Embark on a grand adventure through the lands of former Yugoslavia, guided by Darmon Richter. In his own words : "We're going to cruise across Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina as we tour the Balkans in search of Yugoslav memorials. It won’t just be concrete and steel we’re looking at though – along the way we’ll see mountains and lakes, explore underground tunnels, we’ll stay in ridiculously brutalist hotels and get to know the people who make up this diverse and colourful region of Eastern Europe.
As far as I know this tour is one of a kind… and what’s more, I think it’s important. Tour buses used to arrive at these memorial sites every day of the year, but ever since the collapse of Yugoslavia they stopped coming. Over the course of 12 days, we’re going to visit 16 of these remarkable monuments and treat them to the well-deserved attention that they’ve been largely missing for these past few decades. We will honour them not as political symbols, but rather as extraordinary works of art commemorating events which should never be forgotten."
Darmon Richter is a freelance writer and photographer; an experienced urban explorer and self-confessed dark tourist. Richter’s interest in unusual and offbeat locales has taken him from the ghost cities of Inner Mongolia to the hell gardens of Southeast Asia; from the frozen conflict zones of the former USSR, to vodou temples in the Caribbean.
All photos in this tour : Copyright © Darmon Richter and The Bohemian Blog
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- Slavonski Brod
- Plitvice Lakes National Park
- Banja Luka
DAY 1 / THURSDAY 20th APRIL
We meet in the morning, then head out for a walking tour of Belgrade before lunch. In the afternoon we’ll take an underground tour through tunnels and bunkers beneath the streets of the Serbian capital.
Our accommodation – Hotel Jugoslavija – is located in the Novi Beograd district, famed for its brutalist and modernist architecture. We’ll explore here a bit, before settling down for a traditional Serbian dinner.
SLEEP: Belgrade, Serbia
DAY 2 / FRIDAY 21st
Our bus collects us from the hotel, stopping first at the ‘House of Flowers’ to pay our respects at the tomb of Marshall Josip Broz Tito.
After that we’ll drive to the Jabuka Memorial Park, then head on towards the Croatian border. Once on the other side we’ll visit the Vukovar Spomenpark, and then drive on to our final stop at Slavonski Brod – where we’ll take a stroll round the 18th century Brod Fortress, and sample some local cuisine.
SLEEP: Slavonski Brod, Croatia
DAY 3 / SATURDAY 22nd
First, we’ll drive an hour to Jasenovac – to the Stone Flower monument, and the concentration camp museum.
Heading north, we’ll stop at the ‘Monument to the Revolution of the People of Moslavina,’ just outside Podgarić, and then we drive on to Sisak to see the partisan monument in the forests on the edge of town. By evening we’ll be in the capital, ready to sample the vibrant nightlife of Zagreb.
SLEEP: Zagreb, Croatia
DAY 4 / SUNDAY 23rd
Sunday morning will be spent getting to know the Croatian capital. We’ll take a walking tour, absorbing the history, architecture, graffiti and street food of Zagreb.
By the afternoon we’ll be on the move again, this time driving south to see the largest monument of this tour – the colossal memorial house on Petrova Gora. After that it’s a 90-minute drive to our final stop, a cosy guesthouse in the Plitvice National Park.
SLEEP: Plitvice, Croatia
DAY 5 / MONDAY 24th
Today, you’ll have the whole day to yourself. Our hotel is located just a stone’s throw from the famous Plitvice Lakes. Alternatively, you could come with me to explore (access allowing) the nearby Željava Air Base, an abandoned tunnel complex hidden deep beneath a mountain on the Croatian-Bosnian border.
We’ll all meet up later, for dinner at a local grill restaurant.
SLEEP: Plitvice, Croatia
DAY 6 / TUESDAY 25th
Crossing into Bosnia & Herzegovina, we’ll stop soon after at the Garavice Memorial Park. From there we’ll drive to Mount Kozara, visiting the memorial tower built on the site of a WWII battlefield.
