Updated: Apr 5
One of the most significant accomplishments made by the Yugoslav government during the middle of the 20th century was their ground-breaking strides in foreign policy. These international overtures reached far and wide into expanses largely ignored in the past by other European nations (unless conquest was involved). As such, Yugoslavia blazed new global trails, particularly through the Non-Aligned Movement. One of the primary conduits for cultivating and securing these connections was through the establishment of embassies and consulates throughout the world. However, investigating Yugoslavia’s embassies as a unified network, looking at their individual stories, architecture and experiences, is an exercise little explored in other writing and research. In this article, we will go on a global journey exploring Yugoslavia’s many embassies and consulates one by one, learning about their dramas, histories and, sometimes, tragedies.
Counting up all of the international embassies, consulates, missions and other diplomatic properties that Yugoslavia had abroad at its height, they numbered nearly 150 individual sites. This is a vast growth in foreign policy and international relations when compared to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, which only had 31 similar sites. This comparison illustrates the degree to which the new socialist state of Yugoslavia in the years after WWII (and particularly the years after the Tito-Stalin split in 1948) was intent upon making itself an international player. The move that truly put Yugoslavia on the map as a global player came in 1961 with the creation of the Non-Aligned Movement, which Tito assembled along with India’s Nehru and Egypt’s Nasser. This unique collection of nations brought together leaders that refused to align themselves with either the Eastern Bloc or the Western NATO powers, thus, the name “Non-Aligned”. Before the end of the Yugoslav-era, well over 100 countries were members. Through this vast connection of countries, hundreds of consulates and embassies were exchanged and established. And with the creation of these diplomatic sites, there was great facilitation of trade, commerce, construction, workers, technology and so on.
However, not surprisingly, Yugoslavia’s most notable foreign presence was within Europe itself, having ambassadorial posts in nearly every single country on the continent. Many of these embassies were lavish palaces that the socialist state of Yugoslavia had inherited from its former Kingdom, however, despite such lavish Old World splendor, it was with some of its close European neighbors that Yugoslavia had some of the most contentious international relationships. This was particularly true with nations such as Italy and the USSR, especially during the decade just after the war.
In the post-Yugoslav era, there was a significant issue that arose of how to disperse and partition the hundred-plus embassies, consulates, missions and residences that were scattered around the globe between all of the former republics. Not only was there the issue of how to split up this vast amount of property in a fair way, there was also the issue that many of these embassy sites were now comically oversized for these much smaller nations. As a result, many needed to be simply sold off. But then, when it came to the sale of properties, all former republics had to agree on the negotiated prices the properties were sold for, per the 2001 UN Yugoslav Agreement on Succession Issues [a copy of which can be read HERE]. As you can imagine, this made such property sales extremely difficult. All of these issues are why, nearly three decades late, this process of secession, in regards to global diplomatic sites, slowly continues up to the present day.
With all of these issues in mind, we will now begin to examine embassy and consulate sites one by one. Keep in mind that this is not ALL of the sites, but it is certainly some of the more significant ones. With each entry, we will explore the location of these sites, their history, their architecture, notable events, and, finally, their present day situations. Through this examination, we will gain a greater insight into the international position that Yugoslavia had around the world during its existence, how it engaged with its diaspora abroad, how the nation dealt with global events, and how these world events shaped them and were shaped by them. Being that all land that embassies sit upon is technically land of that nation, these sites all collectively exist as a former part of the now non-existant Yugoslavia that have all been largely unexamined as a cohesive whole… a Global Yugoslavia (or “GloboYugo”). Let us start our journey!
Location: Tirana, Albania
Coordinates: 41°19'52.0"N, 19°48'35.0"E
Just west of the city center of Tirana, Albania along the main boulevard of Rruga e Durrësit is the complex that was originally the Embassy of Yugoslavia. The building was constructed in 1931 and designed in the neo-Venetian style, characterized by its pointed arches and windows, pastel stucco and ornate columns. Sources describe it as one of the finest pre-WWII villas in Tirana. It is historically notable for suffering a bombing attack in 1982, which resulted as a result of a strange series of events involving disgruntled miners and a plot to assasinate Albanian leader Enver Hoxha. After the end of the Yugoslav-era, possession of the villa seems to have been taken over by the Albanian government. The building is currently for sale.
Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Coordinates: 34°35'49.9"S 58°23'31.1"W
Situated in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Recoleta along Marcelo Torcuato de Alvear overlooking Plaza Rodríguez Peña is a distinguished residence that, for many decades, operated as the Embassy of Yugoslavia. Unveiled in 1909, it was built by Uruguayan architect and engineer Arturo Prins, along with Vienna-born architect Oskar Ranzenhofer, who were both among the most celebrated and accomplished architect duos of early 20th century Buenos Aires. The residence was constructed in a Baroque-revival style with a slate mansard roof, spired doormers, and a corner tower topped with an onion dome. It was created for Dubrovnik-born businessman Nikola Mihanović, who moved to Buenos Aires in 1868 and became one of the country’s most powerful industrialists. In 1928, Mihanović donated the residence to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia for use as their embassy, which at that time covered a jurisdiction of not only Argentina, but also Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. After WWII, the facility was taken over by the new socialist state of Yugoslavia, then, after the Yugoslav-era, it was taken over by Serbia as their embassy. Sources relate that the condition of the building is sub-optimal and in need of repairs.
