Tito’s ‘Galeb’ Yacht and Sugar Refinery Palace in Rijeka Soon to be Restored

Total Croatia News

Galeb Rijeka 05072013 2 roberta f

As funding for the large-scale project European Capital of Culture 2020 starts to slowly roll in, the City of Rijeka finally turns attention to some of its long neglected beauties: the former Sugar Refinery Palace, and Galeb, once the official yacht of Josip Broz Tito.

The project aiming to restore and revive Galeb and the former sugar factory that’s part of the Benčić industrial complex was presented in the City Museum Rijeka, reports rijeka.hr. The City, the Tourist Board Rijeka and the University of Rijeka were approved EU funding in the amount of HRK 68.8 million, covering 85% of the planned expenses.The remaining 12 million kuna will be procured from other sources, including a proposal applied to the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds worth 7 million kuna.

Both Galeb and the Sugar Refinery hold a special place in the urban landscape of Rijeka and have the potential to be turned into attractive locations. The Sugar Refinery Palace, one of the most prominent pieces of industrial architecture in Rijeka, has long been a part of the locals’ collective memory. Stopping the progressive decay and transforming the former factory into a small neighbourhood that’s going to be the cultural centre of the city has been a longtime wish in Rijeka’s cultural milieu. The Sugar Refinery Palace will so become the new seat of the City Museum that will also have authority over Galeb, annd both the Palace and the ship will soon house permanent collections designed to tell stories from Rijeka’s rich, turbulent history. The permanent display in the Palace will be composed of pieces from the City Museum’s collections and called ‘The Age of Sugar and Globalisation’, divided into themed units: The Power of Sugar, Venetian Lion and the Imperial Eagle, Revolution and the Steam Engine, The First Torpedo in the World, the South Pole of Central Europe… even the names hint we’re heading for an attractive display that’s going to be both educational and interesting to visitors of all ages.

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Galeb, on the other hand, went through a lot: the ship was built in 1938 in Italy as an auxiliary cruiser, got turned into a minelayer by the Germans in 1943, was reconstructed to serve as a school ship of the Yugoslav Navy in Pula in 1952, then remained in Tito’s service for 549 days in the span of 27 years. Galeb was sold to the Greek yachtsman John Paul Papanicolaou in 1991, then back to the City of Rijeka in 2009. It’s currently run down and not in an impressive shape; the ship partially sank in 2008 and is now moored on Rijeka’s waterfront, waiting for the upcoming makeover. The project implies for the ship to stay at its current location, where it will successfully blend into the cultural and artistic offer in the city.

Director of the City Museum Rijeka Ervin Dubrović announced the project entails a restoration of the ship to return its original interior to its former glory: the bedroom of Josip Broz Tito and his wife Jovanka, the main parlour, and other rooms like cabins for the crew are getting restored and conserved. The interventions are supposed to be minimal, aiming just to present all historical layers and changes on the ship. Galeb will transform from a vessel to a unique museum that will educate visitors about past times; as it’s still seen as a symbol of a regime, the project will use that to provide information about the history of Yugoslavia and maritime affairs at the same time.


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