The main objective of this seven day tour is to deeply investigate the post WW2 implementation of modernism in the architecture of Yugoslavia and in this particular case – Bosnia and Herzegovina.
We strive to unmask the crucial role of politics in the architectural life of the newborn socialist country, along with the ramifications of the Yugoslavian 1948 split from Soviet Union, its leader Stalin and Socialist Realism.
We will try to answer questions such as: Why did Yugoslavia and almost simultaneously Bosnia and Herzegovina choose modernism as an aesthetic architectural expression? Was it for the attribute of neutrality, internationality and its lack of connection to history? Was it deliberate process with a reason to hide architectural history of each of Yugoslavian republic in favor of creating unified country? Country without any significant history other than revolutionary one – one built on the foundation of “brotherhood and unity” and the one vested from the World War II.
This tour masterclass, outside of Bosnian and Herzegovinian and in the same time Yugoslavian brutalist architecture, will explore all other aspects of life in Bosnia and Herzegovina and ex Yugoslavia, important for better understanding of the past, the presence and the future.
P.S. Don’t forget to take your camera on board, as during the next 7 days you’ll be offered an opportunity to take some amazing photos.
English speaking Yugoslavian architecture expert guide.
5 nights in Sarajevo and one night in Banja Luka. Accommodation is based on 4* hotel standard and twin sharing basis. Single supplement available.
Accommodation with breakfast. Traditional dinner included on arrival day in Sarajevo.
Sarajevo airport transfer on arrival/departure any time it fits you and all transfers during the tour. If you plan to arrive from Dubrovnik or Belgrade, let us know and we can arrange private transfer to Sarajevo.
All Fees, Taxes & Flexible Cancellation Policy
No hidden costs. VAT 17% included in the price. Cancel 14 days prior for full refund or change dates anytime.
Tour is available during the whole year.
Pay safely online with a credit card. We accept payments for all types of credit cards.
Travel insurance is not included. Please buy it at home country.
Tips are not included in the tour costs. If you receive excellent service, please consider tipping.
All tours are shared, unless specifically booked as private.
What’s Food and Acccommodation Alike?
Bosnian food is unique mix of eastern and western cuisine which blended with local customs is creating probably the most diverse cuisine in the Balkans. Bosnian food included a lot of meat, but don’t worry we have you covered in case you prefer vegetarian options. We will focus on traditional Bosnian food with, tasting local specialties Ćevapi or Burek and many others during the tour. Roasted lamb and homemade pita (eng.pie) are out of this world delicacies.
Accommodation is included in the package but feel free to book your own accommodation and we shall deduct it from the overall package price. We usually go with great and experience rich 4* accommodation, but if you prefer to upgrade feel free to let us know.
On arrival to Sarajevo International Airport, private transfer is arranged and followed with the hotel check in. An afternoon walking tour of Sarajevo old town and city centre will be conducted, followed by a traditional Bosnian dinner and itinerary briefing.
Walking tour of Sarajevo is an introductory 2 to 3 hours activity, meant to unravel the origins of Sarajevo as an urban identity starting from the mid 15th century until late 19th century, during the Ottoman era.
Unmissable part of the tour is focused on Sarajevo’s heritage during the Austria-Hungarian period, prewar and post war period of Yugoslavia, followed by the story of Sarajevo during the independent era of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
On this day we shall start early in the morning and with aim to visit some of the most important places in Sarajevo from the period of Yugoslavia with special focus on brutalist buildings.
To properly comprehend Sarajevo’s urban development and importance of architecture during the Yugoslavian post-WW2 period, first we have to unravel the position of Yugoslavia compared to the rest of the World.
To understand the Yugoslavian position in relation to the Soviet socialist East and capitalism dominated West, we have to politically disentangle the processes that took place in the years immediately after the WW2 and especially, the period after the Tito-Stalin split in 1948, known as the revival of modernist architecture in the rapid urban development of Yugoslavia.
