The 15 Tallest Skyscrapers of Yugoslavia

Updated: Feb 17

Among the most monumental and landmark structures ever built during the era of Yugoslavia were its many soaring high rise towers and skyscrapers, of which many pushed the envelope of engineering and inspired a nation to look towards the future. While the country of Yugoslavia has ceased to exist for nearly three decades now, the many iconic and charismatic skyscrapers built during that era continue to inspire and speak to not only the old Yugoslav generation, but also the new youth generation who never lived in that former nation, as well as people around the world who are drawn in by their unique and bold architecture. However, for all of the fame and fan-fare surrounding many of these structures, many have barely been written about and few meaningful words dedicated to their history. In fact, my entire impetus for writing this article was that when searching for a listing of the seemingly straightforward query of "what were the tallest buildings of the Yugoslav-era", I found no authoritative articles related to that question or any serious investigation into the topic. The only appreciable resource I found that even began to scratch the surface of this question was a rudimentary Wikipedia list on the subject, but it was not only woefully incomplete (leaving out numerous buildings altogether), it also contained a significant amount of incorrect and misleading information.


As a result of my frustration when faced with seeking out authoritative info on this seemingly simple question, I set myself upon doing the investigation for myself to determine "What Were the 15 Tallest Buildings of the Yugoslav-era". Not only did I want a listing of the buildings, but I also wanted to gather a brief and accessible history of each building... who built it, when was it built, why was it built, what is its present-day state, etc etc? The following article is the results of my investigations into this question. However, the work wasn't easy. When it came to even determining simple facts like the exact height of particular buildings, often I encountered conflicting info from a myriad of sources. In doing research for this article, I found considerable confusion among writers and residents of the former Yugoslav region about which were the tallest buildings of that era, with the people of a location who once had the tallest building completely unaware that a taller building was subsequently built elsewhere. The listing I make here is my best effort to reconcile all of this conflicting data and confusion into what I hope can be the start of more accurate and reliable listing. However, if anyone out there reading this has access to definitive info that can clarify the height or specific details of any of the skyscrapers listed below that I may have gotten wrong, please contact me and I can amend this list as necessary. Through gathering together all of this info, I hope much can be learned and understood about not only the tallest buildings of Yugoslavia, but also its modernist architectural styles, its penchant for monumental larger-than-life construction projects, its approach towards social housing, and, most importantly, its endeavor to build a new nation from the ground UP.

15.) TV5 Tower, Niš, Serbia (81m tall)

A contemporary view of the TV5 Tower in Niš, Serbia. Credit: mediolanum39.weebly.com
Two contemporary views of the TV5 Tower in Niš, Serbia. Credit: Miloš Tosić

Name: TV5 Tower (aka: The Yellow Skyscraper) [originally called the 'Varteks Tower']

Location: Niš, Serbia

Architect: [unknown]

Construction years: 1972-1973

Height/floors: 81m tall (91m tall with antena) / 21 floors

Coordinates: 43°19'07.5"N, 21°54'33.8"E

Description: Situated in the heart of the city of Niš, Serbia along Dr. Zoran Đinđić Boulevard is a residential tower that is today known as the TV5 Tower, but more colloquially known as the "Yellow Skyscraper" as a result of its brightly painted facade. Unveiled in 1973, the tower's construction was funded by the Yugoslav Army and was originally created as a complex for accommodating veterans of WWII. Upon its completion, it stood roughly 81m tall (with an additional 10m antenna mounted on top of it), making it the tallest building in Serbia outside of Belgrade (a distinction which stands to the present day). Upon opening, the ground floor of the building was occupied by the Varteks department store chain, which lead to the local nickname 'Varteks Tower' being used for the building during the Yugoslav-era. In the early 1980s, the local broadcaster TV5 moved their studios into this building and installed a large red and white Cyrillic letter logo sign at the top of the building. This resulted in people then referring to the complex as the "TV5 Tower" or just "Petica" ("Five") for short. Although the TV station moved out of this building in 2009, the local name and its sign on top of the tower have remained (although the sign's "T" fell off in recent years, leaving it simply as "V5").

14.) Executive Council Building, Sarajevo, BiH (84m)

A vintage Yugoslav-era view of the Executive Council Building in Sarajevo. Credit: oris.hr
[left] Executive Council Building during Siege of Sarajevo. Credit: Getty/Mikhail Evstafiev [right] Post-war damage. Credit: Wikipedia/Zumblka
A contemporary view of the Executive Council Builiding in Sarajevo, BiH. Credit: aabh.ba

Name: Greece–Bosnia & Herzegovina Friendship Building (originally the "Executive Council Building") (zgrada izvrsnog vijeca)

Location: Sarajevo, BiH

Architect(s): Juraj Neidhardt (with Hamdija Salihović)

Construction years: 1978-1982, renovated in 2006

Height/floors: 84m tall / 21 floors

Coordinates: 43°51'18.1"N, 18°24'18.8"E

Description: During the early 1950s, the administrative and government assembly for the SR of Bosnia & Herzegovina were holding session within a small building in the Bistrik neighborhood of Sarajevo. It was well known at that point that these quarters were insufficient and, as a result, efforts were put towards establishing a new political district in Sarajevo within the neighborhood of Marijin Dvor. The commission to build this new governmental complex was awarded to famous Sarajevo architect Juraj Neidhardt in 1956, who envisioned a shining skyscraper as the central element of this new political complex. However, budgetary issues and administrative/planning roadblocks (along with the vastness of the project) delayed work on the tower for more than two decades. Furthermore, the complex was to house and host every department of government within BiH, which required that it be built to very exacting requirements. Construction on the project finally began in 1978. Then, tragically, just as work on the tower began, Neidhardt died the very next year in 1979. As such, Neidhardt's colleague architect Hamdija Salihović subsequently assumed the task of overseeing this project to completion. The finished project was finally unveiled in 1982.


Constructed in the International Style of modernist archi