Location: Sydney, Australia
Coordinates: 33°53'02.2"S 151°14'22.5"E
In Sydney’s quiet tree-laden neighborhood of Woollahra along Trelawney Street is a quaint villa that spent many years acting as Yugoslavia’s Consulate General for Australia. The building was created in the early 1960s in a design akin to the California Bungalow style (a popular residential construction method in Australia during the early-mid 20th century). While sources were not clear on whether the complex was built by Yugoslavia for their purposes as a Consulate General, it is very possible that it was. This was a substantially larger complex than the official embassy Yugoslavia had in Canberra (at 11 Nuyts Street), which was a result of the city and suburbs of Sydney having a significant Yugoslav diaspora population that the Consulate General wished to serve. This diaspora of people came over during many waves of immigration, such as during the 1850s Gold Rush, post-WWII, and in the 60s & 70s looking for work aboard. However, there was a significant anti-communist faction among this diaspora, which resulted in not only routine protests at the Consulate General here in Sydney, but also numerous bombing attacks as well, particularly during the 60s and 70s. In fact, it is notable to point out that Australia’s Yugoslav diaspora were likely the most fervent anti-communist separatists among any other of Yugoslavia’s diaspora elsewhere in the world. This was exemplified with the “Bugojno Group”, a paramilitary cell made up of Yugoslav-Australians who attempted to overthrow the Yugoslav government during a 1972 rebellion effort they called “Operation Phoenix”. It was ultimately unsuccessful.
The end of the Yugoslav Consulate General in Sydney came in November of 1988 (two days before Day of the Republic in Yugoslavia), when, during a heated protest of 1,500 people, a Yugoslav security guard shot a 16-year-old protestor named Joseph Tokić who had jumped over the consulate fence to steal the Yugoslav flag. As a result of Yugoslavia refusing to extradite the security guard, Zoran Matijaš, for trial in Sydney, the Australian government closed the Consulate General and expelled its diplomats. Subsequently, during the post-Yugoslav era, the building was taken over by Serbia, who uses it today as their Consulate General for Sydney.
Location: Vienna, Austria
Coordinates: 48°11'52.4"N, 16°22'41.5"E
Within a block of grand residences along Rennweg, just north of Vienna’s famous Belvederegarten, is where Yugoslavia established its embassy for the nation of Austria. This ornate complex is historically known as “Palais Hoyos”. It was unveiled in 1909 and was created in the Art Nouveau/Rococo style by architect Otto Wagner, who was one of the most famous architects of Vienna and was one of the leaders of the Vienna Secession style. Originally, this house was used by Wagner as his private residence, but was later acquired by widowed Countess Marie of Hoyos. In 1957, it was sold by the countess to Yugoslavia for use as an embassy. As an interesting coincidence, the late husband of the countess, Alexander Count of Hoyos, a prominent Austro-Hungarian politician during WWI, was notable for being a prominent and influential voice in advocating for war against Serbia following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. In the post-Yugoslav era, the address has been used as the Serbian Embassy, but then subsequently was passed to Croatia for use as their embassy in 2011.
Location: Brasília, Brazil
Coordinates: 15°48'51.3"S, 47°52'47.7"W
Nestled between the Canadian and Uraguay embassies along South Embassy Street in the Brazilian capital of Brasília is the complex that originally operated as the Embassy of Yugoslavia. Unveiled in 1963, the designer of the project was Macedonian architect Slavko Brezoski, who was the creator of some of the most significant buildings in Skopje, such as the Orthodox Cathedral of St. Clement of Ohrid. Constructed as a Le Corbusier-inspired open glass pavilion, the flat-roofed complex has a modernist white facade, with clean horizontal lines and a floating rectangular upper level. Brezoski's embassy project here fits in perfectly with the architecture of the rest of Brasília, created by famous architect Oscar Niemeyer. Today, the complex is operated as the Embassy of Serbia. Recent news reports relate that other former Yugoslav republics continue to assert they have financial stake in this complex as well.
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Coordinates: 45°25'36.9"N, 75°40'35.3"W
Just two blocks west of Strathcona Park in Canada’s capital of Ottawa is an elegant craftsman Tudor-revival style house that originally operated as the Yugoslav Embassy. Nestled in the quiet residential Sandy Hill community, the embassy opened up here in 1956 and originally consisted of two addresses at 17 and 21 Blackburn Ave, both being historic homes built in the 1910s. This embassy, as well as the numerous Yugoslav consulates around Canada, were integral in servicing the Yugoslav diaspora that was present in the country, who all came over several immigration waves from the 1850s to just after WWII. However, as anti-communist sentiments were significant within segments of this diaspora community, the embassy was the site of regular protests. Furthermore, the embassy was also the site of a large-scale coordinated bombing attack in 1964 which occurred concurrently with other bombings at the Yugoslav embassy in Washington DC as well as the consulates in Toronto, San Fransisco and New York City [more info HERE]. In the post-Yugoslav era, the address at 17 Blackburn was granted to Bosnia & Hercegovina for their use as an embassy while 21 Blackburn was utilized by Serbia as their embassy.
