The Dark Side of Croatia’s Tourism Boom

Hotel Panorama/Motel Sljeme

Perched on a hill overlooking the city of Rijeka, Hotel Panorama looks like it was once an attractive, modernist building, like a stylish mid-century home in the hills of L.A. The hotel was finished in 1965, and Ivo Vitic was the architect. It’s often referred to by its original name, Motel Sljeme.

Hotel Panorama/Motel Sljeme is included in the Motel Trogir project, meaning the team behind the project and campaign is hoping to add Motel Sljeme to the registry of protected cultural monuments alongside Motel Trogir.

The site itself has a tragic history. From 1969 to 1977, there was a race track next to the hotel. It hosted important motorsports events, but had a reputation for being extremely dangerous. In 1977, two race car drivers died on the track, and it was closed.

The hotel stuck around a little longer, but is currently on the verge of collapse. Parts of the ceiling have fallen in. But Drazen Srdoc, “the most famous Croatian motorcyclist”, according to Novi List, has an idea about what to do with the deteriorating hotel. Given its history, Srdoc thinks it should be turned into a museum for Croatian motorsports. Honda has even pledged its support for the proposal, saying it will contribute resources to the museum and open a new Honda dealership in Rijeka. But the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, which has owned the defunct hotel for the last 20 years, is vehemently opposed to the idea. Some suspect the chamber is just waiting for a “better” offer to come along — one more personally lucrative for its members.

Next Page: Hotel Ucka

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Lily Lynch

Lily is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Balkanist Magazine. She lives in Belgrade, Serbia.