HR-51415 Lovran, Trg slobode 1
A town with a turbulent and exciting history
Centuries full of exciting events
Lauriana means ‘laurel’. This fragrant herb gives the Lovran air a special atmosphere, which didn’t go unnoticed by the many historians, travel writers and cartographers who wrote about the town. It is therefore not surprising that laurel was the inspiration for its name.
The name Lauriana, referring to a fortified harbour on the northern coast of the Adriatic Sea, was first recorded in the 7th century in the work Cosmographia by an anonymous of Ravenna. However, the town existed even before then: this coast was once inhabited by members of the Illyrian tribe of the Liburnians. Centuries before our time, they went fishing in Kvarner Bay and cultivated vineyards and olive groves at the foot of Mount Učka.
In the 1st century BC, the area came under Roman rule. The beautiful Lovran landscape attracted rich patricians who built their summer houses, known as villa rustica, here. One of these belonged to Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, lieutenant to one of the most famous Roman rulers, Augustus Octavian, a celebrated military leader and the first Roman emperor.
Among the Roman villas, a fishing village and later a fortified harbour emerged. Lovran developed quickly:
the 12th-century Arab geographer al-Idrisi wrote that it was “a large and prosperous town with always ready ships and busy shipbuilders.”
After Rome and Byzantium, Lovran became part of Charlemagne’s great Frankish empire. The hill of Knezgrad in the hinterland of Lovran owes its name to this historical period, as it was the site of the battle in which the Croats defeated the Franks in 799. The death of the Frankish military leader Erik was recorded by the Patriarch Paulinus of Aquileia in an epic that mentions Mons Laurentus or Lovran Hill.
This is not the only historic event associated with Lovran. During its turbulent history, the town was ruled by Croatian princes, the Austrian Habsburgs, and even Napoleon. Great naval battles were fought in its waters, and the centuries-old conflict between the Uskoks and Venetians resulted in a fire that destroyed the warehouses hiding the loot of the ‘pirates of Senj’.
In the Middle Ages, Lovran was a typical Mediterranean town with narrow cobbled streets, two-storey houses, steps and small coastal windows – poneštra. St. George’s Square (St. George is the city saint and protector of Lovran) is the main city square and the center of public life. On it is the parish church, the town tower with a permanent military crew, and the city government also sits there.
The ‘death’ of sailing ships brings tourism to life
The turbulent history of Lovran is responsible for its appearance. The Mediterranean town was surrounded by a defensive wall and three gates that were firmly closed at night. However, over time, Lovran opened up more and more due to changes in technology. The emergence of steamships brought Lovran’s shipbuilding and maritime tradition to an end, which had been based on fast sailing ships that transported fruit, olive oil and wine cultivated on the slopes of Mount Učka to Senj, Rijeka, Pula, Trieste and more distant ports. The famous travel writer Valvasor wrote at the end of the 17th century that “the inhabitants run an extensive trade in linen which they export to distant lands by sea”.
Lovran reached the peak of its maritime and trade status at the beginning of the 19th century, after which the situation abruptly changed. Steamers surpassed sailing ships at sea, and Lovran returned to its initial role as a beautiful place by the sea that leaves a lasting impression on every visitor.
Everything that attracted Roman patricians, combined with the events over the course of the following two millennia, made Lovran one of the most interesting destinations in the early years of tourism on the riviera.
This was the time when the town spread beyond its historic walls. Its new look was created by famous architects such as Carl Seidl, Attilio Maguolo and Andrea Rubinich, who designed villas, guesthouses, hotels and sanatoria surrounded by manicured gardens along the coast. Instead of merchants, sailors, Uskoks and warriors, it was now Austro-Hungarian monarchs that walked the narrow Mediterranean streets of Lovran and its newly built, magnificent parks.
Lovran concluded a century of rapid development as a tourist destination. The town became a favourite winter resort, and home to a fashionable beach and famous health resort for the Austro-Hungarian aristocracy and artistic, financial and political elite. Four hotels, twenty guesthouses and four sanatoria, as well as two large public beaches – Peharovo and Kvarner – are symbols of the great change that took place over less than a hundred years.
The health destination becomes a famous tourist resort
At the beginning of the 20th century, the expansion of tourism and intensive construction activity continued.
Lovran was connected to Opatija, Rijeka, Pula and Trieste by steamboat lines. Guests arriving at the Matulji railway station from all parts of Europe reached Lovran by electric tram. The culmination of this investment was the completion of the Lungomare coastal promenade in
1911, which connected Lovran with Opatija and Volosko. As a result of the great interest of visitors, a cinema, pharmacy and bank were opened in the town.
Famous visitors from Europe who were enchanted by Lovran included the Mayor of Vienna Karl Lueger, the Polish artist Stanislaw Witkiewicz, the Hungarian painter Feszty Árpád, and many others.
After World War One, the town came under the rule of the Kingdom of Italy, which led to stagnation in the interwar period. The gradual rebuilding of Lovran as part of Yugoslavia in the second half of the 20th century revived tourism: this was a time when hotels and restaurants were renovated, and locals began renting apartments and rooms to the many tourists.
From an elite, winter health resort, Lovran became a summer seaside resort visited every year by tens of thousands of people from all walks of life.
In the last decade of the 2nd millennium, Lovran was part of a new state and in
1993 Lovran became a municipality in its own right again, with just under 4,000 inhabitants, encompassing Lovran, Medveja, Lovranska Draga, Liganj and Tuliševica, each of which developed different tourism segments.
Lovran is known for its historic centre, numerous hotels, Secession-style villas,
and public beaches with a tradition dating back to the early days of tourism.
Medveja is recognised as one of the most beautiful beaches in this area and has
a modern campsite next to it. In the hinterland, Lovranska Draga, Liganj and Tuliševica are examples of places with successful rural tourist offers based on the local food, culture and heritage that has been preserved through the centuries.
In the 21st century, Lovran continues to develop as a modern destination based on the idea of sustainable tourism. It presents its rich history, unique location with an exceptional climate, beautiful nature, beaches with crystal-clear sea, cultural heritage, and gastronomy based on local ingredients and modern culinary trends to its many visitors in new and innovative ways.
The town will share its two-millennia-long history with anyone who walks its narrow cobbled streets squeezed between the roofs of the Mediterranean-style houses and goes through the town gate down to the harbour, the site of naval battles but also a link to distant destinations, or with anyone who walks through its parks among the villas with their distinctive architecture, or tries the desserts in the town’s cafés and the rich culinary offer in the excellent restaurants, or with anyone who dives into the blue sea and climbs the hiking trails to the top of Mount Učka, stopping in the sweet chestnut forests whose fruits can be tasted at the Marunada, a traditional event listed among the best food festivals in Europe.