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No Return Address: Unearthing Yugoslavia from Old Postcards [Pt. 2]

Updated: May 25, 2023

In this “Part Two” follow-up to my article from several months ago “No Return Address: Unearthing Yugoslavia From Old Postcards”, we dive deeper into my collection of Yugoslav-era postcards to examine additional categories of daily life and culture from that now-distant time period, covering topics such as civic buildings, roads, motels, government offices, and other seemingly mundane locations across the former Yugoslavia that become all the more interesting under the microscope of our investigation. A mild and conventional vintage postcard scene of an everyday item, such as a water tower or satellite dish perhaps, has the ability to take on a whole new meaning and implications as a result transpiring of events through the course of progressing history. Furthermore, as we talked about in the first installment of this article about how postcards can operate as a “rosy-tinted portal”, giving us a glimpse of an idealized past from a less optimistic present, there is another facet of postcards in Yugoslavia that also merits some discussion, which is how they fit into the ambitions of the that country’s government in projecting its national image abroad.

Little research has been done into the exact system that existed across Yugoslavia for each respective community within the country, whether it be a large city or a small village, for deciding what set of images would come to represent it on promotional touristic postcards. Who is to decide what images best represent the “spirit” or “essential being” of a location? What is omitted and what is included, is emphasis put on the modern or on the traditional elements, highlight the natural or the urban, the people or the places, and so on. What is known is that there was a network of government-run organizations coordinating the creation and production of postcards across Yugoslavia. Such groups had names like Tourist Press Beograd, Turistkomerc, Kompas Ljubljana, Turistički Sojuz Skopje, and Zagreb Bureau of Tourist Propaganda, with such names stamped on each and every single postcard I have come across. But it is interesting to dwell on the name of that last group for a moment, whom unflinchingly concedes that its postcards are a type of “propaganda”. While one could argue that all types of postcards, no matter where in the world they came from, were types of “propaganda” aimed at influencing and persuading a particular audience, it is a particularly apt word in the case of Yugoslavia attempting to promote itself to a global audience via these touristic trinkets.


Yugoslavia, with its “Third Way” approach to international relations and engaging with the global political community, the country very much wanted to exist and operate at arms lengths with respect to both the Soviet Union and the Western NATO powers. As unusual as it may be to think, these postcards were part of Yugoslavia’s official projection of itself to the world. For the hundreds of thousands of international tourists that flooded into Yugoslavia every year to take in sun along the Adriatic, to ski in the Julian Alps and the Šar Mountains, to ride the riverboats down the Danube, etc, many thousands would send home postcards to destinations around the globe that depicted the beauty and culture of the region. From these postcards that were passed around and shared amongst friend and family groups in New York, in Moscow, in Paris, in Rio de Janeiro, and other such far-flung places, they would see a Yugoslavia that was distant yet welcoming, that was familiar yet different, that was socialist yet not Soviet, that was commercial yet not capitalist, etc etc. In fact, during the era of the 60s and 70s, these postcards might very well be the first alluring images of the nation that an outsider to Yugoslavia had ever seen. As such, their power as an intentional tool for influence and persuasion cannot be overstated.


One of the few academic researchers who has examined the topic of postcards in Yugoslavia. In fact, even as far as looking at postcards in general around the world as a historical repository, researcher Adi Milman observes in a 2014 paper that: “To date, there is no empirical research on the role of tourist marketing offices, destination management organizations, vendors, consumers, or even producers or printers when deciding to feature a specific image or a picture on a destination postcard.” One researcher who currently is looking at Yugoslav postcards, Lana Lovrenčić, made the following observations in a 2021 paperabout the postcard archive of the former Zagreb tourism firm “Turistkomerc”: “By offering sun and sea, cultural monuments and an untouched nature, and by avoiding auto-exoticization and ideological messages, propaganda transmitted messages intended for both foreign and domestic tourists.” As such, we see a Yugoslavia that is keen to reap the benefits of the boon provided by international tourism, yet doing so without indulging in any temptations to resort to tired stereotypes or political proselytizing. In other words, a carefully curated image meant for mass appeal across a wide array of political and/or cultural boundaries.


So, as you explore these postcards today in this continued exhibition of my collection of Yugoslav memorabilia, think about these scenes depicted in as much as their presentation. Ask yourself, past just what is just being shown, what level of curation is at work? Are there hidden messages? Things not shown? What lurks beyond the borders of the image? Why was this location chosen over another? Is the setting authentic or misleading? Are the scenes natural or staged? Are they real life, are they just fantasy… or somewhere in between? Taken by some of the most accomplished photographers of Yugoslavia (such as Mladen Grčević and Tošo Dabac), many of these postcard images are stunning works of art in their own right, but also, at the same time, overt tools of the government meant to further a geopolitical narrative just as much as they were meant to lure in and entice potential tourists. As we examine these postcards more than half-a-century after they were created, it is relevant to think about these artifacts in terms of our role in viewing them, as well as in the various ways they can be interpreted by a myriad of viewers… as instigators of nostalgia, as items of sadness, of anger, of mystery, of confusion, or complete unknowingness of a country that no longer exists.


Again, to see the first installment of this article before proceeding to this follow-up, you can click the button below:

 

Jastrebac Mountain, Serbia

Roughly 19km south of the city of Kruševac, Serbia is the popular recreational nature area of Jastrebac Mountain. In addition to the wonderful nature that this area has to offer, the slopes of Jastrebac are populated with a collection of motor lodges and resort accommodations which were built during the Yugoslav era in a highly modernistic architectural style. Named “Motel Ravnište”, it was created in 1961 by the architect Ilija Mijović. The way in which this modern future-oriented structure is able to seamlessly integrate itself into its natural forested mountain environment makes it a unique example of Yugoslav-era architectural design approaches that are modern, yet respect the landscape at the same time. In the above postcard, the image is punctuated with the inclusion of a vibrantly red Fiat 615 N Autobus at the center. Meanwhile, Ravnište is particularly notable for the fact that President Josip Tito stayed here during an excursion through the region in 1963. However, the motel closed in 1994 and sat vacant for 20 years until it was reopened in 2014. However, as of spring 2019, reports indicate the management of the new Ravnište has gone bankrupt and has sold the property. I have been unable to determine whether this culturally unique property is still in operation.

 

Novo Mesto, Slovenia

Here we see a view of the "Motel & Restaurant Otočec", located right near the Krka River just east of Novo Mesto, Slovenia. This overnight accommodation and eatery were situated strategically right off the motorway between Ljubljana and Zagreb. This fascinating work of modernist architecture, which was created in 1966 by Slovene architect Miloš Lapanje, has as it's central feature a series of three hyperbolic paraboloid concrete canopies over the top of its outdoor patio, which makes them almost appear like giant mushrooms. This style of modernist concrete canopies was a significant architectural effort and was quite popular in Slovenia between 1960 and 1970, especially in Ljubljana where they were used on Ljubljana petrol stations [more info on that in my article HERE]. However, after the 1963 earthquake in Skopje, such creations were deemed incompatible with Yugoslavia's new earthquake building standards. However, the building still stands strong to the present day (though it currently sits in disuse, from what I've established), existing as a notable monument to the region's architectural heritage. It is situated right across the river from Otočec Castle.

 

Landovica, Kosovo*

Located just 250m north of the former site of the Boro & Ramiz monument [profile page] on the outskirts of the small village of Landovica, Kosovo* are the ruins of "Motel Vllazrimi" (often also written as "Motel Vllaznimi"). This complex, situated along the main road just north of Prizren) was constructed in 1973 and was commissioned by the local hotel-employee organization "Dushanov Grad", who sought to bolster this area around Prizren with more touristic facilities as domestic and international travel to the area increased. The motel was designed by an architect team headed by Miodrag Pecić, who was returning to this area 10 years after working as the lead architect for the Boro & Ramiz monument project just next door. The motel's form is characterized by its long horizontal lines and eclectic arrangement of geometric boxy forms all crafted of raw concrete, giving the structure a decidedly "brutalist" architectural aesthetic and composition. During the Yugoslav-era, this was a significant cultural landmark and was heavily featured in the Prizren region's advertising, postcards and promotional materials. Yet, as conflict spread across this region during the Kosovo War of the late 1990s, Motel Vllazrimi closed its doors, at which point it fell into a state of slow decay and currently sits in a state of total dereliction and abandonment. The structure is now completely gutted and none of its original interior elements remain, however, the strong study concrete it was built with continues to weather the destructive forces of time and vandalism. However, despite this dilapidated condition in which the Motel Vllazrimi continues to exist, in 2018 it was announced that the ruined structure was added to the list of protected objects of Kosovo's heritage.

