It was not until the late 2010s that the public at large fully became aware of the site. The villa has still never been accessible to the public in any form. Since 2017, the Croatian government has been attempting to sell them off to private investors, however, as of yet, such sales attempts have been unsuccessful.
15.) Vila Lapad, Dubrovnik, Croatia
Name: "Vila Lapad" or "Vila Banac"
Location: Dubrovnik, Croatia
Architect(s): Lavoslav Horvat & Harold Bilinić
Year built: 1937
Coordinates: 42°39'12.0"N 18°03'53.0"E
Description: Perched on a hillside overlooking the Adriatic Sea on Dubrovnik's scenic Lapad peninsula is Tito's former residence "Vila Lapad". This impressive seaside manor was originally built in 1937 by the wealthy Dubrovnik businessman Karlo Banac, who was reportedly the richest citizen of the city during its inter-war period. The manor was designed by Croatian architects Lavoslav Horvat & Harold Bilinić, who had both worked with the Banac family over the years designing numerous villas along the Dalmatian coast. While Vila Lapad appears very much in the style of a traditional stately Dubrovnik manor, it also has hints of early modernism contained within it, such as its slit-thin front windows and streamlined stone facade. A series of stone terraces lead down to the beach. Karlo, along with his sister Ana, resided here at the "Vila Lapad" until after WWII, when the home was expropriated by Yugoslavia's new communist government for use as a summer residence by president Josip Broz Tito. However, Tito only spent a small amount of time here at Dubrovnik's Vila Lapad, instead preferring his much more elaborate Brijuni estates as a place for summer relaxation, although, it was used regularly by other Croatian and local party members.
After the independence of Croatia in 1991, the new government began a program of repatriation of property which had been taken by the former Yugoslav government. While the original owner, Karlo Banac, had already passed away by this time, but his wife, Magdelena (who was living in Montreal by the 1990s), made an official claim on the house. However, as the restitution process for the home dragged on over many years (during which time Croatian politicians continued to use the house), Magdelena passed away, but her second husband, Marojica Miloslavić, took up the claim in her stead. Eventually, Miloslavić sold his restitution claim to Dubrovnik to entrepreneur Braslav Turčić. In 2012, the house was completely renovated and modernized, leaving none of the original interior intact. Also that same year, the Croatian government auctioned off all of Tito's possessions within the home. Now designated as a 'cultural monument', the future of Vila Lapad is not yet clear, however, public access to the villa's beach has once again been restored to the public's access, which had been off-limits for many decades.
16.) Vila Zagorje, Zagreb, Croatia
Name: Vila Zagorje
Location: Zagreb, Croatia
Architect(s): Vjenceslav Richter & Kazimir Ostrogović (with Drago Ibler)
Year built: 1965
Coordinates: 45°50'15.4"N, 15°57'28.1"E
Description: Along the foothills of Medvednica Mountain, just north of Zagreb in the neighborhood of Pantovčak, is situated what was Tito's main Zagreb residence, "Vila Zagorje", but what today exists as the Croatian Presidential Palace. In the late 1950s, government officials in Zagreb wished to coax Yugoslav president Tito into spending more time in their city. As such, they conceived of building for Tito an expansive villa overlooking the city from which he could comfortably conduct his business. Work on the project began in 1961, with the basic framework and concept for the villa offered by Tito's personal friend and architect Drago Ibler. From there, it was the Croatian architect team composed of Vjenceslav Richter & Kazimir Ostrogović who took the idea to completion (the latter who sadly passed away before the project was finished). What Richter & Ostrogović conceived was a magnificent broad villa crafted in the International Style of architecture, featuring vast open terraces to view the mountain landscape and walls of curtain-like glass to bring in maximum amounts of sunlight. Architectural models for the villa can be seen at THIS link. Completed in 1965, this became the primary residence for Tito when spending time in Zagreb, which he did quite often, as it was the capital city of the SR of Croatia.
After Croatia became an independent nation in the wake of the dismantling of Yugoslavia, Vila Zagorje began to operate as the country's Presidential Palace, a relocation which was the result of the "Banski dvori" (the former Croatian presidential residence) being bombed by the JNA in 1991. All of the presidents of Croatia, from Franjo Tuđman onward, have utilized Vila Zagorje for official government business and as a residency to varying degrees. After Tuđman moved into the villa in the early 1990s, the space underwent a complete renovation and re-fitting with modern amenities, as well as having much of the old art and furniture removed. However, sources say that through the course of the villa's transformation, a bust of Tito was left in place at the request of Tuđman. The villa and the grounds of the current Presidential Palace are not open to the public.