Location: Toronto, Canada
Coordinates: 43°41'15.3"N, 79°24'44.5"W [former location]
In addition to the embassy in Ottawa, Yugoslavia also kept a consulate general facility in the major Canadian city of Toronto. Located at 377 Spadina Road in the well-to-do residential neighborhood of South Hill, the consulate general was established in 1953 in a stately English Arts & Crafts style home. Being that Toronto had the largest concentration of people from the Yugoslav diaspora, this was one of the most significant diplomatic posts in Canada for Yugoslavia… and, as a result, this site was also the focus of numerous protests from people within the diaspora community, just as was the case with the Ottawa embassy. As mentioned above, this consulate general was one of the many Yugoslav diplomatic sites targeted across North America during the 1967 coordinated bombing attack. After the Yugoslav-era, the house was used by Serbia as a consulate site, however, the house was sold off to developers in the late 2010s. In 2019 the historic house was demolished to make way for a new apartment complex.
Location: Prague, Czech Republic
Coordinates: 50°05'14.7"N 14°24'19.9"E
Less than 100m away from Prague’s famous Charles Bridge on the left bank of the Vltava River, at 277 Mostecká, is the expansive villa which hosted Yugoslavia’s embassy in what was then Czechoslovakia. Named Kaunic Palace, it was originally constructed from two Gothic homes in 1629 for use by Dutch statesman Johann de Witte. However, after it was bought in 1762 by Count Jan Adolf of Kaunic, his son subsequently commissioned it to be remodeled in the late-Baroque/Rococo style by Czech architect Antonín Schmidt in 1775, with exterior decoration by famous Czech artist Ignaz Franz Platzer. In 1931, the palace was acquired by the Kingdom of Yugoslavia for use as its embassy for Czechoslovakia, then, after an interruption during WWII, it resumed as the ambassadorial site for the new socialist state of Yugoslavia, which it continued to do until the end of the Yugoslav-era. Today, the facility operates as the Embassy of Serbia for the Czech Republic.
Location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Coordinates: 9°01'02.0"N, 38°46'04.1"E
Situated not far from the center of Ethiopia's capital of Addis Ababa is a sizable villa (2,600 sq m) that originally operated as the nation’s Yugoslav Embassy. Sources assert that the complex was gifted to Tito for his use by Emperor Haile Selassie himself, as they were close colleagues working through the Non-Aligned Movement. In fact, the relationship between Tito and Selassie was so close that after the property was established as Yugoslavia’s embassy, the avenue in front of the embassy was renamed as “Tito Street”. After the end of the Yugoslav-era, Serbia began to use the villa as their embassy. However, complications have arisen because the document that affirmed Selassie gifting the villa to Tito has not yet been uncovered, and, as such, the government of Ethiopia is asking for Serbia to give back the villa. Sources estimate the value of the property to be around 3.6 million dollars. As of 2022, the complex still operates as Serbia’s embassy. Recent news reports relate that other former Yugolsav republics continue to assert they have financial stake in this complex as well. As a result, reports indicate that the facility may end up being split between Serbia and one of the other former republics.
Location: Paris, France
Coordinates: 48°51'33.4"N 2°17'16.8"E
At the top of Rue Le Nôtre, just a block up from the Seine River and right at the southeast edge of the famous Trocadéro Gardens of Paris, is a stately building that has acted as the center of Yugoslavia’s ambassadorial operations in France. The complex was constructed between 1912 and 1920 by French aristocrat Prince Louis Charles de La Trémoille to serve as a first-class hotel for the city. The design of the hotel was undertaken by French architect Ernest-Paul Sanson, who was one of the most popular architects among aristocrats during the Belle Epoque of Paris. The hotel, which came to be known as Hôtel de La Trémoille, was crafted as a luxury accommodation in the popular Beaux-Arts style, with additional influence from classical French architecture. As the manor is built on a steep incline above the Seine, its most notable characteristic is a large terrace that offers amazing views across the whole of the city. In 1936, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia purchased the hotel for use as their main embassy in Paris. The size and impressive nature of the building can be explained by the fact that after WWI, France and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia developed a relationship as close allies as a result of the events of that war. After WWII, the new socialist state of Yugoslavia took over the building for use as their embassy. However, this space subsequently evolved into the home for Yugoslavia’s ambassador to France, with it further acting as the central entertainment space for diplomatic meetings and events. A more business-oriented embassy was located at 54 Rue de la Faisanderie. After the Yugoslav-era, the building was transitioned into being the residence for Serbia’s ambassador to France, who continued the tradition of using it to host exclusive diplomatic events and gatherings (as well as some more decadent events, which Serbian media has reported on).
Location: Bonn, Germany
Coordinates: 50°39'48.0"N 7°11'32.2"E
During the Cold War before the reunification of Germany, the Rhine River city of Bonn was the capital of West Germany. It was here that Yugoslavia constructed a new embassy facility for themselves in the mid-1970s (unfortunately, I was not able to establish the architect of this building). Just a block away from the Rhine in the neighborhood of Mehlem, the Yugoslav Embassy building was constructed with a flat bare-concrete facade, characterized by its long strips of windows, that is akin to the “brutalist” architectural style that was prevalent during the 1970s. This is a rather large ambassadorial facility, with over 5,400 square meters of space that, at its height, employed well over 100 diplomats. The reason for this vast embassy and staff was the result of there being a significant presence of Yugoslav guest-workers (Gastarbeiter) operating in West Germany during this time period and, as such, this embassy in Bonn was integral in facilitating their needs and issues. For example, in 1973 alone, records show that over 700,000 Yugoslav guest-workers were present in West Germany. This embassy was also the scene of a handful of violent acts over the years, most notably in November of 1962, when a group of armed German-based extremists known as the “Croatian Crusader Brotherhood” stormed the embassy, killing one diplomat and injuring another before they were subdued by security forces. Five years later in 1967, another group, this time the Australian-based “Croatian Revolutionary Brotherhood”, would attack the Yugoslav consulate in Stuttgart with similar results.
