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Friday, 25 March 2016

And The Croatian City To Be A European Capital of Culture In 2020 Will Be...(Drum Roll).....Rijeka

The coastal city of Rijeka was officially designated to represent Croatia as a European Capital of Culture in Europe for 2020. This will give the country and city and region especially a chance to showcase Croatian culture and its local history and culture also to the rest of the continent for a full calendar year.

I might as well quickly do this topic and bring to a conclusion a previous post HERE, plus some extra information and images for the benefit of the reader in case they're not familiar with or have never heard of the city of Rijeka. It's good timing too, because this news happened on the same day that the Serb hero and Serb church saint Radovan Karadzic was sentenced to 40 years for genocide and war crimes. (He won't be showing up to celebrate in Rijeka in 2020 I'm pretty sure, him and his pals will be shoving buttered plastic utensils up their butts instead, which if fine by me and as it should be). Anyway, last year it came down to 9 Croatian cities from which a winner would be chosen from to represent Croatia as a European Capital of Culture in 2020, those nominated cities being Dubrovnik, Djakovo, Osijek, Pula, Rijeka, Split, Varaždin, Zadar and Zagreb. Then shortlisted to Rijeka, Dubrovnik, Osijek and Pula.

I will just add that I'm sort of glad that Dubrovnik didn't get the candidate city honour, because that city gets enough mention lately. Over the past few years the HBO series "Game of Thrones" has been filming around there, even Bollywood films, a number of other films also and now even Star Wars has been filming there for a few weeks, that's on top of other regular local annual festivals and events. Introducing Dubrovnik to the continent as something new to experience and learn about is not a high priority I think, the same goes for similar reasons about the capital city Zagreb and Split, I'm pretty sure most of Europe know where Zagreb and Split are also and at least some of their history and current goings on scenes. There's much more to Croatia than just Zagreb, Split and Dubrovnik, so I definitely think less well known cities like Rijeka is a better choice for those reasons.

Although any of the other less well known 6 cities I felt would be a better choice also, each one has interesting things to offer and experience to the unfamiliar, local historical and cultural things and events, interesting local food and drinks specialties, and the more modern events and projects etc.

