We just returned from confession and guess what? Our priest slipped us a secret we thought a sin not to share: opening for the first time since its desertion in 1822, Lopud 1483, a medieval monastery turned art world hideaway on the Croatian island of Lopud is finally welcoming guests again – and what a welcome it is!
Constructed in 1483 (if the name didn’t give it away) and overhauled by Zagreb-based architect Rujana Markovic and Italian designer Paula Lenti, the monastery has emerged from a careful twenty-year restoration effort led by none other than Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza of, well, Thyssen-Bornemisza fame. We’re told the art collector first came across the then derelict complex in the 90s and recognised its potential as a new melting pot for lovers of all things art and, more generally, the art of living – the latter of which we’re devout believers in.
As far as stats go, the monastery comprises of a total of five suites filled right up to the ceiling with original pieces from the Thyssen-Bornemisza family’s private collection. The cultural elite vacationing here will be able to rejoice in the artworks’ presence in complete peace, as an imposing fortification shields the 5,000 square foot property from the rest of Lopud – not that a car-free island whose hilly terrain is dotted with chapels, farmhouses and the occasional villa ranks as particularly unpleasant in our book.
Should you tire of playing collector eventually (sacrilege!), the monastery’s cloisters hold more surprises, still: embark on a medicinal pilgrimage to the in-house renovated pharmacy, equipped with original Franciscan monk memorabilia from the 15th century, or delight in the olfactory pleasures to be sought out in the estate’s olive and lemon tree-lined gardens (personally, we sure love to send our noses on a journey).
Europe’s most unabashedly luxurious monastery is available for exclusive use between June and September, though if you’re looking to meet like-minded holidaymakers on your pursuit of pleasures, individual suites can be booked in May and October. One last lead for those looking for a baptismal experience: pay a visit to the monastery’s old kitchen, where a concealed underground cave leads directly to the Adriatic Sea. Oh, to join an order!