As the East and West of Germany reunified in 1990, the new capital of Germany became Berlin, an event which also coincided with the end of the Yugoslav-era. As such, the Bonn embassy became useless and unneeded seemingly overnight. Consequently, the building sat empty and unused for nearly 20 years, as former Yugoslav property was slowly divided up over the course of years between the successor nations. In 2019, the property was finally sold to private owners for 3.7 million euros.
Location: Berlin, Germany
Coordinates: 52°30'31.7"N 13°20'46.2"E
Within the diplomatic quarter of the Tiergarten district of Berlin, at Rauchstraße 17-18, is a historic complex that operated for a significant period as the Embassy of Yugoslavia. The embassy building was constructed for the Kingdom of Yugoslavia by the Nazi authorities from 1939-1940, with it being set atop the ruins of a villa forcefully expropriated from Mendelssohn Bartholdy, a notable Jewish chemist and industrialist who was subsequently kicked out of the country. The building was designed by German architect Werner March (creator of the 1936 Berlin Olympic Stadium), with it being crafted in an austere neoclassicist style, typical of much of the Nazi architecture of the era. The facade around the doors and windows contain numerous sculptural adornments, all created by German sculptor Arno Breker, whose work is cited as “representing the spirit of the Nazi Party”. When completed, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia only used the embassy building for six months before the start of WWII. During the war, it was used as a guest house for the Greater German Reich. After the war’s conclusion in 1945, it was utilized by the new socialist state of Yugoslavia as the headquarters for their Military Mission. Though, in 1953, the Military Mission relocated within Berlin to Taubenstraße 18, at which point the old embassy building was employed by the Allied Command as the Supreme Restitution Court for Berlin, a body which would exercise authority over all claims for restitution of assets taken and crimes committed by the Nazi regime. It was during the proceedings of this court in 1964 that ownership of the building itself be shared between Yugoslavia and the descendants of Mendelssohn Bartholdy. However, in 1975, the building was bought by the City of Berlin. The Supreme Restitution Court finally concluded its legal efforts in this building in 1990. In 1995, the building was bought by the German Society for Foreign Relations (DGAP), who continue to operate there up until the present day.
Location: Budapest, Hungary
Coordinates: 47°30'50.4"N, 19°04'37.3"E
Just across from Hero’s Square in Budapest, poised proudly at the corner of Dózsa György and Andrássy, was the location of Yugoslavia’s embassy in Hungary in a stately residence known as Babocsay Villa. Built in 1903 by architect Aladár Árkay, the villa was originally fashioned in an architectural style known as Hungarian Art Nouveau [1906 photo], but in 1927 the ornamentation of the facade was removed and it was modified more along the lines of the Bauhaus style. Interestingly, this was first the embassy for the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, being established in 1932. Urban legend relates that the residence was gifted to famous Hercegovinian Serb poet/diplomat Jovan Dučić by an unknown Hungarian countess during a passionate love affair, who in turn proceeded to hand it over to Yugoslavia. After WWII, Tito’s socialist Yugoslavia continued to utilize the residence as its embassy in Hungary. During the Yugoslav-era, the embassy is most well-known in history as the location of where Prime Minster Imre Nagy (along with 52 of his associates and their families) sought protection and sanctuary during the final stages of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 as Soviet forces attempted to re-take the country. After being lured out of the embassy with false promises on November 22th, 1956, he was subsequently arrested by Soviet forces and then taken to Romania, where he was later executed. After the end of the Yugoslav-era, the villa began to operate as the embassy for Serbia, which continues up to the present day.
Location: New Delhi, India
Coordinates: 28°35'34.2"N, 77°11'21.6"E
Situated just across from the famous Nehru Park along Shantipath is the complex that formerly operated as the Embassy of Yugoslavia. Through the 1950s, President Tito of Yugoslavia developed a close relationship with India’s leader Jawaharlal Nehru, who both, along with Egypt’s Nasser, developed the Non-Aligned Movement of nations, which was a geopolitical organization of nations neither aligned with the Eastern Bloc or the Western NATO nations. As a result of this close relationship between India and Yugoslavia, it was here that Tito built one of his largest embassies. Designed by Slovene architect Ludvik Tomori, the complex was constructed between 1959 and 1963, with it designed in a distinctly modernist style. Of particular note are the hexagon entrance awning and the elaborate lattice screen on the front facade. After the end of the Yugoslav-era, the facility was operated as the Embassy of Serbia. Recent news reports relate that other former Yugolsav republics continue to assert they have financial stake in this complex as well and, as such, the facility may end up being shared between Serbia and other former republic.
Location: Jakarta, Indonesia
Coordinates: 6°12'04.3"S, 106°49'41.5"E
Nestled in a dense neighborhood just north of the Ciliwung River in central Jakarta is a complex that originally operated as the main Yugoslav embassy for Indonesia, while it also served several other Southeast Asian nations as well, such as Singapore and Thailand. This embassy was constructed in the 1960s, with it being an integral component to the establishment of Yugoslav-Indonesian relations as part of the Non-Aligned Movement (of which Indonesia was a pivotal member). The complex is crafted in a high modernist style with a front facade characterized by a floating square body cantilevered towards the street with large exaggerated eaves protruding outwards. It stands out starkly in a community composed mostly of more traditional and vernacular architecture. After the end of the Yugoslav-era, the building began to be employed as the Serbian Embassy, which it continues to do up to the present day.