For instance as a brief synopsis, the city of Rijeka has a long history from even before the town/city didn't exist yet, just mainly the early Trsat stronghold fort, so there are numerous interesting things to see and do and learn about. (Prononunced "Ree-ye-ka" in Croatian and having the meaning of river after the Rječina river which flows into the Adriatic sea through the city of Rijeka). Croatian Duke Višeslav fought an important historical battle at the end of the 8th century near Rijeka's Trsat Castle, (more specifically near today's Trsat neighbourhood and vicinity which is part of Rijeka and the location of ancient Trsat, hence the castle name), from which the later city of Rijeka grew and expanded around, it was a precursor battle and event that eventually directly effected a continuum and expedited soon rising better organized and independent Croatian realms as well as other Dukes, Princes and Kings after him. (Although the Croatian tribes are recorded in sources as arriving to ancient Dalmatia, Illyricum and Pannonia and where we are today from the north in the 6-7th centuries, it wasn't until the late 8th and early 9th century that more efficiently ruled early duchies and military/political organization became more pronounced and evident in historical written records by historians, (the Croats still remained Pagan up to that time), strategically situated between and bordering the Bulgarian/Byzantine empires and the Lombard kingdom/Frankish Carolingian empire, and coincidentally interesting even well before the formation of Poland, Czechia, Slovakia, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and others btw, ie; early duchies and then an officially recognized kingdom named specifically after our own name including our own Kings, Queens and royal dynasties...just some less well known supplementary information which is pretty interesting, ie: we didn't just pop out of nowhere in the 20th century). Through the centuries its location within the Kvarner Gulf especially made it a very strategic area to control and possess as enemy land forces or ships could be more easily spotted from the hills. Rijeka/Trsat and further Istrian peninsula areas were part of the early Croatian Duchy of Duke Branimir in 879, the Croatian Kingdom during the reign of King Tomislav in 925 and to the time of King Zvonimir in the late 11th century sources record. It was near the crossroads where Croatian culture and historical sphere bordered at first with the Lombard kingdom, then the Frankish Carolingian empire, then later the Venetian empire, later also in conjunction with Austrian and Hungarian political frameworks when the Croatian crown lands were part of the House of Habsburg empire, (even Napoleon occupied the city for a short time in the early 19th century for a few years). Trsat/Rijeka and most of the Istrian peninsula was still a part of the medieval Croatian Kingdom from 925 right up to the time that Croatia joined in a union with Hungary around the year 1100. Rijeka and much of the surrounding area was then administered by powerful Croatian Princes, Counts, Lords and Bans (Viceroys/Governors) and some of them are even buried at Trsat Castle today, most notably Vuk Krsto Frankopan of the House of Frankopan as well as the Croatian Duke, captain, soldier and Defender of Klis and Captain of Senj, Petar Kružić, who were important Croatian nobles and military leaders from medieval and renaissance times along with the House of Zrinski and House of Šubić noble family lines. A number of important defensive battles against marauding eastern invaders in 1241 and Muslim Ottoman, Saracen and Moors naval attacks and kidnapping expeditions were fought and repelled here in the middle ages also, mainly attempting to carry off women and children. (writers at the time called them "battles that saved civilization", so they were important events of not only Croatian history). In the famous medieval Croatian Law Codex of Vinodol from 1288 it was mentioned as the stronghhold of Tarsatica (ie: today's Trsat) and part of the larger Vinodol župa/county, it was in the possession of the Dukes of Krk and especially the Croatian House of Frankopan nobility, in the late 13th century Trsat started to be known in sources as Rijeka with towers, shops and streets. During the 16th and 17th centuries Rijeka came under attack from both Turkish and Venetian forces, and it became a local base for irregular Croatian Habsburg troops known as the Uskoks (in Croatian having a meaning similar to "the Jumpers"). In 1885, when the Croatian crown lands were a part of the Habsburg crown, 45% of sailors and NCOs and 10-15% of naval officers were ethnically Croatian. Between 1857 and 1918 an Austro-Hungarian naval officer academy was located in Rijeka with an NCO training school in Šibenik. As recently as the early 90's the Serb controlled Yugoslav army (which was already just strictly a Serb army by that point) was on alert and prepared to attack the city like in other parts of Croatia, but then they retreated to other areas to continue attacks with Serb church supported and armed irregulars there instead. (during the Serb shelling and attacks on Dubrovnik in 1991/92, it was actually members of Rijeka police units who arrived first greatly contributing to unblocking and the liberation of the city of Dubrovnik and surrounding area in April 1992), so the various medieval Croatian dukes and nobles actually had a large part to play in the Rijeka Carnival existing today. Even the oldest large circulation Croatian language daily newspaper Novi list (literally: "New paper") was published in the city of Rijeka in 1900 and is still publishing today. Basically, that's a very brief synopsis that there's plenty of history and historical things to satisfy anyones interest, too much to discuss here but you get my point.

(Just one interesting and more recent trivia fact...Did you know that the Rijeka Maritime and History Museum has 1 of only 5 life jackets that survived the sinking of the Titanic and it's the only one found in Europe? Yep, that's practically the making for a star studded and mega-budget Oscar winning blockbuster movie....(enter symphonic piano music intro, sound of a foghorn and ship's bell and seagulls and scene of a floating life jacket on the rolling waves)..."The Life Jacket'... starring Tom Hardy as Percival Stafford the alcoholic anarchist poet and ship's captain, Kate Beckinsale as Monique Flanders the jilted former scat porn actress/florist who's ex-husband left and eloped with the travelling circus trapeze girl, she snuck onto the ship.....looking for love, Keanu Reeves as the martini drinking hitman with a strange accent and scar that he always says is an old army injury from the Spanish-American war, but he doesn't speak or understand a word of Spanish which adds to the suspense, Julie Delpy as Rhonda Lindeman the former school teacher who is now a bar maid and part-time astrologer/palm reader, Matthew McConaughey is the broody and contemplative soccer player who didn't make cut for Liverpool, he's off to America now instead to try his luck at the baseballing and playing the cards, also co-starring Susan Boyle as Molly the sultry 3rd deck floozy who always makes her patrons feel like a man, and Richard Simmons as the happy go lucky always jovial and dancing cabin boy with a horribly dark secret past. There will be lots of explosions, intrigue, drama, romance, action, mystery, chase scenes, splashing waves and more. Coming soon to theatres near you, check your local listings. Wow, where can I reserve my ticket?)

