Introducing LOPUD-1483, Croatia - opening this summer
A unique 15th century monastery meticulously restored over the last twenty years opens this summer on the Croatian island of Lopud. Available to rent exclusively from July – September 2020 and per suite in the Autumn and Spring.
For the first time this summer, guests will be able to sleep within the ramparts of a 15th century monastic complex, once home to Franciscan monks. Located only seven miles from the city of Dubrovnik, LOPUD-1483 opens on the northernmost tip of the car-free Croatian island of Lopud, in the heart of the Elaphiti islands. Constructed in 1483 as a cloistered sanctuary for quiet contemplation and healing, this medieval fortified monastery has been sensitively restored in order to retain its integrity and authentic feeling over the last 20 years, under the guidance of Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza.
LOPUD-1483 will now open its doors to guests on a three-day minimum stay, for personalised holidays, symposiums or retreats. This special property offers the perfect balance between contemporary comforts of a modern home, within an authentic historical setting, complete with splendid views over the Adriatic and its numerous islands. The five unique suites are filled with rare pieces from the private art collection of the Thyssen-Bornemisza family.
The 5,000 square foot monastery complex offers complete privacy and security as it is surrounded on all sides by an impressive fortification, crowned by a renaissance fortress reminiscent of a Game of Thrones set, that doubles up as an event venue. The delightful garden is set on numerous terraces and is planted with over 80 species of plants, inspired by the Franciscan monks’ traditional knowledge of medicinal plants. LOPUD-1483 is set to welcome guests from June to September as an exclusive-use property and then available per suite in May and October.
RESTORING A MEDIEVAL MASTERPIECE
The concept for this exclusive location is a testimony of dedication and generosity of London-based art-lover, Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza – who is the fourth generation in a long line of collectors. She first went to Croatia in 1992, to help to rescue artworks damaged in the war after the break-up of the Balkans. She spent ten years working tirelessly with the local authorities for the restoration of the “Golden Age” renaissance treasures of the churches there. When a local friar, Father Pio Mario, took her on a boat trip around the island of Lopud, she spotted the ruins of the monastery and adjoining 16th-century fortress, which she fell in love with there and then. She couldn’t believe that such an architectural marvel had been neglected for so long because it still maintained a spiritual resonance. Her second trip to visit was with Frank Gehry who suggested she take on the restoration, but to take her time, which she did.
In her role as Creative Adviser, Thyssen-Bornemisza set about restoring the building, which had been left empty since 1822. The fortified monastery needed to be completely rebuilt, including the massive fortress that protects it. Miraculously, some of the original plaster from the 16th century had survived, making Thyssen-Bornemisza realise how important it was to retain as much of the building’s authenticity as possible. The consolidation of the structure was completed by engineers from Karlsruhe, which gave it back structure without losing the patina of the walls – an architectural feat in itself. A brilliant young architect from Zagreb, Rujana Markovic (from Studio Markovic), planned the new layout of the monastery to create five generous suites, instead of 12 small monk cells, updated with 21st Century technology and amenities. There is now a clear difference between the original structures that have been kept truly authentic and the new, modern design touches.
A LIVING ART GALLERY
Behind the cloistered walls of LOPUD-1483, guests will be able to live in the manner of great art collectors. Over four generations, the Thyssen-Bornemisza family has amassed an impressive collection that spans between the 13th up until the 21st centuries and was said to be the largest collection after the Queen of England’s. Many of its most important works are housed today in the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum, opposite the Prado in Madrid. The selection of works housed in the Monastery includes original renaissance and gothic furniture as well as decorative arts and paintings, most of which adorned the Baron’s home in the Villa Favorita in Lugano and are being presented for the first time in decades. The whole experience is designed to offer guests the opportunity to “live like a collector”, in a style that is reminiscent of the taste and culture that has spread over generations of this extraordinary family of philanthropists.
The contemporary feel was achieved in collaboration with the celebrated Italian designer Paula Lenti and the Zagreb based architect Rujana Markovic, alongside a number of contemporary art works from TBA21, Francesca’s own contemporary art collection. The combination of these with the original renaissance works and setting is what gives this place such unique character. It’s the culmination of three generations of collecting and taste.
In the entrance of the property, one is greeted by two extraordinary wood carved angels that used to grace the entrance of Villa Favorita museum. They set a tone to the guest experience which is about to unfold. The heavy walnut dining table in the old refectory dates from 1550 and was used by Thyssen-Bornemisza’s father in his home for dinner parties. It is surrounded by walnut leather chairs, made in Dresden in the early 18th century. An early 1600’s masterpiece by Furini of St Sebastian hangs above it, alongside a cabinet holding precious Renaissance mugs, chalices and decorative bowls collected by her grandfather. Also found in the dining room is one of Thyssen-Bornemisza’s favourite pieces in the collection – a superb Franco Maria Pretti painting of the liberation of St Peter, which is dated 1645. In the salon, some gothic chests offer a powerful presence in contrast of the minimalist contemporary furniture of Paula Lenti and a 16th century tapestry of a king in his extraordinary garden who was as dedicated to collecting rare species of flowers. This competes for attention with an impressive Thomas Struth photograph of the Raffaelo chambers in the Vatican.
ANCIENT MEDICINAL GARDENS
The Monastery, originally a centre of contemplation and prayer, still holds the same healing qualities today. During the restoration, Thyssen-Bornemisza discovered an old pharmacy that dates back to the Renaissance and researched the libraries in Dubrovnik for original manuscripts on medicinal plants. The Franciscan Monks specialised in creating medicines and their pharmacy in Dubrovnik dates back to 1317. She decided to recreate the old Pharmacy in the monetary, including some original 15th and 16th century manuscripts and Mortars. Locals still produce creams using some of these ancient recipes today.