Location: Rome, Italy
Coordinates: 41°55'17.6"N 12°28'34.7"E
Only a few hundred meters away from the edge of the Tiber River, within the 3rd quartiere of Rome named “Pinciano”, is the villa that originally served for many decades as Yugoslavia’s embassy to Italy. Built in 1929 for Italian politician Maurizio Maraviglia (who went on to become a leading figure in Italian fascist politics), the designer of the villa was Pino Vittorio, who expanded the villa from a smaller farmhouse that had belonged to Medici del Vascello. The architecture of the Villa Maraviglia is characterized by a typical Italianate Revival villa style, with its arched windows, red tile roof, ornate balconies and stucco facade. Also, the villa also had next to it an expansive garden and fish pond typical of an Italian villa of this era. Sources indicate that during WWII, the villa was granted as a gift of Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini to fellow fascist leader Ante Pavelić of the Independent State of Croatia, at which point it was remodeled by Italian architect Andrea Busiri Vici. In the years after WWII, the site was taken over by the new socialist state of Yugoslavia to be used as their embassy. However, it must be said that it took a number of years for a normalized diplomatic relationship between Italy and Yugoslavia to manifest, as there was still significant lingering strain between the two nations, particularly in relation to the partition of Trieste (a problem not fully resolved until 1975). In the 1960s, the villa’s garden and pond were removed and, in their place, a four-level modernist office annex was built. While the annex is indeed modern in its architecture, it makes subtle efforts to match the geometry, spirit and color of Villa Maraviglia. In the post-Yugoslav era, Serbia took control of both the villa and the annex for use as their embassy. However, in 2013, through the negotiations of secession, Slovenia was granted ownership of the villa, while Serbia retained use of the annex as their embassy. However, as of 2022, it does not seem that Slovenia has employed the building yet as any sort of diplomatic post, yet it has hosted some receptions and events there.
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Coordinates: 35°37'20.7"N, 139°44'07.8"E [former location]
In the Shinagawa City region of Tokyo, just south of the Shinagawa train station in the distinguished neighborhood of Goten'yama, is the facility that originally operated as Yugoslavia’s embassy for Japan. While an honorary consulate existed here during the era of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, this was the first official embassy representation between Yugoslavia and Japan. In fact, Yugoslavia was the first communist nation to establish diplomatic relations with Japan. Created for Yugoslavia in the late 1950s just after the two countries established bilateral relations, the embassy was characterized by its typical boxy flat-roofed mid-century modernist style (in line with International design), containing three floors and a playful extended geometric awning. Relations between Japan and Yugoslavia were particularly close during the 1960s, when Japan’s star architect Kenzō Tange won a competition to rebuild the city center of the Yugoslav city of Skopje after it had been devastated by an earthquake in 1963 [read more about that HERE]. After the end of the Yugoslav-era, the facility was used as an embassy by Serbia, yet, it was in poor shape, especially after suffering damage itself from the 2011 earthquake. However, the sale of the building through the negotiations of succession was finalized in 2019 for the sum of nearly 15 million euros. It was purchased by a real estate developer and it was subsequently demolished in 2020.
Location: Wellington, New Zealand
Coordinates: 41°16'50.9"S 174°44'37.8"E
Set in a verdant neighborhood in a quiet residential community of the Wellington suburb of Karori (at the corner of Homewood & Hatton) is the building that formerly operated as the Embassy of Yugoslavia to New Zealand. Bilateral relations between New Zealand and Yugoslavia began in 1951, at which point, soon thereafter, Yugoslavia purchased a 1908 Victorian Bay Villa-style residence named “Merlewood” in Wellington and established their primary embassy mission there in 1975. This embassy site operated in an uneventful fashion through the vast majority of the Yugoslav-era, however, tensions increased during the flare-up of the Yugoslav Wars in the early 1990s. As a result of the conflicts that were occurring during this time, a ruling by the High Court of New Zealand in November of 1992 ousted the Yugoslav ambassador diplomats and took control of the property of the Embassy of Yugoslavia (as well as the ambassador’s sea-vista residence at 33 Rama Crescent in the Wellington suburb of Khandallah). Sources indicate that the properties were subsequently managed under the control of the New Zealand Public Trust of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, however, in recent years, the Merlewood House seems to have been converted back into a residential dwelling.
Location: Oslo, Norway
Coordinates: 59°55'07.3"N 10°41'45.7"E
Just west of the city center of Oslo, Norway in the neighborhood of Frogner is the estate house that, for a time, operated as the Embassy of Yugoslavia. The villa was built in the late 1910s for Norweigan businessman Christian Strøm Steen, who was the owner of the famous Scandanavian “Steen & Strøm”. Created by Norwegian architect Erik Glosimodt, it was crafted with an interesting mix of traditional vernacular elements with hints of historicist and classical influence. Interestingly, there is another house just next door to this one that is the exact same architectural style and is even painted in the same color, making them look as though they were designed by the same architecture. However, this villa, which is today the Polish Embassy was the work of another famous architect of the early 1900s, Herman Major Backer. In the 1930s, Steen gifted the villa to his workers, who used it as a leisure facility, however, after WWII, the villa was purchased by Yugoslavia for use as an embassy. At the end of the Yugoslavia-era, the facility passed to Serbia for their use as an embassy, yet, in 2013, control of the embassy property was transferred to Bosnia & Hercegovina as part of the succession agreement deal.