Sketch of the walled fort town of Rijeka and Trsat Castle overlooking from above in 1689.

Here's an interesting map of the Croatian lands dedicated to Petar Zrinski, Ban (Viceroy/Prince & Governor) of Croatia during the 17th century, and showing the location of Rijeka. The map was created at the workshop of Joannes Blaeu in Amsterdam as an addition to the work by Croatian historian Ivan Lučić, (Latin: Johannes Lucius) "De Regno Dalmatiae et Croatiae libri sex", Amsterdam, 1666. (On the Kingdom of Dalmatia and Croatia in six books) Blaeu had included the map in Atlas Maior in 1667, and dedicated it to the Croatian Ban Petar Zrinski. At the bottom of the map in the middle it reads..."To the most illustrious and noble Lord, Prince Peter of Zrin, the Ban of the united Kingdom of Dalmatia, Croatia and Slavonia, (Triune Kingdom) hereditary Ban of the Littoral, hereditary captain of the Legrad fortress and Medimurje peninsula, master and hereditary Prince of Lika, Odorje, Krbava, Omis, Klis, Skradin, Ostrovica, Bribir etc.., Master of Kostajnica and the sliver mine at Gvozdansko, councillor and chamberlain to his anointed imperial majesty, master Ioannes Blaeu dedicates this map." The map highlights the Croatian lands including its regional divisions and the location of the fort town of Rijeka and surrounding area during the time of Peter Zrinski.

Location of Trsat/Rijeka during the continental political and monarchial map of Europe circa. 9th-12th century. (You'll notice that in the Middle Ages before union with Hungary and the later bogomil and muslim jihads colonialism incursions, as well as other subversives), most of the areas corresponding to today's BiH republic were ethnically and de jure and de facto lawfully Croatian crown lands, with even a local Croatian ban/viceroy of the Bosnia area a representative of and subservient to the Croatian King and monarchy dynasties)

In the 13th century Trsat Castle replaced an older smaller fort dating to the Croatian Duchy in the 8th century, and is still strategically overlooking the city of Rijeka today.

But these days the modern city of Rijeka is much more than just history or just sitting around downtown cafes or drinking beers at patios reading the Coffee News newspaper about the newest hair salon, tanning salon or burger & fries joint opening up, like many may think. Rijeka is actually a very progressive, hip, artsy and edgy city also. Yes there's Baroque and classicist buildings also, centuries old churches and cathedrals, castles and manors, classical arts, opera houses, theatres and museums too, but it's important to know it's also a center of modern arts and artists, musicians and a thriving music scene, modern and alternative art galleries and literary events, it's a Croatian high tech center and there's fashion designers galore, state of the art modern events and projects as well as an important Croatian port and shipbuilding center and a Croatian Navy port. (I especially like the gastronomy and foods/drinks related events, there's plenty of good restaurants in Rijeka and a few of them I was able to try out, but there's more than enough fast food places too). Plenty of the modern mixed in with the Old European charm many times side by side, which results in a very interesting and eclectic atmosphere.

