Great history of a city Crikvenica

Crikvenica - a combination of ancient history and modernity. With its sun-drenched beaches and beautiful promenades, this coastal gem has been a symbol of cultural significance and natural beauty for centuries.

Life has been present in the Crikvenica area for several millennia. Traces of the Illyrians (Liburni tribe), one of the oldest European peoples, who lived there around 2,000 BC, have been found. There were also coins with the image of Alexander the Great that originated from Greek civilization. In the 1st century, not far from the center, there was once a military station and a settlement ad turres on the Roman main road with a ceramics factory. This complex has recently been extensively investigated archaeologically. Thus Crikvenica also gets a Roman identity.

Croats settled these areas at the end of the 8th and the beginning of the 9th century and assimilated the existing Roman population. To the new homeland, Croats brought their social order, culture and very precisely elaborated customary law. In order not to forget the customs, in 1288 they compiled a legal document – The Vinodol Law - one of the oldest legal writings in Europe written in the Glagolitic script. The law referred to the area of Vinodol – which in the early Middle Ages was a larger territorial entity composed of nine free municipalities with cities: Grobnik, Trsat, Hreljin, Bakar, Drivenik, Grižane, Bribir, Ledenice and Novi – and reached all the way to Rijeka. At that time, Kotor from Crikvenica belonged to the municipality of Grižane. The term Vinodol has changed throughout history, so this geographical name today refers only to the elongated basin in the hinterland of the town of Crikvenica.

For Crikvenica and the entire Vinodol (Vinodol County) the period from 1225 to 1671 is particularly important, when it was governed by Frankopan princes who at that time had kinship and business ties in Europe, moved among the European elegant world and brought a new lifestyle and a higher cultural standard. They renovate, build and decorate churches and monasteries, procure works of art, spread literacy, build fortifications, and improve trade and the economy in general. Nicholas IV, who built the monastery and restored the old church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, stands out in the Family Lineage of the Frankopans. It was erected in gothic style, but for centuries it was remodeled and upgraded and acquired the characteristic of Baroque. On the main altar is a valuable Gothic painting of the Virgin Mary with a child, which is thought to have been created in the 14th century in the workshop of Paolo Veneziano. Carved wooden figures and altars imitating marble ones, which were built in richer churches, are also valuable. They show a high level of technical craftsmanship and artistic value. On August 14, 1412, Nikola IV donated the monastery along with other estates to the monks of St. Paul the Hermit, whom the people, because of their white habit, called white friars. In this document, for the first time in the official document, the name Crikvenica is mentioned, so this year is considered and marked as the year of its origin, and August 14 is celebrated as the Day of the City. For the four hundred years that the Paulines were in it, the monastery was for the whole of Vinodol a nursery of spiritual culture, education, art, science, medicine, pharmacy, and other activities. In the possession of Pauline was also a rich library.. The renowned miniaturist Juraj Julije Klović - Croata (born in nearby Grižane in 1498 and passed away in Rome in 1578) also received his first schooling here. He was famously known as the "Little Michelangelo".

The Pauline monastery in Crikvenica operated until 1786, when the order was abolished by decree of the Austrian Emperor Joseph II. This act dissolved the library, alienated the monastery's artistic and scientific treasures and valuable historical records in the Glagolitic script, the Old Slavic script that was nurtured here. This was a major blow to the development and culture of Crikvenica.

However, today's Crikvenica is a younger settlement. It was created mainly by the relocation of the population from the nearby overcrowded hill Kotor to the seashore, which further fuelled a large fire that ravaged the old settlement in 1776.

Due to the lack of arable land, the first inhabitants of Crikvenica turn to the sea and live from it for centuries. Legend has it that the old people of Crikvenica were born on fishing nets. “ ... Here there was only a deserted stone on which one could neither sow nor reap, and one had to live ..." – said the former fishing expert and innovator of fishing assets, Ivan Skomerža from Crikvenica. In the 19th century Crikvenica was the center of fishing for bluefish (mainly sardines) in the upper Adriatic.

In the 19th century Crikvenica was the center of fishing for bluefish (mainly sardines) in the upper Adriatic. Although from its inception, and through numerous centuries, the fishing tradition in Crikvenica was the longest, in the years after World War II it began to suddenly shut down and in recent years completely disappeared. There is no fishing, but there is some connection. It is the well-known Crikvenica "Aquarium", which is visited by numerous visitors throughout the year, and is in the very center of the city. At about 200 cubic meters, in an almost natural setting, there are 24 swimming pools inhabited by more than a hundred species of fish from the Adriatic and about fifty specimens of tropical marine fish. Particularly interesting are the Adriatic murine, sea cat, seahorse, lobster, and octopus.

The people of Crikvenica have always predicted the weather according to the circumstances in nature. The most skilled in this were fishermen, because going out to sea without a safe weather forecast can be fatal. If Velebit had a "hat", made of clouds, it was almost certain that the bora would blow on the second day, and if the sun was setting in the clouds on the west side, it is a sign that there could be rain. It used to be predicted what the weather would be like and according to the phases of the moon, and often looked at the sea surface, because it also predicted a weather change. Nevertheless, at the end of the 19th century, the first meteorological measuring instruments were installed at the then pharmacy. Shortly afterwards, in 1901, a weather station was built in Stjepan Radić Park. This white wooden "cottage" has been in the same place for 106 years and continuously, recording temperature and other meteorological data for 24 hours. At the time of construction, it was one of the few in the country. Although today meteorological conditions in Crikvenica are monitored in another, more modern way, data are delivered daily from the meteorological "house" to the State Hydrometeorological Institute in Zagreb, and rarely does a passer-by miss the opportunity to "cast an eye" on instruments and learn firsthand the data on local weather conditions. The old weather station is today a valuable historical and cultural monument of Crikvenica.

In the second half of the 19th century. Crikvenica began to develop as a climatic health resort. The first small boarding houses (the first was in 1887 the boarding house "Bedenk") and in 1891 the first hotel "Clotilde" near the port, on Stjepan Radić Square, in the building where the pharmacy and the Harbour Master's Office are now located.

However, the main foundations of tourism in Crikvenica were hit by the construction of the hotels "Therapia" (1895) and "Miramare" (1906), which were initially intended for health tourism. "Therapia" is a magnificent building built by merging mature Art Nouveau and historical classicism. Hotel "Miramare" is an example of pure Art Nouveau balneological architecture. Both facilities already had seawater pools, various types of therapies and an X-ray machine at that time, just 10 years after its discovery. Throughout the year, aristocratic audiences from Europe of that time stayed in them. Today they are protected as cultural and historical monuments. The tradition of the spa was taken over by "Thalassotherapia" Crikvenica as a specialized hospital for the rehabilitation and treatment of respiratory diseases and rheumatism.

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