17.) Vila Opatija, Opatija, Croatia
Name: Vila Opatija
Location: Opatija, Croatia
Year built: [unknown]
Coordinates: 45°19'31.0"N, 14°17'58.2"E
Description: Situated right on the rocky coast of Kvarner Bay in the seaside town of Opatija, Croatia is yet another of Tito's summer coastal estates, this one named "Vila Opatija". When the villa was built, the street in which it sat along was fittingly named "Marshal Tito Street", a name which the street retains up until the present day. Unfortunately, very little information is available about this villa, even the data about when it was built, who the architect was, or how often Tito spent time here. However, the little that is preserved and reported about this secretive estate is information about the major world figure who Tito hosted here during his visits to Opatija. Such high-profile individuals include the likes of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, as well as Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie. After the end of the Yugoslav-era, the property was denationalized and is currently occupied by the local Opatija headquarters for the marina chain Adriatic Croatian International Club. From all indications, the site is not open to the public.
18.) Vila Galeb, Igalo, Montenegro
Name: Vila Galeb
Location: Igalo, Montenegro
Architect(s): Milorad Petijević
Year built: 1976
Coordinates: 42°27'20.9"N, 18°30'25.1"E
Description: As Tito was reaching an ever more advanced age into the 1970s, he required ever more frequent and specialized medical treatment and care. As such, plans were made to construct a new villa for Tito that was intended to be as close as possible to the famous and renowned Medical Institute of "Dr. Simo Milošević" in Igalo, Montenegro (just outside of Herceg Novi), which is still to this day considered, as their official website attests, the "largest and most famous institutions for multidisciplinary spa treatment on the Balkans." In addition to this health facility, Tito also wished for a villa in a more mild climate, so, as such, the cool shores of the small resort town of Igalo met this demand perfectly.
Completed in 1976, this new seaside manor was designed by local Herceg Novi architect Milorad Petijević and named "Vila Galeb" or "Seagull Villa". At 5,500 sq m, it was a massive compound, containing a small cinema (Tito especially enjoyed cowboy films), extensive spa facilities, mineral baths, air conditioning (luxurious for the era), conference centers and much more. Tito's personal spa within the villa was clad in Brazillian blue marble, the most expensive material used within the complex. The villa's interior and exterior were crafted in a modernist aesthetic, however, mindfulness was granted in its design to the local architectural vernacular of coastal Montenegro. Around the villa's bright red tile roofs were expansive terraces and a courtyard for Tito to get plenty of fresh air and sunshine. While Tito came here to Vila Galeb largely for health reasons, he also hosted many international dignitaries as well, most notably in 1978, when Tito used the villa to host Britain's Prince Charles on his first official visit to Yugoslavia (video footage of the prince's visit to Vila Galeb can be seen at THIS YouTube link).
While this vast estate at Igalo was created to service Tito's health needs, he only resided here on about five occasions and subsequently passed away just four years after its completion in 1980. After that point, Villa Galeb sat vacant for many years, with the only notable official use of the building being in 1991, when it was used as the site of a peace summit between Serbian leader Slobodan Miloševic and Croatia leader Franjo Tuđman. After that point, it was rented by a Russian travel agency in the late 2000s, playing host to a variety of exclusive tourists and visitors. In 2014, the residence was opened up for the first time to public tours, which drew considerable attention, as it is one of the few Tito villas to be largely untouched and in its original Yugoslav-era condition (making it somewhat of a time-capsule). More info about touring Vila Galeb can be found at THIS link, with guided tours costing 3 euro available in Serbian, English and Russian.
19.) Vila Miločer, Sveti Stefan, Montenegro
Name: Vila Miločer
Location: Sveti Stefan, Montenegro
Architect(s): Dragomir Tadić
Year built: 1936
Coordinates: 42°15'41.4"N, 18°53'35.8"E
Description: The decadent and plush estate of Vila Miločer was built between 1934-1936 and intended as a summer palace for the Kingdom of Yugoslavia's Queen Marija Karađorđević. Built by Belgrade architect Dragomir Tadić, the palace greatly resembles those coastal royal estates seen in Western Europe, which was the environment where Tadić did much of his architectural training. The grounds around the palace were adorned with a vast array of exotic gardens and a ring of dozens of olive trees, all while it sat in front of a 300m long beach along the Adriatic coast. After WWII, Vila Miločer, along with all other Karađorđević royal family property, was nationalized by the new Yugoslav government, with the palace used by president Josip Broz Tito as an occasional summer residence and retreat. Tito enjoyed the palace so much that he even used it in 1973 for one of his famous New Year's Eve parties. After the end of the Yugoslav-era, Miločer was sold off to private investors, at which point, in the mid 2000s, it was acquired by the famous and exclusive "Aman" hotel and resort chain. As of 2007, the former Miločer royal palace and Tito summer villa now operate as part of the Aman Sveti Stefan luxury resort complex, with per-nite stays costing around 1,000 euros.
20.) Vila Lovćen, Meljine, Montenegro
Name: Vila Lovćen
Location: Meljine, Montenegro
Year built: early 1980s
Coordinates: 42°27'02.7"N, 18°33'14.9"E
Description: As Tito's health was growing ever worse through the late 1970s, a decision was made to construct an additional specialized villa for the aging president directly within the Military Medical Institution of Meljine, just east of Herceg Novi. As a result, this would ensure Tito could have a residence in a favorable climate and within arm's reach of Yugoslavia's best rehabilitation doctors and medical professionals. Unfortunately, Tito passed away in 1980 before this new residence could be completed, so, he obviously never visited the complex. The villa, which was subsequently named 'Vila Lovćen', was not finished until the early 1980s. Built in a style of high modernism, the form of Vila Lovćen's facade is characterized by a series of concrete arches that surround the entire exterior, below which is a wrap-around balcony that encircles the entire complex (which offers stunning vistas of the sea). In addition, the villa was fixed with all of the most modern and technologically advanced rehabilitation and spa equipment available for the time period, which, because of Tito's death, was never used.
