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A Concrete Utopia – Bosnia and Herzegovina Brutalist Architecture Photo Tour (7 days)

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14550
7 Days
Availability : Jan - Dec
Sarajevo
Sarajevo
Max People : 8
Tour Overview

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 the 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 a deliberate process with a reason to hide the architectural history of each of the Yugoslavian republics in favor of creating a unified country? A country without any significant history other than a revolutionary one built on the foundation of “brotherhood and unity” and the one vested from World War II.

This tour masterclass, outside of Bosnian and Herzegovinian and, at the same time, Yugoslavian brutalist architecture, will explore all other aspects of life in Bosnia and Herzegovina and ex-Yugoslavia, important for a better understanding of the past, the presence, and the future.

P.S. Don’t forget to bring your camera on board, as during the next 7 days, you’ll be offered an opportunity to take some amazing photos.

Tjentiste Memorial - Sutjeska National Park - Bosnia and Herzegovina
Sarajevo Olympic bobsled and luge

Highlights

PEACE OF MIND by Funky Tours

PEACE OF MIND by Funky Tours policy ensures 100% guest’ satisfaction and hassle-free experiences when booking and conducting tours and holidays with us. Learn more about our Peace of Mind policy.

  • We include all essential entrance fees in the tour costs. Our policy steadfastly avoids requiring travelers to pay essential entrance fees on-site, typically in cash, a practice often used deceitfully to show a lower advertised tour price. We are committed to transparency in pricing, ensuring our guests do not face the inconvenience of surprise additional costs for essential entrance fees.
  • No hidden costs. Funky Tours is all about transparency. Entrance fees included in the tour package:
    • Sarajevo War Tunnel Museum: 7.5 EUR per person
    • Kozara National Park: 2 EUR per person
    • Blagaj Dervis House: 5 EUR per person
    • Kravice Waterfalls: 10 EUR per person
    • Bosnaseum Museum: 4 EUR per person
  • Online Payment by credit card. It is hassle-free; no cash is needed when doing tours with us.

What's Included

INCLUDED
  • English-speaking expert guide and driver.
  • Hotel in Sarajevo 2 nights (4* hotel Colors Inn or similar / twin or double rooms).
    • 5 nights in Sarajevo and 1 night in Banja Luka
    • Accommodation included breakfast and city tax
    • Single supplement is 150 EUR
  • All Essential Entrance Fees Included:
    • Sarajevo War Tunnel Museum: 7.5 EUR per person
    • Kozara National Park: 2 EUR per person
    • Blagaj Dervis House: 5 EUR per person
    • Kravice Waterfalls: 10 EUR per person
    • Bosnaseum Museum: 4 EUR per person
  • No hidden costs. VAT 17% is included in the price.
  • Flexible cancellation policy.
  • Tour is available throughout the year.
  • Pay safely online with a credit card. We accept payments for all types of credit cards.
NOT INCLUDED
  • Personal 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.

Getting There

SarajevoMost convenient arrival point is Sarajevo International Airport (SJJ). Also consider using Wizz Air as cheaper option and fly into Tuzla International Airport (TZL)
Dubrovnik/Split (Croatia)If you plan to arrive either from Dubrovnik / Split / Zagreb or Belgrade, please contact us for affordable private transfer or consider one of our connecting tours.
ArrivalYour arrival on Day 1 can be anytime.
DepartureYour departure on Day 7 can be anytime.

Itinerary

DAY 1: Arrival to Sarajevo

Destination: Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Accommodation: Hotel Colors inn 4* or similar
Inclusions: Airport transfer | Walking Tour of Sarajevo Old Town
Driving Time: 0.30hrs | Private Vehicle

Sarajevo Sebilj at Bascarsija squareOn arrival at Sarajevo International Airport, a private transfer is arranged, followed by the hotel check-in. An afternoon walking tour of Sarajevo’s old town and city center will be conducted, followed by a traditional Bosnian dinner and itinerary briefing.

A walking tour of Sarajevo is an introductory 2 to 3-hour activity meant to unravel the origins of Sarajevo as an urban identity from the mid-15th century until the late 19th century, during the Ottoman era.

The unmissable part of the tour is focused on Sarajevo’s heritage during the Austria-Hungarian period and the pre-war and post-war period of Yugoslavia, followed by the story of Sarajevo during the independent era of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

EXPERIENCE THE BEST OF NIGHTLIFE IN SARAJEVO

Sarajevo is not a “nightclubs” city, but it is known for a handful of pubs, bars, and cafes that will meet the expectations of even the most demanding ones. Here are some of the best recommendations to start your night:

  • Tavern (Birtija)

This is one of the most unique and authentic places in the old town of Sarajevo. It is officially called “Birtija,” a convivial saloon visited mainly by locals. Every birtija should have its local special drink; at this place, it is visnjevaca- local cherry brandy.

  • La Cava

Whether you are into cocktails, a glass of wine, or watching sports with friends, this place is ideal. In a cozy atmosphere, this tiny place serves some of the best wines and cocktails you can find in the city. Moreover, this is where you will feel like a home away from home.

