Kupari is the oldest tourist place in Dubrovnik County and the most popular war ruins.
The Dalmatian trading company bought the property, the castle and the remains of the brick factory from the Dubrovnik patrician family Kaboga and sold them in 1919 to Czech entrepreneurs who had a ceramic tile factory nearby. They realized the tourist potential of this area and decided to build a hotel here. They were hindered by the First World War, but after it they continued with their plans and in 1921 the Kupari pension was opened, later named the Štrand hotel, created by the reconstruction of the complex of the former brick factory. In further renovations, it was completely demolished, in order to free the promenade by the sea.
The Grand Hotel Kupari, which was declared a cultural asset and the only one that will not be demolished in the future reconstruction, was built in 1924 and had electric lighting, a bowling alley, tennis and soccer fields, a post office, a pharmacy and an infirmary. At that time, it had everything that even the world's most luxurious hotels had. From the first hotel, each new one was an attractive architectural building with a wealth of tourist facilities, and the parks around the first hotels were arranged by top experts. Summer and winter tourism developed here. The hotel complex in Kupari already had a total of 320 registered beds in 1939, making it the resort with the largest capacity in the Dubrovnik area.
After World War II, Kupari became a military resort, one of the most exclusive in Europe, which is why it was called Tito's Hawaii. In the golden age, new hotels sprung up in which about a billion dollars were invested. The luxury military resort, which could only be accessed if someone in your family was a high-ranking military person, was actually an exclusive resort. The hotels were then nationalized, but Tito returned them to the Czechs a few years after the end of the war. However, they were not in business for long. After the split with Stalin, Kupari was taken away from the Czechs forever in 1947, and from March 1949, Kupari was declared a resort of national significance.
Being a military resort, foreigners were rare, unless they were very distinguished guests. And those were movie stars Yul Brynner, Elizabeth Taylor and her husband Richard Burton. That is why all the famous singers and bands from the Yugoslavian era often stayed and performed in Kupari and entertained the hotel guests.
The excellent architect David Finci from Sarajevo who worked in an architectural bureau in New York and was one of the best architects of that period, drew up a development plan for the entire area in which the construction of 7 buildings is planned. The Goričina Hotel was built in 1962, and Goričina 2 in 1968. The elegant Pelegrin Hotel was opened in 1963 and was a real architectural masterpiece of its time. With 500 beds, it was then the largest hotel on the Adriatic. The hotel is built with an atrium in the middle and open corridors, and the restaurant, through which you enter the atrium from the south side, is completely open and exposed to the mild mistral. The entire hotel was covered with white Brač stone, the floor in the atrium with granite, and some parts of the facade with blue stone lapis lazuli.
from 1966 to 1968, a residential area was built in Kupari, a complex intended for high-ranking officials, where even Josip Broz Tito stayed six times.It is about two residential villas and the Galeb hotel in a separate bay behind Pelegrin.1972-1980the second major modernization of Kupar begins, new facilities, an indoor Olympic swimming pool and a large ballroom, a bowling alley.
The new Kupari Hotel was opened in 1980 and nothing more was built until the Homeland War.
During the Homeland War, the entire complex was completely destroyed by the JNA. Although the hotels were already in bad condition after the war, the Croatian army continued to use them. In the early 2000s, when the Croatian army withdrew from Kuper, without the owners present, the complex began to deteriorate and became the site of the "theft of the century". The complex was abandoned forever, looted, remains of stone and marble, and everything useful were taken away, and numerous items such as furniture were stolen.
If there was will and desire, this complex could have been rebuilt after the war with a relatively small investment, but carelessness or some other dishonorable intentions stopped the Kupars in time, or set them back. Today we have what we have, ruins and a long concession given to foreign investors.
In the Kupari hotel-tourist complex, there are six completely destroyed and devastated hotels: Mladost, Grand, Goričina, Pelegrin, Kupari and Galeb and "Tito's Villa" which are awaiting reconstruction. The renovation of this hotel complex would restore and significantly strengthen the economy of Kupari and the entire Dubrovnik County.
Today, Kupari is a tourist attraction. If you like to explore abandoned places, then the bay of abandoned hotels in Kupari is a place you must visit. For all lovers of urban exploration, it is one of the day trips from Dubrovnik.
Today you can freely explore the area and see the remains of its former glory located in a beautiful bay.
In September 2022, the HBO film about the famous and legendary Vogue magazine war photographer Lee Miller, played by Oscar winner Kate Winslet, was filmed in Kupari at the Grand Hotel. Kupari - one of the most famous war ruins - at the same time a wartime tourist attraction for tourists and the shame of the Croatian state.
The start of work on the project was announced back in 2018. War ruins are no longer just a reminder of the war past, but a witness to the real investment climate in Croatia.