In the final years of Yugoslavia, the villa was largely used for military functions and political summits. After the dismantling of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, Vila Lovćen sat idle for several years until it was privatized and bought by a real estate consortium led by the Atlas Group, who have plans to completely redevelop the Meljine medical complex into a luxury resort (which, interestingly, is being promoted by Hollywood actress Pamela Anderson). Reports indicate that as part of this redevelopment project, there were initial intentions to tear down the Vila Lovćen (as the result of reported "stability" issues), but those plans seem to have been postponed (or deferred) for the moment. As of 2013, the villa currently houses several design firms, such as the Azmont Studio and the London-based architecture group 'Harper Downie'. Yet, the future fate of the Vila Lovćen is still not certain. As recent photos from the complex indicate, the interior furnishings and design of Vila Lovćen appear almost unchanged since the time of its completion in the early 1980s, making it a unique historical artifact and time-capsule for Yugoslav architecture and interior design.
21.) Vila Biljana, Ohrid, N. Macedonia
Name: Vila Biljana
Location: Ohrid, N. Macedonia
Year built: [unknown]
Coordinates: 41°05'19.1"N, 20°47'50.0"E
Description: Sitting precariously on the rocky cliffs overlooking scenic Lake Ohrid in present-day North Macedonia is what was, at one time, one of Josip Broz Tito's official summer residences, named "Vila Biljana". Very little information is available about the history of this estate, as far as when it was built (probably in the late 50s/early 60s), which architect designed it or how much time exactly Tito spent here. However, what is known for certain is that Tito spent an extensive amount of time here at the villa during an official visit to the Ohrid region in 1967, an event which was thoroughly documented. Archival footage of Tito at Vila Biljana can be seen at THIS Youtube link. The house is built as an elaborate expression of the traditional Macedonian vernacular architectural style, employing native stone with white plaster walls, red tile roof and upper-level bump-outs.
In the post-Yugoslav-era, Vila Biljana began to be used by politicians of the newly independent country. Today, the villa is owned by the North Macedonia government, whose statesmen use it as their own personal summer villa (while it is also used to host dignitaries and diplomatic envoys). Being that the villa is used to house high-level government politicians, access is strictly forbidden and off-limits to the public.
22.) Vila Konen, Subotica, Serbia
Name: Vila Konen
Location: Subotica, Serbia
Architect(s): Ferenc Rajhl
Year built: 1903
Coordinates: 46°06'00.9"N, 19°45'37.3"E
Description: Just a few dozen meters away from the northern shores of beautiful Lake Palić in the suburbs east of Subotica, Serbia is Vila Konen. Built in 1903 by the eminent Düsseldorf-born Jewish industrialist Vilim Konen, this lavish art-nouveau styled manor was created by famous Subotica architect Ferenc Rajhl, who was well known Budapest-trained architect celebrated for creating the stunning Rajhl Palace in Subotica. Also of note in 1903, Vilim Konen had his son, Vilim Jr, who went on to take over Konen's business dealings after his father passed away in 1936 and continued living in Vila Konen. During WWII, Vilim Jr fought on the side of the Partisan anti-fascists, but was captured and arrested by the Germany Army, then, after being released, was arrested again by the Hungarians for suspicion of being a Chetnik, but was again later released.
At the end of WWII in 1945, the new Yugoslav authorities were suspicious about Vilim Jr surviving after twice being captured by Axis powers, and, thus, they assumed the only way he could have done so was by being a traitor. As such, Vilim Jr was imprisoned and his villa at Subotica was confiscated by the state and nationalized. Vila Konen was then subsequently set up to operate as one of Tito's luxury villas, with the entire manor being redecorated in a modern and contemporary fashion (as the images above illustrate). However, Tito spent only a small amount of time here at Vila Konen, most notably in 1963, yet many other Yugoslav political figures used the estate extensively, such as the famous politician Dobrica Ćosić, who used Vila Konen as a sanctuary to write his famous 1954 novel "Koreni ' (Roots).
Vilim Jr died in Germany in 1993, where he fled to after being banished from Yugoslavia in 1961. However, Vilim Jr's daughter, Vera Konen (today in her late 80s), worked consistently after the dismantling of Yugoslavia to have the villa returned to her family. She finally succeeded to have the house returned in 2018, though it had fallen into disrepair after nearly 20 years of neglect. While the house is not open to the public, it can be viewed from the exterior easily, as it sits along the boundary of Palić Nature Park.
