6 Places To Visit in Rijeka, Croatia
There’s more to see in Rijeka than first meets the eye. A major harbour and transport hub, home of Croatia’s liveliest carnival, Rijeka contains attractions from a top-notch contemporary art museum to a stately palace from the Habsburg days.
With views over the Adriatic from its high vantage point, the Governor’s Palace was built by Hungarian architect Alajos Hauszmann, responsible for similar grandiose works around Budapest in the 1800s. In the aftermath of World War I, revolutionary Italian warrior poet Gabriele d’Annunzio seized the occasion to invade Rijeka and position himself as governor of his own private fiefdom, based here. Mussolini soon chased him out. There’s more to the place today than just bizarre European history – the Governor’s Palace houses the Rijeka City Museum and the Maritime & History Museum of the Croatian Coast.
To reach Trsat Castle, you need to climb the grandiose staircase that runs from Titov trg near the former border between Italy and Yugoslavia. As you ascend, the views become more and more spectacular, until you begin to appreciate just how great an honour it was that was bestowed upon Irish General Laval Nugent, who was granted this former Roman look-out post for his residency and later mausoleum. All becomes clear when you treat yourself to a well-earned drink at the panoramic café here, the Bay of Kvarner laid out before you.
Peek & Poke
A completely offbeat attraction but a popular one nonetheless, Peek & Poke is a museum whose remit is to show the primitive but revered technology of early computers and computerised games. Key innovators, mocked at the time, are also highlighted and provided with a short biography, such as Sir Clive Sinclair. Some displays are behind glass, some are hands-on, allowing older adults to familiarise themselves with the toys and tools that provided their first introduction to the brave new world of technology.
City Clock Tower
‘Let’s meet under the clock’ is a familiar refrain heard around Rijeka, the landmark City Clock Tower, also referred to as Pod uriloj, literally ‘under the clock’. And the Gradski toranj is not only a clock tower but a gateway to the old town centre from the waterfront. When Habsburg architect Filbert Bazarig conceived this Habsburg confectionery, he made sure to leave the entrance arch in place.
It’s Rijeka’s raison d’être. There’s been a harbour here for centuries. In the 1800s, this was Hungary’s main access to the sea, and the Hungarians not only militarised the port but invented the torpedo here. Today you won’t see warcraft but tourist ferries of the Rijeka-based Jadrolinija fleet that serves the whole coast of Croatia. Bars and cafés also line the port, with Rijeka’s market nearby, so there’s plenty to explore if you have time before your boat is due to set sail.
One of Rijeka most enduring and endearing of restaurants, the Zlatna Školjka specialises, as its names suggests, in fish and shellfish. At the ‘The Golden Conch’, the day’s catch is shown to diners, who then choose their dinner and the way it is to be prepared. Fish, squid and mussels can come with a variety of side dishes and salads, with an equally broad range of Croatian wines to wash it all down with.
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