Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hotel Vrbak

The Hotel Vrbak

It is really hard to put into words the architectural wonder of Novi Pazar's Hotel Vrbak. To me, it is as if toward the end of the 18th century, a group of Ottoman architects were taken by a time-traveling spaceship to the latter part of the 1970s, then told to use that experience to design a hotel. Over the top (literally as it spans a small river), grand, detailed, and right in the center of town, it is also a tad run down, rather empty, and like much of this part of the world, a bit vandalized with graffiti; it was a real treat to spend a night there. Laurence Mitchell, the author of the extremely well-written Bradt guide to Serbia, described it like this: ¨however much communist-period architects were under instruction to provide cheap, utilitarian housing for the proletariat, they were given completely free reign when it came to the design of hotels...a wacky architectural conceit that was taken seriously by a planning committee and immortalised in concrete -- a curious combination of retro-Ottoman and modernism.¨

The interior room decoration are consistent with the outside, too. Hexagons abound, with arch-like details and wrought-iron window treatments.

In a landscape with far too many post-war cities full of grey apartment blocks (really, communism is over, why don't the residents throw a coat of paint on these exterior walls?), the Hotel Vrbak is an impressive and unique sight.

(If you have further interest, please click on the official website for more photos.)

1 comment:

  1. A professor of mine travelled extensively in the former USSR, and he told us about apt complexes where the residents painted circus animals on the buildings to help children find their way home. Block after block of identical gray buildings had resulted in many a lost child.