Spring is the ideal time to visit the Plitvice region and it was just a weekend before Easter that we headed north to do some exploring. One of the places we wanted to see for a while now was Tito’s villa Izvor within Plitvice National Park.
Reaching the Villa
If you follow the signs for the newly constructed “Fenomen Plitvice” hotel and continue for about 10 minutes to the road’s end, you’ll find the villa. Despite Tito only staying here on three occasions, guards heavily protected the place. Nearby, a series of auxiliary buildings exist. Some sources suggest these buildings connect to the villa through an 80-meter-long underground tunnel, intended as a safe passage in case of an attack. During our visit, we didn’t search for the tunnel. The villa alone, with its captivating beauty, made the trip worthwhile.
During the years 1948 to 1953, hundreds of WWII prisoners tirelessly constructed the villa. Intriguingly, people often refer to this building as “Object 99.” This name stems from the widespread belief that 99 individuals lost their lives during its construction. However, no concrete evidence supports this claim. On the other hand, some sources suggest that the name refers to the 99 workers who took part in building it. Despite these theories, the real story behind this number remains a mystery. Spearheading the design of this structure were the architectural minds of Rikard Marasović and Zvonimir Marohnić.
Before all this, and even before the outbreak of WWII, back in 1928, the government of the Kingdom of SHS had ambitious plans. They intended to erect 3-4 castles in the vicinity, drawing inspiration from both Swiss and local architectural styles.
As mentioned, Tito rarely visited the residence. He was more present at the Brijuni National Park and hunting in Bosnia and Baranja region. This object served as a government building to be used by local politicians all the way until the 1980s when it was taken over by Plitvice National Park.
Here are some images from the official NP Plitvice web site:
The Yugoslav Wars begun in the early 1990s. The area of Plitvice Lakes was one of the first areas to be hit by the military actions of rebel Serbs even using this villa as their headquarters.
The destruction came after the war when the property was left abandoned.
Most of the items were looted after the war as the villa was not guarded, similarly to hundreds of other objects left from Yugoslavia. Almost all abandoned military installations were scrapped by the Romani people or locals.
I had a few similar stories in the past and here is one of them:
Nothing was considered sacred and nothing was left untouched. No one can understand why the government left all these valuable objects to get destroyed. After all, it belongs to the Croatian people and can be put to great use. Or sold.
Villa is great for us who love abandoned buildings and it is easy to explore. However, one has to be careful as some parts of the building are collapsing. The property is in bad shape.
Someone even tried to remove the stone steps…
Rooms were also stripped of everything valuable a long time ago and even some wooden material was taken. Complete devastation.
I also went to see the kitchen installations on the ground floor that were the most interesting parts of the building for me. Really a special spot!
Afterwards, we stepped outside to check out the inner courtyard. There are A LOT of brown mice running around, hiding in the ruin.
One can get to the wonderful panorama point overlooking a stream way bellow the cliff. Woods are everywhere around.
This villa serves as a stark reminder of Croatia’s failure to preserve its rich cultural heritage. In light of this, Chinese investors recently recognized the potential of this architectural gem and swiftly bought it with ambitious plans in mind. Their primary aim is to turn this historic structure into a luxurious 5-star hotel, seamlessly merging modern amenities with its timeless charm. While we remain uncertain about the exact timeline for this transformation, there are those who are privy to the details. Given this, many are optimistic and hope that the upcoming project will not only revitalize the villa but also honor its historical significance. In doing so, they aim to ensure this unique monument regains its full splendor.