Location: Warsaw, Poland
Coordinates: 52°13'24.3"N 21°01'26.9"E
Just south of the city center of Warsaw overlooking the beautiful Ujazdowski Park is an elegant villa that at one time acted as the Embassy of Yugoslavia. Known as “Leszczyński Palace” (aka: Gawroński Villa) and located at Aleje Ujazdowskie 23. The original architect and even year of creation of this palace are unclear to historians, but they estimate it was built at some point in the mid-1800s. It was designed in a Neo-Baroque style with a stately mansard roof. It is asserted that it was built for the Leszczyński family, but even this is not confirmed. In 1924, it received renovations by its new owners, the Gawroński family, undertaken by notable Polish architect Marcin Weinfeld. During WWII, the house was taken confiscated by the Nazi SS and used as their headquarters for the Warsaw District. During the war, there was a famous incident when Austrian Nazi politician and government official Franz Kutschera was assassinated in front of the palace by Polish resistance forces. A stone marker exists today commemorating the site of this assassination. At the end of the war, the palace was burned and left in ruin. After the war, it was rebuilt by Polish architects Helena and Szymon Syrkus, however, in their reconstruction, they omitted the mansard roof and many of the original Baroque-style elements. After its renovation, the Leszczyński Palace was initially handed over to the United States for their use as an embassy, however, in 1953, they handed it over to Yugoslavia, who began using it as their main embassy in Poland. It is also important to point out that during this renovation, the Leszczyński Palace was connected to its right-hand neighbor, a villa named the “Śleszyński Palace” (created in 1826 by architect Antonio Corazzi in a late-classical style), which was also used to house some Yugoslav diplomatic offices for a time as well. Interestingly, Śleszyński Palace had operated as the British Embassy during the 1840s and later as the “Russian Artists’ Club” in the 1920s.
At the end of the Yugoslav-era, the palace began to be used by Serbia as their new embassy. However, in 2000, Italian journalist and politician Jas Gawroński (the descendant of the pre-war dispossessed owners of both the Leszczyński Palace and the Śleszyński Palace) instigated repatriation proceedings in an attempt to take possession of the properties. As a result of this ultimately successful effort by Gawroński, Serbia’s ambassador and diplomats were forced to vacate both premises in 2008 when courts ruled in Gawroński’s favor. Today, recent sources describe both palaces as being vacant and in desperate need of repairs. The Serbian Embassy relocated just 200 meters away to Aleja Róż 5.
Location: Moscow, Russia
Coordinates: 55°43'06.2"N, 37°31'07.8"E
The embassy compound for Yugoslavia in the city of Moscow was situated between the diplomatic missions for Germany and Libya on Mosfilmovskaya Street within the city’s Ramenki District. Sources relate that the facility was designed by Russian architect Konstantin Bartošević in the 1970s, with its style being characterized by its austere brutalist raw-concrete facade. As that date indicates, this was not the first Yugoslav embassy in Moscow. There was an earlier ambassadorial site that Yugoslavia used, but I was unable to determine its exact location. It was at this first site that the majority of the political drama between the USSR and Yugoslavia played out, such as the 1948 Stalin-Tito Split, then subsequently re-establishing ties in the 1950s, as well as the Soviet fury towards Yugoslavia for giving sanctuary to Hungarian revolutionaries at their embassy in Budapest in 1956. In the 1970s, Yugoslavia moved the majority of their USSR operations to this facility on Mosfilmovskaya. After the Yugoslav-era, the facility began to be used by Serbia as its embassy for Russia, however, news articles report that some of the other former republics contest ownership of the site. Over the decades, the facade of the complex has undergone several renovations and iterations of its design.
Location: Pretoria, South Africa
Coordinates: 25°45'56.7"S 28°14'13.8"E
Placed within Pretoria’s distinguished neighborhood of Brooklyn, just south of the University of Pretoria, is a building that was for many years employed as the Embassy of Yugoslavia. The complex was constructed in a design akin to the Cape Dutch-Revival architectural style, however, I was not able to establish the architect of this building or the year it was unveiled. Unfortunately, very little info is available about the history of this complex. After the Yugoslav-era, it began to operate as the Embassy of Serbia.
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Coordinates: 59°19'56.0"N, 18°04'49.9"E
The most notable embassy site held by Yugoslavia in Sweden was a set of offices at Hotel Diplomat in Stockholm, right in the center of the city at Strandvägen 7 on the waterfront of the small Nybroviken Bay. The building itself was created by the city’s Malmström family as a high-class apartment complex in 1911, crafted in the Art Nouveau style. However, as tenants began moving out during the 1930s as a result of the depression, the Malmström’s began to lease out rooms to be used as embassy space, particularly in the rear part of the facility at address 7B. It is possible that Yugoslavia could have been using this space as its embassy as early as its Kingdom era (but I was not able to confirm this), but it most certainly began to use it in the years after WWII during its socialist period. In 1966, the main part of the building was turned into a hotel named “Hotel Diplomat” to reflect its history of ambassadorial work.
