Categories: Islamic HistoryTravel

Rijeka – The Wondrous Underrated Croatian Town That Has It All

If I were to pick only one place to suggest visiting, it would always be Rijeka. Not because it is the most beautiful place across the globe and it is my hometown so I am being subjective, but because it will make you feel like having a ride in a time machine through different periods of history with every step you take. Through the architecture, gastronomy, language, and its famous Šta da? (Really? In English), a phrase that distinguishes us from the rest of Croatia. For numerous years, it has been the largest Croatian port (okay, during the Austro-Hungarian Empire it was Hungarian) but also the epitome of cosmopolitan urbanality.

Loved by the general populace but also by the bourgeoisie who since the 19th century, have cherished it as their preferred destination for summer retreats.

Just like in 1852 when it was, for the first time, romantically illuminated with 226 gas lamps, even today will mesmerize you with the charming buildings from the Austro-Hungarian and Venetian periods. Captivate your imagination with stories from its rich history and make you become head over heels for it. 

Rijeka Football Stadium by Daniel James, Unsplash

Participating in the famous Carnival – the 3rd biggest in the world, following Rio de Janeiro and Venice and enjoying the unique performance of UNESCO’s intangible heritage – Halubje Bell Ringers (spread the word that soon they will get the House of Bell Ringers in Viškovo near Rijeka) promises to be a mesmerising experience. But if you visit the prehistoric castle of Trsat, you will relish the view of Kvarner Bay, the two biggest Croatian islands – Krk and Cres, and the Opatija Riviera whilst slowly sipping coffee, a favorite pastime of Rijeka inhabitants. 

And then indulge your palate with the fresh-caught fish and vegetables prepared in the Mediterranean style at one of the taverns surrounding the unique, three-hundred-year-old Rijeka open market, a place the people of Rijeka have been choosing since the 19th century as the best place for dining. Believe me, this experience will be one of the highlights of your visit as Mediterranean cuisine is considered one of the healthiest diets globally.

Apropos, did you know that Rijeka is home to the only lifejacket from the Titanic, located in Europe. Even a torpedo was invented in Rijeka in 1866. Whilst in 1984, during the second round of the UEFA Cup, FC Rijeka outperformed the famous Real Madrid under the rocks of Kantrida Stadium, recognised by CNN as the third most unusual stadium in the world.

Rijeka Mosque – Image credit – @ozren_c, unsplash

From time immemorial Rijeka has been a multi-ethnic town welcoming everyone regardless of race or creed. This is confirmed by numerous churches like the Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas from 1787, the Christian Cathedral of St Vitus, Rijeka’s Synagogue, the largest pilgrimage center of Western Croatia in Trsat, and the newest place of worship – Rijeka’s Mosque.

This valuable and unique building of an unusual shape, besides being the 3rd and youngest mosque in Croatia, is also the first mosque built on the Adriatic since the Ottomans left these areas around 500 years ago.

A masterpiece of Dušan Džamonja, a famous Croatian sculptor of Macedonian origins, impressed the Emir of Qatar to such an extent that he decided to finance its construction. With its twenty-three-meter-high  minaret, the Rijeka Mosque quickly became the most beautiful religious building in Europe a source of pride for all Muslims in Croatia, especially the ten thousand Muslims living in Primorje and Gorski kotar County. 

This year celebrates its 10th anniversary so you are still on time to come and wish it all the best. 

For more information on this region log onto Balkans Luxury Concierge

Credit: Rijeka Tourist Board

Ivana Karanikic

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