 

Mavrovo Lake, North Macedonia

On the west side of Mavrovo Lake in North Macedonia, within the small village of Mavrovi Anovi, is the location of a touristic destination that was originally known as “Motel Mavrovo”. Situated on a bluff overlooking the banks of Mavrovo Lake (which was created in 1952 with the impoundment of Mavrovo River by the Mavrovo Dam), the motel was constructed in the mid-1950s and sits less than 1km away from the dam. The straightforward architecture of the complex mixes some modern tendencies (for instance, wide banks of glass windows, which allowed for excellent views of the lake), along with local building materials (such as its flagstone facade, which allowed the motel to blend into the rugged landscape), all of which creates a playful mix of modern and vernacular styles.

During the Yugoslav-era, this motel was a hugely popular destination for tourists who were seeking out such activities as swimming, boating and other aquatic leisure pursuits. However, after the 1990s, the motel fell into disuse and the property ultimately was transformed into private apartments. Today, the structure of the original motel complex still stands, but its shape and form have been drastically altered and no artifacts seem to be left that speak to its once bustling and exciting past.

 

Maribor, Slovenia

Located south of the city center of Maribor, Slovenia, poised at the corner of Tito's Road and Street of the Paris Commune, is the strikingly streamlined Slovenia Telecom building, with its gleaming silver exterior and rocketing tower standing out among the surrounding cityscape. Created in 1984 by Slovene architects Slava Rojak & Branko Kraševac, the facility is characterized by the sleek polished aluminum facade of its office compound, and, most importantly, its imposing concrete triple-disc communication tower that looms over the block like some futuristic beacon. In the 1990s, a glass facade wing addition was built onto the north end of the building, even further emphasizing its hyper-modern appearance. The building remains in excellent condition up to the present day and continues to operate as critical infrastructure for Slovenia’s telecommunications network. For more information about other Yugoslav-era cultural sites around Maribor, check out the profile page dedicated to that topic HERE.

 

Zvornik, BiH

Positioned within the lower reaches of the Drina River between Serbia and BiH is the “Zvornik Hydroelectric Dam”, just south of Zvornik, BiH and next to Mali Zvornik, Serbia. The idea of this dam was formulated by the Yugoslav government just after WWII, primarily as a means of providing the much-needed electricity and electric infrastructure the region desperately needed. Work began in 1948 and it was ultimately completed around 1955, at which time the first hydroelectric generators were switched on. Upon the unveiling of the dam (which is also known as “Zvornik HPP”), it was recognized as the first dam impoundment ever constructed on the Drina River. The 45m tall dam ultimately created a thin lake within the narrow river valley that stretches upstream 25km, all the way back to the confluence of the Velika River. However, through the creation of this lake, over 600 homes were flooded and 85km of roads were submerged. Yet, the dam’s creation sparked massive economic growth and development in the area. Sources relate that between 1948 and 1951, the town of Mali Zvornik had the largest population growth in Serbia, growing nearly 70% in just a few years. The dam continues to operate up to the present day and it is operated by the Electric Power Company of Serbia (EPS). The vantage point seen in this postcard was photographed from the ruins of the old Zvornik Fortress, perched on the surrounding hillside.

 

Ivanjica, Serbia

Nestled in the fields of the Moravica River valley within the small community of Prilike (about 8km northwest of Ivanjica, Serbia) is the Prilike Satellite Station (also known as the Earth Satellite Station "Yugoslavia"). Unveiled in June of 1974 by president Josip Broz Tito himself (along with his wife Jovanka) and designed by architect Aleksandar Keković and engineer Vlade Vračarić, this was the first ground satellite station in Yugoslavia. Technical help on the construction of the satellite array was lent by Japanese engineers. During the subsequent Montreal Olympics in 1976, the Prilike Station operated as a pivotal transmission base of the broadcast of the games for much of Southeastern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Adjacent to the first satellite was an operations complex styled in a distinct design of curved and undulating walls in bare concrete, all texturized with bush-hammered striations. The station originally contained just one satellite, but a second one was subsequently added in 1983 and a third in 1996. The creation of this station was a great technological achievement for Yugoslavia and was seen as a great monumental symbol of progress for the nation, resulting in the station being depicted on numerous postcards, stamps and national memorabilia. However, the station was destroyed in May of 1999 as a result of a series of NATO bombings. It was later partially rebuilt.

 

Skopje, North Macedonia

After Skopje’s horrific earthquake in 1963, there was a mass outpouring of aid and assistance from around the world to help this city in this dire time of need. Through these efforts, many countries donated resources and expertise for the construction of numerous facilities and institutions across the city. However, among these buildings that were offered up to Skopje as charitable gestures of goodwill, there is one particular complex that acts as a symbol of the global community uniting in the aftermath of this unimaginable disaster… and that is the “Universal Hall” along “Partisan Detachment” Boulevard. This facility was gifted to Skopje by the government of Bulgaria and was designed as a copy of the “State Circus” exhibition hall in Sofia. Designed by an architect team led by Jaroslav Stankov, the arena was fashioned in the International Style and contained a dome and circular hall that was 43 meters wide with a dome that rose 19 meters tall. During the operational lifetime of the Universal Hall, it has hosted over 5,700 events (such as operas, concerts, plays, ballet, symphonies, etc, etc) which have been attended by an estimated 8.5 million spectators. Yet, despite the Universal Hall standing as a cultural, historical and architectural landmark for Skopje, the condition of the facility began to slowly decline in the years after the dismantling of Yugoslavia as a result of a lack of regular maintenance, with it being then closed in 2015. City officials have discussed demolishing the arena, but pressure from local citizens has so far averted such a fate. Its restoration is planned to be finished by 2028. For more info, see my article on the reconstruction of Skopje HERE.

 

Split, Croatia

At the western coastal edge of the city of Split within the neighborhood of Poljud is a football arena known as the “Poljud Stadium”, home to the famous Hajduk Split football club. Among the most famous football stadiums of the former Yugoslavia, this seashell-like arena was unveiled in 1979 and designed by notable Croatian architect Boris Magaš, along with engineer Boženko Jelić. With a capacity of nearly 35,000, the first event hosted in this stadium upon its opening was the 7th annual Mediterranean Games, with the kick-off ceremony presided over by Josip Broz Tito himself. As the home of the Hajduk football club, many theories emerged about the stadium being “cursed” after the team’s lackluster performance after moving into this new location in 1979. Supporters of the “curse” theory point to how much further back the stands are from the field when compared to the old stadium, which leads to decreased “fan energy” for the players. As tensions within Yugoslavia began to build up in 1990, Poljud Stadium acted as a stage for these conflicts to play out. In May of that year, a massive clash erupted between fans within the stadium during a match-up of Hajduk versus Belgrade’s Red Star, while a few months later in September, another riot between fans broke out during Hajduk playing against Belgrade’s Partizan football club. These stadium riots acted as a prelude to the war that would consume the entire country just a few months later. Lastly, in addition to being the home of Hajduk, the stadium also hosted the Ultra Europe electronic music festival for five years starting in 2013, however, the festival was barred after its 2018 festival when the Hajduk team accused festival goers of damaging their field The stadium continues to operate in excellent condition and stands among the most beloved architectural works in the city. In 2015, it was designated as a site of cultural heritage. For more info about the many Yugoslav-era cultural sites around Split, feel free to check out the profile page on that subject HERE.

