The Avala Tower (Serbian: Авалски торањ / Avalski toranj) is a 204.5 m (671 ft) tall telecommunications tower located on Mount Avala, in Belgrade. The original tower was finished in 1965, but was destroyed on 23 April 1999, during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. The tower’s reconstruction commenced on 21 December 2006 and it was officially opened on 21 April 2010. It is currently the tallest tower in the Balkans.
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. 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 m (666 ft) 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 to the station was destroyed, but a senior military officer installed a backup generator. The intent of the bombing was to put Radio Television Serbia (RTS) permanently off the air for the duration of the war; however RTS was relayed on a network of local TV stations which relayed 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.
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. Many fund-raising events have been held for the collection of funds so a new tower can be constructed. One of the first was a match between Serbian grand slam-winning tennis players Ana Ivanovic and Novak Djokovic. All the proceeds went to the Avala Tower fund. Ceca Ražnatović (a Serbian folk singer) held a concert on 15 June 2006, with all the proceeds going to the Avala Tower fund. Radio Television Serbia ran commercials for donations to rebuild the tower. According to a December 2006 report, when it was announced that the construction of a new Avala Tower would commence that same month, over €1 million was collected through fund-raising and donations.
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.
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