23.) Vila Ruža, Kladovo, Serbia
Name: Vila Ruža
Location: Kladovo, Serbia
Year built: 1934
Coordinates: 44°36'45.5"N, 22°36'45.1"E
Description: Situated right along the Danube River in Kladovo, Serbia, just next to the "Đerdap Hotel" is an estate named "Vila Ruža". Built in 1934 by local shipbuilder Đorđe Trandafilović in the style of a stately European palace, he named the villa after his Sarajevan wife, Ruža. However, just a few years after its construction, WWII began and occupying German forces took over Vila Ruža as a local Gestapo headquarters (who also notoriously used it as a brutal prison), all the while Đorđe and his wife fled Kladovo to join local resistance forces. After the war, the villa was nationalized and became the property of the Yugoslav government. In 1972, during the final phases of construction of Kladovo's famous Đerdap Hydroelectric Dam along the Danube, Tito used this house as a personal residence from which to oversee the unveiling of this grand dam project, during which time he hosted here Romanian president Nicolae Ceaușescu.
In the years after the Yugoslav-era, Vila Ruža fell into a state of extreme neglect. However, after being denationalized in the mid-2000s, it was acquired by HE "Đerdap", the managing corporation of the Đerdap Hydroelectric Dam. They wished to restore the structure, however, the villa's decay was so advanced, HE "Đerdap" instead decided to demolish the old structure and build an exact duplicate of former Vila Ruža on top of its old footprint. This approach was taken because, surprisingly, it was cheaper to rebuild a copy of the old villa than it was to restore the old original one. This work was completed in 2007. The HE "Đerdap" company now use the rebuilt villa as a place for business meetings, while it is also used for local cultural events and government functions. However, as far as my research was able to establish, the villa is not open to the public or available for tours (however, the exterior can be easily seen from the road). A short video segment about Vila Ruža (produced by local Kladovo TV) can be seen at THIS Youtube link.
24.) Vila Ravne, Fruška Gora National Park, Serbia
Name: Vila Ravne
Location: Fruška Gora National Park, Serbia
Year built: 1890s?
Coordinates: 45°08'40.0"N, 19°37'09.3"E
Description: Perched on a hilltop overlooking the beautiful landscape of Fruška Gora National Park is "Vila Ravne". Built at some point in the 1890s as a hunting lodge by the Count of Ilok, Arturo Odeskalski, it is crafted out of native stone in a typical rustic Austro-Hungarian style. The estate changed hands several times over the subsequent decades before being nationalized after WWII by the Yugoslav government. Primarily used by Tito's close political confidant Aleksandar Ranković as a summer mountain retreat, Tito spent time here as well in 1976. After the Yugoslav-era, the site fell into disrepair and was furthered devastated when it was struck by bomb shrapnel during the 1999 NATO airstrikes on Serbia. While the exterior of the property currently appears to be in a reasonable state, the interior of the site is totally ruined, with most of its valuables and fixtures torn out and stolen after years of dilapidation. The site is currently owned by the government of Vojvodina and the grounds maintained by the Fruška Gora National Park (which it resides within), but no interior access is permitted. Plans have been discussed for years now to renovate Vila Ravne and turn it into a park feature, but such efforts have not yet materialized. The villa can be easily reached by hiking a paved 4m trail from an access point just off of the main road through Fruška Gora National Park.
25.) Vila Pavlović, Zlatibor, Serbia
Name: Vila Pavlović
Location: Zlatibor, Serbia
Architect(s): Milutin Borisavljević
Year built: 1937
Coordinates: 43°44'07.6"N, 19°42'22.6"E
Description: Set within the neighborhood of Palisad in the historic resort town of Zlatibor, Serbia is an old manor house named "Villa Pavlović". Crafted by famous Serbian architect Milutin Borisavljević in a stylized version of the local architectural vernacular, this romantic rustic villa was built in 1937 for Belgrade lawyer Aleksandar Aca Pavlović. After WWII in 1945, the villa was nationalized by the new Yugoslav government for use as a summer residence for president Josip Broz Tito (most likely as the area of Zlatibor had historical symbolism because of the WWII events which happened in this location). However, despite Vila Pavlović being set aside for Tito's use, the historical record is unclear about how often Tito spent time at this villa, if at all. Despite this uncertainty, it has been consistently referred to from the Yugoslav-era up until the present as "Tito's Villa". In 1967, the villa was given over for use to the national TV station "Radio Television Serbia" (RTS), whose executive staff used it as a summer and winter retreat.
In 2014, a restitution process was initiated for Vila Pavlović by a descendant of Aleksandar Aca Pavlović. The property was subsequently returned to the heir, who then immediately sold it to a local developer. Being that the villa was a protected cultural property, it could not legally be torn down, so, at that point, the developer began to put into action a plan to construct two large resort towers on either side of Vila Pavlović in close proximity. This new complex was thus dubbed "Titova Vila Zlatibor", with plans to restore the old villa and turn it into a museum dedicated to Josip Broz Tito. As of 2020, this project is still under construction and development.
