The former Italian navy boat which became a private yacht for Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito is set to become a museum in the Croatian city of Rijeka.
Officials are now searching for contractors who can renovate the 117-metre-long vessel, named Galeb (“Seagull”), in time for the city’s stint as European Capital of Culture in 2020.
Most of the ship will become a public museum, which will focus on the Galeb’s role as a venue for high-profile political meetings and its connection to Rijeka’s industrial history. Other parts of the vessel could host a restaurant and hostel.
The Museum of Rijeka, which cares for the boat, has already begun collecting restored pieces of the ship’s furniture, while plans are being made to move the vessel to the Rijeka breakwater.
“Rijeka expects Galeb to become one of the leading tourist attractions in 2020 and beyond,” says the Rijeka 2020 team. “Galeb silently witnessed official political meetings, as well as the unofficial ones, and will now speak up on the international influence of our former country.”
Galeb was built in Italy in 1938 as a transport ship, but was converted to military use at the dawn of the Second World War. After the end of the conflict, Rome sold the boat to the newly-formed nation of Yugoslavia.
Tito used the boat to travel to 18 different countries, using it as a venue for meetings with the likes of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India, Gamal Abdel Nasser, the president of Egypt, and Sukarno, the first president of Indonesia, all of whom went on to form the Non-Aligned Movement in 1961.
The boat fell into disrepair after Yugoslavia’s collapse, and has been moored in the Baros Harbour area, inaccessible to visitors and tourists, for a number of years.