Brutalism in Ruins: Explore One of the World’s Most Beautiful Abandoned Hotels

This classic example of midcentury modern architecture now stands crumbling on the Croatian island of Krk.

Paul Keskeys Paul Keskeys

Architects: Showcase your work and find the perfect materials for your next project through Architizer. Manufacturers: Sign up now to learn how you can get seen by the world’s top architecture firms.

Broken tiles and rogue plants line the curving walls of an empty swimming pool. The dusty timber boards of a bowling alley are strewn with debris. Sculpted concrete piers are stained gray, branded by unrelenting sea spray. Graffiti coats the walls of a derelict courtyard. Elevators stand frozen, their doors wedged open — out of order for eternity.

The Haludovo Palace Hotel, a classic example of brutalist architecture, now stands crumbling on the Croatian island of Krk. The development was a lavish pet project of Bob Guccione, founder of Penthouse magazine, who invested $45 million to create a luxury hotel and casino on the scenic shore of the Adriatic Sea. Opening in 1972 in Josip Broz Tito’s Yugoslavia, the resort was designed by Croatian architect Boris Magaš to attract Western tourists in search of a glamorous vacation destination.

Haludovo Palace Hotel in its glory days

and after; via Media Collective and Estudio Mimic.

The hotel’s architecture was designed to match the opulence of its program: striking, cantilevered canopies project out toward a pristine pool, while elegant columns with curved capitals support the former accommodation blocks. Inside, multiple lounging areas were integrated into the design, with indoor pools and a spa available to guests. No expense was spared, as Basement Geographer describes: “100 kg (224 lb) of lobster, five kg (11 lb) of caviar and hundreds of bottles of champagne were consumed each day by resort guests. Reportedly, one of the swimming pools was filled with champagne.”

The Haludovo’s casino hall has seen better days; via LA76.

A grand, triple-height hall housed the Adriatic Club casino, the centerpiece of the complex and intended as the main source of income for the resort. Unfortunately for Guccione, while Westerners enjoyed the luxurious amenities and stunning surroundings, they stayed away from the blackjack tables and roulette wheels. The money did not come rolling in as expected, and the casino was declared bankrupt in 1973, only one year after opening.

Derelict bowling alleys

The indoor pool, long bereft of water

Midcentury modern façades

Striking ceiling details on the hotel terrace

Magas’ distinctive style evokes visions of many icons of the profession, from Oscar Niemeyer to Eero Saarinen. Numerous contemporary projects have also incorporated details that recall the bold formal features of the Haludovo: the concrete cantilevers of Ensamble Studio’s Hemeroscopium House and the curving columns of Herzog and de Meuron’s Jade Signature hotel touch on the heady days of Magas’ era.

Staircase to the penthouse suite

A vandalized courtyard

The elevators, now frozen in time

Wonderful views across the Adriatic Sea

The hotel continued to operate without the Penthouse label for a further 20 years, before falling into a state of disrepair in the 1990s following the Croatian War of Independence. Now the realm of urban explorers and mischievous vandals, this forlorn structure stands as a wistful reminder of Guccione’s pursuit of hedonism in Eastern Europe.

Enjoy this article? Explore more aging icons of contemporary design in our ongoing series “Modern Relics”:

The Brutalist Ruins of Casa Sperimentale, Rome

The Postmodern Giants of Paris

The Abandoned Pavilions of Jinhua Architecture Park

Find all your architectural materials through Architizer: Click here to sign up now. Are you a manufacturer looking to connect with architects? Click here.

Photographs courtesy of Nate Robert’s Yomadic blog, unless otherwise stated.

Paul Keskeys Author: Paul Keskeys
Paul Keskeys is Editor in Chief at Architizer. An architect-trained editor, writer and content creator, Paul graduated from UCL and the University of Edinburgh, gaining an MArch in Architectural Design with distinction. Paul has spoken about the art of architecture and storytelling at many national industry events, including AIANY, NeoCon, KBIS, the Future NOW Symposium, the Young Architect Conference and NYCxDesign. As well as hundreds of editorial publications on Architizer, Paul has also had features published in Architectural Digest, PIN—UP Magazine, Archinect, Aesthetica Magazine and PUBLIC Journal.
Read more articles by Paul
© Keith MacDonald

Libeskind on Product Design and Falling In Love With Architecture Through Music

“To be honest, I fell in love with architecture through music,” said celebrated architec t Daniel Libeskind at Moroso in New York City on Friday evening. “I was a virtuoso on a very bizarre instrument: the accordion.” At this official launch event for his Gemma chair, which was previewed by Moroso last spring, Libeskind was interviewed…

Coming to America: Tom Rossau’s Lighting Hits the North American Market

One might wonder what motorcycles have in common with pendant lighting and conclude “very litt le.” But in the case of Danish designer Tom Rossau, the connection is, in a strange way, cause and effect. An avid motorcyclist, Rossau opened a biker apparel shop in the 1990s and created his own light fixtures for that space.…