26.) Karađorđevo Residence, Karađorđevo, Serbia
Name: Karađorđevo Residence
Location: Karađorđevo, Serbia
Year built: 1959
Coordinates: 45°16'33.1"N, 19°18'46.8"E
Description: Positioned just 7km away as the crow flies across the Danube River from Tito's Dunavska villa at Ilok, Croatia was another grand hunting estate known as the "Karađorđevo Residence" in the southwestern Bačka region of Vojvodina. Tito used his estate at Karađorđevo as a sort of "Winter Palace" counterpart to Brijuni, as the region has been renowned for centuries for its fantastic hunting opportunities, as it was formerly the private hunting grounds for the Austro-Hungarian royal family. In addition, Karađorđevo was also historically known as being one of the best horse breeding locations in the Yugoslav region, which was another past time of Tito's. Construction on a new villa complex to accommodate Tito's various needs here at Karađorđevo (both official and recreational) began in 1957, with the main villa being completed in 1959. This new central manor consisted of a series of simple low set two-level units fashioned in a rustic country style with log siding (nodding to the local architectural vernacular), but with it all given a light contemporary touch with a modernist wood-veneered interior. Installed within the landscaping around the villa are a series of dramatic bronze sculptures of deer and horses (some of Tito's favorite animals) crafted by notable Vojvojina artist Jovan Soldatović [profile page]. This villa at Karađorđevo was one of Tito's most visited residences, with a total of over 65 visits here over the years. In fact, it was from here, just after a New Years Eve party on January 1st, 1980, that Tito suddenly developed serious blood circulation problems in his legs and was immediately rushed to his personal medical doctors at his residence at Castle Brdo in Kranj, Slovenia, then on to a specialist surgeon in Ljubljana. Video footage from that party of Tito giving the New Year's toast can be seen at THIS YouTube link. He died at the age of 88 just a few weeks later in Ljubljana.
In the years after Tito's death and the subsequent dismantling of Yugoslavia, the Karađorđevo Residence was seldom visited and little used, with it remaining very much in the exact same condition as it did when Tito last left here in 1980. The most significant event to occur here during these post-Tito years is the complex being used for a political summit between Serbian leader Slobodan Milošević and Croatian leader Tuđman in 1991, where sources indicate they allegedly talked of a secret plan to split up Bosnia between them. Today the Karađorđevo complex is maintained by the Serbian Army Guard and is under the management of the Serbian Ministry of Defense. It is not open to the public or available to tours, with access only available via special permission from the government.
27.) The Presidential Palace, Belgrade, Serbia
Name: The Presidential Palace
Location: Užiče Street 15, Belgrade, Serbia
Architect(s): Vladislav Vladisavljević (with renovations by Dragan Bešir & Branko Bon)
Year built: 1934
Coordinates: 44°47'11.4"N, 20°26'59.8"E
Description: The creation of what was to eventually be known as the "Presidential Palace" began as part of the wave of luxury villas being created in Belgrade's forested neighborhood of Dedinje in the early 20th century. Among the villas built here was a stately residence for the Belgrade industrialist Aleksandar Acović, who had his architect son-in-law, Vladislav Vladisavljević, design the estate. It was located along what was then called "Romanian Street". Completed in 1934, it was widely hailed as one of the most beautiful villas in this new upper-class suburb. As WWII began in 1941, Belgrade was occupied by Nazi forces. As the occupation established itself in the city, German Army leadership took over Acović's villa for their personal use and kicked out Acović and his family. The most notorious figure to take up residence in the villa was notorious Nazi Commander Alexander Löhr. Just before Belgrade was liberated by Partisan forces in 1944, all of the furniture in Villa Acović was cleaned out and taken back to Germany as the Nazis evacuated. As Partisans entered Belgrade in October of 1944, Marshal Tito began using Villa Acović as his personal command post and subsequently became his official residence as President of Yugoslavia. The street the residence was on was renamed to "Užiče Street".
Over the decades during the Yugoslav-era, Tito and his wife Jovanka constantly made changes to this new Presidential Palace, with extensive renovation projects being undertaken in 1948, 1956, 1962 and 1972, with ever more elaborate and expansive additions constructed. Along with Belgrade's White Palace, the Presidential Palace was where Tito spent most of his time while in Belgrade. However, Tito began to spend more time at this new villa named the "House of Flowers" after it was built in 1975, which was located right next door to the Presidential Palace. After Tito died in 1980, the palace became a public museum (for which a vintage promotional video can be seen at THIS YouTube link). However, after the dismantling of Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milošević became president of Serbia in 1991 and proceeded to take Tito's former Presidential Palace as his new personal residence. During NATO's bombing of Belgrade during the Kosovo War, the Presidential Palace was struck by two rockets on April 22nd, 1999 that left the palace in ruins. While talks of restoring the palace have been discussed for more than two decades now, as of 2020, the ruins of the old Presidential Palace still remain in the same bombed-out state as they were left after they were struck in 1999. These ruins are strictly off-limits to the public, even though they are located directly next to the very popular Museum of Yugoslavia tourist attraction.
