An island off the coast of Montenegro used as a concentration camp for Italian troops during World War II is being turned into a luxury resort now that the Montenegrin government has given developers the green light.
Mamula, which was a 19th century Austro-Hungarian fortress occupying enemies serving under fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, still has ruins of cells where 2,300 prisoners were held, of whom 130 were killed or starved, according to the New York Daily News.
The Montenegrin government gave the go-ahead for a project to transform the prison into a resort, complete with swimming pools, yacht marina, spa, restaurants and dance floors. Swiss-Egyptian developer Orascom was granted a 49-year lease at the nominal price of $1.64 per square meter, and said it'll invest $16.3 million in the project, according to CNN.
"We were facing two options: to leave the site to fall into ruin or find investors who would be willing to restore it and make it accessible to visitors," Olivera Brajovic, head of Montenegro's national directorate for tourism development, told the AFP, according to CNN.
Orascom has pledged to build a room of remembrance for victims, however, many of those imprisoned on Mamula were from Lastavica, a local area with many families that gather at the island's fortress each September to remember loved ones who suffered there, according to the Balkan Insight.
Many locals who visit Mamula are highly critical of plans by Orascom, including regular visitor Jovanka Uljarvic, who according to the Balkan Insight said: "The Orascom project would ruin every memory of Mamula and what it really was."
Its reputation inspired the 1950s' film "Mamula Camp."