It looks like paradise (and soon will be), but this Montenegro island holds a dark and tragic history
A former WWII concentration camp isn't exactly the most desirable of locations for a luxury resort, but in these times of real estate madness - what to do? As it turns out, for developers of a stunning Montenegro island boasting a 19th century Austro-Hungarian fort, Mamula, its icky history was just a minor hiccup.
Despite the site still featuring prison cells where it's estimated that 130 enemies of Mussolini's army were starved or killed, the Montenegrin parliament recently approved a project from Swiss-Egyptian company Orascom to develop a luxury resort. Set to feature a hotel, spa, restaurant, marina and nightclub, the 15 million Euros (AUD$23.7 million) investment will no doubt turn the uninhabited island into a veritable playground for Europe's partying elite.
One of the small countries located in the Balkans, Montenegro boasts incredible access to the Adriatic coastline, with Mamula located at the entrance to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Bay of Kotor. Naturally, its prime location at one of Europe's biggest vacation hotspots makes it a perfect choice for a resort. But you can understand why family members of victims imprisoned during Mussolini's WWII occupation aren't thrilled about the development proposal. In response, Orascom have pledged to build a memorial room for the victims, assuring naysayers that "the project will be sympathetic to the local architecture and will completely preserve the historical value of the Island."
Also up for debate was the amount of rent Orascom will pay - 4,000 Euros (AUD$6,325) a month to inhabit the 30,000 square metre island. Some have argued that a daily market stall in Podgorica (the capital of Montenegro) costs more than this. The debates are guaranteed to rage on. For more info on the development, visit mamulaisland.com