15th Century Monastery in Croatia Restored and Opens as Hotel

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 less than 10 miles from the city of Dubrovnik, LOPUD-1483 opens on the northernmost tip of the car-free Croatian island of Lopud (in the Elaphiti islands). Constructed in 1483, this medieval fortified monastery has been 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 personalized holidays, symposiums or retreats. This property offers views over the Adriatic and its five suites are filled with rare pieces from the private art collection of the Thyssen-Bornemisza family. 

Restoring a Medieval Monastary

In her role as creative adviser, Thyssen-Bornemisza set about restoring the building, which had been left empty since 1822.  The monastery needed to be completely rebuilt, including the massive fortress that protects it. 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. An architect from Zagreb (Rujana Markovic from Studio Markovic), planned the new layout of the monastery to create five suites, instead of 12 small monk cells, updated with 21st-century technology and amenities.  

Living Like an Art Collector

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 the entrance of the property, one is greeted by two wood carved angels that used to grace the entrance of Villa Favorita museum. 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 favorite pieces in the collection: A Franco Maria Pretti painting of the liberation of St Peter, which is dated 1645. 

Ancient Medicinal Gardens

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 specialized 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. This discovery also led to the recreation of a medicinal herb garden, with 80 plant species.   

For those who prefer just to take in the sea views or to practice yoga, 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, plus views from loungers and shaded four-poster daybeds.  

Local wine and food is on offer, using traditional recipes and Croatian ingredients, such as oysters from nearby bays, Dalmatian ham, locally caught fish and octopus. Meals will be served outdoors, in the formal dining room or Old Kitchen, with its 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. 

Getting there: The island of Lopud can be reached via public ferry from Dubrovnik in less than an hour. It is also accessible by speedboat from Brsečine, a small village on the mainland about 40 minutes by car from Dubrovnik Airport.

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