Photography Exhibition: Portorož tourism through time,
by Tomi Brezovec
Tourism was introduced to Portorož in the second half of the 19th century, when healing natural elements from nearby salt pans (salt, brine, mud) encouraged the development of health treatments. The success of therapies, delivered under a doctor’s supervision, under the auspices of the Consortium of Piran Saltpans, has induced local investors to develop accommodation facilities that would provide services to the growing number of guests. As a result, in 1891, Portorož got its first hotel, the Porto Rose. A few years later, in 1895, the Imperial Royal Army of the Habsburg Monarchy built a sanatorium for its officers. Several wealthy people have also discovered Portorož and built there their holiday villas. In 1897, Portorož and its surroundings were officially proclaimed a health district, which further accelerated destination’s popularity. It has soon became evident that the place needed a luxurious hotel that could cater for the needs of most demanding guests. Styrian industrialist Hans von Reininghaus responded to need in 1910 by building the “Palace Cur Hotel”, at the time the most prominent hotel of the Adriatic coast. This hotel has definitely set the path for further development and has made Portorož one of the most important seaside destinations on the Adriatic. In the years preceding the outbreak of the First World War guest had at their disposal over twenty hotels and boarding houses, and more than fifty holiday villas.
The rapid development of Portorož, which in two decades has developed from an unknown place into a popular resort, also encouraged the development of other infrastructure. A new steel-and-concrete landing jetty enabled docking of larger passenger ships, and a new tramway line has replaced just a few years old but uncomfortable trolley line. A new thermal spa facility, a seafront bathing establishment and a casino were also at guests’ disposal. Plans for the construction of a seaplane port have also been developed, but were executed only after the First World War. During the 1920s and 1930s, Portorož complemented its spa tradition with development of seaside bathing. Guests were entertained by music and sport events, and could explore the region on many trips to the nearby seaside resorts. The development of tourism in the interwar period was marked by particularly strong competition from well-known Italian seaside destinations and by the economic crisis that broke out in 1929. This was a period of stagnation, that lasted until the mid-1950s, when Portorož begun its second tourist awakening. After a decade of renovation of existing infrastructure, Portorož radically changed its appearance during 1960s and 1970s when the construction of many new hotels and other tourist infrastructure shaped today’s skyline of the resort. Portorož has become a modern and attractive tourist destination, which was attended by guests from all over Europe.
In its development Portorož has evolved from a spa and a seaside bathing destination into a destination that offers to its visitors relaxation in natural surroundings, a healthy lifestyle, pampering at spas and entertainment at many events.
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