 

Prishtina, Kosovo*

In the center of the city of Priština is the region’s largest indoor sports arena (and the largest public works project ever undertaken in the city), positioned directly next to the famous 1950’s-era Priština City Football Stadium. This 34,000 sq m complex was completed in 1977 and was designed by famous Serbian stadium architect Živorad Janković (along with Halid Muhasilović). The facility was originally given the name “Boro & Ramiz” Stadium, named after the notable WWII Partisan folk hero friends Boro Vukmirović and Ramiz Sadiku [more info on them HERE], with one being an ethnic-Serb and the other an ethnic-Albanian. As this pair were seen as symbols of the Yugoslav concept of “Brotherhood & Unity”, this stadium thus stood in a similar fashion. Comprised of two separate indoor arenas (one with 8,000 seats and the other with 3,000 seats), the stadium itself largely stands out as a result of its distinct architecture. Crafted in a highly modern style, it is characterized by a central spine of tall cathedral-esque concrete pylons, down from which cascades a dramatic brown metal roof with a playful asymmetrical angularity. From this roof, an elegant glass curtain drapes down all the way to ground level. Combined with the stadium is a whole shopping and entertainment complex (akin to the French idea of ‘Grandes Ensembles”), including restaurants, a cinema, community centers, cafes, and much more. One of the most notable and beloved shops in the complex is “Elida”, which is a candy and ice cream shop that has been operating within the complex since the Yugoslav-era. The primary large arena in the facility suffered a fire in 2000, which has resulted in, according to numerous sources, being closed up to the present day. However, the smaller second arena still operates (primarily used by the KB Priština basketball club. Today, the stadium goes by the name “Youth & Sports Palace”, with the famous “Newborn” monument positioned on the large plaza in front of the complex. For more info on additional Yugoslav-era cultural sites around Priština, feel free to explore the profile page on that topic HERE.

 

Sarajevo, BiH

Just west of Sarajevo's city center along the south banks of the Miljacka River is the Skenderija Center, which was used as one of the primary venues of the city's 1984 Winter Olympic Games. However, this venue was not one built exclusively for this Olympics, but was instead a pre-existing indoor arena retro-fitted with new features and amenities to suit the needs of Olympic events. The Skendarija Center was originally conceived in the late 1950s to stand as Sarajevo's first significant indoor arena and large exhibition space. The architect team of Živorad Janković, Halid Muhasilović and Slava Malkin won the commission to construct their design for this complex, which consisted of several event halls and cultural spaces placed around a central square. All of the structures were built in bare concrete which were crafted in a hybrid mix of architectural styles, with hints of Internationalism, Modernism and Brutalism, which all came together to create a structure that was distinctively "Yugoslav" in style. The unveiling of this new arena complex, which was named the Skenderija Centar, occurred in 1969 on Republic Day [November 29th], which was presided over by Yugoslav President Jozip Broz Tito himself and was then followed by the premiere screening of the new Yugoslav Partisan war film titled "The Battle of Neretva".

During its time, Skenderija Center was used for a variety of events, such as the 6th Congress of the League of Communists of BiH in 1973. However, it is most fondly remembered for hosting numerous ice-skating and hockey events (as seen in the above postcard) during the 1984 Winter Olympics held here in Sarajevo [see THIS article for more info on those events]. Then, during the Bosnian War and the Siege of Sarajevo, the Skenderija Centar suffered considerable damage, most notably with the shelling of the Youth Hall. The UN subsequently used much of the space in and around Skenderija as a staging grounds for humanitarian relief and supplies. Restoration work began on the complex in 2000 and was not fully completed until 2006. The complex now is even home to several art galleries and nightclubs. Though, the future of Skenderija remains uncertain, as BiH government officials are debating over whether to allow foreign investors to demolish the complex to build a new modern facility in its place.

 

Belgrade, Serbia

In the southern suburbs of the city of Belgrade is a high-rise tower block community known as “Vidikovac” (which means “Viewpoint” in Serbian, referring to its position atop a modest hillock overlooking the region). Completed in 1974, this settlement was designed by the Belgrade architect team of Aleksandar Đokić & Mihailo Čanak. These towers were organized around a ½km wide circular layout, with the towers spread out within this layout in clusters of six (totaling 42 towers altogether, though some are connected). As was typical of Yugoslav superblocks of this era, the space between the towers was populated with ample greenspace, courtyards, schools, parking and shopping. The towers themselves are all styled with similar architectural flairs, with one of the primary decorative motifs being repeating stacks of circular balcony openings in the raw concrete that is flanked by vertical strips of bare red brick. The architectural style here is often referred to as “brutalist” in its aesthetic, as the raw circular portal is a common theme seen in such constructions. These ornaments emphasize and bring attention to the sheer height of these towers within the landscape, some of which reach above 24 floors. As a whole, the settlement has roughly 500 apartments that today house around 16,000 people. Today, as a result of its peaceful atmosphere, green parks and pleasant views, Vidikovac has become a much sought-after location for housing. Still existing in good condition, the area has undergone significant development and increased urbanization in recent decades.

 

Podgorica, Montenegro

In the center of the city of Podgorica (known as “Titograd” during the Yugoslav years), is a pair of apartment blocks that stand as the first high-rise buildings ever constructed in Montenegro. Unveiled in 1964 and created by Croatian architect Stanko Fabris, these towers were actually a copy of a single high-rise block that Fabris had completed two years earlier in Split (at the corner of Kneza Višeslava & Marina Držića). These twelve-level towers bear hallmarks of the International Style, but stand out with their playful array of bright yellow panels (with accents of orange and dark blue) as their primary adornment. It was these bright panels that gave birth to the towers’ primary nickname: “Kanarinke” or “The Canaries”. Also interesting in regards to the two buildings is their positioning, as they are oriented 45 degrees askew from the orthogonal street grid that they sit within. The Kanarinke towers were unlike anything Podgorica had ever seen before – in fact, they were so popular and instantly iconic that they were used as promotional attractions on many of the city’s postcards, as seen here, speaking to the city’s growth and modernity. Intended initially as housing for the JNA, this rigid military usage eventually resulted in the panels getting painted more subdued colors by the late 1970s. However, in 2019, the Kanarinke towers were finally repainted with their original color scheme. In fact, renewed interest in the towers has been catching on in Podgorica after being repainted, for instance, one can now purchase a canvas bag printed with an image of the towers at Crnogorski Ruksak. In addition, for a much more detailed history of these towers, an excellent article by academics from the University of Montenegro can be found HERE.

 

Zagreb, Croatia

In the center of Zagreb right along the motorway, just south of the Faculty of Education, is a residential zone that is dominated by a series of three high-rise buildings known as “Richter’s Towers”, but also affectionately known as “Rakete” or “The Rockets”. Unveiled to the public in 1968, this set of towers was designed by the Zagreb architecture studio “Centar 51”, which included Vjenceslav Richter, Berislav Šerbetić, Ljuba Iveta and Olga Korenik. With the lead architect on the project being Richter, who was one of the most famous Croatian architects of the Yugoslav-era, the towers were named after him. The other common name, “The Rockets”, derives from the buttress-like concrete flairs that extend from each corner of the three towers. These components emphasize the verticality of the structures and add a further dimension to these otherwise sparsely decorated brutalist-style buildings. Yet, it is important to note that the planning phase of these towers occurred during the 1963 earthquake in Skopje, as such, their plans were drastically changed mid-course in order to ensure that they met the highest degrees of earthquake safety. As such, these buttresses were only added later and were intended not necessarily as decoration, but as part of the towers’ earthquake protection system. The buildings continue to be occupied up to the present-day, being particularly popular with students, however, the green space and public areas around the towers have sadly fallen into disrepair and are in need of improvement. The tallest of these towers is 70m, with the other two being slightly shorter. Sources recount that all three were originally supposed to be the same height, but, during planning, it was found that two of them cut the path of TV and radio transmitters, so, they were appropriately shortened. Finally, it is important to note that in the above postcard, other visible towers are “Zagrepčanka” on the left (seen here under construction), which was completed in 1976 and designed by Slavko Jelinek & Berislav Vinković, meanwhile, in the far right background can be seen “Hotel Intercontinental” (today “Hotel Westin”), unveiled in 1975 and designed by architect team of William Bonham, Slobodan Jovičić, Franjo Kamenski, Mira Hahl-Begović.

