The Casualties of War: The Hotel Belvedere in Dubrovnik, Croatia


In the lobby of our hostel within the walls of old Dubronik, we sat with new friends over wine. One backpacker whispered of an abandoned hotel where a traveler he met had found an intact wine cellar and undetonated grenades. It was decided that the next day, a few intrepid would go search for it. Nobody knew where it was — all we knew was that outside the city walls, we needed to follow the main road along the harbor.

About halfway there, we could see the ruins across the bay. The Hotel Belvedere was a 5-star luxury hotel destroyed in 1991 during an attack by Serbian forces on the city of Dubrovnik during the Croatian War of Independence. The hotel was only six years old – the cornerstone we found had the year 1985 etched in. During the course of the multi-month siege, significant damage was done to the old city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The old city, which was cut off from electricity and water, was host to 55,000 Croatian refugees while dozens had taken shelter inside the Hotel Belvedere. The siege of Dubrovnik is regarded as the turning point of international opinion against Serbia.

Not much has been done with this grand luxury complex since then. It is sometimes used for large unofficial raves and more often used for graffiti and dog-walking. Nonetheless, a noose and the large amount of neo-Nazi/White Power graffiti made for some creepy exploration.

The mixed paint, debris, rock graffiti spelled “BALKANIC,” making use one of the side pools.

Whimsical Banksy-ish graffiti on the walls

There are several distinct sections to the hotel and it takes hours to explore. In photographs, it’s difficult to convey the sheer size of the complex.

Note the cruise ship peeking in from behind the building – I bet most of the cruisers don’t even notice this immense ruin.

The further you go up into the hotel rooms, the darker it gets. Most of the rooms are filled with debris and shattered glass, but standing on the balconies with the Mediterranean sun and the views of the turquoise sea, you could still get a sense of the once luxurious accommodations.

In the depths, we found china embossed with the Hotel Belvedere logo, unopened packs of notepad paper and laundry bags. What we didn’t find were the grenades and wine cellar, likely the stuff of urban legends.

Hotel Belvedere notepads, intact and in their original packaging

Bills with the hotel logo. Note that they are in dinara, the old Yugoslavian currency. And for some reason they’re dated 1938/85.

This dock once serviced the resort and next to it is an exterior, glass elevator which gave people a view of the water as they moved from the water’s edge up to the main resort.

We guessed that the wine cellar might be below this potential cafe/restaurant area but we came up empty.

To get to the Hotel Belvedere, walk southeast from the old city of Dubrovnik along the coast. Be sure to explore some of the winding staircases that take you down to the water as a detour:

You can get a glimpse of the Hotel Belvedere just around this bend.

This post by Michelle Young originally appeared on Untapped Cities, a Flavorwire partner site.