When talking about the gates of Belgrade, we tend to imagine some ancient stone archways of some sort, probably built by the Romans or the Thraco-Dacians who lived in the region since antiquity. Well, even though Belgrade has some remnants of a gate dating from the Romans, that’s not what were’re talking about when we say “The gates of Belgrade”.
Instead we refer to the two groups of brutalist skyscrapers at the western and eastern ends of the city. Built in the late 1970’s to early 1980’s by the Yugoslavian communist regime, these huge apartment complexes were dubbed the Western and Eastern City Gates respectively.
By using concrete in excess, which was the choice material of the day, the Yugoslavian communist government wanted to show its grandeur and everlasting power of their party through these two immense construction projects.
The Western Gate, also known as the Genex Tower is 35 stories or 140 meters (460 ft.) tall, and the second tallest tower in Belgrade and third in Eastern Europe. It is formed by two towers connected with a two-story bridge and revolving restaurant at the top.
The tallest of the two towers is residential while the smaller one housed the Genex Group, from where the name also comes from. The building was designed to greet and amaze people coming from the “west”. The road from Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport to the city center actually goes this way.
The Eastern City Gate is actually a series of three monstrous apartment buildings facing each other and forming a circle. Officially known as the Rudo Apartment Complex, after a town in Bosnia, these buildings can house over 2000 people. All three towers overshadow the surrounding buildings and landscape and can be easily seen from every corner of the city.
All of them have a height of 99 meters (325 ft.). They weren’t designed to greet anybody or act as a gate of any kind, but given their size and similar Socialist Realist architecture they share with the Genex Tower, these massive towers were also called, though unofficially, “Gates of Belgrade”.
Everybody who’s looking at them for the first time will immediately feel as if in an Orwellian dystopian future; something out of “Blade Runner” or something similar. They might not even be that far from the truth either.