Rijeka: The European Capital of Culture
Join us as we visit Rijeka - a major port city and the cultural center of western Croatia!
Rijeka is the third largest city of Croatia and is known as a gateway to the islands. It is a major industrial and commercial city on Kvarner Bay in the northern Adriatic Sea. Most people speed through en route to the islands or Dalmatia, but those who pause will discover charm, culture, good nightlife and intriguing festivals such as Croatia’s most colorful carnival.
When we picked up our car rental in the capital Zagreb, the guys at the desk told us that Rijeka was a city we must visit. When they showed us where it was on the map, we found out it was in the same area of Istria that we were planning to visit!
After a quick 2 hour drive from Zagreb we reached the city and checked into a boutique Bed & Breakfast called Engine Rooms. It was in a great location only 15 minutes away from the port and Trsat Castle by foot.
The next day, we took a tour of the beautiful city centre and explored the 13th-century Trsat Castle, perched high on a hill overlooking all of Rijeka. It felt like we were in Italy! The castle, port, and the whole city were so ancient and we enjoyed the most magnificent views.
Next to the castle is The Church of Our Lady of Trsat. It is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Croatia, attracting some 300,000 visitors a year. According to legend, angels transferred the Nazareth Tabernacle to Trsat in May 1291. It remained there until December 1294 when, according to legend, angels transferred it to Loreto, Italy.
In the old town we also went to see the underground pedestrian tunnel called TunelRi built during WWII. The 330-metre long structure was built by the Italian army between 1939 and 1942, providing refuge from aerial bombings to citizens of Rijeka. The entrances had been sealed for decades, until 2017 when the tunnel was restored and ceremoniously reopened. Entrances to the tunnel are next to St. Vitus Cathedral and the Dolac Primary School.
There is a bridge near Rijeka that connects the mainland to the island of Krk. We did not miss the opportunity to visit and discover some of the beautiful coastal towns that include Baska, Vrbnik, Punat, Malinska, Njivice, Omisalj, Silo, Krk and Brzac village.
On the island's southern coast, we really enjoyed exploring the fortified city of Krk and the Frankopan Castle. The city is ancient, being among the oldest in the Adriatic Sea, and is entered through one of four doors that lead to the main square called Kamplin. With so much to see and do on the island we recommend staying for a few days!
Here is an interesting thing about Rijeka - almost 20 thousand people speak an ancient dialect of the Venetian language called Fiuman.
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