This discovery also led to the recreation of a medicinal herb garden and a sacred garden, featuring 80 plant species. They are designed to respect the ethos of St Francis of Assisi, who visited Dalmatia en-route to Syria in 1212 and inspired the creation of Franciscan monasteries in the region. Beds are planted with herbs that the monks would have used to brew tinctures.
The garden was restored with attention to renaissance garden design. Between the monastery and sea, wide lawns have been created, dotted with olive and lemon trees and intersected by gravel path and a long pergola. The Arctic shaman Asa Andersson has further embraced the monastery’s history, while paying homage to its roots as a place of spirituality and healing. The sacred garden – with nine stations in energetically charged places and beds of healing botanicals – is a place in which guests can meditate on a soulful mini-pilgrimage, that will help them to align with the natural energy of their surroundings and its harmonious nature. In the evening, particularly after a light rain, the smells of the herb garden are intoxicating.
For those who prefer just to lie and soak in the sea views, or to practise yoga in the morning with the sea pounding on the rocks below, a wooden deck has been set into the lawns and scattered with Paola Lenti beanbag loungers. Above the monastery, on the rooftop of the fortress, a Sunset Terrace has been created. It offers direct sea access via a secret underground cave, spectacular views from loungers and shaded four-poster daybeds of Lopud’s little village and coastal paths, as well as the neighbouring islands of Šipan and Mljet and on a clear day, Korčula – the reputed birthplace of Marco Polo.
Delicious local wine and food is on offer, created by world-class chefs, using traditional recipes and Croatian ingredients such as oysters from nearby bays, Dalmatian ham, locally caught fish and octopus. Meals will be served outdoors or in the formal dining room or Old Kitchen, with its ancient open fireplace and bread oven, which is still used to make fresh pizzas. From there, one can enter a secret underground cave that leads directly to the sea – the same one used by the monks themselves to have a private swim away from the curiosity of the beach goers of the island
A PLACE FOR CREATIVE INTERCHANGE AND JOYFUL GATHERINGS
The spiritual energy of this ancient site is ideal for productive thinking and cultural exchange. Since 2005, during the restoration process, Thyssen-Bornemisza and her contemporary art Foundation TBA21, has invited over 200 artists including luminaries from the international art scene together for informal exchange and debate. Olafur Eliasson and David Adjaye, who created the art pavilion on the island “Your Black Horizon”, kicked of this seasonal exchange with other art luminaires such as Hans Ulrich Obrist, Sam Keller, Steffan Arenberg, Mark Wigley, Cereth Whyn Evans, Superflex, Ragnar Kjartensson, dub poet Lynton Kwesi Johnson and the performance artist Peaches.
Groups can take over a multi-purpose indoor space within the monastery named ‘The Map Room’, which is appointed with high tech audio and visual equipment available for conferences for up to 30 people. The space can also be transformed into a dedicated children’s area, private cinema room or for a yoga and therapy retreat. The 400 sqm Fortress towers across the entire complex and provides an incredible al fresco rustic event space, complete with a high-end projector and sound system, with the ability to host parties for up to 250 people. There are two bars – one of which is on the rooftop and is ideal for yoga lessons or sunset cocktails. An onsite kitchen can cater for up to 60-80 people and separate toilet facilities are also within the site. There are discreet hiding places designed for those who wish to escape even the most private of gatherings. LOPUD-1483 is a place that encourages togetherness, whilst also providing for solitude and silence.
LOPUD – AN ISLAND OF NATURAL BEAUTY
Dating back to the Renaissance period, Lopud Island, the second largest of the Elaphiti islands, is situated between Koločep and Šipan. Historically, many of the boats used in the Spanish Armada were built on this island. All buildings apart from one modern hotel on the opposite side of the bay, all date back to the renaissance times. Old Villas, small palaces, numerous chapels, and ancient farmhouses dot the hills behind the Monastery, lending themselves to the authenticity of the whole island, which is planted up with orange, lemon and olive trees. Today, it is feted for its sandy beaches and quiet pace of life. The island’s natural beauty is preserved by its car free policy and visitors can follow the island paths through lush vegetation either by foot or bicycles. Kayaks are also available to hire to navigate the clear waters.
The natural beauty of the island – susceptible to the changing elements of the winds, currents, light and the night sky, are reminiscent of Shakespeare’s Illyria in Twelfth Night. The sunsets on Lopud are extraordinary, from clear skies to stormy days. The view from the monastery is undisturbed except for some islands in the distance. The evening light is golden, so much so that Olafur Eliasson created a light piece that TBA21 commissioned him to produce in 2005. It was moved from Venice where it was premiered at the Bienniale to Lopud in 2007. The sunset colours in the work mimic the ones outside exactly. The Pavilion that houses the work was designed by David Adjaye and is a ten-minute walk from the property. It is open to the public all summer and can be opened after hours to guests of LOPUD-1483.
HOW: LOPUD-1483 is available for exclusive hire from July – September 2020. Rates for all five suites, sleeping 10 guests, from €10,000 (approx. £9,040) per night on a B&B basis.
In May and October, individual suites will be available to book from €1,400 (approx. £1,265) per night on a B&B basis. For more information, please contact: [email protected].
GETTING THERE: The island of Lopud can be reached via public ferry from Dubrovnik in less than an hour. A full timetable of the daily ferry schedule is available here. It is also accessible by speedboat from Brsečine, a small village on the mainland about 40 minutes by car from Dubrovnik Airport.
www.lopud1483.com / @lopud.1483