By late afternoon we get into Banja Luka: the largest city in Bosnia’s ‘Republika Srpska’ region. We’ll have time to explore the city, as well as visiting the grand socialist-realist mausoleum that rises on a nearby hilltop.
SLEEP: Banja Luka, Bosnia
DAY 7 / WEDNESDAY 26th
Sarajevo is a truly remarkable city. We’ll drive there early (making just one monument stop along the way), then spend the rest of the day getting to know the Bosnian capital.
In the afternoon you’ll have the chance to learn about the Bosnian War, and the 1992-96 Siege of Sarajevo. Survivors of the conflict will share their stories with you, during a walking tour of the abandoned Olympic bobsleigh track which became a front line during the conflict.
SLEEP: Sarajevo, Bosnia
DAY 8 / THURSDAY 27th
Today might be the hardest choice you’ll have to make all tour. You can either stay in Sarajevo for the day, and explore the city’s many markets, mosques, plazas and coffee shops at your leisure, or join me for a day-trip on the bus.
It’s a four-hour round trip to the Tjentište Monument, located down south in the remote Sutjeska National Park [pictured]. We’ll make it an interesting drive though, stopping at a few extra places along the way.
SLEEP: Sarajevo, Bosnia
DAY 9 / FRIDAY 28th
On Day 9 we bid farewell to Bosnia & Herzegovina – crossing the border back into Serbia, and driving through beautiful landscape to the Kadinjača Memorial Complex near Užice. We’ll have lunch nearby before heading into town to explore.
Užice is a paradise for architecture geeks, and we’ll be staying at ground zero: in the ridiculously brutalist Zlatibor Hotel.
SLEEP: Užice, Serbia
DAY 10 / SATURDAY 29th
Southern Serbia is densely packed with bizarre, Yugoslav-era monuments. We’ll visit some of the best ones today – stopping at the Mausoleum in Čačak, the Monument to the Strong at Ostra, and the Sniper Monument at Popina.
By early evening we’ll arrive in Niš, heading straight up to visit the Bubanj Memorial Complex. After that, we’ve got a table booked at a local restaurant for what might just be the best barbecue you’ll ever taste.
SLEEP: Niš, Serbia
DAY 11 / SUNDAY 30th
For the first half of the day, you’ll have a choice of activities: you can try your hand at paragliding, you could visit the infamous ‘Skull Tower of Niš’ or you could check out the city’s markets and fantastic modernist architecture.
After a late lunch together we’ll hit the highway, and head north to see the partisan monument on Mount Kosmaj. From there it’s a short drive to Belgrade, where we’ll have dinner on a floating restaurant in the Sava River.
SLEEP: Belgrade, Serbia
DAY 12 / MONDAY 1st MAY: Tour Ends
Breakfast on Monday will be our last group meal… but the fun doesn’t have to end there. It’s May 1st – International Workers’ Day – a holiday marked with parades, festivities, and barbecues in the park. When you’ve had your fill, Belgrade has one of the best-connected airports in the Balkans, making it easy to plan the next stage of your journey from here.
Transport : Over the course of these 12 days we’ll travel more than 2,200km, and through three very different countries. Comfort is a priority – so we will have our own private bus for the journey, a modern, air-conditioned vehicle with a professional driver.
Hotels : All 11 nights of accommodation are included. Sometimes we’ll stay at modern 4-star resorts, while other nights we’ll be immersed in retro hospitality at brutalist-style 1970s hotels. Some of these buildings are as interesting as any monument we’ll see.
Food : The price of the tour includes a daily breakfast, usually a full breakfast buffet at our hotel.
The Tour : All entry fees related to the tour are included in the cost. In addition to a dedicated driver there’ll be two guides on hand throughout: myself and a local colleague, who between us will be able to answer your questions, share stories, provide translations and generally make sure your needs are being met.