Rijeka is known as the city that flows (grad koji teče). Not just for the Rječina river, but it seems they also have more rain here. Another thing we learnt about Rijeka is that its museums and galleries, several of which we planned to visit, are closed on Mondays. We arrived on a Sunday evening for a two night stay, allowing one full day (Monday!) to explore this, Croatia’s third largest city. Our base was on the waterfront, so in the evening we had an easy stroll around the centre, admiring the buildings as we checked the restaurant choices for dinner. For a couple of islanders, a sushi restaurant is a rare treat!
On Monday, our explorations of Rijeka were strictly outdoors on an October day which kept threatening to rain, but never quite did. On the positive side, those heavy dark clouds made for a dramatic backdrop to our photos! We set off to climb the 561 steps of the Petar Kružić staircase up to the Trsat fortress overlooking Rijeka. Built in 1531, the stairway was intended for pilgrims on their way to the church of Our Lady of Trsat. It’s an interesting, if fairly strenuous, ascent between some lovely large houses, and is quite breath-taking!
At the top, we headed first for Trsat castle, enjoying the spectacular views over Rijeka and the Rječina canyon below. This 13th century castle is one of a series of Frankopan fortresses defending territory along the Kvarner coastline. By the 17th century Trsat was in a bad state of repair, not helped by the major earthquake that hit the Rijeka-Bakar region in 1750. During the Napoleonic wars, the castle was given to Laval Nugent, an Irishman who was a Field Marshall in the Austrian army. He used the castle as his residence, and restored it with some neo-Gothic styling. These days it’s a popular excursion for Rijekans and tourists alike, complete with bar and restaurant in the courtyard where you can sit and enjoy those stunning views.
After our tour of the castle, we wandered into the tiny medieval town of Trsat. The single open restaurant we could find for lunch in October had only 4 dishes on the menu, all of them fish. But oh boy, did they cook them well! I had a superb orada (sea-bream) gregada, and himself tucked into a plate of small grilled fishes. And it was just as well we’d arrived early, as it proved to be a popular lunch spot!
Other notable buildings in Trsat are the church of Our Lady of Trsat, with its associated Franciscan monastery, to the rear of which is an impressive sunken garden. We visited those briefly after lunch before heading back into downtown Rijeka. This time we avoided the long straight stairway and opted for the smaller series of steps and paths that link the loops of the winding mountain road.
The next morning we woke to the sound of pounding rain. It was absolutely tipping down, with thunder and lightning and the whole show. We opted to have a quiet morning on the botel, before packing up and checking out just as the rain eased off. Rijeka certainly is the city that flows!
Find out more…
Science Direct: Evidence from the 1750 Croatia earthquake