Hotel Jugoslavija

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Hotel Jugoslavija (Serbian Cyrillic: Хотел Југославија) in Belgrade is one of the oldest luxurious Serbian hotels. It is located in the Zemun municipality. The hotel was opened in 1969 as "one of the most comfortable and most luxurious" hotels in Yugoslavia, and "among top 5 largest and most beautiful hotels in Europe." It was closed for visitors in 2006, but one half of the hotel was reopened in 2013 in the form of three-star hotel garni.


Zemun railway station

The Zemun railway station was located next to were the modern hotel is. It was built in 1883 during the rule of Austria-Hungary, when the railway, which connected Zemun to Novi Sad, was finished. In 1884 the railway was extended across the Sava into the Kingdom of Serbia as the first railway in the country. The very first train from Serbia, with the passengers including King Milan, Queen Natalija and Crown Prince Alexander, stopped at this station on its way to Vienna.The station was operational until 1970. To commemorate it, architect Milun Stambolić designed a memorial complex which consists of 5 pillars, which used to hold the station's overhang, and several meters of railroad tracks. The complex is placed on the plateau next to the hotel, on the small elevation above the promenade along the Danube. The memorial complex was set in the 1980s.


According to the original concept, the hotel was to be named "Belgrade". Famous architects Mladen Kauzlarić, Lavoslav Horvat and Kazimir Ostrogović, followers of the Zagreb school of modernism won the first prize at the original tender in 1947. The hotel was built according to the modified project of the architect Lavoslav Horvat. Distinguished creators and builders, architects Milorad Pantović, Vladeta Maksimović, Miroslav Janković and academic Ivan Antić took part in designing of the hotel and the interior.Planned and built for two decades, it was nicknamed "Belgrade Babylon". The hotel was ceremonially opened on 31 July 1969 by Rudi Kolak, president of the Yugoslav Chamber of Commerce. It was used as an accommodation for celebrities and high officials visiting Belgrade. Some of the famous people who stayed in the Hotel Jugoslavija include Queen Elizabeth II, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, U Thant, Willy Brandt, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Tina Turner, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin. Hotel had the biggest chandelier in the world until 2010, designed and made by Swarovski in 1969. It has 40.000 crystals, 5.000 bulbs and weight of 14 tonnes., Size is 30 x 9 meters (90 x 28 ft) in rectangle shape. During the 1999 NATO bombings of Yugoslavia, the hotel was hit by two missiles, damaging the west wing. Part of the hotel was owned by Arkan, and had been used as a barracks for his paramilitary forces. One wing reopened on 9 February 2008 as the Grand Casino Beograd.


In the early 1970s, architect Branislav Jovin designed the plateau and the quay in front of the hotel. Generally considered beautiful and elegant, the project allows the cascade descent from the hotel to the Danube's bank. Early 1990s saw the expansion of the splavovi (singular, splav), barge-clubs on the rivers. They originated along the banks of the Sava and expanded in the nearby Ušće neighborhood. After 1996, they spread along the quay in front of the hotel.The location was favorable as it was one of the rare point at the time, where there was enough parking space and the quay was arranged and concreted, while many other parts of the banks were the barges were located were still muddy and inaccessible. In the 1996–2000 period, the splavovi were swiftly anchored in front of the hotel and in such numbers, that they became so close to each other that guests from one splav were able to talk to the guests from another one. In this period, barges at Hotel Jugoslavija became one of the most popular hangouts, as the barges became the central point of Belgrade's nightlife, but were also connected with criminals and numerous incidents. The entire section of the bank in front of the hotel has since then been colloquially known as "Chez Juga" (Kod Juge), after the shortened name of the hotel. Majority of the barges placed in the last part of the 1990s are still operational, even under the same names, but are being replaced with much larger and modernized versions, unlike the other locations where splavovi appeared and disappeared, or changed names.The first planned bicycle path in Belgrade was built from Hotel Jugoslavija to Ušće. Designed by Mirko Radovanac, it was finished in 1979.


In 2006 the hotel was privatized and closed. It was purchased by the "Alpe Adrija hoteli" (renamed "Danube Riverside" in 2013) for €31.3 million. Croatian businessman from Split who was behind the company, later that year sold 25% of the ownership to the international investment fund "QS Investments" and "Danube Riverside" continued as its local offshoot, in charge with obtaining all the permits. They wanted to build two 147 m (482 ft) tall towers and a shopping mall. One tower should be residential and the other one was to be a combination of business area and apartments. However, the permits were denied because of the ownership of the land itself, which remained owned by the state. Though they are not obliged to do so, the investors announced international design competition for the towers, but dropped the idea later. Architect Goran Vojvodić was in charge of the project which was estimated to €130-150 million.In 2008 the "Alpe Adrija hoteli" obtained the location permit, while the "QS Investments" obtained additional 25% of the ownership. They applied to the city government for the construction permit in 2009, but were rejected in 2010 due to the incomplete documentation. The investor filed a complaint, the court returned the procedure back to the city, but the investor asked for the procedure to be halted until the documentation is ready, so the process was archived. By the end of 2010, city administration headed by the mayor Dragan Đilas adopted a new Belgrade Highrise Study, which was forbidding construction of the objects higher than 100 m (330 ft) on the hotel's location, while the "QS Investments" becomes the sole owner of the hotel.In 2011, city adproved the drafting of the detailed regulatory plans for this location and in 2012 the investor announced the opening of the hotel in 2015. In 2013 parts of the hotel were opened for the first time after 7 years, but not for the guests. Several floors have been leased as the business offices. The summer restaurant patio was also opened. Also in 2013, 132 rooms were adapted and the hotel was partially reopened as hotel garni.


In February 2014, the "Danube Riverside" announced new plans regarding "Jugoslavija". A five-star Kempinski hotel was planned to be fully reconstructed by 2019. The complex was to be upgraded with two towers with 33 floors, and a total floor area of 190,000 m2 (2,000,000 sq ft) on 5 ha (12 acres). New city administration, headed by Siniša Mali abolished the Highrise Study allowing tall buildings all ove the city. In 2015 the detailed regulatory plan which encompassed this project was adopted, despite the fierce opposition from the experts and public to the construction of the skyscrapers on this location. The projected value of the works is €300 million.As of August 2019 nothing has been done regarding the project. Head of the "Hotel Jugoslavija Project" Iva Petrović said that they will have "more information" in October 2019.
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