Opatija Travel Guide
Opatija is a popular mainland Adriatic town that is located below the wooded hills of Ucka Mount facing the Kvarner Gulf in the north-west of Croatia. With the reputation of a trendy holiday resort attracting celebrities and royal visitors throughout its 160 year long tourism history, today it is the centre of a picturesque riviera and a major congress site.
The town is served by buses from many Croatian and European cities. The closest large city with bus and ferry terminals is Rijeka (15 km northwest). The nearest destinations for an Opatija travel by plane are the airports on Krk Island (44 km) and in Pula (82 km). The Rijeka railway station is 12 km away, but the still shorter journey by train can be made from Matulji (5 km).
Along with the refreshing and reviving climate, the most special feature about Opatija is its gorgeous 12 km long tree-lined promenade, the Lungomare, running along the coast from Volosko to Lovran. The gorgeous landscape around Opatija is formed by dense laurel groves and splendid clean beaches lapped by limpid waters.
A magnificent attraction for an Opatija travel is the Ucka Nature Park with its ornithology reserve and walking paths leading the peak of Vojak (1401 m) that provides a magnificent panorama of the surroundings. The Ucka caves bear the traces of continuous habitation dating from 12,000 BC.
History of Opatija
The fishing settlement that developed around the Benedictine church and abbey of St. Jacob in the early 15th century gave Opatija its current name which means "abbey".
The most important date in the history of the town was 1844 when Rijeka's merchant Hignio Scarpa, fascinated by the beneficial climate and natural beauties of the place, built his renowned Villa Angiolina where he kept inviting his noble friends.
Opatija shortly became extremely popular with Austrian and other European royal and aristocratic families who came here to improve their health. That promoted the construction of tourist facilities and finally made it a top destination for the elite. The first hotel on Adriatic coast of Croatia, the Kvarner, was built in 1884 and in 1889 Opatija was given the status of a health resort.
World War I following which the town was attached to Italy, hampered tourism development, but after re-joining Yugoslavia as a result of World War II the tradition was revived.
The famous neoclassical Villa Angiolina is still there to be visited during your Opatija travel. These days it houses the Museum of Tourism with a permanent exhibition of items that constitute the national heritage of Croatia. The Art Pavilion bearing the name of Dr. Juraj Sporer who contributed a lot to the promotion of tourism in Opatija is part of the museum.
The villa is surrounded by a beautiful park dating from between 1845 and 1860 that occupies almost 4 hectares and is filled with exotic plants from around the world. The other section of the park is dominated by the 15th century St. Jacob's church with the gilded copy of Madonna del Mare outside. Nearby you can find a fountain representing the statue of Helios and Selena that was erected in 1889. Among Opatija's other churches the most conspicuous is the Church of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary thanks to its green dome.
The town's most symbolic statue is the Girl with the Seagull that is placed on a small rocky headland jutting out into the sea next to the Art Pavilion.
An Opatija travel is a chance to stroll along the Croatian Walk of Fame on the Slatina beach promenade, where eight marble stars are added every year to glorify the country's leaders in art, science and sport.