 

Zenica, BiH

Along the picturesque banks of the Bosnia River, within the Odmut neighborhood of the city of Zenica, BiH, is a set of four identical residential towers that dominate that landscape. These four towers are positioned right at the southern entrance into the Zenica, at the famous “Wooden Bridge” (although the old wood bridge has been long replaced with a new metal and concrete version), making these significant physical and symbolic landmarks. As seen in this postcard, the towers were featured heavily in promotional materials for the city. Built in phases between 1968 and 1972 by the construction company "Izgradnja”, some sources indicate their architect is the local Zenica designer Zvjezdan Turkić, however, I have been unable to confirm that. Often simply referred to as the “Four Soliters” or “Četeri Solitera”, each tower stands 16 levels tall and contains 128 apartments. These towers are of a typical Yugoslav high-rise architectural design, constructed of pre-fabricated concrete panels, with the primary adornment or textural component being the rawness of the concrete itself. These four towers continue to exist as popular landmarks for the city and host over 1,000 residents across their +500 apartments. For more info on the many other Yugoslav-era cultural sites around Zenica, feel free to explore the profile page on that topic HERE.

 

Sutjeska National Park, BiH

Within the small village of Tjentište, BiH at the Valley of Heroes in Sutjeska National Park is an area that was developed during the 1960s for youth recreation. As seen in this postcard, a group of youths play in the foreground, while, in the background, the central Youth Complex of Suteska is visible. This compound operated as the epicenter of youth events, youth lodging, coordination of social organizations and ORA work projects. The planning of this project was undertaken by Sarajevo architects Sakib Hadžihalilović and Namik Muftić, while the large A-frame "Central House" for social organizations was designed by Sarajevo architect Jug Milić and a Youth Pavilion (seen on the left side of the postcard) was designed by Sarajevo architect Milan Kušan. These facilities stood as an important central feature of the Sutjeska infrastructure during the Yugoslav-era, with many children and young people from across the country coming here to utilize these youth offerings on family excursions, work action trips and patriotic school visits. Many say that during the life of every child in Yugoslavia, they would have at least once come to Sutjeska, and these facilities, completed between 1961 and 1963, that these youth would have spent the most time.However, after the 1990s and the Bosnian War, these facilities stopped being used and fell into disrepair. A "Youth House" theater and amphitheater, built later in the 1970s within the Youth Complex, was completely destroyed during the 1990s (today existing just as a concrete frame). Yet, while many of the buildings and pavilions of this facility sat in a poor condition all through the beginning of the 2000s, restoration on these sites finally began in 2020. For more info about the many Yugoslav-era monument and cultural sites around Sutjeska, feel free to explore the profile page on the topic HERE.

 

Velenje, Slovenia

At the center of the town of Velenje, Slovenia is a large plaza known as Tito’s Square. One of of the most significant landmarks within this public space is an impressive civic building known as the “House of Culture” (“Dom Kulture”). Unveiled in 1959 and created by Slovene architect Oton Gaspari, the House of Culture’s dynamic form operates as a backdrop for the entire square, with its engaging facade operating almost as a dramatic elevated stage for the public to draw themselves into. The front-facing facade of the center is sunken within a temple-like frame and consists of three rectangular elements: 1.) a pattern of inlaid stone stripes on the left and right edges, 2.) a set of ground-to-ceiling colored stained glass windows done in a geometric Piet Mondrian-like design opening into the atrium, and, 3.) at the center, a tall bronze relief sculpture titled "The Muse of Art", created by Slovene sculptor Stojan Batič [profile page]. Meanwhile, further exterior adornments of the building are installed on both the east and west sides of the building’s facade in the form of gridded white screens of additional angular geometric designs. These geometric patterns and shapes continue into the atrium of the center's interior, where they are reflected in the floor coverings, railings and fixtures. Also within the upper lobby of the center's atrium is a large mosaic mural by Slovene artist Riko Debenjak which portrays a romantic couple going to the theatre.

As far as the main theatre space of the Cultural Center (which has seating for about 460 people), it is of a relatively modest design in comparison to the building's lavish exterior, with its most dominant feature being its saturating color scheme of dark yellow. The Cultural Center in Velenje continues to exist in a very good condition and continues to be used for a whole host of cultural events, celebrations, theatrical performances, musical concerts and much more (with most engagements here organized by the local organization "Festival Velenje"). During the Yugoslav-era, the center was considered one of the most significant and beautiful examples of modernist architecture in Slovenia and continues to receive such praise up until the present day. The building was officially landmarked in 2005 as an immovable local cultural monument. In addition, the entire complex was extensively renovated and repaired from 2005 to 2006. Lastly, in reference to the postcard, it is important to point out that the logo shown above “Velenje” depicts an old-fashioned miners’ lamp, a nod to the mining history and heritage of the town. For more info on the many Yugoslav-era cultural sites around Velenje, feel free to explore the profile page on that subject HERE.

 

Vukovar, Croatia

As the town of Vukovar was expanding during the 1950s and 60s, local authorities realized that the water infrastructure for the city needed to be correspondingly expanded as well. As such, work began on the construction of a new water tower in 1963, situated just south of the city center overlooking the Danube River within a park named Najpar Garden. Completed five years later in 1968, the project was designed by architects Petar Kušan and Sergej Kolobov of the firm “Plan” and construction work was undertaken by the contractor Hidrotehna Zagreb. Standing at 50m tall, this unique watertower was of an upwardly flaring design with a narrowly ribbed concrete base that opened up into a brick reservoir. Just below the reservoir was originally built a circular viewing platform that also included a restaurant, as seen in the postcard above. Throughout the Yugoslav-era, this watertower operated as a deeply important local landmark and symbol for the town, with it being featured on the town’s postcards and other promotional materials. However, during the Battle of Vukovar, which was an 87-day long siege waged by the JNA starting on August 25th, 1991, the watertower was struck by artillery roughly 600 times, yet, despite this pummelling, the tower continued standing. In the years after the battle, the ruined watertower remained as a memorial symbol for the conflict. After being closed off for visiting for nearly 30 years, in October of 2020, a viewing platform was re-opened at the top of the watertower. The tower is under protection as a technical and memorial monument of immovable cultural heritage by the Croatian government. For more info on the many other Yugoslav-era cultural sites around Vukovar, feel free to explore the profile page on that topic HERE.

 

Sveti Stefan, Montenegro

Just off of Montenegro’s Adriatic coast, roughly 6km south of the resort town of Budva, is a small rocky island that is known as “Sveti Stefan” (or “Saint Stephen” in English). This modest yet picturesque island has a long cultural history that dates back centuries, with it being inhabited by the Paštrovići tribe as a settlement as early as the 1300s. During the 1400s, it was part of the Republic of Venice, but then destroyed by Ottoman forces during the 1500s. Rebuilt soon thereafter, the island began to thrive during the subsequent centuries to the point where it had a population of roughly 400 people by the early 1800s. The allure of this island was such that in the early 1900s, the Serbian royal Karađorđević family built a summer villa overlooking the island from the nearby shore. Yet, by the middle of the Yugoslav-era, the island’s historical population was dwindling, with just 20 people left living there by the 1950s. It was at this point that the Yugoslav government purchased the island and transformed it into a luxury resort and casino. This idea of turning a historical community into an exclusive tourist retreat was a pioneering idea and greatly paid off, as the resort was patronized by global elites from all around the world, such as Orson Welles, Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, Marilyn Monroe, Princess Margaret, Carlo Ponti, Ingemar Stenmark, Kirk Douglass, among others. Even Yugoslavia’s President Tito loved the area so much that he turned the old Karađorđević villa into one of his personal summer retreats [more info on that HERE]. After the dismantling of Yugoslavia, the new government of Montenegro granted in 2007 a 30-year lease of the Sveti Stefan island to the Aman Resorts company, at which point it was turned into a new luxury resort named “Aman Sveti Stefan”. The facility is often lauded as one of the Adriatic’s most outstanding and elite luxury resorts. The island of Sveti Stefan is enshrined as a site of immovable cultural heritage by Montenegro’s Institute for Cultural Monuments Protection.