  • Zlatna Ribica

This unique and impressive place is not just a bar but an attraction and a must-see in Sarajevo. The decoration remains on an antique steampunk theme, and you won’t see many places in the world that include such a level of interior design. It would be best to respect the site’s style, so do not expect overly fancy service.

  • Gastro Pub Vucko

This is a paradise for beer lovers. It offers more than 120 types of beer, 15 of which are craft. Besides drinks, you can order some of the delicious snacks and dishes served on a special mat that will take you back to 1984. The bar is named after the mascot of the Winter Olympics and was created to reminisce about the golden age of Sarajevo.

  • Jazzbina

For late-night visits, Jazzbina is one of the best choices in Sarajevo. Jazz + Bina in the local language means Jazz stage, but if you cut one letter “z,” you will get a word that means “burrow.” This is exactly what this club is- a sanctuary for all jazz, blues, and R’n’R fans with excellent live music performances till early mornings.

DAY 2: Sarajevo's Brutalist Architecture

Destination: Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Accommodation: Hotel Colors inn 4* or similar
Inclusions: Breakfast | Full Day Tour of exploring Sarajevo
Driving Time: 1.15hrs | Private Vehicle

Ski Jumps at Igman MountainOn this day, we shall start early in the morning and aim to visit some of the most critical places in Sarajevo from the Yugoslavian period, focusing on brutalist buildings.

To properly comprehend Sarajevo’s urban development and the importance of architecture during the Yugoslavian post-WW2 period, we first have to unravel the position of Yugoslavia compared to the rest of the world.

To understand the Yugoslavian position about the Soviet socialist East and capitalism-dominated West, we have to politically disentangle the processes that took place in the years immediately after 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 the 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.

Sarajevo Olympic Bobsled Track at Trebevic MountainAdditionally, on this day, the story of Yugoslavia can’t be investigated adequately without understanding the reasons behind the fall of Yugoslavia, the Siege of Sarajevo, and the positive consequences of the 1984 Winter Olympic Games in Sarajevo.

Visiting places like the Sarajevo War Tunnel and learning about the story of the Siege of Sarajevo, the Olympic Bobsled, Igman Hotel, and others will further improve understanding of Sarajevo and its modernist architecture during Yugoslavia.

WHEN YOU HAVE FREE TIME IN SARAJEVO

  • War Childhood Museum – The Winner of the 2018 Council of Europe Museum Prize

Rising from the crowd-sourced book War Childhood and championing the principles and practices of social entrepreneurship, the independent, youth-led War Childhood Museum has garnered recognition as the world’s only museum focused exclusively on childhoods affected by war.

  • Srebrenica Gallery and Srebrenica Genocide

Gallery 11/07/95 is the first memorial museum/gallery in Bosnia and Herzegovina – an exhibition space aiming to preserve the memory of the Srebrenica tragedy and 8372 persons who tragically lost their lives during the genocide.

  • Best Bosnian Pizza and Sunset view from the Yellow Bastion

The most famous Pizza place in Sarajevo is called “Pekara kod Mahira,” the most famous viewpoint above Sarajevo is the Yellow Bastion, a few min walking distance from the Baščaršija square. Pekara kod Mahira is a takeaway pizza place offering just one type of pizza made in the traditional style with Bosnian-style ingredients such as smoked beef and kajmak 

DAY 3: Herzegovina's Brutalist Architecture

Destination: Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Accommodation: Hotel Colors inn 4* or similar
Inclusions: Breakfast | Full Day Tour of exploring Herzegovina
Driving Time: 1.15hrs | Private Vehicle

Titos Bunker in KonjicThe following day is reserved for explorations of socialist Yugoslavian architectural heritage in Herzegovina.

The morning ride will take us to Konjic, where we will explore the most intriguing wonder of Yugoslavian military architecture – Tito’s Bunker. It is one of the most expensive military objects ever to be built in Yugoslavia from 1953 to 1979, costing 4.7 billion US dollars.

Among other modernist buildings, the House of Culture in Konjic, built in 1957, is an excellent 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 the epicenter of public life in Konjic, the national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina still partially serves its original purpose today.

At Jablanica, we will stop and explore the memorial to one of the most famous battles during WW2 – the Battle of Neretva. The destroyed bridge and the Museum of the Battle for the Wounded are great ways to get insight into the importance of these regions during the anti-fascist battles in the period of WW2.

Once we arrive at Mostar, the Old Bridge and Mostar old town, being the most critical parts of the city, will be part of our two-hour walking tour of Mostar. Once finished in Mostar’s old town, the “brutalist architecture trail” will take us towards west Mostar, to the part of the city that saw the most urban development during Yugoslavian modernism.

Mostar Old Bridge during the sunset makes the experience of visiting Mostar during the evening hours the best time to be.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.

DAY 4: Tjentište Memorial at National Park Sutjeska

Destination: Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Accommodation: Hotel Colors inn 4* or similar
Inclusions: Breakfast | Full Day Tour of exploring Herzegovina
Driving Time: 4.30hrs | Private Vehicle

Sutjeska National Park Tjentiste Memorial for the WW2 Battle for SutjeskaProbably the most famous 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 the 15th of May and the 16th of June, in which 7,500 Partisan fighters of the Main Operational Group of the 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 more muscular and moved towards the complete liberation of Yugoslavia.

