“Take Nothing But Photos, Leave Nothing But Footprints”
Hanging out with locals can open your eyes to things that are not so popular with tourists. Well, we took one step more and decided to visit places that are not popular even with the locals – Yep, that s right – Swanky Travel is taking you to forgotten heritage of Croatia.
We always encourage people to explore more and often it leads them to something they never knew existed.
Abandoned buildings, tunnels, underground bunkers, military bases and much more, hidden from plain sight – it’s all part of urban exploration which is the base of our project Destination Urban
Urban explorers find beauty and significance in the dust and ruins of once functioning and often important locations. Think about it – who decides which doors to close and which to open. For all of us there is a deep attraction to mysterious places – but not only because of the place itself, but because of the story behind it.
So, you don ́t have to jump out of plane, climb a mountain or go swimming with sharks to feel the adrenaline and get kicked out of your comfort zone – you can experience another kind of adventure – urbex. Believe me – there is always something waiting to be discovered.
Because of its turbulent history, Croatia is a perfect place to find the lost heritage reminding us of different times. Considering that Yugoslavia was a very rich and powerful country the sites are unbelievable and it is no wonder they leave us thinking and wanting to know more. For me, visiting abandoned places is a way of learning because often times those are not the stories we have learned in school or can read about in history books.
In order to go and explore most of the time you only need some research, good shoes, a lamp and someone to go with you (me, pick me…)
My favorite kind are actually 3 types of urbex sites:
- Underground military facilities
- Abandoned hospitals
UNDERGROUND MILITARY FACILITIES
The absolute winner in this category is Željava – the biggest and most expensive ex- Yugoslavia military project.
It is an underground airbase located on the border between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina inside of Plješevica Mountain. Less known by its code-name – “Object 505” – it was the biggest airport and military airbase of the former country, and one of the largest in Europe. Construction began in 1948 and was completed in 1968 as a top secret. Until the Croatian Homeland War in 1991 it was functioning but was unfortunately destroyed by 50 tons of explosive – nevertheless, it still stands since it was originally built to sustain a hit from a 20-kiloton nuclear bomb, equivalent to that dropped on Nagasaki.
My favorite is the never-finished University Hospital about 30 min from the strict center of Zagreb. It is one of the largest buildings in the city but unfortunately, completely forgotten and abandoned.
The construction began in 1985 by investing the money coming voluntarily from the citizens of Zagreb but in 1990 it stopped because of the bad financial and political situation in the country after which came the Homeland war.
This masterpiece would be built to withstand a magnitude 9 earthquake according to Richter scale and it was supposed to have more than a 1000 beds, amphitheater conference and lecture halls, several surgery rooms and up to 4,000 employees. But one man’s trash is another man’s treasure – architecture, the size, numerous graffities and a rooftop with one of the best viewpoints in the city are the reasons to explore it.
Better known as „Spomeniks “, this „butchered “Croatian word just means monuments but among urbex, history and alternative architecture fans it represents a special kind of them. Scattered around the Balkan area they are waiting for rare visitors. Built from the 1950s-1990s during ex-Yugoslavia with the purpose to honor people’s resistance and suffer during the WW2. Their role was to show the strength, power and bravery but also to educate and promote “brotherhood and unity “among people. All of them look a bit „out of this world “, coming in all shapes and sizes – anything forms a 15-story building to the ones smaller than a car, all surrounded by nature and some have a kind of open arena around them that would serve for gatherings.
Time, nature and people have done its part so many of them are destroyed, decaying, or just in a rough shape but needless to say that because of their specific looks, they attract many fields of interests so they served as movie or video sets, great photography locations, tourist visits, architectural studies and much more…
I think I caught your attention well enough so the only logical thing to do next would be to book one of the urbex tours: