We were at dinner at the house in Plitvice Lakes when the British couple I mentioned in the last post told us about a visit they made to an old abandoned villa once owned by former President of Yugoslavia, Josep Broz Tito. They said it is really something to see and not many people know about it.
I didn’t know much about Tito before I came to Croatia but from the research I’ve done, he was a man of the world. Dude had an impressive resume, which I won’t bore you with. Tito was said to be the creator of Yugoslavia and the last great surviving leader of WWII. Talk to the people of Croatia and they will tell you that Tito is considered a great leader even though he was communist and that is totally not en vogue anymore.
When I saw Tito’s picture I noticed he looks fierce and angry. I am sure he had a softer side.
So, of course, we had to go see this abandoned presidential retreat commissioned and built for Tito! On our way out of Plitvice we took a detour over a small wooden bridge for three miles that dead ended at Vila Izvo.
I was feeling pretty brave about going inside and exploring every nook and cranny of the abandoned house before I saw it. When we pulled up to it, I got the shivers and wondered if I even wanted to step inside. It was the definition of creepy.
Not only is it completely remote out there at this abandoned castle, it is in the woods where there are bears and all kinds of animals that Tito and his compadres used to hunt.
We were astounded. This would never happen in America. Can you imagine a President of the United States having a spectacular retreat built in the woods just to have it left to rot and get looted by locals?
I would liken Vila Izvo to Camp David in America. Like Camp David, Vila Izvo was built as a vacation retreat specifically for the president and his political guests. Camp David has the Hickory Lodge on the property which features a bowling alley, movie theater, restaurant/bar, game room, and library. The Vila had cinema rooms and an old 35-milimetre cinema projector, a one-alley bowling alley, and a snooker room.
We walked inside and it was absolutely still and quiet except for the dripping of leaking water from rotting roofs. Graffiti covered the walls to use political statements. For example, “Never Forget Srebrenica” referring to the genocide in the Bosnian War. The marble stars which you could imagine was magnificent back in the day, is now chipped and chiseled away by looters.
My favorite part of the house was the shape, a semi-circle, and the incredible number of windows looking out into the forest. The architecture was something to be emulated.
A local banker offered to renovate Tito’s house at an estimated $50 million price tag, but the government turned it down.
Chris and I looked all over the Internet for pictures of Vila Izvo when it was in it’s prime, untouched by nature and civilization, but we could not find a single picture. It’s amazing to think something that was once so special and lovely is now lifeless and in shambles.
Until next time, the mothership is signing off.