Restore your energy in the fresh forest air
The famous Lungomare coastal promenade is undoubtedly still one of the leading tourist attractions in Opatija. However, when in the town, you should not miss the chance to explore some of the Riviera's popular forest paths, where you can restore your energy in the fresh air surrounded by unspoilt nature – a perfect place to escape from the urban crowds and stress!
It all began with a wrong turning…
The Romanian King Carol, a guest at Opatija's Villa Amalia, once became lost during his daily horse ride in the woods somewhere beneath Veprinac (probably in 1896, on his first stay in Opatija). This made him quite furious, so next morning he went straight to the district principal, Baron Arthur von Schmidt-Zabierow, and asked why the paths were not better maintained and marked. When the cunning Zabierow confidentially explained that there just wasn’t the money, Carol gallantly produced a rather large amount necessary to deal with the matter. The money was well spent, and the construction of the footpath was completed in 1901. In memory of the donor, the trail used to be called "King Carol's Forest Trail" (König-Carol-Waldweg), and today it bears the name of Carmen Sylva. Another trail that was named after him was "King Carol's Promenade" (König-Carol-Promenade) – today it is called "Prolaz Matka Brajše".
Thanks to the plans of the Bavarian doctor Max Joseph Örtel, the forest paths in Opatija were accurately measured and provided with distance markings and rest areas with benches. If you want to walk the entire length of the trail, you should take the Veprinački put from Slatina to Plahuti, or take a shortcut through a small tunnel beneath Nova cesta street, follow the trail that leads to the source of the Vrutki stream, and from there climb the steep, narrow and winding path to the promenade.
A small bridge that leads over the stream of Vrutki was known as Littrow in Austrian times. Littrow was an admiral and professor at the Rijeka Nautical Academy. He lived in the Villa Rusticana in Opatija, and is also known as a poet and for his daughter who used to paint Opatija motifs. The source of the stream was also named after Littrow during the Austrian era, and then Mazzini by the Italians. Today the stream is once again called Vrutki.
After passing the Carmen Sylva residential complex, you will come across a board dedicated to Baron Arthur Schmidt-Zabierow, the former district principal of Volosko, who knew how to raise money from the Romanian king. This passionate snipe, griffon vulture and dolphin hunter, used to live in a property next to the present town hall, designed for him by Karl Seidl. He was buried in a family tomb in the cemetery in Volosko.
"Mala fortica" is the name of the belvedere that was built on Queen Elisabeth’s Rock. The plaque with the inscription Carmen Sylva Ruhe can be found above a stone bench beneath the belvedere. Carmen Sylva was the pseudonym used by the Romanian Queen Elisabeth when writing poetry. The belvedere "Vela fortica" (also known as Zorin vrh) was erected near Varljeni at an elevation of 180 metres above sea level. In 1904, an inn was opened in its immediate vicinity.
From Zorin vrh you can reach the coast in several ways. One of them leads through the Kosićevo residential complex, then through a small tunnel beneath Nova cesta street, and then further on to Volosko. On this route, right above Nova cesta, you can still see the inscription König Karol Fels carved in a rock along the winding path.
It's time to get going!
In addition to these paths, one should not forget the numerous trails that lead to Mount Učka and its highest peak of Vojak (1,396 m) and other mountains in the Liburnia hinterland. Well-maintained forest paths, fresh air, unspoilt green nature, numerous belvederes and a variety of interesting sites and landmarks – are reason enough to leave the coast for a day and explore the area's beautiful hinterland.
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