November 29, 2019 - Villa Galeb in Igalo, the former residence of Josip Broz Tito, lifelong president of the SFR Yugoslavia, was opened to tourists five years ago. Interest in this intriguing building is growing year by year. From June to the end of October this year, with about four and a half thousand visitors, ticket sales generated EUR 12.5 thousand in revenue.
Villa Galeb is open for visits all year round, but only for groups of ten or more people. Visitors can see the premises where Tito met with his associates and guests, watched movies, one of the apartments where his close associates were staying, as well as his, and his wife Jovanka's apartment, the most exclusive parts of Tito's Villa. Old furniture has been retained in most of the building. So right next to the entrance, there are still 51 armchairs for members of the Central Committee in the congress hall where the former Federal Executive Council sat.
Visitors come from all over the world, mostly from countries from the former Yugoslavia, Western Europe, and Russia, but also from New Zealand, Canada.
Alen Filipovic, a Villa Galeb guide, said that this summer's visit included the Prime Minister of an African country with his family, as well as German and Austrian ambassadors who could not agree on whether Herta Hess, Tito's second wife, was German or Austrian.
Filipovic points out that visitors are most interested in Tito's cabinet and that they stay there for the longest time. The guide tells tourists the curiosities and anecdotes from Tito's stay in Igalo, such as when he "escaped" his security, which later found him at a family home in Igalo drinking brandy with his host.
Tito has visited this Villa four times, the first time it was built, and the last time on April 15, 1979, when a catastrophic earthquake struck Montenegro. He and his entourage toured the entire Riviera that morning and appealed to the republics of the former Yugoslavia to help Montenegro. He spent the night before leaving in a tent, left Igalo on April 16 and return to Belgrade. His wife, Jovanka, was at the Villa Galeb only once.
Another residence was built for Tito in the municipality of Herceg Novi - the Lovcenka villa in the former Military Hospital in Meljine. However, he never stayed there. When the complex of the Center for Military Medical Institutions in Meljine, where Lovcenka is located, bought a consortium led by the Atlas Group, the Villa was planned to be demolished due to, as explained, "instability and slippage of the terrain." It is still there, and in recent years it has housed the Azmont Studio Center, which is working on a project for the Portonovi tourist complex in Kumbor.
Villa Galeb was built in 1976 after his first visit to Herceg Novi. One of the main reasons for the construction was the mild climate and proximity to the Dr. Simo Milosevic Institute and extraordinary medical and therapeutic services that greatly influenced Tito's improved health status. The Villa was designed by Milorad Petijevic, an architect from Herceg Novi, and was built in just six months.
In about 5,600 square meters of living space, there are several apartments, a restaurant, a bar, a lounge, a study, a kitchen, the therapeutic area. Villa Galeb has a mineral water pool, mud and pearl tubs, a section for hydro, electro and Chinese therapy, and a trim hall.
In addition to his famous blue apartment and fireplace, Tito spent most of his free time in a movie theater where he used to enjoy relaxing watching cowboy movies in the evenings, and occasionally held concerts for him. The Villa also houses an atomic shelter made in case of war.
Villa Galeb is designed for an extremely comfortable stay of 30 guests with the possibility of using medical and rehabilitation services. It has hosted, among other things, many world statesmen, as well as public figures.
Tito's Villa hosted Safia Gaddafi, Helmut Schmidt, Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Sri Lanka's prime minister, Huari Bumedien, president of Algeria, and in 1978 a young Prince Charles was on a one-day visit.
This remarkable building has been operating within the Institute since the late 1980s. Ten years ago, the Villa was rented by a Russian travel agency Travel Center from Moscow. The first year guests were high-class tourists from Russia. Among others, the Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, Bulgarian businessman Petar Mazukov and many others spent the summer here. Leonov also met with Tito, and still thinks he was a great statesman.
Text by Slavica Kosić