November 29, 2011

6 Cool Buildings in Banja Luka

Banja Luka  the administrative capital of the Republika Srpska, is a beautiful town with lots of  interesting buildings from the last century like the Banski Dvor (Бански Двор) (1932), the National Theater (Народно позориште Републике Српске) (1933), The City Hall (Градска палата) (1934), The Palace of the Republic (Палата Републике Српске) (1936) and the buildings on the Promenade - Gospodska street (officially Veselin Masleša street).
(Picture from Panoramio)

What interests me more about Banja Luka are a few modern buildings that I want to show here in this post:

 1. Dom Vojske

 Today it is the National Assembly of the Republika Srpska (Народна скупштина Републике Српске. (picture from panoramio and skyscrapercity)

2. The Retirement Home (Старачки Дом)

 The building looks quiet interesting, it was started in 1989 and it's still not finished.
 (picture from Teča sa Dunava)

3. The Borik Sport Center (Спортска дворана Борик)

This Sport Center is a typical 1970's structured concrete building and lays in the Borik neighboorhood. (picture from wikipedia).

Borik is a neighborhood of Banja Luka. It was built northeast of the old city center after an earthquake in 1969 when Banja Luka was heavily damaged. Borik was planned for housing of people who lost their homes in an earthquake and it was built in a modern socialist architectural style, typical for cities that were developed under an influence of a communist system. (picture from scborik).

The building is from 1974, can seat about 5'000 people and is used for different Sports and for Concerts.

4. The Cathedral of Saint Bonaventure

The Cathedral of Saint Bonaventure is one of four Roman Catholic cathedrals in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Cathedral was built in honor of Saint Bonaventure, a Franciscan theologian from the Middle Ages. It was constructed by Alfred Pichler in the 1970s after the original had been damaged in the 1969 earthquake.
It was built in a tent like shape. The bell tower was added in 1990.(picture)

5. Boska Shopping Center

“Boska” department store (from 1978) is a building that looks like from outer space. Its shape was designed without any direct formal relationship to the local heritage.

picture by

It's kind of a landmark of Banja Luka, due to its location (in the very center on a big pedestrian square) and to its over-sized shape. It stands there as a nostalgic symbol of former Yugoslavia and never underwent any changements. (picture from panoramio)

6.  Hotel Turist in Celinac (near Banja Luka)

The last of the 6 buildings is not really in Banja Luka. But with its prefab facade, its round-corner-windows and daring color concept fits into this list of cool buildings.

The hotel has 35 beds and a restaurant. (Pictures from panoramio)

And here a few links for visiting Banja Luka:
Banja Luka Online Guide
• The Banja Luka in your pocket guide to download
  (it's from 2009) but still useful

Here you can download a map of the City of Banja Luka

November 19, 2011

Nevena Factory in Leskovac

This post about Serbian Design is about a cosmetic factory that produces my favorite baby products, I use them daily when I bath and change my baby-girl, and every day I'm delighted with the beautiful designed bottles and jars, so that I tried to discover more about these products.(picture from

The factory is in Leskovac, the city that was called the Serbian Manchester (in 19th Leskovac was a prosperous textile-city with 13 factories).
The concrete factory building with the fancy "retro"-style logo looks really cool.
The products have a beautiful design, and what is good, the firm never decided to change it!!
The firm was established in 1953 and as a state firm produced cosmetics, toiletries, and household cleaning products.
The light blue Kosili products for instance were found in most of the Jugoslavian bathrooms.
I love to use them and I stock up with Kosili products every time I'm in Serbia.
They were sold also in Switzerland in the past (manufactured by Doetsch Grether AG) but not anymore….I wonder why...

The logo is really stylish and fortunately it hasn't been changed radically…just adapted. I like the idea of the letters N, E, V and A made in the same way but just turned around.(logo pictures from

In 2001 Serbia's Privatisation Agency started to sell 70% of the equity owned by Nevena's employees to a strategic investor and then in 2003 it was sold at a public auction. The Dyes and Varnishes Unit of the company was sold to a Serbian private company from Backa Palanka.

But the cosmetic unit was bought from Bulgarian tycoon Hristo Atanasov Kovacki, one of the richest people in the Balkans and a friend of Sreten Jocic (Joca Amsterdam, member of the Serbian Organized Crime), thanks to poor control by Serbia's Privatisation Agency.

Instead of bringing Nevena Company to former glory, workers need to go on strikes to get paid and one's more Leskovac is about to loose one more working factory.
Mr. Kovacki is known to have ruined as many as 15 Serbian firms until now…about 8000 working places lost..I guess that Serbia's Privatisation Agency must feel really proud for that.


To see the building:
 Đorđa Stamenkovića bb
16000 Leskovac 

The factory has no webpage and the email address is a gmail account...

November 7, 2011

Crna Trava


 I had always heard about a place called Crna Trava in the South od Serbia and its famous construction workers which built the most significant buildings of the SFRJ. When last summer I visited Crna Trava I found a sleepy but interesting settlement in a beatuiful landscape worth sharing a couple of pictures!

The main square

Crna Trava (Црна Трава) a village in southeast of Serbia lays in a beautiful plateau of the Vlasina region (the mountainous region near the border to Bulgaria) . The beautiful setting along the Vlasina river (which starts 10km before at Vlasinsko Lake (Власинско језеро) and the surrounding mountains makes it a picturesque settlement.
Nonetheless in the statistics it’s one of the poorest municipality of Serbia.
From a population of 13,748 in 1953 the number of inhabitants dropped to just 2'563 in 2002 and goes along with the heavy depopulation (mainly for economic reasons) of the entire Vlasina region.

 the town house on the main sqare

the hotel

the school

Since back to roman times, people of Crna Trava were freedom lovers, and fighted against ocupation of Turks, Bulgarian and Fascism. Also a lot of fugitives from regions like Kosovo, Raška, Metohija, Kopaonik and Makedonia, who escaped from Turkish ocupation 400 years found in hidden mountainous places like Crna Trava a new home.
Life was hard in those places but at least people didn’t have to addapt to the Tursk.

People from Crna Trava were the most wellknown migrant workers (печалбари) of the former Yugolsavian territory. They were known as good construction workers. So the male population was always on the road to look for work and an big part of the great building projects of the communist time in Belgrade, Skopje and other cities of SFRY were made by those migrant workers.

The female population looked after the house, fields, animals and relatives alone waiting fort he husbands to return (in the good cases with the money they made on building sites).

Today in Crna Trava there are no migrant workers anymore, maybe still some older guys still singing migrantworkers-songs and remembering the old times.
There is still a big Construction-School (with campus)

Crnat Trava has evrything a little city needs: a health center, a town house, a police station, taverns, markets, a kindergarten, elementary and secondary schools, a students dorm, a library, a hotel, a square with a monument to the fallen soldiers ... but no people.

The Crna Trava area is in need of a longterm strategy to promote the region. The beautiful setting, an already existing infrastructure and a healthy environment should be a good potential to attract investors for construction related business or for health food development.

More about Crna Trava:
Tourist attractions in Crna Trava on National Tourism Organization of Serbia (eng) 
 Picutres on Panoramio of Crna Trava