The most significant historical event tied to this embassy site was a terrorist attack which occurred here in February of 1971. The attack consisted of two young men, Miro Barešić and Anđelko Brajković (both associated with the group ‘Croatian National Resistance [CNR]’) storming into the Yugoslav Embassy and taking as hostage the then Yugoslav ambassador to Sweden, Vladimir Rolović. Their terrorist’s demands were that they would free Rolović if Yugoslavia released Miljenko Hrkać, another terrorist who was responsible for several bombings in Belgrade in 1968. However, as police quickly arrived at the embassy, the terrorists instead shot Rolović, who later died, before they were apprehended by authorities. The attackers claimed that their reason behind targeting Rolović was that he had formerly been the commander of the secret Yugoslav prison island Goli Otok, where Barešić had served time. While both Barešić and Brajković were sentenced to life in prison, Sweden released both of them the very next year in 1972 as part of hostage negotiations with another group of CNR terrorists who hijacked a Sweden passenger jet. Not long after these events, Yugoslavia moved their embassy out of the Hotel Diplomat facility and relocated to a new address in Stockholm, Valhallavägen 70. They remained there until the 1990s, at which point it subsequently became the Serbian Embassy.
Location: Bern, Switzerland
Coordinates: 46°56'36.1"N 7°27'37.0"E
Positioned just to the east of the city center of Bern within its diplomatic district is the complex that was originally operated as the Embassy of Yugoslavia. This facility was tailor-made to be the ambassadorial hub in Switzerland for Yugoslav affairs, with it being tailor-made by notable Belgrade architect Aleksandar Keković (the Energoprojekt architect who constructed its massive headquarters in New Belgrade in Block 11a). Unveiled in 1975, this embassy contained many of Keković’s trademark flourishes of curved concrete elements, dynamically textured facades and modernist flourishes. Yet, at the same time, Keković was able to integrate elements of Swiss vernacular architecture into the compound, with its distinct hipped-roof, playful balconies, wide eaves and corbels. In the years after the post-Yugoslav era, the building began to operate as the Embassy of Serbia. However, succession meetings over the last few years indicate that this embassy property may be sold.
Location: Ankara, Turkey
Coordinates: 39°54'06.3"N 32°51'30.5"E
Perched upon the slopes of Çankaya Hill next to Kuğulu Park just south of the center of Ankara is the historic building that originally operated as the Embassy fo Yugoslavia. This resplendent embassy building was constructed in the early 1930s specifically to be the embassy for the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, it being a symbol of the close ties at that time between King Aleksandar I Karađorđević of Yugoslavia and Turkey’s President Atatürk. The embassy was designed by Belgrade architect Kosta J. Jovanović in the Serbo-Byzantine style, with sources relating that Dedinje Palace in Belgrade was used as a direct architectural influence. The embassy’s most striking feature is its banks of colonnades that adorn the front entrance and the rear of the building. Several years later, a smaller, yet still sizable, ambassador’s residence was built on the same property a few dozen meters to the east. Characterized by its box shape, colonnades and pyramid-hip roof, this residence was equally impressive and also fashioned in the Serbo-Byzantine style (with Jovanović potentially being its architect as well). After WWII, the new socialist state of Yugoslavia took over these facilities for their embassy space, which they utilized themselves until the end of the Yugoslav-era.
After the Yugoslav-era, both the embassy and the ambassador’s residence were used by Serbia as their embassy and other diplomatic purposes. However, through the process of secession negotiation, in the late 2010s, Serbia was granted the continued control of the original embassy building, while Bosnia & Hercegovina was granted the ambassadorial residence, which they have since began to utilize as their embassy mission to Turkey.
Location: London, UK
Coordinates: 51°29'42.8"N, 0°11'24.1"W
Positioned just off of Cromwell Street at the corner of Pennant Mews and Lexham Gardens in the neighborhood of Kensington is the facility that formerly operated as the Embassy of Yugoslavia. The embassy stood out as a lone example of 1960s red brick modernism, as it was (as still is) surrounded by numerous streets of tall Victorian townhouses. After the dismantling of Yugoslavia began in the 1990s, the complex subsequently became the Embassy of Bosnia & Hercegovina.
United States of America
Location: Washington DC, USA
Coordinates: 38°54'56.0"N, 77°03'12.5"W
The Washington DC neighborhood of Kalmora Heights is one of the areas that hosts many of the capital’s international embassy missions. It was here along California Street that Yugoslavia built their new main embassy for the United States in 1961, which replaced two smaller office spaces they were utilizing elsewhere in the city. The embassy’s original design consisted of an austere modernist facade with a simple unadorned exterior and rows of small aluminum windows [see original photo HERE]. The design stuck out tremendously in the quaint historic neighborhood of Georgian- and Colonial-revival homes. The most notable historical episode faced at the Yugoslav Embassy here in DC was a string of bombing attacks. The first bombing was in January of 1967, which occurred simultaneously as bombings at Yugoslav diplomatic sites at New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Ottawa, and Toronto. While the explosion created a small hole in the front of the embassy, it was quickly fixed. No one ever took responsibility for the attack and it was never determined who the perpetrators of this mass bombing were. A second bombing at the Yugoslav Embassy here in DC took place 1976, which blew out a majority of the building’s windows. This time, an organization advocating for Greeks in Yugoslavia took responsibility, but the perpetrators were never found. A third bombing attempt by unknown persons occurred in 1982, but the bomb never went out.
After the end of the Yugoslav-era, the facility became the new Embassy of Slovenia. In 2006, they carried out extensive renovations on the aging structure, which included increasing the size of the windows, giving it a more pleasant and engaging facade, as well as constructing a large bump-out window box that encases one corner of the embassy.