28.) Vila Mir, Belgrade, Serbia
Name: "Vila MIR" or the "Oval House"
Location: Užiče Street 11, Belgrade, Serbia
Architect(s): Mirko Kipčić & Nikodim Jovanović
Year built: 1979
Coordinates: 44°47'17.5"N, 20°27'02.0"E
Description: Becoming more feeble in his late years, not far from pushing 90 years old, plans manifested to construct for Yugoslav president Josip Broz Tito a new villa next to his Presidential Palace in Dedinje that would better be able to accommodate his advanced medical needs. Completed in 1979 and crafted by architect Mirko Kipčić and engineer Nikodim Jovanović, what was a circular modernist manor of over 4,000 sq m. Named "Vila MIR" (with "MIR" being an acronym for "Maršalova intimna rezidencija" or "The Marshal's Intimate Residence"), the most striking feature of the building is its slowly sloping circular walkway around the interior of the building, which was implemented with Tito's potential wheel-chair-bound condition in mind. In addition, the villa was fitted with a whole host of features meant to service Tito in his old age, such as an indoor pool, saunas, and medical facilities. Some of the more fantastical stories about the villa include tales of a pool filled with special "healing water" imported from Argentina, but these rumors have been officially refuted. However, not long after Vila MIR was completed, Tito passed away in 1980 at the age of 88, so Tito never stepped foot inside the villa.
In 1984, Vila MIR opened up as a public museum dedicated to the life of Josip Broz Tito. However, after the Užiče 15 Presidential Palace was struck by NATO missiles in 1999, Serbian president Slobodan Milošević closed the museum and began using the villa as his new personal residence. Yet, just one year later it was from this Villa MIR that Milošević was arrested in September of 2000. Over the last two decades, the Serbian government has retained ownership of Vila MIR and routinely use it as site to conduct official business and affairs, while also occasionally being used to accomodate foreign state delegations. The villa is strictly off-limits to the public (being walled in and guarded) and not open for any nature of tours.
29.) The White Palace, Belgrade, Serbia
Name: The White Palace
Location: Dedinje, Belgrade, Serbia
Architect(s): Aleksandar Đorđević
Year built: 1937
Coordinates: 44°45'57.5"N, 20°27'12.2"E
Description: The elaborate and luxurious "White Palace" was built by King Alexander I in 1937 for the Karađorđević royal family (the rulers of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia) as their new official residence. However, as King Alexander I was assassinated in France in 1934 during the time of the palace's construction, its completion was overseen by his cousin Prince Regent Paul. Crafted by architect Aleksandar Đorđević in an architectural style described as "neo-Palladian", the exterior of the very much inspired by classical Greek temple designs. The interior of the palace is of a Baroque fashion, bedecked with Venetian chandeliers, elaborate wall tapestries and imported Italian carpets. Various members of the Karađorđević family resided in the White Palace over the next four years after it was unveiled, however, at time of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia being invaded by Axis powers in 1941, Prince Regent Paul was the only royal family member living in the castle, at which point he fled the country, as did the rest of the Karađorđević royal family. Unfortunately, I found no sources which discussed the WWII-era history of the White Palace, however, it can be readily assumed that German occupational forces took control of the estate.
After WWII, the White Palace and other of the Karađorđević's royal estates were seized and nationalized by the new Yugoslav government. In fact, as early as the Partisan's liberation of Belgrade in November of 1944, Tito immediately began using the White Palace as an operational and coordination hub, all while being accompanied by his personal secretary and then-lover Davorjanka Paunović. Although they never married, Tito often spoke of Paunović as being his one true love. However, she soon became ill from tuberculosis and died in 1946. She was buried on the estate of the White Palace (which can still be found there today). During the remainder of the Yugoslav-era, the White Palace acted as one of Tito's primary residences while in Belgrade, along with the Presidential Palace at Dedinje. After the dismantling of Yugoslavia, the new Serbian president Slobodan Milošević began to use this palace as a personal residence as well and it was from the grand fireplace here at the White Palace that he resigned from his presidency in September of 2000. A year later in 2001, the Serbian government granted rights to Alexander II Karađorđević, grandson of King Alexander I, to use the White Palace, though the government still retained ownership of the estate. Today, tours are available to the public for visiting the White Palace, which can be arranged through the Belgrade Tourism Office.
30.) The House of Flowers, Belgrade, Serbia
Name: The House of Flowers
Location: Dedinje, Belgrade, Serbia
Architect(s): Stjepan Kralj
Year built: 1975
Coordinates: 44°47'11.8"N, 20°27'05.5"E
Description: While in residence at the Presidential Palace in Dedinje, Tito expressed wishes in the early 1970s that a "winter garden" retreat be built for him next to the palace which could serve as a vegetative escape during Belgrade's cold winters. Designed by Zagreb architect Stjepan Kralj, the final product that was unveiled in 1975, dubbed "Cvećara" or "Flower Shop" by Tito, was a creative mix between a greenhouse and a residence, with an open glass-ceiling atrium at its center which was surrounded by various rooms for work and relaxation. Relatively simple in its architecture, its exterior facade is dominated by flat unadorned yellow brick while its interior's streamlined modernism is characterized by glass walls and open space, all specifically designed to highlight the building's lush vegetation. Tito spent a significant among of time here at his "Flower Shop" retreat, especially after 1977, when marital turbulence began between him and his wife Jovanka.
