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Croatia, Opatija - old style Riviera grandeur on the Istrian

Last day of our spring break with lunch break in Opatija

This was the last day of our short vacation in Slovenia and Croatia. After checking out we followed the eastern coastline of Istria as much as possible, which meant that we drove by Opatija around lunchtime. While this coast has been popular since the ancient Romans, who built villas on several scenic spots, Opatija itself does not have a very ancient recorded history. It developed as a hamlet around a monastery in the 15th century, when it was first mentioned. In the subsequent centuries, this part of the Adriatic coast was more Austrian influenced than the west coast of Istria.

Opatija only started to develop as a town when an Italian merchant built a lush villa (Villa Angiolina) where he received notable guests. Other wealthy and influential people from (mainly) the Austrian empire followed, and in 1873 it was connected to the railway network to Vienna, apparently mostly to accommodate the Austrian Crown Prince and his wife. The railway company even bought the villa to host the couple. Talking about investing in customer relations...


In the following years, a yacht club was established and the town was declared a climatic seaside resort. A tramway was built along the scenic coast, the town became favorite summer spots for the Austrian emperor Franz-Jozef and empress Francisca ("Sisi"), the German emperor Wilhelm and other notable people with blue blood. Many people in Central Europe who believed of themselves that they were of some sort of relevance to the rest of the world (usually just in their own circles of course) started to consider Opatija as one of the places where you would want to be seen. In that sense it was very similar to the French Riviera, or the coast of Lake Geneva, and that is clearly to be seen by the lay-out of the town and the building style.


In the 1920's Opatija became Italian, and with Mussolini's fascism coming up, a campaign of "Italianization" of the population started. More classy hotels were built and the important positions were given to Italians. After the Second World War, Opatija was assigned to the Yugoslavian federation and many of the Italians emigrated back to Italy in a hurry. That did not stop the development of Opatija as a high end resort though. More hotels were built among which the Adriatic Hotel, and a casino. Once Yugoslavia split up in the early 1990's, Opatija became part of Croatia.

The city is stretched along the coast, where the main boulevard and the most significant buildings are located. Although the atmosphere breaths Old Glory like, for example Montreux and Lausanne do, everything is very well maintained, and it is still a very popular holiday destination as well as a popular target of day-trippers. We were there on Sunday, and we noticed that it seems especially favorite for family get-togethers over coffee with pastry, brunch or lunch.


We found a wonderful terrace along the sea just south of the city and had some very nice seafood with a glass of wine.

After lunch we took the quiet and very well maintained motorway back to Ljubljana, to turn in the car and take our flight back to Amsterdam. The weather gods were even nice to us on this very last bit of our trip, because the clouds got thicker only after we flew over the Alps, granting us some beautiful views of the still snowy mountain tops.


Looking back, we felt we had a very well spent and relaxing 10-days break, and especially Slovenia surprised and amazed us. We will be back...

Posted by westwind57 00:54 Archived in Croatia Tagged mountains sea road_trip coast hotel flight riviera croatia slovenia opatija grandeur

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Wow .... such beautiful photos .... sounds like a fantastic break.

by sylviandavid

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