Villa Gal-Turković

Rijeka, Croatia

One of my long-time favorites, this abandoned villa sits on the coast of the Adriatic Sea within walking distance from the city of Rijeka.  Thanks to an old guy I met on the beach, as well as an amazingly-researched and very well written university thesis of an architecture student from Zagreb, Vili Rakita, I managed to find out the history of this beautiful building.

The majestic sea view from the villa

The villa was built between 1904 and 1906 for the rich Hungarian coffee, tea and rum merchant Janos Gal, and became known as Villa Gal. Designed by a prominent Budapest architect Antal Grioni, as a Palladian house with a balcony rising 12 meters over the sea, the villa had also a beautiful garden, a small pavilion in the rocks and a swimming pool at sea level. 

In 1926 the villa changed changed hands and became known as Villa Turković, after the new owner Baron Zdenko Turković (son of Baron Milan Turković, a landowner, humanitarian, and one of the founders of Croatian Forestry Society). 

Turković lived in the villa for 20 years, he was a prominent member of the Rijeka society and the long-term president of the local Rotary Club. 

After his death in 1946, the villa remained in the ownership of the Turković family and between 1970 and 2014 had two families living in it as tenants.

In 2014 the last Turković decided to sell the villa and offered it to the city of Rijeka for €900,000. The city refused. It did not, however, take long to find a new buyer. The current owner of the Gal-Turković Villa is a Croatian company, owned by a corporation registered in Cyprus with no activity and only one listed member of the board, a Russian businessman Aleksei Lukin. By the looks of the villa, which is now all boarded up, the new owner did not bother to do anything with it for the past 8 years and it is slowly falling into disrepair. 

The gates of the villa are locked, the windows boarded up and the only access to the grounds is from the sea.  You can swim up to it from the nearest beach, and climb onto what used to be a pier (the bottom steps coming into the water were removed, so some serious acrobatic skills are required).

The grounds are all grown over, with untamed trees, shrubs and weeds slowly taking over the place, but even in its current state the villa and the space around it still show the former cozy grandeur of the place.

View of Rijeka Containership Port from the villa

St. Peter’s Seminary, Cardross/Scotland

There is no shortage of ancient ruins in Scotland – most of them medieval castles, ancient inns, old cathedral or churches.  This one, however, is a totally different kind of relic: not only is it a modern 20th century ruin, but it also is one of the rare examples of modernist architecture in Scotland, bearing uncanny resemblance to the creations of Le Corbuzier.  The ruin is also surprisingly not a castle or a cathedral, but a Seminary – something one would never guess looking at its brutalist industrial lines and heaps of concrete.

The building of St. Peter’s Seminary was commissioned by the Archbishop of Glasgow in 1958, and designed by architects Isi Metzstein and Andy MacMillan, who ran the firm of Gillespie, Kidd and Coia.

By the time St. Peter’s Seminary was completed in 1966, its function was obsolete.  The Roman Catholic Church had recently decided that priests should train in communities rather than the isolation of remote seminary colleges.  To add to the problem, church attendance in Scotland was declining, and young men were not as keen to enter the priesthood as before.  Designed to house and train a hundred would-be priests, St. Peter’s was left with a residency of only twenty-some students by the late seventies.  In 1980 the Seminary permanently closed its doors.

You can find some footage of the Seminary in its former glory days in the Murray Grigor’s 1972 film “Space and Light“:

“Space & Light” by Murray Grigor (1972)

and compare it almost frame by frame to today’s state in “Space & Light Revisited”:

“Space & Light Revisited” by Murray Grigor

Since then, abandonment, neglect, the elements, a sizable fire, and vandalism have taken their toll, reducing the seminary to a brutalist skeleton of its former self.

It is currently one of only 42 post-war buildings in Scotland listed at Category A, the highest level of protection of a building of “special architectural or historic interest”.

In 2019, the Roman Catholic Church, owner of the building, said it had been degraded by fire, rain and vandalism and described the building as a “ruin”.  As a Category A listed building, the Seminary could not be sold or demolished and the Archdiocese of Glasgow which had the responsibility to maintain, secure, and insure it, and that they could not sell it, give it away, or demolish it.  Apparently, the price for St. Peter’s Seminary restoration was too high, and in July 2020 it was transferred at no cost to the Kilmahew Education Trust who aimed to “develop a viable vision, with education at its core” for the site.  
Read more about it here.

St. Peter’s Seminary on Google Maps