This abandoned mansion is located near the Hotel Albatros in Cavtat, Croatia. It was once a private residence, home to a local wealthy family but they left during the early days of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. It was later used as a school and was abandoned during the Yugoslav Wars in the 1990s. Similar abandoned mansions litter the Adriatic coast of the former Yugoslavia such as this one in Budva in neighbouring Montenegro.
Today’s Cavtat lies on the site of the old Greek settlement of Epidaurus that was founded around the 4th century BC. The Illyrians inhabited the area and called the city Zaptal. The Romans then took over in 228 BC and renamed it in Epidaurum. As a Roman colony, Epidaurum was highly developed and, according to some historians, had around 40,000 inhabitants in the 4th century AD. It was sacked by the Avars and Slavs and refugees fled to Laus Island and founded the new town – Ragusa, which overtime became the city of Dubrovnik, at the foot of Srd hill.
The town was rebuilt in the middle ages and came under the influence of the neighbouring Republic of Ragusa. It gained the name Cavtat from the latin Civitas Vetus meaning Old Town, a hint to its previous links to Dubrovnik.
It is assumed that the archaeological site near today’s Cavtat represents remains of the old Roman amphitheatre. There are many other reminders of the Roman rule, like remains of city walls, theatre, rustic villas, epigraphic monuments and tombs. Some legends mention Cavtat as the darling of the gods, nature and people. Other legend connects the name of Cavtat with the old Croatian verb “captiti”, which means “to flourish”.
The Republic of Ragusa gained its independence from the Republic of Venice in 1358 and remained as such for 450 years. It came under the protection of the Ottoman Empire in 1458 although it retained its independence. It was invaded by France in 1808 and merged into the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy, thus ending the republic. In 1810, it became part of the French Illyrian Provinces. Following Napoleon’s defeat in 1814 and the Congress of Vienna, the former Republic of Ragusa became part of the Kingdom of Dalmatia within Austria-Hungary.
At the end of World War I, the area around Cavtat and Dubrovnik became part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, later to be known as the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. After a short period as part of the Independent State of Croatia during World War II, it became part of the Socialist Republic of Croatia within the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Croatia declared its independence in 1991 and became embroiled in a bitter war which lasted until 1995.
The Adriatic coast between Dubrovnik and Cavtat has recovered since the war and tourism is booming, helped in part by Croatia’s membership of the EU and Dubrovnik serving as the filming location for Kings Landing in Game of Thrones.