Just a few years later in 1980, as Tito lay in a terminal condition at a hospital in Ljubljana, he expressed his wishes to be buried inside his greenhouse residence, which came as a shock to many of his closest associates, who imagined that he might want to instead be buried at his hometown of Kumrovec or at the Valley of Heroes at Sutjeska. Tito passed away on May 4th, 1980, and when his funeral in Belgrade occurred four days later (after his body was ceremoniously shuttled by train across Yugoslavia), it was attended by more world politicians and state delegations than any state funeral in history. Tito was then laid to rest in his greenhouse residence, per his wishes, at which point the name of the building was changed to the "House of Flowers". Soon after Tito's death, the House of Flowers, along with Vila MIR and the Presidential Palace, was designated as a public museum called the "Josip Broz Tito" Memorial Center. The House of Flowers continues to be open to the public after the memorial center complex was reorganized as the Museum of Yugoslavia in the post Yugoslav-era. When Tito's wife Jovanka passed away in 2013, she was interred next to her husband in the House of Flowers.
31.) Vila Oplenac, Topola, Serbia
Name: "Vila Oplenac" or "The Royal Villa"
Location: Oplenac Hill at Topola, Serbia
Architect(s): Aleksandar Janković
Year built: 1923
Coordinates: 44°14'39.8"N, 20°41'01.2"E
Description: In 1914, King Peter Karađorđević of Serbia commissioned work on a new villa for his son Aleksandar just below the newly completed Saint George's Church, which sat atop Oplenac Hill just south of the town of Topola. However, because of the start of WWI, the villa was not completed until 1923. This villa was an important site for the Karađorđević royal family, as the whole area of Oplenac Hill was created to be a sacred burial site for its family members and center of the royal family's cultural heritage. The home was designed by Serb architect Aleksandar Janković, with the house being of a relatively traditional design of stone slate hip roofs and a modest square tower. The most impressive aspect of the villa was the incredible amount of artwork contained within it, along with its lavishly decorated rooms.
When Serbia was occupied by Nazi forces during WWII, many of the home's works of art were looted. After the war, the property was taken over by Yugoslavia's communist government. President Josip Broz Tito was also quite enamored with the home's art collection, which is maybe why Tito spent considerable time living here between 1946 and 1953 before his summer retreat at Brijuni was completed. Tito enjoyed Oplenac to such a degree the first major Cominform meeting of communist countries was held here in 1947. Some sources say that it may have been from Vila Oplenac where Tito made his historic decision to split from Stalin and the Soviet sphere of influence. Meanwhile, after relocating his main summer retreat to Brijuni, Tito used this villa to a much lesser degree. After the dismantling of Yugoslavia and the end of Serbia's communist era, use of Vila Oplenac was again granted to the Karađorđević royal family, who continue to use the villa up until the present day, but the property is owned by the Government of Serbia.
32.) Vila Srna, Batrovci, Serbia
Name: Vila Srna
Location: Morović Park, Batrovci, Serbia
Year built: 1979
Coordinates: 45°01'15.2"N, 19°08'09.7"E
Description: Situated just off the banks of an old oxbow of the Bosut River near the Serbian-Croatian border (not far from the town of Batrovci) is Vila Srna, housed within the Morović Military Institute Park. Unveiled in the final months before President Josip Broz Tito's death, Vila Srna was established to be a rural retreat for him to convalesce and rehabilitate after his series of extensive surgeries and a leg amputation that he underwent while being treated in Ljubljana for blood circulation problems in his lower extremities during the spring of 1980. However, Tito passed away while in hospital in Ljubljana on May 4th, 1980, succumbing to infections in his legs. As such, even though it was built exclusively for his use, Tito never once visited Vila Srna. However, that's not to say he never visited the Morović Park area... Tito spent considerable time hunting here over the years, as it is considered one of the best hunting grounds in Serbia for deer and pheasant. Vila Srna is fashioned in a modernist style with a dramatically sloping roofline dominating two sides of the building. Meanwhile, a dynamic awning stretches from the front of the villa's facade, stretching upwards gracefully. However, the adventurous exterior is tempered by a more traditionally and modestly designed interior.
While the Vila Srna is open to the public for accommodation, the entire vila must be rented out as a whole, while it can also be rented for special events and gatherings. For info about renting the villa, see the official Morović Military Institute website. As it is located within a park, you can also freely walk around the villa's exterior and explore its unique structure. For more images of the exterior and interior of Vila Srna, see the gallery at THIS link at the Morović Military Institute Facebook page.