These days there's the annual Rijeka Carnivalsailing & yachting events, skiing at the nearby Platak Ski Resort, many sports and sporting venues and many other cool things to see and do throughout the year, so Rijeka is a good choice I think in regards to better known Zagreb and Dubrovnik (I also spent two whole summer in Rijeka when I was a kid as well as visited a few times since, and I also have a tattoo I got there last time so that's sort of cool too I think). Another cool thing to know is that the town of Opatija is just on the other side of the Kvarner bay, you can see it when it when looking out towards the sea and it's almost like a suburb of Rijeka. Well, it's not really an actual suburb, but it's just right there like a 10 minute ride down the coast across the bay. That way when you're fed up with the traffic, the shootings and stabbings, botched crack deals, the shit, piss, snot, puke and blood or just the creepazoids and mutants crawling around and just need some R&R, then the Croatian riviera is just right there too. That's good to know also I think.

I should note, there's been problems with televangelists and other religious mind-control gurus and subversive wackos coming to Rijeka over the last few years, even trying to set up shop and spread absurd histories and subversive literature, but luckily Croatian mind control experts and anti-subversive project efforts are making a big difference. Recently a big underground Muslim-rap cartel plan was foiled by the authorities also, there were pitched battles in the streets, explosions and even helicopters flying over the shanty town districts using infrared cameras to locate the imported books and pamphlets. (even some buses were hijacked and passengers abducted then forced to listen to their sermons). All sorts of anti-civilizational fuckos and galavanting subversives are tracked these days to keep Rijeka safe, fashionable, the beer taps flowing, hip and normal, protecting the children from them is even more important than saving the forests and animals (The current Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović is from Rijeka after all). You can hit the tags at the bottom for more interesting Rijeka related posts for more information. The city now has 4 years to plan and make it a very interesting year for the city. I'm looking forward to see what kind of projects and events they have planned for down the road in 2020.

Related: one-of-nine-croatian-cities-will-be-euro-cultural-capital

When the night and moon come out is the time downtown Rijeka really comes alive.


ZAGREB, March 24 (Xinhua) -- The Croatian city of Rijeka, located in northern coast of the Adriatic, was chosen as one of the two European Capitals of Culture in 2020 on Thursday.

An international panel of cultural experts, including officials from EU institutions and Croatia made the decision after Rijeka and other three Croatian cities, Dubrovnik, Osijek, Pula, presenting their respective programs in this competition.

Trsat Castle overlooking part of downtown Rijeka. (Personal pic)

Rijeka will share the European Capital of Culture 2020 title with an Irish city which will be selected in July 2016. Shortlisted Irish cities are Galway, Limerick and Waterford.

During 2020, as the European Capital of Culture, Rijeka will host a series of cultural events with a strong European dimension.

Croatian National Theatre Ivan pl. Zajc, a theatre/opera and ballet house built in 1885. More information later.

In 2016, the culture capitals are San Sebastian in Spain and Wroclaw in Poland.

The idea of selecting capitals of culture was proposed in 1985 by former actress Melina Mercouri, who was then Greece’s Minister of Culture, and her French counterpart Jack Lang. They came up with the idea of designating an annual Capital of Culture to bring Europeans closer together by highlighting the richness of European cultures and raising awareness of their common history and values, but also highlighting their diversity and distinct personal histories and cultures.

A scene from one of the many events that take place annually in the summer at Trsat Castle. More images HERE. It's cool that the Trsat Castle doesn't just sit there as a place to only take pictures, there's patio restaurants and bar and many concerts, reenactments, festivals and events that take place annually.

Trsat Castle again, what better place for a medieval themed puppet show than that? More images HERE.

A view from Trsat Castle.

It's not always sports, art galleries and museums like I said. Rijeka is a hip and edgy progressive modern city also with an eclectic ambiance. Below are some scenes from the annual Rijeka Karneval in 2013, which is just one part of the festivities that take place every Lent season in Croatia. (see also previous Rijeka Karneval posts for more). From late January to early March the city has numerous entertainment and food events, concerts, parades, floats, masked balls harkening back to local 18th and 19th century aristocratic times, various cultural themed festivals, pageants of all sorts, fireworks, the choosing of the official "Carnival Queen", the Hanging of the Ghastly Ghoul and culminating in a main grand finale parade closing out the season and the Rijeka Karneval. Official website:

Some cool views of Rijeka using that interesting timelapse perspective. (It looks even better in full screen view)

Rijeka - City in Motion from Goran Razic on Vimeo.

