About the building
In 1894, the sisters Francisca and Antonia, born Pošćić Oršić, married to Jurković and Kompanjet respectively, commissioned the builder Giovanni Skerl to erect a building identical to the neighbouring Villa Opatija (Abbazia), which was owned by their brother Feliks. The property was named Villa Istria and has had several owners since but has always remained a guesthouse. It was inherited in 1911 by Francisca’s daughter Justina, who was married to Amade Kopani, a lieutenant of the Austro-Hungarian army. She had the house extended to its present dimensions (for a while, the villa served as an annexe to the Pension Hausner, which was located on the spots of today’s Hotel Milenij). Between the two world wars, the Villa Istra was owned by the Hungarian Franjo Sterk who renamed it the Hotel Eden. For a short time after World War Two, the building served as headquarters of the Yugoslavian Army, and then as a children’s home, before being returned to its original tourist function in 1960 and given a new name – Hotel Esplanade.
In 1994, the hotel was bought by Veljko Barbieri who had it thoroughly renovated and then opened a year later under the new name – Hotel Mozart. Unresolved issues regarding the building’s ownership and financial troubles besetting the hotel business in the 1990s came to an end only in 2006, when the building was bought by the Shalabi family who had it renovated once again and opened a modern wellness complex there in 2007.
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