The Western City Gate, also known as Genex Tower or Kula Geneks in Serbian, is a massive skyscraper in Belgrade and can be seen from all around town. The 35 storeys tall building is an icon of architectural brutalism with its two connected towers and even a revolving restaurant that feels like a crown over everything.
The building got the nickname Genex Tower since one of the towers was occupied by the Genex Group for years. Now, it’s abandoned, but their Zepter logo can still be seen over the commercial side of the building. The smaller tower is a residential building with some shops on the ground floor and a few people passing by.
In March 2020, in our last trip, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we took our cameras to Belgrade, and the Western City Gate was one of the main places we wanted to visit while in town. We have been exploring architecture in our trips for years now, and we couldn’t ignore this magnificent building.
A Little Bit of the history behind the Western City Gate in Belgrade
Everything started in the late 1960s in Yugoslavia. Mihajlo Mitrović, an architect who would later be the chief designer at the Serbian Institute for Urban Planning, was given a task to design a building used as the district’s offices in Sutjeska. He suggested a concept that would involve two connected towers, taller than he was being asked to design, that would become a symbol of Belgrade.
At the time, there was a lot of opposition to his concept. Still, Mihajlo Mitrović kept his plans and presented his project in detail in front of all the commissions he was brought into. After he succeeded in all of this, the Western City Gate started been build in 1971.
During the construction, the tower kept being opposed. Even now, people are complaining about the aesthetic stain that the building imposes on Belgrade. Something that we completely disagree with.
The Western City Gate in Belgrade consists of two towers: the residential one is 30 floors, and the business has 26 floors. The bridge that you can see in the pictures here connects them to the 26th floor, but we don’t know why or how it was used. On top of it all, a revolving restaurant that never properly worked, which sounds like a waste of a great location!
As you all know by now, the Western City Gate was designed in a brutalist style. Still, it has some architectural elements of constructivism and structuralism as well. This happens because this is an example of the early period of brutalism in architecture. The architects were still exploring what it could be.
For many people, this is considered one of the best examples of brutalist architecture in Serbia. Also one of the key projects from the 1960s and 1970s in the world. If you are an architecture enthusiast, this is a must see.
Besides the concrete in the building, one of the exciting things that you can see when you visit the Western City Gate is a mural that decorates the residential tower entrance. It was painted back in 1979 by Lazar Vujaklija, and it is considered one of the first murals in Belgrade.
How to visit the Genex Tower in Belgrade
The building can be found in the area known as New Belgrade, at 41-43 Narodnih Heroja street. Since it sits in a corner next to the A3 Motorway, also known as the European route E75, it can be easily reached by car. But since we don’t drive and like to explore cities at a slow pace, we walked from the city centre until we reached the tower. We crossed the Sava River, saw some interesting looking buildings in New Belgrade and finally got to the Genex Tower.
We took a bus from Narodnih Heroja street on our way back, and we headed to the hotel we stayed. Two buses come by, 613 and 65, but we don’t know which one we took to get back to the city centre.
If you want to visit the Western City Gate, take a look at the map below and plan your way before going there since the building is a bit far from the city’s main tourist sights.
And if you’re interested to know how it’s to stay at the building, you should read this article here.
Western City Gate in Belgrade: Documenting an icon of Brutalism in Serbia
Narodnih heroja, RCC3+4X