Interesting comments from 2014 about whether the city should even put forward a candidate city bid for 2020, it's a good thing they did.

Waterfront evening scene in March with the Platak ski resort in the background.

Aerial view of bridges over the old canal leading to the city center.

This and that downtown. Image: Alamy

Although some people may have already known about the duchies and Croatian Kingdom from the Middle Ages, some people may be surprised to know that since 1102 the Croatian crown lands were then afterwards also autonomous and politically united with Hungary and the Habsburg empire for over 800 years before the 21st century came around and official independence again. Below a view from downtown rooftops.

View from near the main bus station. (Personal pic)

Decorated during Advent every November 27-January 7th.

Likewise as in the case of other Central European countries today that were formerly part of the Habsburg monarchy and empire for centuries, there are still numerous reminders in buildings and architecture, and because the Croatian crown lands were also the city of Rijeka became particularly important and strategic as Rijeka was the most important major sea port of the empire's navy, nearby Pula was also an important port to a lesser extent. After Napoleon briefly occupied the city between 1809-1813 (including Dalmatian Croatia all the way to Dubrovnik) as part of a new French autonomous province, in 1885 approximately 45% of sailors and NCOs and 15% of naval officers were ethnically Croatian. Between 1857 and 1918 an Austro-Hungarian naval officer academy was located in Rijeka with an NCO training school in Šibenik. And being a main maritime outlet into the Adriatic sea Rijeka became an important top 5 major port along with Marseilles, Genoa, Naples and Trieste.

Personal pic.

Just a few other interesting historical points of interest I should mention for those unfamiliar, located just steps from the various shops and cafe/bar patios downtown one can also come across late antiquity Roman empire remains here and there. Below is the remains of a wall commonly known in older literature as a "Roman Arch" or "Gate". In Croatian known simply as the "Stara Vrata" (Old Gateway/Door), it is believed to have been built during the reign of Emperor Claudius around 46 CE after defeating local barbarians that were a threat to reach Italy. Roman Empire remains can still be found in various parts of Croatia and in Europe, and likewise not surprisingly in Rijeka also. (this would of course be centuries before the arrival into the area of the Ostrogoths, Lombards and finally the Croats taking control in the 6th-7th century). This particular arch is believed by archaeologists to have been one of several entrance gates leading into the old imperial Castrum, an entrance doorway used by the Roman Pretorian Guard soldiers into the local garrison camp barracks. A number of historians and archeologists agree that the Roman Arch and especially other nearby discovered now ruins of this imperial Castrum were probably also used during the time of the early Croatian Prince Višeslav, who after defeating Eric of Friuli in 799 would have then controlled and most likely also camped with his soldiers at the old town castrum Tarsatica, ie: today's Trsat-Rijeka. And to add even more interesting zany suspense and uniqueness, the archway today is partly attached to an old church from the 13th century and a building that's part department store and part Habsburg era town house (a few other views), and this all just steps from the downtown core, good to know.

