• Jessica Cerovic

Discover the City of Rijeka

Rijeka is the third largest city in Croatia after Zagreb and Split. Only a 20 minute drive from our apartments in Crikvenica on the highway or a 35 minute drive if you take the scenic route along the coast. Rijeka translates to "river" in English and fittingly a river called Rječina flows down from the mountains, travels through the middle of the city and ends in the Kvarner Bay. A classic European city on the Adriatic Sea with endless history and culture to be discovered. Rijeka is one of the leading seaports in the Adriatic and is also home to the second largest Carnival parade in the world after Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The history of Rijeka goes all the way back to the 13th Century. Besides Croatians, many others have occupied the city or attempted to at different points throughout time including the Romans, Frankopans, Walsees, Habsburgs, Franciscans, Venetians, Ottomans, Jesuits, Austrians, Hungarians, Italians, Yugoslavians and Germans. Due to the Italian occupancy in the early 1900s, there is a blend of Italians and Croatians living in Rijeka today. There is even an Italian high school and the Croatian dialect in the region has an Italian language influence with words like pomidor (rajčica in Croatian and pomodoro in Italian, meaning tomato in English).

Whenever we drive into Rijeka there are two places we always have to go; the Korzo for coffee and the City Market to pick up whatever fresh ingredients we will cook with later that day. The Korzo is the main promenade where you can find endless designer shops as well as copious amounts of coffee bars and terraces to sit at and people watch. Here you can also find the City Clocktower and the Old Town gate that leads to ancient Roman ruins within the city walls. If you are looking for even more shopping, there are two large shopping malls located at each end of the city. The City Market is a vast daily fresh market selling local farmer's vegetables, fruit, meat, cheese, baked goods and fisherman's fresh catch every morning from the bay.

Architecture surrounding the city reflects the Roman era, medieval era and today's modern era. One of Rijeka's most unique churches is St. Vitus Cathedral. Built in the 17th Century by a Jesuit architect, it can be found pictured on the Croatian 100 kuna paper bill. Another landmark is Trsat Castle, located on a hill above the city. This medieval fortress is a great place to take a photo of the entire city below. At Christmas time, the castle is covered in twinkling lights and turned into a winter wonderland. Here you can also see the Franciscan monastery and large pilgrimage center, Our Lady of Trsat Shrine, where Pope John Paul II visited in 2003.

If sports is your interest, how about watching a HNK Rijeka soccer game? The team won the national title in 2017 and plays in the UEFA European league. Their original stadium was named as one of the top 10 most distinct soccer stadiums in the world due to its unique location between the sea and a rocky cliff.

However you choose to spend your time visiting Rijeka, you will without a doubt come away with a better appreciation of why this part of Croatia has attracted so many different inhabitants over the years and why it still has the ability to captivate tourists from all over the globe.

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