Alongside a wide, sandy beach on the German island of Rügen in the Baltic Sea stands the world’s biggest hotel. A hotel so huge it stretches over a staggering three miles and has 10,000 bedrooms all facing the sea. Surprisingly even though this beach resort was built more than 70 years ago, not a single guest has ever stayed there.
That is because this beach resort named Prora was build by the Nazis between 1936 and 1939 on Hitler’s orders. During that same period, Hitler was making preparations for war which ultimately took priority, and the massive building project was never finished.
Prora lies on an extensive bay between the Sassnitz and Binz regions, known as the Prorer Wiek, on the narrow heath (the Prora) which separates the lagoon of the Kleiner Jasmunder Bodden from the Baltic Sea.
The buildings extend over a length 3 miles (5 km) and are roughly 500 feet (150 metres) from the beach.
During the few years that Prora was under construction, all major construction companies of the Reich and nearly 9,000 workers were involved in this project.
With the onset of World War II in 1939, building on Prora stopped and the construction workers transferred to weapon factories.
The eight housing blocks, the theatre and cinema stayed as empty shells, and the swimming pools and festival hall never materialised.
During the Allied bombing campaign, many people from Hamburg took refuge in one of the housing blocks.
After the war, Prora was used as a military outpost for the East German army. But since German reunification in 1990, the buildings have stood empty.
The vast complex, designed to accommodate 20,000 visitors, was part of the Nazis’ “Strength through Joy” (“Kraft durch Freude,” KdF) program.
The aim was to provide leisure activities for German workers and spread Nazi propaganda.
Today, the whole place is still pretty deserted, except for a small museum and disco.
Locals call Prora the Colossus, due to its gigantic monumental structure.
There are hundreds of empty rooms, with many windows smashed by vandals.
After years of debate, the plan now is to turn Prora into a modern holiday resort, with four of the five blocks having been sold to private investors.
Developers have a new vision. They want to build hundreds of holiday apartments, with cafes, discos, hotels, sports halls and swimming pools in order to attract thousands of visitors.
It’s so stark and overbearing, typical of Third Reich architecture. Just walking up to it must have felt oppressive.