History buffs visiting the Balkans are always keen on learning about the exciting past of this diverse region. Especially interesting is the period after the WWII when six Balkan countries were untied under the same flag in the so called Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) lead by marshal Josip Broz Tito.
Although being an autocrat by today’s standards, Josip Broz Tito was a charismatic leader loved by the masses. He came to power after World War II, during which he was active as a the leader of the Partisans, a successful communist resistance movement, often regarded by historians as the most effective one in whole occupied Europe.
WHO WAS JOSIP BROZ TITO?
What made Josip Broz Tito stand out in comparison to the other communist leaders around the globe, is his famous dispute with the Joseph Stalin. Soon after the war, in 1948, Tito refused many of the Soviet Union’s ideas on economical and political structures. He abended the so-called eastern block and removed the iron curtain on Yugoslavia by implementing his own socialist program, know today as Titoism, which contained elements of market socialism.
Moreover, Tito wasn’t popular just within Yugoslavia’s borders. Internationally, he was seen as a unifying figure not just for maintaining a peaceful coexistence of the numerous Slavic nations under one flag, but also as one of the funders of the so-called Non-Aligned Movement. Interestingly, this forum of 120 developing countries that are not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc still exists today. It was formed back in 1961 in Belgrade as a third options for those nations who didn’t feel the need to take sides in the growing Cold War.
After a long reign, Tito died in Ljubljana on May 4th 1980 and was buried in Belgrade a few days later. His funeral was attended by four kings, 31 presidents, six princes, 22 prime ministers and 47 ministers of foreign affairs from 128 different countries, making it the largest state funeral in history to that date.
VISIT THE PLACES ASSCIATED WITH TITO
If you are interested in Tito’s legacy, don’t miss out on some of the most important locations associated with this famous socialist leader when visiting the Balkans. Memories from his era can be found in all seven countries that emerged from the ruins of Yugoslavia: Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and even Kosovo.
As local experts, we are specialized in preparing tailor-made trips all over the Balkans. If visiting these historic places listed below is something you would be interest in, let us know when sending the inquiry. Our friendly agents will be happy to include them into you personalized itinerary to Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia or any other country in the region.
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Let’s start at the beginning. Tito was born in 1892 in Kumrovec, a tiny village in the bucolic region of Hrvatsko Zagorje in northern Croatia. His home, where he lived with his Croatian father, Slovene mother and seven siblings is now turned into a pretty museum, which also displays ethnographical peculiarities of the region.
Kumrovec makes a nice day trip from Zagreb, the capital of Croatia and can be combined with outer tourist attractions in the region, such is the the fairly-tale castle of Veliki tabor. Also worth mentioning – the region Hrvatsko Zagorje is a land of thermal spas. There are numerus resorts on both sides of the border where you can spend a few days to relax and recharge.
The picturesque Alpine town of Bled is on a must-see list for everyone who decides to travel to Slovenia. Even Josip Broz Tito was taken by the charming beauty of this glacial lake with a tiny island in the middle. He liked it so much that he turned one of the villas on the lake’s shore into his residence. Among the famous guests sleeping in Vila Bled are North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Il Sung, Czechoslovakian president Václav Havel, the last crown prince of Austria-Hungary Otto von Habsburg, prince Charles, Spanish king Juan Carlos, Paul McCartney, Scottie Pippen and many others. You too can join the list, since this gorgeous villa is now a hotel. Alternatively, you can visit its restaurant and enjoy a lunch with spectacular views once only reserved for VIPs.
THE BRIJUNI ISLANDS
Out of all his estates, the one on Brijuni Islands just off the shore of Istria, was Tito’s absolute favorite. He spent nearly 6 months of every year here, welcoming distinguished guests from all over the world. It wasn’t just the world leaders, such were Fidel Castro and Indira Gandhi that got his invitation; Tito also entertained celebrates like Sofia Loren, Elisabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
During the long years of his reign, he received numerous quite exotic gifts, including animals such as zebras, waterbuck and Somali sheep. Some of them are still alive and can be visited in the safari park on the islands. Those who died (of natural causes) were stuffed and put on display in on of the surrounding buildings.
