Tuesday, 12 July 2011

The Hotel Belvedere

Hotel Belvedereexploring

Visiting the Hotel Belvedere* was one of the most eye-opening experiences of our trip to Croatia. The hotel was devastated during the 1991 Siege of Dubrovnik and though the basic structure remains intact, the windows are without glass, the swimming pool without water and the building now utterly deserted. I possessed only a vague notion of the conflict that led to its destruction - which I now understand was called the Croatian War of Independence - before visiting yet the experience was far more informative than a museum. The war museum we visited presented only propaganda and anti-Yugoslav language; the bombed out hotel, however, was haunting and sincere in the truths it portrayed. Wandering through the vast concrete hollow and navigating the crumbling spiral staircases, the futility of violence seemed more apparent than ever.

Hotel Belvedere amphitheatre

The shattered teacups littering the floor, the hotel notelets trodden underfoot and the shards of glass on every surface conveyed the horrors of war in a way I have never experienced before. What shook me so much was how calm the place was, eerie in its silence, only the gentle lapping of the Adriatic against the shore in the distance. I could hardly imagine how anyone could bear to attack such a beautiful place - and in my lifetime too. I often forget, cocooned in tranquil England, the world's more recent violent history. It seems somehow appropriate that the building has been left untouched, an unadorned and honest tribute to the country's tragic past.

discarded hotel notecards

*The Hotel Belvedere was one of Dubrovnik's most exclusive hotels, popular with film stars and the affluent, and enjoyed its heyday in the 1950s. It sits just outside of the city, its fifteen storeys cascading down the cliff and looking west to the Old Town. The hotel suffered severe damage during a 1991 naval bombing and has been abandoned ever since.


  1. Goodness it looks so haunting. You write so beautifully about it.

  2. I can imagine how anyone can bear such an attack to a beautiful place - and also in my life. I often forget enjoy the quiet in England and history of the world's most violent years.

    Hotel cabo frio

  3. These photos really capture both the eerie tranquility and raw tragedy of the Hotel Belvedere. A few years back I read a book dealing with the Balkan crises in the '90s. How far away yet ever close I felt to the words on the pages - far away because I was so young when it was all unfolding and so close because of how recent it really was.

  4. Hey! thanks for checking out my blog :)
    I love the name of yours; and I really love the pictures in this post, they look fantastic in black and white.

  5. hey, the hotel was opened in 1984! there are no 1950's heydays ;)


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