 

Kočani, North Macedonia

In the center of the town of Kočani, North Macedonia, right along the Kočanski River in front of Revolution Park, is a civic building originally known as the “White Dawns” Cultural Center (Centarot na kultura “Beli Mugri”). Constructed between 1959 and 1961, this complex was designed by architect Macedonian architect Gligorie Savović and was among the first structures in the community to be built in the modernist medium. The name of the center, “White Dawns”, is named after the collection of poems of that name by the famous Macedonian writer Kočo Racin, who is the most renowned poet in the country and considered the founder of modern Macedonian literature. With a white simplified frame, walls of glass, and modest decorative screens, the Cultural Center’s facade is reminiscent of the International Style, which was hugely popular in Yugoslavia during the late 1950s. The interior of this facility, which is laid out with polished terrazzo floors, has as its main feature a multi-leveled performance hall with nearly 500 seats. Meanwhile, columns and walls in the building’s front atrium are painted red, acting as a bold contrast color to the white exterior. Today, the complex is referred to as the City Cinema “White Dawns”, hosting not only films but also a wide variety of public performances. The facility is in dire need of repairs, for which local authorities have already begun planning. For more info on additional Yugoslav-era cultural sites around Kočani, feel free to explore the profile page on that subject HERE.

 

Tetovo, North Macedonia

At the heart of the town of Tetovo, North Macedonia, situated along Marshal Tito Boulevard, is a massive civic structure known as the “Iljo Anteski Smok” Cultural Center. Unveiled to the public in 1973, this facility was created by the architect team of Vladimir Nikolovoski and Ilija Gerasimovski and covers a floor space of roughly 6,500 sq m. The complex stands as one of the most ambitiously designed and architecturally innovative civic buildings of Yugoslav-era Macedonia. The layout of the cultural center takes the form of a wide and sweeping pavilion, with two levels of glass walls encased between two layers of angular concrete. Atop the pavilion is an accordion-like canopy that allows further light to penetrate into the facility. All of this is capped with a boxy rectangular tower at its center that houses the stage equipment for the center’s large performance hall. This striking high modernist futurism continues within the interior, with floors of deep-red carpeting and grey marble, patterned ceiling tiles, floating staircases, and a nearly 700-seat performance hall covered in red velvet, white decorative tiles and warm wood paneling. Just as now as during the era when this facility was built, it operates as the central cultural, musical, artistic and political hub of Tetovo. Within the center itself are further public services ranging from libraries, classrooms, cafes, studio workshops, galleries, and much more. Another inclusion at this location that is important to mention is the WWII memorial titled “Monument to Women Fighters”, which sits out in front of the building at its southwestern corner. Depicting a woman standing tall with a clenched fist, it was created in 1961 by sculptor Borka Avramovska. Furthermore, the name of the complex itself, “Iljo Anteski Smok”, is named after the famous Tetovo-born WWII Partisan fighter who was captured and executed in 1943 by fascist forces. Today, the Cultural Center continues to thrive and be an integral component of the community. It is unique in that it retains much of its original Yugoslav-era design, aesthetics and interior fixtures.

 

Podljubelj, Slovenia

Along the road between Klagenfurt, Austria and Podbrezje, Slovenia, there is a road tunnel situated just at the border crossing underneath the precipice of the Karavanke Alps. This underground crossing, known as Ljubelj Tunnel, was a project started by the Nazis as early as 1940, as they sought to circumvent the long and tedious Ljubelj Pass Road over the mountains (which was the primary connection between Austria and the Slovene region at that time).As WWII moved forward, the tunnel became a top priority project for the Nazis, as they needed a more efficient system for getting troops and supplies from Germany and Austria to the southern-occupied regions. So, in July of 1943, a sub-camp of the Mauthausen Concentration Camp was set up near Ljubelj Pass, using prison labor to expedite the construction of the 1,570 m tunnel through the Karavanke Alps. At its height, the camp at Ljubelj (or 'Loibl' as it was called in German) held over 1,300 prisoners of over a dozen nationalities who were mostly POWs and political prisoners and consisted of two camps: one at this location in Slovenia and another on the north end of the Karavanke Alps in Austria. Estimates indicate that upwards of 40 prison workers died during the construction of the tunnel. However, just months after the tunnel was completed in December of 1944, Nazi forces and German refugees began to use it for retreating back towards Germany and Austria, as the Nazis were beginning to lose ground against the advancing efforts of the Partisans at the Yugoslav Front. On May 7th, 1945, the Ljubelj Camp was abandoned by the German guards and the prisoners were simply set free. In 1950, the ruins of Ljubelj Camp which were left over from WWII were preserved as a memorial space. Today, the region is popular for hiking, mountaineering and scenic excursions, with the road and tunnel acting as important access points to these high peaks.

 

Kotor, Montenegro

The historic town of Kotor, Montenegro, which sits at the head of the Bay of Kotor, is among the most beautiful sites along the Adriatic and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 1878, an ambitious mountain road was built from the seaside here at Kotor up through the Dinaric Alps to the country’s then capital Cetinje. Before this road was constructed, only a crude footpath connected these two central locations within the country. This route, often referred to as the “Kotor Road”, is often recognized as the first dedicated vehicular road in Montenegro. Designed by young Croatian civil engineer Josip Šilović Slade, the most dramatic segment of the road is the initial stretch that heads up from Kotor along the steep rocky slopes of Lovćen Mountain. It is along this ~1000m ascent that roughly 25 hairpin turns and sharp bends slowly inch drivers up the slope. In the early 1880s, the first restaurant opened along the Kotor Road called “Kod Pera”, which still operates up to the present day and is one of the most famous taverns in Montenegro. In the 1950s, the road was finally paved in asphalt, a notable modernization after having had a gravel surface since its creation. The route offers multiple views of the Bay of Kotor, making it not only one of the most dramatic and scenic roads in Europe, but also one of the most dangerous. The Kotor Road is itself among the top touristic attractions in the country, having been featured in numerous guidebooks, TV shows, commercials and films, even being showcased in the notable car show “Top Gear”. An excellent YouTube video showing a motorcyclist driving the length of the road can be seen at THIS link.

 

Dubrovnik, Croatia

In this postcard we see a view showing a group of people who have stopped their car (a red Zastava 101) along the Adriatic Highway (Jadranska Magistrala), at a vantage point near Park Orsula, in an effort to enjoy a sweeping vista of the city of Dubrovnik, Croatia in the distance. This Adriatic Highway, which stretches over 650kms along the coast of Croatia (as well as a small segment of BiH), was one of the most important transportation infrastructure projects of the early Yugoslav-era. Up until the 1950s, the many picturesque seaside beach towns dotting Croatia’s Adriatic coastline were connected only by a rough gravel/dirt road which was tenuous, treacherous and unreliable. It was at this time at the start of the 1950s that the Yugoslav government began to see the potential of tapping into the greatly undeveloped market for auto tourism along the Adriatic coast through the construction of a modern paved roadway. As such, a massive civic project to create this asphalt highway along Yugoslavia’s entire Adriatic stretch began in 1954. This highway was envisioned as not only a means to access to the coast, but also as a sort of "cinematic experience", where the road was laid out in such a way as to emphasize the beauty and drama of the natural landscape. When this ambitious project was completed in 1965, the newfound accessibility for auto tourism into this beautiful sun-soaked region led to an increase in visitor-ship by millions of people over the course of just a few years. In present times, the Adriatic Highway continues to usher in millions of tourists every year to coastal destinations along the Croatia’s coast, particularly to the above-depicted city of Dubrovnik, which for decades has been one of the most popular attractions along this highway. While it is certainly among one of the most beautiful roads in Europe, it is also very dangerous at the same time. The highway was featured in an episode of the documentary series “World’s Most Dangerous Roads”, which can be watched HERE.

