Currently uninhabited, the island of Mamula is known for its chilling history as a World War II concentration camp. Located along the border between Montenegro and Croatia in the Adriatic Sea, the island is home to a now-abandoned fort that was once used by the Italian army to keep prisoners locked up. In what can only be regarded as a surprising turn of events, the Montenegrin government recently approved a proposal to transfigure this grim stone structure into a stunning luxury resort.
Built back in 1853 during the Austro-Hungarian rule, the fort was later turned into a concentration camp, under the reign of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. In the Second World War, it housed prisoners caught from neighboring regions, by members of the Italian army. Starting from May 1942, many of the inmates were tortured and starved for several years, until the fort was altogether deserted some decades later. Mamula was recently placed under a 49-year-long lease deal with Orascom Development Holding AG, a Switzerland-based company that has received the government’s approval for the rather unusual redevelopment project.
Set in the midst of a picturesque landscape, the fort will be refurbished into a beach resort, complete with guest rooms, a well-equipped indoor restaurant and a spectacular dining space on the rotund terrace. Over 90-percent of the island is taken up by the fort. As the developers point out, the remaining area will likely house a marina and private beach, centered around an expansive pool for watersports enthusiasts. The building’s upper deck will feature several pool decks, and other amenities.
Although innovative in its own way, the redevelopment plan has met with substantial protest from those who were once incarcerated here, and also their family members. According to them, turning such a place, which bears horrific evidence of wartime cruelty, into a holiday spot for the rich is a tad bit heartless. What is truly ironic is the fact that the developers are actually required to preserve as much of the original structure, along with the inscriptions on the walls, as possible.
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