And another common sight in downtown Rijeka I should highlight is of the old "City Tower" or "Clock Tower", which is also a popular easy to reach local meeting point and seen in many photos of the downtown core. Built originally in the Middle Ages probably on the foundations of the Late Antiquity littoral town gates, the baroque phases of its construction can be seen on the lower part of the front of the Tower, including an imperial coat of arms carved out of stone and a relief of the Holy Roman empire and Habsburg emperors Leopold I and Charles VI. Rijeka paid them special respect due to the maritime orientation they introduced into the state policies of the Imperial court, and because of their absolute abhorrence to the teachings of Islam and crimes perpetrated by the attacking Ottomans Serbs empire. (this would be from the Habsburg Croatia centuries, ie: the Kingdom of Croatia (in Kingdom of Hungary-Croatia and in Habsburg Monarchy) and the contemporaneous Croatian–Ottoman wars which were part of the overall Habsburg-Ottoman wars, and even simultaneous Venetian-Ottoman wars, see previous shown map and 1689 Rijeka sketch showing the double-headed eagle coat of arms). The city clock has been situated here since the 17th century and the Rijeka City Coat of Arms is sculptured in high relief below the City Tower’s clock. The emperor Leopold I granted the double-headed eagle coat of arms to Rijeka in 1659, which was also similar to the Habsburg Monarchy Imperial double-headed eagle coat of arms. However the heads of Rijeka’s double-headed eagle are stylized in a way very unique in heraldic terms as they both look in the same direction. The Rijeka eagle holds an urn in its claws from which an inexhaustible supply of water is running and is supposed to symbolize the infinite loyalty of the city in defending against any eastern intruders or invasions from the sea. This “inexhaustibility", an integral part of the coat of arms, is bolstered by the motto INDEFICIENTER (inexhaustible, unfailing) carved out in Latin. (The sculpture of Rijeka’s double-headed eagle was situated on top of the tower’s turret for 247 years until the early 20th century, but an exact replica was placed atop the dome of the City Tower again on 19th April 2017. Classically trained sculptor Hrvoje Uremović modelled it in accordance with the guidelines of the Conservation Department in Rijeka and the existing archive materials and it is a carbon copy replica of the historic sculpture. It was made at the Art Foundry of the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb and is made of aluminium and weighs approximately 270 kg. It is 255 cm tall and has a wingspan of 3 meters positioned at a height of 30 meters). Along the sides of the tower, early classical palaces were built as annexes, construction commencing at the end of the 18th century. In the passage by the tower that leads to Rijeka’s Old Town, the passage once represented the main door of the fortified town and was locked at night with guards, there are memorial inscriptions and a medieval gothic master-stonemason’s complete signature has been preserved. (I told you that Rijeka and Croatia have a very interesting history, and I didn't even get into the ghosts, haunted places and the paranormal)

Evening reverse view through the gate entrance. Image:

Lots of baroque buildings and architecture in downtown Rijeka, along with art nouveau and art deco here and there. Also of course including quite a number of nearby cool museums and galleries. (Personal pic)

Downtown you'll come across many different architectural styles from the past and in various colours also, all making for an interesting time while shopping or sipping your coffee or beers, filling your pie-hole etc. I should note that there really are no proletarians or Marxist-Leninist Bolsheviks to be seen either, because especially after the Enlightenment everybody is actually bourgeois, haute bourgeoisie/petite bourgeoisie and Bohemian no matter what their job is or beer/coffee joint they're at. (Personal pic)

The shopping complex right in the middle of the main street downtown is sort of a familiar and easily accessbile local meeting point. "Oh OK, I'll meet you in front of the Robna Kuća around 10". (In Croatian "Robna Kuća" means sort of like department store/shopping center, good to know in your vocabulary so you don't get lost - Personal pic)

An outlet of the Rječina river near the downtown core from which the city gets its name (also known as the old kanal it flows into the Adriatic sea at Rijeka). The first written document using the Croatian version name of Rijeka dates from the 13th century when it was still just a very small settlement and fort, the left side of the Rječina river (old canal/stari kanal seen below) was termed by the old antiquity name Tarsatica (Trsat) and the right side was termed Rijeka. Trsat Castle can be seen in the distance to the far left.

A permanently lit Memorial Bridge and monument was built downtown over the Rječina river in 2002, in honour of Croatian defenders and veterans. 