 

Belgrade, Serbia

One of the most important crossing sites in the city of Belgrade is a large confluence of roads known as the “Mostar Interchange”, as seen in the above postcard. The main artery of this interchange is the A1 Motorway (historically called the “Brotherhood & Unity Highway) that approaches from the west via Gazela Bridge, which then crosses over Bulevar Vojvode Putnika and Bulevar Vojvode Mišića. A web of ramps and loops connect each of these routes to each other. Furthermore, up until their removal around 2019, a network of train tracks, as seen in the above postcard, also passed underneath the motorway. The Mostar Interchange was officially unveiled in 1970 and designed by the Belgrade architects Branislav Jovin and Jovan Katanić, with it being the first major modern motorway interchange created in Serbia (possibly even all of Yugoslavia). Its unveiling was of such importance that the ceremony held to inaugurate it was presided over by President Josip Broz Tito himself. The name for the interchange “Mostar” is in reference to the sub-neighborhood in which it resides, which itself was named after an old 19th century kafana that once existed nearby. Historically, the area of Mostar was part of an old neighborhood called “Jatagan Mala”, which was an informal settlement that was torn down in the 1960s in order to make way for this interchange. Today, the interchange is adjacent to several notable sites, such as the famous BIGZ Building, the Old Mill, Gazela Park, the Prokup Train Station, and the Belgrade Waterfront (BW) development project. In fact, the trainyards seen in the above postcard are now all gone and are controversially being replaced with massive modern towers of the BW project. Finally, an interesting point to note is that many historical images of the Mostar Interchange show it largely empty, as this postcard view depicts, which bears no resemblance to the traffic chaos that exists upon it today. A more detailed history of the Mostar Interchange can be read in THIS article.

 

Kragujevac, Serbia

Situated upon Freedom Square in the center of the city of Kragujevac, Serbia is the City Assembly Building (Skupština grada). The first incarnation of the complex at this location was undertaken in 1949 under the direction of Serbian architect Miladin Prljević (who is most famous for having created the “Palata Albanija” in Belgrade in 1939). Prljević’s efforts yielded a thin L-shaped brick building (90m x 50m) standing 7 levels tall with a grid of small windows on its broad faces overlooking the square, while a large assembly hall extended off of the rear ground level of the building. The design took on a style akin to early modernist expressions of architecture. However, by the 1960s, many in Kragujevac were beginning to feel as though Prljević’s City Assembly Building was too drab and gloomy for the vibrant and growing city. As such, in 1960 an effort to “modernize” the building by adding a new contemporary facade was undertaken. Completed in 1961, this new facade was installed only on the sides of the building facing the square, with it consisting of a white lattice of offset rectangles that stretch across two of the building’s sides. In addition, two soaring wing canopies were installed at the ground entrance and on the roof. It is unclear whether these changes were supervised and designed by Prljević himself, or another architect. Sources do, however, indicate that the inspiration for this updated design was the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, completed in 1958 by the architects Zehrfuss, Breuer and Nervi. The City Assembly Building in Kragujevac continues to operate up to the present day and stands in a good condition. For more info on the many additional Yugoslav-era cultural sites around Krajugevac, feel free to explore the profile page on that topic HERE.

 

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Upon its completion after five years of construction in 1959, what is today called the Slovenian National Assembly building was originally known as the People's Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia during the Yugoslav-era. As it did during the era of Yugoslavia, it continues to operate as the central governmental hub of Slovenia, housing both of the country's two branches of the Slovenian Parliament. Created by Slovene architect Vinko Glanz, this was the first completed component to the Revolution Square development project. The facade of the building is designed in the International Style of architecture, but with a unique flourish of a classically-inspired entrance with green granite columns and lintel. Adorning the entrance around the large oak and glass doors are several dozen life-sized bronze statues, created by the sculptor team of Karel Putrih and Zdenko Kalin. These sculptures depict various scenes of Slovene life, culture and industry. Meanwhile, as this government complex was meant to be a symbol for Slovenia, it is largely created from building materials largely sourced from within the borders of Slovenia. This is true for both the interior and exterior of the building. Furthermore, within the building are a fantastic array of Yugoslav-era murals, mosaics and frescoes depicting the struggle of the Slovenian people through the ages. The largest and most impressive of these artworks are the 64m long fresco by artist Slavko Pengov that wraps around the entire perimeter of the building's Great Hall. Painted in Socialist Realist style, this massive fresco shows the history of Slovenia, from the Carantania dukes of the 7th century, to the peasant revolts of the 16th century, up to the events of WWII and the creation of Yugoslavia. A beautiful virtual tour of the National Assembly building can be doneat THIS website, while in-person tours can be arranged by appointment at the Assembly's official website. For more info on the many additional Yugoslav-era cultural sites around Ljubljana, feel free to explore the profile page on that topic HERE.

 

Zagreb, Croatia

In the center of Zagreb, Croatia, just a block south of the train station, there is a large City Hall complex overlooking what is today known as the City of Vukovar Street (which was referred to as “Proletarian Brigade Street” during the Yugoslav-era). Unveiled in 1957 and created by Croatian architect Kazimir Ostrogović (known for creating Tito’s Zagreb palace "Vila Zagorje"), along with urban planning help from Zdenko Kolacio and Zdenko Sila, the City Hall stands as a long five level rectangle (130m x 40m) designed in the International Style, with long banks of wide windows, clean geometric lines, a stark facade of white stone panels, all with minimal ornamentation. Further, the entire first level of the building is uplifted around its exterior by a series of pillars, behind which are walls of glass, imbuing a floating and gravity defying atmosphere to the structure, a stylistic approach that was typical of the International Style. A large courtyard pierces the center of the building, while the east end contains a large square atrium covered with a glass canopy. On the east end of the building is an enormous cantilevered awning that serves as the dramatic main entrance to the facility. Two additional buildings, a Congress Chambers and a skyscraper office tower, were also planned to be built adjacent to the City Hall on either side of it, but funding problems prevented their construction from ever occurring. Today, the City Hall still operates as an integral government facility and stands as an important monument of early Yugoslav architecture in Zagreb.

 

Podgorica, Montenegro

In the center of Podgorica on the east banks of the Morača River above the confluence of the Ribnica River (one of the most culturally significant spots in the city) is situated the central governmental complex for Montenegro. Unveiled in the early 1950s and designed by Montenegrin architect Radmilo Zdravković, this collection of two buildings around a square at the corner of Blažo Jovanović Bridge (which itself was created in 1950 by the famous architect Branko Žeželj) originally stood along Boulevard Nemanjina Obala, which today is known as Boulevard St. Peter of Cetinje, and consisted of the Executive Council Building and the Assembly of the Socialist Republic of Montenegro. The architectural approach of these buildings have been described as having “restrained monumentality”, with influences from both the International Style as well as Socialist Realism. Their design is functionally simple and straightforward, though, also grand in scope with its scale, having soaring white walls of stone, column-like vertical banks of windows and a modest, yet imposing, processional staircases. Neighboring buildings along Boulevard Nemanjina Obala also constructed at the same time during the early 1950s and in a similar architectural style that were all parts of this original government assemblage were the National Bank (by architect Đorđe Sikinić), the National Post Office (by architect Vujadin Popović), and Hotel Montenegro [today the Hitlon] (by architects Vujadin Popović and Dragiša Brašovan). A more detailed examination of the architecture of this block of buildings can be read in THIS paper by Aleksandar Ašanin. Also, it should be noted that in the above postcard, the yellow Canary Towers can be seen far in the background of the city, the first skyscrapers in the city that were examined in a previous section in this article.