Architectural “wonderwork” of Bosnian modernist architects such as Juraj Neidhardt, Dusan Grabrijan and Ivan Štraus, who were influenced by the schools of Bauhaus and Le Corbusier, and others such as Kadić brothers, Živorad Janković, Zlatko Ugljen etc., are must see examples of healthy functionalism which advocated synthesis of content and form, especially in the culture of housing.
Additionally on this day, the story of Yugoslavia can’t be properly investigated without understanding the reasons behind the fall of Yugoslavia, Siege of Sarajevo and the positive consequences of the 1984 Winter Olympic Games in Sarajevo.
Visiting places such as Sarajevo War Tunnel, Sarajevo Olympic Bobsled, Igman hotel and others will just further improve understanding of Sarajevo and its modernist architecture during the era of Yugoslavia.
The following day is reserved for explorations of socialist Yugoslavian architectural heritage in the region of Herzegovina.
The morning ride will take us to Konjic where we will explore the most intriguing wonder of Yugoslavian military architecture – Tito’s Bunker. As one of the most expensive military objects ever to be built in Yugoslavia in a period from 1953 to 1979, with a total cost of 4.7bln US dollars.
Among other modernist buildings, the house of culture in Konjic built in 1957, is a great insight into the overall life of Konjic in the period after its construction and the era of the glorious 60ties and 70ties, the golden period of Yugoslavia. Once epicenter of public life in Konjic, today the national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina, still partially serves its original purpose.
At Jablanica, we will make a stop and explore the memorial to one of the most famous battles during the WW2 – the Battle of Neretva. Destroyed bridge and Museum of the Battle for the wounded are great ways to get insight into the importance of these regions during the anti-fascist battle in the period of WW2.
Once we arrive at Mostar, of course the Old bridge and Mostar old town being the most important parts of the city will definitely be part of our 2h hour walking tour of Mostar. Once finished in the Mostar’s old town, the “brutalist architecture trail” will take us towards west Mostar, to the part of the city which saw the most urban development during the era of Yugoslavian modernism.
The Partisan Cemetery of cenotaphs (symbolic graves), a masterwork of renowned Yugoslavian architect Bogdan Bogdanovic, finished in 1965, as a memorial to the partisan victims of WW2 in Mostar, beautifully displays all features of complex architectural, aesthetic and landscape design. Being a unique monument of the urban scale of the city of Mostar, with great ambient value, this cemetery serves as a monument of Yugoslav solidarity.
Probably the most famous of all Yugoslavian memorial architecture in Bosnia and Herzegovina is the Memorial complex for the battle of Sutjeska.
The battle took place in the valley of Sutjeska river, between 15th of May and 16th of June, in which 7,500 of Partisan fighters of the Main Operational Group of Yugoslavian National-Liberation Army were killed. This battle was a turning point in the war in Yugoslavia. From that point onwards, the partisan movement became stronger and moved towards the complete liberation of Yugoslavia.
Finished in 1972 the monument was designed by Yugoslavian sculptor Miodrag Živković and together with ossuary Memorial House today represents the pinnacle of sculptural memorials in Yugoslav space.
Located two and half hours away from Sarajevo, visit to Tjentište memorial is a must for anyone visiting Bosnia and Herzegovina and having interest into Yugoslavian post WW2 style of memorial sculpture.
Just note that this day can be beautifully combined with stunning hiking at Sutjeska National Park and Trnovačko lake.
Additional stop of the day is the infamous Hotel Emos in Miljevina. Originally built in 1980 in a typical brutalist style, today standing as a ruin, this hotel during the period of aggression on Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1992 until 1995, served as a command centre of Republic of Srpska army forces and as a planning headquarters for wide range of atrocities and war crimes committed by Serbian forces against the Bosniak civilian population of Foča municipality.
The first stop of the day is visit to Visoko and its pearl of modernist architecture, Sherefudin’s White Mosque.