33.) Castle Brdo, Kranj, Slovenia
Name: Castle Brdo
Location: Kranj, Slovenia
Architect(s): [unknown] (1960s renovations by Vinko Glanz & Igor Lunaček)
Year built: 1510
Coordinates: 46°16'22.5"N, 14°22'37.2"E
Description: Nestled in the foothills of the Julian Alps just outside the small town of Kranj, Slovenia is Castle Brdo, which is often considered one of the best-maintained palaces in the country. Built by the Habsburg viceroy of Carniola, Jurij Brdski (or Georg Egkh in German), in 1510 (replacing an earlier mansion), this expansive fortified castle was designed in what is described as the "Rennaisance" style, but has undergone numerous changes and renovations over the centuries before arriving at its present appearance. These changes correspond to the castle's many owners and occupants which controlled it throughout history. However, through the years, the castle has retained the name "Brdo", referring back to its creator Jurij Brdski. The castle was purchased by Prince Regent Paul of the Karadjordjević royal family of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1935, who used it as a family retreat. While I could not find sources which detailed the castle's WWII history under German occupation and annexation, it can be assumed the German Army made use of the castle as a strategic position.
After WWII, the new communist government of Yugoslavia seized the property from the Karadjordjević family and nationalized the property. It soon thereafter began to be used as an official residence for Yugoslav president Josip Broz Tito for when he was spending time in the SR of Slovenia. In 1960, a series of modernizing renovations began on Castle Brdo, all coordinated by Slovene architects Vinko Glanz and Igor Lunaček. Here at the castle, Tito hosted many parties, state delegations, conferences and high-level meetings over the decades, with this being one of his favorite venues to entertain and host guests. In fact, Tito enjoyed Castle Brdo so much he spent the majority of the last two years of his life living here. At the very end, it was from this castle that Tito was rushed to the University Medical Center at Ljubljana in January of 1980 with blood circulation problems in his legs, passing away just a few weeks later. After the dismantling of Yugoslavia ten years later, the Slovenian government took control of the castle, making it their primary location for hosting conferences and international delegations (even hosting unique events such as the first meeting between US President George Bush and Russian leader Vladimir Putin in 2001). Since the 1990s, the descendants of Prince Paul Karadjordjević have attempted to have the castle repatriated, but such efforts have so far been unsuccessful. Castle Brdo is open to the public and has tours available, more information on which can be found at the Kranj Visitor's Center official website.
34.) Vila Bled, Lake Bled, Slovenia
Name: Vila Bled
Location: Lake Bled, Slovenia
Architect(s): Jože Plečnik, Rajko Tatić, Kurt Moritz, Karl Hayek and Vinko Glanz
Year built: 1947
Coordinates: 46°21'33.4"N, 14°05'36.8"E
Description: On the southern shores of the magnificently picturesque Lake Bled in Slovenia's Julian Alps is situated the impressive Vila Bled. Originally, this site was the location of the Suvobor Mansion, built in 1885 by the Austrian aristocrat Duke Ernest Windischgrätz, which was later acquired by the Karađorđević King Alexander I of Yugoslavia in 1922. However, after the king was assassinated in France in 1934, the Suvobor Mansion was torn down in preparation for the construction of a new palace for the Karađorđević royal family under the direction of court architect Rajko Tatić (who was following designs laid out by Slovene architect Jože Plečnik). However, WWII interrupted the creation of this project and it was left stalled only barely being begun. After annexing this part of Slovenia, the German Army wished to complete the new palace project for use as a hotel for Nazi officers, bringing in Austrian architects Kurt Moritz and Karl Hayek to rework the project, but this too was left incomplete. After WWII, Josip Broz Tito came to power in Yugoslavia and he was impressed by this unfinished palace. Famous Slovene architect Vinko Glanz was then commissioned to adapt the plans of Moritz & Hayek for Tito's needs and purposes and finally finish this long-languishing palace. Named "Vila Bled", this expansive estate was completed in 1947.
The villa is very classical (almost Neo-Renaissance) in its design, surrounded by stone arches at its base that then transitions upwards into a columned veranda holding up a flat roof. The villa's facade is restrained and lacks significant adornment, which would seem to be evoking hints of the 1940s modernist idea of simplicity and streamlined design. Several regional stone varieties from across Yugoslavia were employed throughout the villa, as a symbolic means imbuing the estate with all parts of the country. The most notable feature of the villa's interior is a massive 52m long fresco wall mural in the ballroom depicting various scenes of the Yugoslav Partisan's fight for victory during WWII (all rendered in the Socialist Realism style), which was painted by Slovene artist Slavko Pengov.
While Tito spent a considerable amount of time here at Vila Bled through the 1940s and 50s, he began to spend less time here into the early 1960s, preferring instead to reside at Castle Brdo while in Slovenia. As such, in 1962, ownership of the villa was transferred to the SR of Slovenia, who began to use it as a cultural center. However, by the 1970s, Vila Bled began to operate as a touristic hotel, which, over the subsequent 50 years, was maintained as its primary use by various groups and organizations. Despite this change in operators over the years, Vila Bled has continually been the property of the Slovene government, who have made sure that the historical nature of the buildings remains intact. It very much functions as a museum-hotel. As of 2020, the hotel is still in operation and is not unreasonably priced for the historical experience it offers (around 150-200 euros a night). Notable travel guide Rick Steves featured a video tour of Vila Bled on one episode of his show, which can be seen at THIS YouTube link.