Location: Chicago, IL, USA
Coordinates: 41°53'04.3"N, 87°38'01.7"W
One of the main Yugoslav consulates in the United States was in Chicago, which has one of the largest concentrations in the world of people with Yugoslav-region ethnicities outside that region. The consulate was housed within an office high-rise complex called the Steuben Club Building (today known as the Randolph Tower). Unveiled in 1929 and built by American-German architect Karl M. Vitzthum, the tower is crafted in a Gothic-revival architectural style and is well known for its ornate flourishes (such as gargoyles), terra cotta trim elements and dramatic stone butresses. One of the most notable historical events to center around the embassy and its staff was a incident in November of 1978 when six anti-communist Serb dissidents (part of a group called ‘Serbian Homeland Liberation Movement’) attempted to murder one of the Yugoslav consulate’s diplomats there in Chicago. However, the plot was foiled and all were arrested in May of 1979. One of those arrested, Nikola Kavaja, was released after posting bail, at which point he boarded an American Airlines flight in Chicago and proceeded to hijack the plane. Kavaja’s plan was to take the plane and crash it into the Central Committee building in Belgrade (today the Ušće Tower 1), however, his plan was foiled en-route during a stop he made in Ireland. Numerous sources quote Kavaja years later after 2001 stating that he felt that Osama bin Laden had stolen his idea of crashing a plane into a building.
After the end of the Yugoslav-era, the embassy space in the Randolph Tower was relinquished, with all of the former republics (except Slovenia and Montenegro) establishing new separate consulates in Chicago at other locations across the city.
Location: New York City, NY, USA
Coordinates: 40°46'08.3"N 73°58'10.2"W
Within Manhattan’s Upper East Side just across from Central Park was the location of Yugoslavia’s permanent United Nations mission offices at an exclusive address on 5th Avenue. Built in 1905 for R. Livingston Beeckman (a stockbroker and future Rhode Island governor), the residence was crafted in the Beaux-Arts style by the architectural firm Warren & Westmore, the same firm who designed the facade and interior for New York City’s Grand Central Terminal. Sources describe the mansion’s interior’s lavish decor to have been inspired by the Palace of Versailles. The mansion was subsequently purchased from Beeckman in 1925 by Emily Thorn Vanderbilt (granddaughter of railroad baron Cornelius Vanderbilt), but upon her death in 1946, her estate sold it for $300,000 (~$4.3 million in 2022 dollars) to the newly formed socialist state of Yugoslavia for use as their UN mission. While the diplomats left the mansion generally intact in its original condition, some interesting inclusions they made were adding bullet-proof windows facing the park, as well as a small room equipped with a Faraday Cage in order to for secret discussions and calls to take place without fear of electronic eavesdropping and wiretapping. After a 1963 assassination attempt on President TIto while he was staying at his typical New York City accommodation, the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, all of his future stays were made here at the 5th Avenue mission for security purposes.
In the post-Yugoslav era, there has been a bitter dispute between the former republics about ownership of the 5th Avenue mansion. However, after a profit-sharing arrangement was negotiated between all the nations in 2017, it was put on the market for a price of $50 million, with sources describing it as one of the most exquisite Gilded-Age New York City mansions to go on the market in decades. However, while an offer was made in 2017, disagreements between the former republics prevented the deal from going through. A fire that broke out on the 3rd floor in 2018 complicated the sale of the estate further. Mysteriously, in early February of 2022, the real estate listing for the mansion was removed from the market, yet, no announcements of a sale were made. It is also important to mention, as far as New York City, there was a Yugoslav Consulate at 488 Madison Avenue, as well as a luxurious apartment at 730 Park Avenue that was used as a residence for Yugoslavia’s UN ambassador, which had fallen into a state of disrepair during the 2000s before the former republics were able to agree on its sale in 2018 for $12.1 million.
Location: Lusaka, Zambia
Coordinates: 15°25'10.5"S 28°18'29.3"E
Within the Diplomatic Circle of Zambia’s capital city of Lusaka, just south of the city center on Cathedral Hill (sandwiched between the German and Japanese embassies), is the facility that originally operated as the Embassy of Yugoslavia. Unveiled in 1975 and built by the Yugoslav company Energoprojekt (designed by its in-house architects), the facility is fashioned in architectural style of high modernism, with the front facade dominated by an evocative central cantilevered square body that seems to float above the embassy’s main entrance. As soon as Zambia gained independence in 1964, it joined the Non-Aligned Movement, with Zambia and Yugoslavia going on to have a close relationship. Furthermore, Yugoslav President Tito and Zambia President Kenneth Kaunda were also themselves close friends. In fact, when Tito was finished with the Douglas DC-6B that was the plane he used for his global travels, he personally gifted it to Kaunda [more on that story HERE]. Furthermore, the major Yugoslav construction company Energoprojekt, who built the embassy, also built other major projects across Lusaka, such as the FINDECO House Tower and the Mulungushi Conference Center (which was where the 3rd Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement was held). After the end of the Yugoslav-era, the building began to be used as the Embassy of Serbia, which it continues to operate as up to the present-day.
If any readers of this article have any additional information on any of these sites, please feel free to share it with me, as many of these locations have very little info written about them. In fact, many of these sites have barely been written about or investigated in any meaningful way, so, every little bit counts. I would like to have written more about the embassies of many of the regions of Africa, Asia and South America, but, unfortunately, information and photos of these sites are particularly lacking. Also, please keep in mind that this list is by no means exhaustive. This is only a small sampling of sites that operated as Yugoslav diplomatic locations around the globe.