Mosque was built in 1980 upon a design by famous Bosnian architect Zlatko Ugljen. In 1983 the mosque design was rewarded by the architecture award Aga Khan when the jury praised the mosque for its boldness, creativity and brilliance, as well as for its originality and innovation. Also in 2007 the Hungarian architects awarded this mosque as one of three best designed places of worship in Europe.
After exploring the architectural wonders of Visoko we continue our journey to Zenica – probably the most important “massif” of Yugoslavian modernist architecture.
Urban planning of Zenica after the period of Second World War, had the perfect characteristics of socialist urbanization, what made Zenica today, a city with the richest and most significant examples of modern architecture in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
After the Tito-Stalin split in 1948, the decision was made to turn this city into a metallurgical center of utmost Yugoslav significance. In decades to follow, this totally transformed Zenica from the dormant Ottoman town of local significance into an important industrial center of the whole of Bosnia and Herzegovina and beyond.
Our walking tour of Zenica will cover the most important buildings of Yugoslav socialist era. Additionally we will make special focus on Juraj Neidhardt, and his pioneering work on development of authentic Bosnian style of architecture – the style which successfully featured synthesis of traditional and modern elements within the aesthetic and functional design of his objects.
Additional stop of the day will be the town of Jajce and its beautiful surroundings. This medieval capital of Bosnian kingdom with a beautiful waterfall in the city centre, watermills and stunning lakes on the Pliva river, is a perfect plunge into thousand years of Bosnian history revealing in front of your eyes.
Arrival to Banjaluka is in the afternoon hours, followed by dinner and free time.
The morning walking tour of Banja Luka will focus on the heritage of this city starting from medieval days, to Ottoman and Austria-Hungarian period, Yugoslavian era and present day Bosnia and Herzegovina. Locations like Kastel fort, Ferhadija mosque, church of the Christ the Saviour are must see heritage of the past times in Banja luka.
Special focus will be made over the heritage modernist Yugoslavian architecture in Banja Luka and visit to Boska mall, Cathedral of the St.Bonaventure, Borik neighborhood and many other locations important for brutalist insights into Yugoslavian architecture of Banja Luka.
After lunch and free time in Banjaluka, we shall visit the most famous of Yugoslavian memorials in this region of Bosnia and Herzegovina – Monument to the Revolution at Mrakovica, at Kozara National Park.
It is estimated that between 1970 and 1980, well over 3 million visitors came to the Kozara memorial complex, stressing the importance of the site for all generations of Yugoslavian era. During the days of Yugoslavia, it was said that nearly everyone in the entire country had visited Kozara at least once in their life.
The memorial was designed by Dušanj Džamonja in 1971. The sculpture is memorial to partisan and civilian victims who died in the Kozara offensive during the spring of 1942 and other tens of thousands who were deported to Ustaše concentration camps.
The monument of Kozara is a monument to the suffering of the people of Kozara and its surroundings, making it one of the most connotative and one of the most known monuments in all of Yugoslav space.
The return to Sarajevo is planned in the later evening hours.
The program ended the previous nights, the last day of the itinerary in Sarajevo is free time until airport departure.
Fascinating, enjoyable, and we were well looked after!
A Concrete Utopia – Bosnia and Herzegovina Brutalist Architecture Photo Tour (7 days)
A most enjoyable tour. A very friendly and professional team who were available at all hours.
The guides were friendly and knowledgeable, and had first-hand experience of the Bosnian war of the 1990s, and detailed knowledge of the region’s history.
My tour group was small (only three of us), but it meant we could get to places in a taxi that a large group in a coach couldn’t.
Highlights included St. Luke Evangelical Church in Sarajevo, Hotel Igman at Igman Olympic mountain, architecture in Banja Luka, the Monument of Revolution at Kosara National Park, the “concrete utopia” of Zenica, Tjentiste War Memorial, the notorious but magnificent Motel EHOS in Miljevina, arshall Tito’s nuclear bunker, and much else.
There was also excellent and hearty food and drink! Much recommended.