Of course for a change of pace from modern theatres, video games and the bingo halls or just for something completely fucked up wacko and different, the Croatian National Theatre Ivan pl. Zajc in Rijeka (Croatian: Hrvatsko narodno kazalište Ivana pl. Zajca Rijeka) is always an option all year round. Named after Croatian composer Ivan Zajc, the new theatre, opera and ballet house was built in 1885, (although these arts were already performed and part of city life centuries previously in an older theatre). During June and July, the theatre hosts a Summer Nights festival also including many modern plays and theatrical works. If you can get a ticket, it’s worth it even if only to catch a glimpse of the ceiling paintings done by the world famous symbolist painter Gustav Klimt, (yep it's true, that 160 million dollars a painting Gustav Klimt guy), the stage curtain was painted by Oton Gliha, a Croatian artist who lived on and was inspired by the landscape of Krk Island and other artwork. (similar 19th century classic theatres are also located in Split, Zagreb, Osijek, Varaždin, Zadar and Dubrovnik btw). More information at the Rijeka theatre official website:

From a variety of notable people connected to Rijeka and Croatian history, a special mention should be accorded to Ivan Mažuranić, a Croatian poet, linguist, lawyer and politician who is considered to be one of the most important figures in Croatia's political and cultural life in the mid-19th century and who's legacy is still resonating today. (Even introducing progressive reforms that prevented the equivalent of today's foreign religious cults/televangelists from forming subversive organizations). One high point was his speech in front of the Croatian Parliament on December 13th 1886 in the Croatian language when he said "Vjerujem u Hrvatsku, u njezinu prošlost, u njezinu sadašnjost i u njezinu budućnost" (I believe in Croatia, in its past, in its present and its future) while a part of the Habsburg Monarchy. He was also the grandfather of future acclaimed poet, writer and author of children's books Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić.

Section of the waterfront at downtown. Perhaps surprising to some, Rijeka really isn't a "beach city" per se because it's known as a port city, usually you have to go a bit further away from the city center for more beachy type scenes, but they are in the vicinity and not too shabby.

For those not in the know, the oldest existing large circulation Croatian language continuously daily published newspaper Novi list (In Croatian literally meaning "New paper") was published in the city of Rijeka in the year 1900 and it's still publishing today. (I know what you're thinking..."Narodni list" founded in the city of Zadar in 1862 is still the oldest existing continuous Croatian language newspaper still publishing today, however it's weekly editions)

Like I said and I've seen this first hand, at night is when the downtown scene becomes more alive, during the summer especially.

Once you leave the inland continental Croatia regions and hit Rijeka and the coastal areas, you're probably going to eat more seafood for obvious reasons. Rijeka cuisine is famous for seafood from Kvarner bay, cheese, Pršut ham, truffles, homemade pastas from the nearby Croatian Istra peninsula region; lamb fed on salty herbs from the islands of Pag, Cres and Krk; and meat, wild game and mushrooms and berries from nearby Lika and Gorski Kotar region. Yep, you can still eat the same foods available elsewhere throughout the country but you're going to eat more seafood probably also.

Part of the recently built Zamet Sports Hall Complex won a number of European awards for architecture, there's always plenty of sports and recreation activities going on there all year round for people to check out. There are also motorsport racetracks as Rijeka annually organizes car and motorcycle races at nearby Autodrom Grobnik as well as marathons and triathlons. There's no shortage in various sporting/recreation activities to attend.

The little known about Rijeka Astronomical Center and Observatory is a popular place for local school trips but also has programs and events running throughout the whole year for everyone and all ages. The planetarium, observatory telescope and other interactive features gives the visitor detailed information and cool views of galaxies billions of light years away, of the moon, earth, constellations, satellite views of the continents, the magics behind rainbows, solstices, equinoxes, lunar phases, meteorites, the tides, proof that it's not a flat earth and much more. More information at and

The retractable roofed Kantrida Swimming Pool Complex and International Aquatic Center is a popular place in Rijeka but not much known about outside of Croatia. Consisting of 5 pools including 2 Olympic class racing pools and a high dive pool, it also hosted the 2008 European Short Course Swimming Championships among other world class competitions. More information at a previous post HERE.