Finished in 1972, the monument was designed by Yugoslavian sculptor Miodrag Živković and, together with the ossuary Memorial House, today represents the pinnacle of sculptural memorials in Yugoslav space.

Located two and half hours from Sarajevo, a visit to the Tjentište memorial is a must for anyone visiting Bosnia and Herzegovina and interested in the Yugoslavian post-WW2 style of memorial sculpture.

This day combines beautifully with stunning hiking at Sutjeska National Park and Trnovačko Lake.

An additional stop of the day is the infamous Hotel Emos in Miljevina. Initially 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 center of Republic of Srpska army forces and as a planning headquarters for a wide range of atrocities and war crimes committed by Serbian forces against the Bosniak civilian population of Foča municipality.

DAY 5: Brutalist Architecture in Central and North Bosnia

Destination: Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Accommodation: Hotel Colors inn 4* or similar
Inclusions: Breakfast | Full Day Tour of exploring Central and North Bosnia
Driving Time: 4.30hrs | Private Vehicle

Lamela - the most amazing monument of Yugoslavian brutalist architecture in ZenicaThe day’s first stop is visiting Visoko and its pearl of modernist architecture, Sherefudin’s White Mosque.

The mosque was built in 1980 based on a design by famous Bosnian architect Zlatko Ugljen. In 1983, the mosque design was rewarded with 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 Europe’s three best-designed places of worship.

White mosque in Visoko by design of Zlatko UgljenAfter exploring the architectural wonders of Visoko, we continue our journey to Zenica – probably the most critical “massif” of Yugoslavian modernist architecture.

The urban planning of Zenica after the Second World War had the perfect characteristics of socialist urbanization, which made Zenica today a city with the wealthiest and most significant examples of modern architecture in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Bosnian National Theatre in Zenca as monument to Yugoslavian modernist architecture

After the Tito-Stalin split in 1948, the decision was made to turn this city into a metallurgical center of utmost Yugoslav significance. In the following decades, this transformed Zenica from a dormant Ottoman town of local energy into an important industrial center of Bosnia, Herzegovina, and beyond.

Brutalist Architecture of ZenicaOur walking tour of Zenica will cover the most important buildings of the Yugoslav socialist era. Additionally, we will focus primarily on Juraj Neidhardt and his pioneering work on the development of an authentic Bosnian style of architecture. This style successfully synthesized traditional and modern elements within his objects’ aesthetic and functional design.

Lamela - the most amazing monument of Yugoslavian brutalist architecture in ZenicaThe town of Jajce and its beautiful surroundings will be an additional stop of the day. This medieval capital of the Bosnian kingdom, with a beautiful waterfall in the city center, watermills, and stunning lakes on the Pliva River, is a perfect plunge into a thousand years of Bosnian history revealed in front of your eyes.

Arrival in Banjaluka is afternoon, followed by dinner and free time.

DAY 6: Banja Luka and Kozara Memorial

Destination: Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Accommodation: Hotel Colors inn 4* or similar
Inclusions: Breakfast | Explore Banja Luka and Kozara National Park | Return to Sarajevo
Driving Time: 3.30hrs | Private Vehicle

KozaraThe morning walking tour of Banja Luka will focus on the heritage of this city, starting from the medieval days to the Ottoman and Austria-Hungarian periods, the Yugoslavian era, and present-day Bosnia and Herzegovina. Locations like Kastel Fort, Ferhadija mosque, and church of the Christ the Saviour are must-see the heritage of the past times in Banja Luka.

Particular focus will be made on the heritage modernist Yugoslavian architecture in Banja Luka and a visit to Boska Mall, Cathedral of St.Bonaventure, Borik neighborhood, and many other locations important for brutalist insights into the Yugoslavian architecture of Banja Luka.

Ferhadija Mosque in BanjalukaAfter lunch and free time in Banjaluka, we shall visit the most famous 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 the 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 a 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 Yugoslav space.

The return to Sarajevo is planned in the later evening hours.

DAY 7: Free Time Until Departure

Inclusions: Breakfast | Airport Transfer
Driving Time: 0.30hrs | Private Vehicle

The program ended the previous nights, and the last day of the itinerary in Sarajevo is free time until airport departure.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Is this tour for me?
    This photo tour is a perfect itinerary for anyone interested in exploring Bosnia and Herzegovina on a very unusual, off-the-beaten-path itinerary. You don’t have to be a professional architecture lover to appreciate this tour, as it can be adjusted for anyone either of mild or severe interest in Yugoslavian brutalist architecture.
  2. Can I book solo?
    Yes, you can. A significant number of our fellow travelers are solo.
  3. How much should I tip?
    Tips are not included in the tour costs or are heavily expected in Bosnian culture. However, for excellent service, we recommend tipping.
  4. Can I pay with a credit card?
    Yes, you can. 
1 Review
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Chris C

Solo Traveller

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.

June 30, 2023

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