Former military building converted to tourist youth centre in Tvrđa, Croatia

An old bakery once used by the Austro-Hungarian army is being converted into a modern facility for tourism in the historic old town of Tvrđa, eastern Croatia. Transforming the bakery house into the Stara Pekara Educational and Tourist Youth Centre is part of a package of measures to boost visitor numbers and grow the local economy. Work through the project includes the reconstruction and revitalisation of the neighbouring Vatroslav Lisinski Square and related tourism initiatives.

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Visualisation of Vatroslav Lisinski Square. ©Grad Osijek, TIM Studio d.o.o Visualisation of Vatroslav Lisinski Square. ©Grad Osijek, TIM Studio d.o.o

" This project is of great importance for the city of Osijek, for its citizens and for all those who visit us. The indisputable fact is that it would be very difficult to realise such an investment engagement in cultural heritage without the EU as a source of funding. Also, this project has physically started the reconstruction of Tvrđa, with reconstruction of neglected and inadequately used protected cultural heritage and the building of a new, large public space for events and encounters. "

Kornelija Mlinarević, project team member

Tvrđa consists of an old, preserved fort and military buildings which date back to the 18th century. The area forms the historic centre of the Osijek, which is the fourth-largest city in Croatia. The project aims to improve the city’s tourist offer by showcasing Tvrđa’s rich cultural heritage, but with the addition of modern facilities.

Transformation

The bakery is being transformed into a multi-purpose centre. It will house the Stara Pekara Youth Hostel, which can accommodate 54 people in 15 rooms. The revamped bakery and square will serve as venues for exhibitions, concerts and other performances. Both the new centre and Lisinski Square are being made accessible to people with a disability, reduced mobility and other special needs.

HI Croatia – the Croatian Youth Hostel Association – is charged with managing the accommodation and catering at the new centre through a lease from the bakery building’s owner, the City of Osijek. The city authorities are providing financial and human resources support, and overseeing the generation of content for the centre.

The project includes the outfitting of a co-working space, which acts as a ‘laboratory’ and office for the management and development of cultural and tourism initiatives. The new space offers training options for tourism students and will provide a new home for several existing heritage training programmes.

During implementation, the project is offering an incentive programme for local entrepreneurs in the tourism sector and training sessions for people who want to make traditional arts and crafts. In addition, an augmented reality (AR) app is being developed which allows visitors to select and view old town sites and landmarks through different historical periods. These initiatives are designed to generate new ideas and activities which can boost the area’s tourism potential and draw in more visitors.

Employment benefits

The goal is to employ 28 people at the centre as a direct result of the project. Furthermore, a further 13 jobs are expected to be created in the local tourism sector as an indirect result of the project’s impact. Overall, the new centre and improved package for tourists is expected to generate 10 % more overnight stays in the city every year.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Educational and Informative Tourist Center of Youth Stara Pekara with Vatroslav Lisinski Square” is EUR 8 807 287 (kuna 66 054 649), with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 6 955 625 (kuna 52 167 194) through the “Competiveness and Cohesion” Operational Programme for the 2014-2020 programming period. The investment falls under the priority “Environment and resource efficiency”.