Another good thing to know is that just like in other parts of Croatia, yes it definitely does snow in Rijeka regularly also. (I've come across many people who had no clue, it may sound crazy but it's true, there's really more than just summer photos). The nearby Platak Ski Resort is a popular get away location every winter season for local skiers and snowboarders etc. Platak Ski Resort is actually even open and running even as I'm writing this post in late March, so there's no need to travel all the way to Sljeme at Zagreb to go skiing, one of the little known facts to keep in mind.

I better put a photo of downtown Rijeka during winter, just in case the reader still may not believe me that it snows here regularly. To me it makes the holidays and New Year's events more picturesque and holidayish.

I should note that there are tattoo shops in Croatia all-year round of course, but for something different and a little more hardcore, Rijeka also hosts its own annual Rijeka Tattoo Expo that takes place every November. (featuring Croatian and even other European tattoo artists you can even get tattoos of any of the Rijeka related people or things as a memento, you sure can't buy that at a souvenir stand).

The imperial bestowed Rijeka county coat of arms from the 18th century, another Rijeka related coat of arms specifically signifying the surrounding larger historic administrative subdivision of the Rijeka area within Croatian crown lands which was within the dual Habsburg Monarchy. Although some people may have already known about the duchies and Croatian Kingdom from the Middle Ages, some people may be surprised to know that since 1102 the Croatian crown lands were then afterwards also autonomous and politically united with Hungary and the Habsburg empire for over 800 years before the 21st century came around and official independence again.

...and for the benefit of the reader another interesting one to note from the same general but later era is the Croatian Triune Kingdom coat of arms used between 1868–1918, representing the whole autonomous Croatian Kingdom lands within the Habsburg Dual Monarchy, represented were the 3 main regional and historical Croatian crown lands of the time since the 17th-18th century but which ultimately extend back to 1102 and were formed out of the original medieval Croatian Kingdom. (similar to the case of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia coats of arms used in the official national Czech Republic flag, example). One can still see it today on the Croatian Parliament building (Hrvatski Sabor) in Zagreb and many other important government and other buildings, flags and official documents throughout the country that date back to the 19th century (at the time officially termed as the "Trojedna Kraljevina Hrvatska, Slavonija i Dalmacija"/Triune Kingdom of  Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia). Today these historical regions of Croatia and former crown lands are of course familiar as some of the shields making up the crown over the main national Croatian coat of arms on the modern day official Croatia flag which has always represented the whole Croatian lands (with the historical region of Istra and city of Dubrovnik also being specifically represented with a commemorative shield also). For this reason during that time the Croatian Ban/Viceroy was not only the Ban of the historical and whole Croatian crown lands/Croatia but could also when desired specifically style himself to the Habsburg and Hungarian crown as the hereditary rightful Ban/Viceroy of the Croatian Triune Kingdom, affirmed and symbolized by this special coat of arms, some pretty cool historical tidbits to know. (btw there's a lot of interesting and cool looking Croatian civic heraldry, armorial bearings, municipal and city escutcheons/coats of arms used over the centuries, with some including various animals, beasts and creatures, however this is as far as I'm going in regards to just this city of Rijeka topic)

Lastly to end this topic, I came across some useful links and information about the planning involved up to now and the future plans for 2020. You can read it at

And here's some more information about the history and location of Rijeka and reasons why they felt it should be the chosen candidate for 2020. You can read that at (English version HERE)

If you've read this far, then you may want to check out some other links also since it's the Easter holiday weekend. What better time than that to read about the custom and history of Croatian Easter Eggs?, a tradition that goes back many centuries. (aka "Pisanica" in Croatian, which means drawn/painted eggs). For information and media click onto the nelow previous post links;.....



These days you can see Pisanica in many Croatian cities and towns, real egg versions and larger versions. The huge ones can be seen even in other European cities like these. Below is a recently installed large Pisanica/Croatian painted Easter Egg in downtown Bruxelles, Belgium. (These particular large painted display Pisanica are not actual real eggs btw)

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