 

Novi Sad, Serbia

Within the heart of the Danube River city of Novi Sad, Serbia is a massive governmental complex built during the Kingdom of Yugoslavia that was originally called the Palace of Danube Banovina. Constructed between 1935 and 1940 overlooking Boulevard Queen Maria (today Boulevard Mihajla Pupina) by Serbian architect Dragiša Brašovan (one of the most famous architects in Serbian history), this palace was originally intended as the seat of power of the Ban of Danube Banovina (with the term “ban” being the royally appointed district leader, similar to a duke, and the term “banovina”, or “banate” in English, being the territory the ban administers, similar to a dukedom). The Danube Banovina stretched from the Hungarian border all the way south to Kragujevac, with Novi Sad being its capital. The palace created by Brašovan consists of a narrow U-shaped building that is roughly 180m in length. At the northeast corner is a 42m tall tower characterized by its vertical banks of windows. The entire edifice is clad in Brac marble, with this white polished appearance imbuing with structure with a sense of classicism and imposing austerity. The sole ornamentation on the building is a series of 6 large decorative medallions depicting historical figures placed above the building’s north entrance. Brašovan’s style here is unquestionably influenced by early modernist tendencies (as well as hints of Art Deco), showcased by its simplified facade, restrained regularly spaced window boxes, and ample use of curved surfaces. In fact, the curved elongated geometry of the Palace of Danube Banovina is such that it gives the building the impression of being a barge floating along the Danube itself, no doubt a symbolic nod to the region’s history and culture. Because of this similarity to a ship, locals often refer to it as the “Bela krstarica” or “White Cruiser”. Today, the palace operates as the seat of the Provincial Government of Vojvodina and the Assembly of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, standing as one of the most important architectural symbols of the city of Novi Sad.

 

Ljubljana, Slovenia

In this postcard, we see a nighttime neon view of the intersection of Slovenian Road and Cankar’s Road in the center of Ljubljana, Slovenia. The focal point of this scene is the NAMA department store, gleaming with its bright red sign. This building was originally constructed in 1938 by Slovene architect Franjo Lušičić as part of the Czech footwear chain "Bata", however, in 1956, the massive Zagreb department store chain known as NAMA (“Narodni magazin” or “The People’s Store”) moved into the commercial space. In an effort to cater to an ever-growing market, in 1965 NAMA added a huge addition onto the south end of the original 1938 building. Created by an architect team composed of Miloš Lapajne & Bogdan Fink (seen behind the vertical blue NAMA sign), this addition added a huge amount of space onto the structure so that when it was completed, it became the largest department store in Slovenia, with over 10,000 sq m of retail floor space. The NAMA department store still operates out of this location up to the present day. Meanwhile, on the left side of the postcard can be seen an illuminated sign reading “HOTEL”, which is part of the marquee for “Hotel Slon” (today a Best Western). “Slon”, meaning “elephant” in English, is the oldest operating hotel in Ljubljana and was named in honor of the elephant that stayed at an old inn at this location in 1552 with the Holy Roman Emporer Maxmillian II as part of an entourage passing through the city. The first incarnation of this hotel was built in 1856 and was fashioned in a more Austro-Hungarian style, but was rebuilt in a modernist style in 1937 by architect Stanko Rohrman. Lastly, additional neon lights seen in this postcard are for “Saturnus”, a Ljubljana-based packaged food manufacturer, as well as the two furniture manufacturers “Lesnina” and “Pohištvo”.

 

Zagreb, Croatia

Here we see an evening postcard vista depicting a 1960s view of Republic Square (today known as Ban Jelačić Square) in Zagreb, Croatia. Established as early as the mid-1600s, this square has long been a central meeting spot for Zagreb citizens, operating as an integral marketplace and commercial hub. The name of the square dates from 1848 and is the namesake of Josip Jelačić, a Croatian lieutenant field marshal who acted as the Ban of Croatia during the mid-1800s. A famous equestrian statue of him was installed in 1866 at the center of the square, created by sculptor Anton Dominik Fernkorn. However, after WWII, the square was renamed to “Republic Square” and the statue of Jelačić was removed. During the Yugoslav-era, the square was significantly modernized, with the bulk of the square used as car parking, as seen in the postcard here. One of the most significant additions to the square was a glass tower, known as the “Ilica Skyscraper”(Ilički neboder). Unveiled in 1958 and created by the architect team of Slobodan Jovičić, Josip Hitil and Ivan Žuljević (and funded by the state-owned companies Rade Končar and Ferimport), it was crafted out of glass upon an aluminum lattice facade in a textbook example of the International Style. At a height of 70m, sources indicate that it was the tallest building in Yugoslavia upon its completion, as well as the first “bona fide” skyscraper in the country. When the skyscraper was unveiled, it was not immediately embraced by the public, who felt it was out of touch with the city’s architecture. However, it was slowly embraced as a Zagreb icon, with its futuristic facade defining the city’s skyline. In 1975, cars were banished from the square and it was turned back into a pedestrian space. Later, as Yugoslavia was dismantled during the beginning of the 1990s, the name of the square was changed back to “Ban Jelačić” and the equestrian statue was returned. Today, the square operates as one of the center points of Zagreb. Finally, in this postcard scene, it bears pointing out that some of the lights seen in this view advertise such enterprises as “Rade Končar”, a Zagreb transport and energy company, “Kamensko”, a Zagreb textile producer, among others.

 

Skopje, North Macedonia

In this urban postcard scene of bright city lights, we see a view of what was during the Yugoslav-era known as “Marshal Tito Square” (which is today called “Macedonia Square”). This public plaza was developed starting in the late 1920s, however, much of what we see in the scene here was built after WWII, with the only exception being the Ristić Palace [far right], which was built in 1926 by Serbian architect Dragutin Maslać and miraculously survived the 1963 earthquake. Meanwhile, the large building on the far left is the NAMA department store, which was built in 1954 by a design team led by Macedonian architect Slavko Brezoski, while in the middle of the scene is the Pelister Palace (home to the famous Pelister Restaurant), built in 1957 by architect Dimitar Dimitrov. The date of this postcard can firmly be established as 1967, as a large red banner can be seen hanging from the department store celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, showing images of Lenin and (possibly) Tito. Over the decades, this square has operated as one of the most important cultural centers of the city. When independence was announced in 1991 by President Kiro Gligorov, it was done from this square. As part of the “Skope 2014” redevelopment project, many of the buildings in this square were covered in Neo-Baroque faux-facade coverings, including the department store and Pelister Palace. Within that controversial project, an oversized equestrian statue-fountain called “Warrior on a Horse” was built as the centerpiece of the square in 2011. Finally, in this postcard scene, it bears pointing out that some of the lights seen in this view are advertising such enterprises as “Rade Končar”, a Zagreb-based transport and energy company, “Podravka”, the Koprivnica-based packaged food company, “Teteks”, the Tetovo-based textile company, and “Metalski Zavod TITO”, a Skopje-based steel foundry, among others. For anyone interested in more info on the many Yugoslav-era cultural sites around Skopje, feel free to explore the profile page on that topic HERE.

 

Belgrade, Serbia

In this energetic nighttime view of Belgrade’s Terazije Square, we see a bustling and dynamic scene of lights and action. Terazije is one of the city’s most significant locations and has a long history as being a hub for Belgrade’s culture, business and nightlife. Furthermore, numerous historical events have played out on this square, such as the notorious instance during WWII when Nazi occupiers hanged numerous civilians from streetlamps at the corner just in the foreground of this scene. A bronze memorial pillar was installed at the location of this tragedy in 1983, created by sculptor Nikola Janković. As far as the built environment, this square has numerous famous structures. One of the most famous, Hotel Moscow, is sadly just out of view on the left, which is a famous Art Nouveau styled palace designed by Belgrade architect Jovan Ilkić. However, clearly visible in this postcard is the tower at the top of the street, which is a notable early modernist Art Deco-inspired building named “Palata Albanija” that was created in 1939 by Serbian architect Miladin Prljević. Meanwhile, at the other end of the scene, only partially in view, can be seen “Palace Igumanov”, another early modernist gem, created by the architects Petar & Branko Krstić in 1939. Atop its curved facade in this postcard can just barely be seen the rear side of the neon sign for “Chromos”, a Zagreb-based printing company, which was the very first commercial neon sign in Belgrade. Across the street from Palace Igumanov, can be seen the “Pension Fund Building” (aka “Palata Bioskopa - Beograd”), topped with the “Electrosrbija” power company neon sign. Created by Russian architect Grigorije Samojlov in 1941, this location was notable during the Yugoslav-era for its popular underground cinema. The widest and most imposing building on Terazije is the “Beograd” Department Store building, which stands out with its row of street-level concrete pillars and austere International style facade. Unveiled in 1958 and designed by Croatian architect Lavoslav Horvat, this iconic location operated as the flagship location of one of Yugoslavia’s most significant retail outlets. Lastly, it is important to mention “Hotel Kasina”, standing to the right of the Beograd Department store, which was built in 1922 to replace the original 1850s-era Hotel Kasina. This, and the now vanished “Hotel Pariz” next door (currently occupied by the “Interkomerc” building) were two of the earliest hotels in Belgrade and were exclusive meeting points of social and political life in the city during the 19th century. Today, the area around the ground floor of these hotels is known for McDonald's and the Bezistan passageway (created in 1953 by architect Vladeta Maksimović and site of the old “Kozara” cinema). The space around Terazije Square was designated and protected as a cultural heritage site in 2020.