Legacy of Josip Broz Tito – Visit the places associated with the charismatic Yugoslav leader
TITO’S NUCLEAR BUNEKR
Like every true dictator of the 20th century, Josip Broz Tito also had his own bunker where he could hide in case of a nuclear attack. The complex was built in secrecy between 1953 and 1979 and its existence was only reviled to the general public after the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. It was designed to function as a center of military operations and a shelter for both the staff of more than 350 people, along with Tito’s family and close associates.
If your travelling to Bosnia and Herzegovina, you can visit the bunker located near the town of Konjic, approximately hallway between Sarajevo and Mostar. Visitors are now allowed to peek into several areas which include conference and so-called situation rooms, offices and private rooms.
Tito and his wife Jovanka loved glamour, which is more than evident in the numerous residences they had all over the country. Unfortunately, most of them didn’t stand the test of time and are now infamously perishing. Well, Vila Miločer on the Montenegrin coast is not one of them. Built in 1930s for the Yugoslav royal family, this amazing estate was nationalized after the war alongside with all other property belonging to the Karađorđević dynasty. Tito and Jovanka visited quite often and even organized a New Year’s party here in 1973.
Today, Miločer is part of the upscale Aman hotel complex in Sveti Stefan and is very popular with everyone looking to spend luxury holidays in Montenegro. Intrigued?
STATUES OF TITO
Josip Broz Tito wouldn’t be a true dictator without numerous statues to accompany the cult of his personality. Arguably the most famous one is the bronze depiction created by Antun Augustinčić back in 1943. The rather grandiose sculptures was reproduced numerous times and can now be found all over the territory of ex-Yugoslavia and beyond. Nobody knows exactly how many castings exist, but there are at least twenty and new ones are still being produced.
The first statute to be casted is now located at his birthplace in Kumrovec. Another copy can be – of course – found at his mausoleum in Belgrade. You can admire others in the Slovenia’s mining town Velenje, at the museums in Sarajevo and Jajce (BiH), a high school in Skopje, a city park in Pogorica, and many others.
Tito owned many luxurious cars which today bare a great historical value. 15 of them are part of the permanent exhibition at the Technical Museum of Slovenia, located in the picturesque Carthusian monastery of Bistra, just a few kilometers from the capital. If you are a fan of old cars and interested in Yugoslav history, you should really consider taking a half-day trip from Ljubljana to admire these beauties in person.
The collection includes rare examples of prestigious limousines, some of which were presented to Tito by famous political figures of the 20th century. For example, there’s a 1937 Packard, a gift by USSR leader Stalin, while his successor Nikita Khrushchev presented Tito with two ZIS in 1954. There’s also a 1952 Rolls-Royce, 1939 Mercedes 540K and many others.
GALEB, TITO’S OFFICIAL YACHT
Galeb, meaning seagull, was an iconic ship used by marshal Tito on his numerus political missions from 1952 to his death in 1980. During that period he hosted numerous statesmen and celebrities on board, including Kirk Douglas, Sophia Loren, Ethiopian Emperor Haille Selassie, Egyptian president Nasser, USSR Secretary Generals Khrushchev and Brezhnev, Winston Churchill and Queen Elizabeth II.
Following the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991, the yacht was brought to a verge of existence. Luckily, the port town of Rijeka has decided to completely renovate it and turn Galeb into a museum. The project was funded as part of the European Capital of Culture 2020 program and is expected to be opened in 2021.
HOUSE OF FLOWERS
Josip Broz Tito died in 1980 in a hospital in Ljubljana, due to problems cause by gangrene-induced infection. Later his body was transported to Belgrade, then capital of Yugoslavia, where it was interred in a mausoleum also known as House of Flowers. Today it is part of a memorial complex in the grounds of the Museum of Yugoslav History and easily makes a shortlist of must-see attractions for everyone visiting Belgrade. His grave is still frequently visited by the so-called yugo-nostalgics from all ex-member states, who came here to pay their respect and reflect on the times long gone. In the adjacent museum you can take a look at the exhibition on the so-called Day of Youth, once a popular holiday celebrated through the country on May 25.
Let us know if following the footsteps of Josip Broz Tito is something you would be interested in while travelling across the Balkans. Our agents would be happy to include any of the locations mentioned above into your completely personalized trip to Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia or other country of ex-Yugoslavia.
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