FolkestoneJack's Tracks

House of Flowers

Posted in Beograd, Serbia by folkestonejack on October 15, 2011

After managing to master just enough Serbian to buy some tickets from a kiosk, I boarded trolleybus 41 for the relatively short journey to the May 25th complex which takes its name from the birth date of its longtime resident – Tito.

At one time the complex included a number of museums, the mausoleum and access to Tito’s presidential home. However, today there are only three buildings that you can visit and the complex itself seems to be undergoing something of an evolution. The three remaining buildings in the complex are the Museum of Yugoslavian History, the House of Flowers (Tito’s mausoleum) and the Old museum.

The Museum of Yugoslavian History seemed to be closed for renovation when I visited with workmen hanging out of the windows and busy painting interior walls. The guidebooks say that some of the few pieces of Tito memorabilia to have survived – his state cars – could still be seen in the foyer here, but today all that you could see were stacks of cement bags!

A little to the left of this building lies the gateway to the mausoleum (cost of entry: 200 dinars) which is a short walk beyond this point along a route designed for crowd control (a problem they no longer have if my visit was anything to go by).

The mausoleum doesn’t have the dramatic effect of entering Lenin’s tomb in Moscow but is nevertheless fascinating in its relative simplicity. Tito lies under a plain marble slab in the centre of a conservatory. The guidebooks say that the building’s title, the House of Flowers, was taken from the flowers that used to be displayed all around the slab but today this space has largely been filled in with white gravel stones and tropical plants.

There are two exhibitions in the wings to either side of the central courtyard at the moment – one displays some of the gifts to the Yugoslav nation as founders of the movement of unaligned countries whilst the other focuses on the annual youth relay races.

It has to be said that a visit to Tito’s mausoleum doesn’t have much street cred! I got a look of bemusement when I mentioned that I had been there whilst talking to Belgraders later in the day and some admitted that they had never seen the place themselves (one explanation proferred was that Tito was a Croat).

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