Villa Scheherazade in Dubrovnik

When you leave the Old Town through the eastern gate Ploče, and walk past the quarantine buildings called Lazareti towards hotels Excelsior and Argentina in the middle of Ploče quarter, you will come across the architectural jewel atypical for the region for its oriental appearance. It is Villa Scheherazade, an odd but beautiful building surrounded by the gorgeous garden at the beginning of Vlaho Bukovac Street.

The history of the villa starts with its first owner and builder, a super rich Hebrew banker from Latvia named Zimdin, who escaped prior to October Revolution and settled in Dubrovnik for a while. He fell in love with Dubrovnik and started grandiose construction plans and works. The villa was planned for him and his mysterious lover who he called Scheherazade, thus giving the building its name it would retain to this very day.

The project was a work of architect Alfred Keller who implemented all sorts of styles in its design: from neo-Renaissance to neo-Baroque, from Austrian Secession to Moorish style , and materials: stone and concrete to create seaside pools, benches, ponds, fountains and the bright turquoise dome that shocked the residents of the city at the end of the 1920s when the construction was completed.

The luxurious furniture and inventory came from all parts of the world; the bathroom was purchased in the States, while the organs arrived from St Petersburg. However, Zimdin never enjoyed this love nest with his Moorish belle, but left the city with his wife by the end of the decade.

The construction works were supervised by his trustee, a former Imperial Russian Army general, who guarded the villa after its completion. After World War II the villa was turned into the seat of the Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia. Soon after it was given to president Tito, but he never spent a day in it either. Later it was given to Hotel Argentina.

In the 1970s, the villa hosted the most famous guests in its history, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, who turned it into their love nest for two months. In the decades that follow, the villa was robbed of its luxurious furniture and fell into decay. In its most recent history, as part of Hotel Argentina, the villa has been renovated to accommodate the wealthy elite visiting Dubrovnik.

 

 

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