"A City Coveted by Many" Rijeka by mikey_e

Rijeka Travel Guide: 286 reviews and 568 photos

Italian Conquests and Austrian Palaces

I first learned about Rijeka long before I had even contemplated a trip to Croatia seriously. For six years - first in highschool and then in University - I studied Italian language and linguistics. At some point in my studies I became interested in Gabriele D'Annunzio; not because of his politics, more because of his influence on pre-WWII Italy. I had long been fascinated by Europe in the first part of the 20th century, and D'Annunzio seemed to capture the essence of a time when all good reason and common sense seemed to fly out the window in a willful banishment of anything and everything that might have led to the destruction of the First World War. In 2005, I visited D'Annunzio's birthplace and family home in Pescara (because there's nothing else to do in Pescara) and read quite a bit on his plans for Rijeka and his failed attempt to capture the city for Italy.

History lives on

D'Annunzio may have been driven from the city and suffered a humiliating defeat of his plans to return Italy's former glory, but the Italians have nevertheless had a lasting effect on Rijeka and its surroundings. Even the city's main street - the Korzo - is designed to be like something in a typical Italian city, and many of Rijeka and Istria's residents (about 20% of them) hold Italian passports. It seems a bit ironic that a country that was ruled, at least for the first 8 years of its existence, by such a staunchly nationalist régime should possess a city that exuded Italianate culture and Austro-Hungarian architecture. Maybe that's exactly what makes Rijeka such an interesting place to visit. Whatever the reason, despite Rijeka's small siz relative to Zagreb and its lack of diplomatic or political importance within the Balkan drama, the city is full of life and excitement, like many of its sister cities along the Italian Adriatic coast.

Rocking to a different beat

In addition to Rijeka's history, there is a distinctly modern component to the city's vibrant culture and thriving nightlife. This is often billed as Croatia's most liberal city, a title that is not taken lighten given how conservative some parts of the country can be. Rijeka is known to have the most open gay scene in Croatia (maybe in the Balkans?) and its people like to experiment with fashion styles and music styles that, although commonplace in Western Europe, would be very much out of place in the centre of Zagreb. There are more than a few punks and rockers in the city, and the nightlife can easily satisfy any rocker's needs. Bars and clubs are varied and interesting, which is why this city should be on the top of the list of anyone who dreads finding Mallorca-like colonies all along the Dalmatian coast.

  • Last visit to Rijeka: Jun 2006
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (8)

Comments (4)

  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo
    Mar 9, 2010 at 1:31 PM

    We go to Croatia late April for one month and take all of it in-Dubrovnik up to Istria and Rijeka 5 days. Thanks for the tips, and maybe I use some Italiano in this fair city. Great tips and pictures.

  • Maurizioago's Profile Photo
    Jan 20, 2010 at 1:33 AM

    Nice page. I visited Rijeka loooong ago!

  • AUSSIECRO's Profile Photo
    May 31, 2008 at 12:04 PM

    RIJEKAs river runs next to MRTVI KANAL,you catch bus 13 GRAHOVO from the DELTA BUS TERMINAL next to DELTA carpark,CHECK timetable ask the bus driver RIJECI IZVOR, and find out next bus going back to the city busticket zone1 return 15.50 kuna,from kiosks

  • Jul 18, 2007 at 1:18 PM

    Oh yes, Rijeka definitely has a different vibe! Most people miss it which is a shame.


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