 

Tuzla, BiH

In this postcard scene, we see a beautiful rosy dusk sky looking down upon a bustling Marshal Tito Street (or just “Titova”) in Tuzla, BiH in the area known as “Bulevar” that is seen here stretching out towards the neighborhood of Brčanska Malta. Observing tall from the left side of the vista is the “Zvijezda” or “Star” Building, an iconic 14-level residential high-rise tower built in 1967. In fact, the majority of the development along this street was undertaken during the 50s and 60s, which opened up vast new areas of residential living in sleek new high-rise dwellings and apartments. The earliest developments along the boulevard here are the smaller rows of buildings on the left-hand side of the street (constructed in the 50s), but, things took on a much larger scale with the country’s rapid modernization, which resulted in much larger towers being constructed on the right-hand side of the block. On the right side of this postcard scene (sadly obscured by the buildings) is a beautiful tree-lined street known as “Oktobarska” during the Yugoslav-era (often referred to as the most beautiful street in the city, but today bears the name of “Aleja Alije Izetbegovića”. A final noteworthy site is on the left side of Titova just in front of Zvijezda, from which can be seen a glimpse of the famous Tuzla brewery “Pivnica” that puts out the still-famous beer “Tuzlanski”, brewed here since the 1880s.

 

Nova Gorica, Slovenia

In the center of the border city of Nova Gorica, there once existed a park during the Yugoslav-era that had as its centerpiece a large concrete monument dedicated to the famous Slovene flight pioneer Edvard Rusjan. It was Rusjan who made the region's first flight in a self-made plane on November 25th, 1909, roughly 5 years after the Wright Brothers made theirs at Kitty Hawk, USA. However, Rusjan died just a few years later on January 9th, 1911, when his plane crashed into the embankments near Kalemegdon in Belgrade after strong winds broke his craft's wings as he was flying into the city. Despite his short life, dying at the age of only 24, Rusjan was instrumental in creating and developing the region's fledgling airplane industry. This monument dedicated to Rusjan, which is meant to resemble the mythological figure Icarus, is located on Rusjan Square in the town of Nova Gorica, #Slovenia, near where he made his first flight and where his family is originally from. The large geometric memorial sculpture was unveiled in 1960 and was designed by Slovene sculptor Janez Lenassi [profile page]. The monument has long operated as a cultural symbol and icon for the city of Nova Gorica. Meanwhile, the flat-roofed modernist building seen in the background housing the tourist agency still stands and is in perfect condition, today hosting numerous local businesses. Furthermore, it is important to mention that the park formerly located here is now gone and has been replaced with a tall office tower called “Eda” (built in 2011 by architect Miha Dešman), named after the Rusjan brothers' plane. However, the monument remained in its original location through construction and now sits prominently in the front courtyard of the building. Lastly, it is notable to mention that the place where Rusjan crashed his plane in 1911 in Belgrade was graced in 2022 with a bronze figurative memorial sculpture of the pilot, with more info available HERE.

 

Kozara, BiH

Situated high in the green mountains of Kozara National Park, not far from Prijedor, BiH, is a memorial complex that is dedicated to the victims and Partisan fighters of the Kozara Offensive during WWII. In an effort to subdue the Partisan advance, Axis powers waged a massive push in the summer of 1942 to squash any and all resistance in the region. Of the original 3,000 actual Partisan soldiers who engaged in the battle, roughly 900 fighters survived, leaving the vast majority killed in action. Meanwhile, of the peasant civilians who aided in the fight against this Axis offensive, it is estimated that upwards of 10,000 were killed during the battle itself (with some estimates ranging even higher), while an even greater number perished after the battle after being sent to the nearby death camps at Jasenovac [more info on that HERE]. During the 1960s, efforts began to materialize towards the goal of creating a monument at this location. This task ultimately fell to Croatian sculptor Dušan Džamonja [profile page]. Finally unveiled in 1972, the monument created by Džamonja stands as a massive 33m tall cylindrical monolith that is comprised of 20 thin vertical concrete fins. The construction of this sculpture required 1000 tons of cement, 4000 cubic meters of aggregate and 200 tons of structural steel to create. Seen as an instant icon upon its opening, today it continues to stand as one of the most significant monuments in the country. For a more detailed description of this monument site, the full story can be read at the profile page dedicated to it HERE.

 

Gornja Stubica, Croatia

On the 400th anniversary of the1573 Peasant Revolt, which was led by revolutionary Matija Gubec against the nobility of Croatia, Styria and Carniola, Yugoslav authorities made the decision to erect a large monument on the location where Gubec fell in battle at Oršić Castle by the small village of Gornja Stubica. While it might seem unusual that a large monument would be built to a 16th century fighter in the 1960s/70s, it was actually common for the government bodies in Yugoslavia to build monuments to historical figures who had legacies of fighting for the working class as a means of creating more cultural continuity between the modern workers' struggles and similar events of the past. The commission for this monument project was initially handed to famous Croatian sculptor Antun Augustinčić in 1968, however, as a law was passed soon thereafter that a design competition MUST occur for all notable monument projects, the invitation was withdrawn, as Augustinčić had no such interest in participating in a competition. When a design competition was announced, many dozens of the most significant names in Yugoslav monument building participated. However, as Augustinčić continued to protest the competition, many significant participating artists, such as Bakić, Džamonja, Radovani, Radauš and others, withdrew their entries in solidarity with Augustinčić. When the jury of the competition was faced with judging the final selection of reduced entries, they ultimately found none of them were adequate to be constructed. In the end, the commission was handed over back to Augustinčić and the monument was completed in 1973. Augustinčić’s memorial sculpture consists of a 40m wide sweeping wing-shaped bronze relief covering 180sq m of space. With much pathos and action, the relief depicts scenes from the Peasant Revolt, while in front stands a 7m tall bronze statue of Gubec at the center, with his arms dramatically outstretched in defiance. Meanwhile, standing next to Gubec is a small statue of the Yugoslav prophetical literary character Petrica Kerempuh, always observing and critiquing. This work stands as one of the most important Yugoslav-era monuments created in Croatia and is today protected by the government as an immovable cultural object of national heritage.

 

Andrijevica, Montenegro

Nestled within the center of the high mountain village of Andrijevica in eastern Montenegro is a grassy memorial area known as “Monument Park Knjaževac”. As seen in the above postcard, there are two primary memorial objects located within this park, a WWI monument and a WWII monument. The first work, seen here on the right, stands as a 7m tall solid black marble obelisk topped with an eagle sculpture, honoring fighters from the Upper Vasojevići Brigade who fell during the Balkan Wars & WWI. Built in 1931 under the orders ofGeneral Radomir Vešović, the marble obelisk was carried to this spot from Cetinje by members of the general's clan across the Kuči region and over to Kom mountains to this spot. Meanwhile, the second work consists of a 22m tall white marble tower made up of six connected pillars with an elevated eternal flame at its center. This work was unveiled in 1967 and created by Montenegrin sculptor Vojislav Vujisić. Both of these monuments remain in good condition and continue to be regularly commemorated. For more detailed information about the story of this site, feel free to explore the profile page dedicated to this topic HERE.

 

* Note on the Question of Status:

All mentions of the designation "Kosovo" in this article are made without prejudice to the position on status, and is in line with the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 and the International Court of Justice's Opinion of the Kosovo Declaration of Independence. For more information, see this Wikipedia article on the topic.

 



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