The Avala Tower (Serbian: Авалски торањ / Avalski toranj) is a 204.5 m (671 ft) tall telecommunication tower located on Avala mountain in the periphery of Belgrade. It was destroyed in NATO bombardment of Serbia on 29 April 1999. On 21 December 2006, the reconstruction of Avala Tower commenced and the tower was officially opened at a ceremony on 21 April 2010. It is currently the tallest tower in Serbia and the Balkan region.
The tower was designed by architects Uglješa Bogdanović and Slobodan Janjić, and engineer Milan Krstić. Construction started on 14 October 1961 and was completed four years later in 1965. The tower weighed 4,000 tonnes (3,900 long tons; 4,400 short tons). Between 102 m (335 ft) and 135 m (443 ft), there was an enclosed observation deck. It was the only tower in the world to have an equilateral triangle as its cross section, and one of very few towers not perched directly into the ground, but standing on its legs. The legs formed a tripod, the symbol of Serbian tripod chair. Together with the CN Tower in Toronto, Canada, it is one of the small number of towers to be constructed in that manner.
The tower was surmounted by an antenna, which was at first used for black and white television transmission. In 1971 the antenna was replaced by a new one for color TV transmission.
From the height of 102 metres to a 135 metres there was an all glass area to which visitors could come via two quick lifts.
The project, which was of high risk, was finished without any worker injuries or deaths, which was unusual for a project of its size.
After completion, with the 202.87 meter height it was the fifth tallest self-supporting construction in the world, after Empire State Building, La Tour Eiffel, Chrysler Building and Grande Dixence Dam.
The Avala Tower was destroyed on 29 April 1999 by NATO bombardment. Previously the power supply had been destroyed, but a senior military officer installed an alternative generator. It is reasoned that the tower would not have been bought down if transmissions using the tower had not been resumed. The intent was to put Radio Television Serbia off the air; however the effect was not strong as Radio Television Serbia was relying on a network of local TV stations which were obliged to relay its programming throughout the whole of Serbia. The Avala Tower was a symbol of pride and a famous landmark, not only of Belgrade and Serbia, but of the former Yugoslavia too. The tower was one of the last buildings to be destroyed before the end of the NATO operation. A special bomb was used to destroy the tower. The blast was one of the loudest explosions heard throughout Belgrade during the NATO bombardment.
Rebuilding the new tower
In 2004, Radio Television Serbia commenced a series of fund-raising events in order to collect money to construct the building once again at the same place it was destroyed. In 2005, clearing of the site where the tower was destroyed began and on 21 December 2006 the construction of a new Avala Tower commenced. An agreement regarding its construction was signed by Dušan Basara, director of the construction sector of the Ratko Mitrović Company — which was in charge of the construction of the tower — and general director of RTS, Aleksandar Tijanić.
Initially, completion of the new tower was expected in August 2008, but construction works were severely delayed. The opening date was pushed back to 29 April 2009, the tenth anniversary of its destruction. Radio Television Serbia reported on 23 October 2009 that the tower had been completed.