Discover & Escape 21.07.2015

An historic monument unified with luxury

If you are one of those mortals always searching for something special during your holidays, or a kind of home away from home, look no more. 

Villa Agave Dubrovnik

Villa Agave is the former summer residence of Sir Arthur Evans, nestled on a cliff over the Adriatic Sea overlooking the unique island of Lokrum, located only a 5 minute walk from the Old Town of Dubrovnik.

The moment you step on its doorstep, it kinda gets you at “hello”.

Not only is it a superbly opulent and glamorous holiday villa, it is also a small historical and cultural monument; a valuable treasury of fine art and antiques; a reminder of times past and a building of a great cultural and historical importance.

Step into the past

The villa was built on the site of a 16th century chapel of St. Lazarus (dating back to 1531) which was built during the time when Dubrovnik built its first quarantine. It was meant to be a sanctuary for those searching for peace and consolation in the times of the plague.


The church was the centre of the Dubrovnik bourgeois brotherhood of Lazarina, where wealthy merchants and seamen gathered. The St. Lazarus chapel contained a valuable work of art – a polyptych “Assumption of the Virgin Mary” made by Titian himself around 1540, commissioned by the Dubrovnik Senate especially for the church of St. Lazarus.

After the great earthquake of 1667, and after the renovation of the main Cathedral within the city walls in 1713, the Dubrovnik Senate asked this important brotherhood to donate this polyptych as a gift to the newly built church, which they did. Since this piece of art was very valuable, it was important to place it in the Cathedral, while for St. Lazarus a copy of the same polyptych was created.

The remains of this 16th-century chapel are still visible even today. They form the center of the Villa and are a part the villa’s meditation room where you can see the two of the chapel’s original walls dating from the 17th and 18th centuries.

Later, in 1875, after the chapel was no longer in use, it became a summer house (from 1875 to 1882) for Sir Arthur Evans, a famous British archaeologist, recognized for his discovery of the remains of ancient civilizations on the island of Crete. It’s not a surprise then, why he chose exactly this spot to be his home. Arthur and his wife Margaret turned the remains of the chapel into a romantic stone hideaway and lived there for 7 years. Thanks to their passion for antiques and art, today this majestic Villa, a home away from home, lures you with a pleasant mixture of old world charm and historical heritage.

Some of the interesting items from their private collection that still embellish the villa include an antique rocking horse from 1820 and a century-old handwoven carpet from Romania. Other details include custom-made furniture, a vintage chandelier and an open wooden staircase leading to the master bedroom.

Definitely something you don’t see every day!

It’s no wonder that Sir Arthurs’ Croatian friends regularly made reference to his summer house as an “amazing house” in Ploče.

Unfortunately, the Villa was completely ruined in the Second World War, and then remained abandoned and roofless until 1973, when it was renovated by well-known Croatian painter Milovan Stanic, who painted the fresco that still adorns Vila Agave’s living room wall.

In 1975, the summer house became a part of hotel Excelsior and was converted into a traditional tavern that soon became one of the most famous restaurants of Mediterranean cuisine.  The tavern operated until 2008 until it was converted into a villa. Only the stone walls in one of the bedrooms witness the time when the villa was a tavern and have given another story to the villa’s long centuries heritage, history and value.

The amazing Villa Agave was refurbished to the level of highest luxury while keeping a contemporary Mediterranean feel with rustic wooden floors and timber ceiling beams along with many interesting and valuable antique details and local masters’ artworks.

Among the very first guests to stay here were Hollywood’s Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey, Morgan Freeman and acclaimed film director Francis Ford Coppola, who all fell in love with the villa’s character and charm.

It is easy to say then, that the Villa Agave is a unique and beautiful example of unpretentious yet exclusive lifestyle design on the Adriatic. It’s a place to indulge in the magnetic attraction of the sun, stone and sea, and a breathtaking view of the old town.

With a glass of Champagne in your hand, sit on the largest of five terraces as the city’s lights reflect on the water and illuminate the ancient walls and harbor.

That’s the moment you’ll realise you never want to leave….

Did you know?

Villa Agave is named after a Mexican plant introduced by Dubrovnik sailors in the 16th century. The spiky leaves of the plant said to blossom every 100 years, creep out over the cobbled pathway leading to the villa.


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