Sightseeing in Opatija
Opatija’s rich history and picturesque surroundings should not be missed. So when in Opatija, take a break from the beach and go sightseeing. Renaissance, Venetian, Gothic, ornate Secession, playful Baroque, Classicism, Alpine Baroque… Buildings of completely different styles have been erected in this popular tourist resort throughout history. Discover for yourself why Opatija has been one of the most popular destinations for sightseeing in Croatia since the 19th century when the Habsburgs turned it into one of Europe’s most popular destinations where nobles and aristocrats enjoyed in moments of peace and quiet far from their courts and daily politics.
Sights not to be missed in Opatija
Built in 1844 by Iginio Scarpa, a rich merchant from nearby Rijeka, Villa Angiolina was one of the first tourist resorts in Opatija. This building marked the beginning of tourism in Opatija and it was fully renovated in 2000. Tourists can view the richly decorated hall with its painted ceiling, where numerous social events, concerts and romantic weddings are held. Today it also serves as the museum of Croatian tourism.
The Park of St. Jakob and Park Angiolina
The Parks of St. Jakob and Park Angiolina were built between 1845 and 1860. These very popular parks are filled with plant life from around the world. They represent the monumental park architecture of Opatija. For many years in a row these parks have been granted the title of the most beautiful parks in Croatia.
Fountain of Helios and Selena
The Fountain of Helios and Selena is located across the street from Hotel Imperial near the church of St. Jacob. Sculptor Hans Rathausky of Graz created the fountain.
Fountain Slatina is centrally located on Opatija's main street in a charming park next to the Palace-Bellevue hotel, right across the street from the popular Slatina beach.
Maiden with the Seagull
Erected in 1956, the Maiden with the Seagull has become a symbol of Opatija. It is located on the bank of the sea along the popular “Lungomare” promenade. It is the work of the academic sculptor Zvonko Car. The sculpture’s connection with the sea originates in Opatija’s Austro-Hungarian past. Even by night the Nymph stands in an aura of light coming from the reflectors built into the rocks. Its silhouette lives in photo albums around the world and lures visitors to the Opatija Riviera.
Art pavilion Juraj Matija Sporer
Constructed in 1899, Art pavilion "Juraj Matija Sporer" was originally built as a trendy meeting place for the elite. Today, it is a top art gallery. It was fully renovated in 2003 in the aim of creating a high quality exhibition space and hall for cultural manifestations.
St. Jacob's Church
St. Jacob's Church was built in the early 15th century as a colony for the Benedictine monks. This abbey is the origin for Opatija's name. "Abbey" translates to "Opatija" in Croatian. However, very little has remained of its original appearance, as it was adapted in 1506, renovated at the end of the 18th century and expanded in the 1930s. A copy of the relief “Pieta” by the esteemed Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović, depicting the dying Christ with his mother Mary and Mary Magdalene, is held in the church.
Madonna del Mare
The Madonna del Mare originally stood where the Maiden with the Seagull is located today. A replica of Madonna can be seen at St. Jacob's Church. The original statue of the sorrowful Mother of God, the work of the master Rathausky from Graz, once stood on the rock by the sea in memory of Arthur Kesselstadt, who died at sea in 1891. The lone statue stood against years of waves and wind. After the sea damaged the sculpture in 1951, it was removed and restored to be permanently stored in 1996. A gold-plated replica of the Madonnina was put up next to the parish church of St. Jacob. In the place of the Madonna sculpture the Maiden with the seagull ascends to the landmark throne of Opatija.
Church of the Annunciation of Mary
At the urging of Austria's Franz Joseph I, the Church of the Annunciation of Mary began construction in 1906. The construction was begun by the Austrians according to the project by Karl Seidl, and was continued and completed by the Italians. It has interesting neo-Romanesque triple nave structure with its recognizable green dome.
Hotel Kvarner was the first hotel in Opatija and the Adriatic, opened in 1884. Its famous Crystal hall and beautiful terrace host numerous glamorous events throughout the year, while its 19th century architecture is the reason that today it is one of the most popular and photographed hotels in Opatija.
Hotel Imperial is the second hotel in Opatija, opened in 1885 as Hotel Stephanie. Its unique secession architecture will leave you breathless, while its Golden hall is popular for hosting different ceremonies and weddings. Austro-Hungarian emperor Franz Joseph I and his German counterpart Wilhelm II were among the numerous noble guests that stayed at the hotel back in the 19th century.
The history of the Belvedere Hotel
After Schwarz's sanatorium QUISISANA (the current OPATIJA Hotel), another health resort at Opatija was founded by the Hungarian physician dr. Kàlman Szegö. A native of the City of Eger, he was married to Helen Holländer. His medical establishment comprised four buildings: the sanatorium for adults, housed in the main edifice, and disposing of 50 rooms, as well as of hydrotherapeutical facilities; the children's department with 30 rooms; the building containing a consulting room, an X-ray machine, a laboratory and a billiard-room; the gymnasium with the adjacent sun-bathing terrace.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the resort was awarded with numerous prizes, diplomas and acknowledgments for its interior arrangement, equipment and exemplary hygienic conditions. Eighty rooms, 150 beds, central heating, a library, a bathing establishment, a winter garden, a park, a dining-room arranged like a carsic cave, as well as modern therapeutical methods were just a few of the many distinctive features of the dr. Szegö's sanatorium.
Children could enjoy the outdoor playground. There was also the possibility of organising classes. If they were older than seven, they could stay without being accompanied by adults. Their parents would receive regular weekly reports and the guarantee of a permanent surveillance. As an experienced pediatrician and child psychologist, dr. Szegö did not allow children to read daily newspapers or literary works for adults, because, according to the educational standards of that period, there was apprehension such a behaviour could cause their premature mental ripening, which could result in an unsolicited exposing of a personal opinion, as well as taking part in discussions without the prior consent of adults.
He continued to lead the resort until 1924. After the annexation of the City of Opatija to the Kingdom of Italy, the establishment changed its name to CASA DI CURA ABBAZIA. At the beginning of the 1930s, the sanatorium became a hotel under the name of GRANDE ALBERGO BELVEDERE.
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