A wealth of cultural heritage
A wealth of cultural heritage
The tourist destination of today started out as a health resort. At the beginning of the 20th century, Lovran had four sanatoria and nine renowned doctors. The area’s beneficial climate and sea air, exceptional local ingredients and healthy diet, green mountain hinterland rich in natural diversity and opportunities for sports and recreational activities – all these were advantages that contributed to Lovran obtaining the official status of a health resort at the end of the 19th century.
One of the people who promoted these advantages was Albin Eder, a young Viennese doctor who opened a practice in Lovran in 1895. In his letters requesting that Lovran obtain the status of an official health resort, he pointed out its uniqueness in terms of the possibility of linking the snowy peaks of Učka with swimming in the sea.
All these assets still attract visitors to Lovran. The town, whose modern hotels are equipped with excellent wellness centres, is today home to the Medical Wellness Academy and one of Croatia’s most successful health institutions – the Clinic for Orthopaedics.
Along with the laurel that gave the town its name, sweet chestnut is the fruit that has most significantly influenced historical and present-day Lovran. It is set apart by its size and taste, a result of the fact that it grows extremely well in the dense forests on the slopes of Mount Učka, where mountain and sea climate meet.
Lovran’s marun sweet chestnut gained fame throughout Europe. It was exported in the 19th century to Italy, Austria, Germany and other countries and was regarded as a delicacy by the wealthy guests who visited the town. Marunada is the name of the food festival that takes place every October in honour of this fruit, which has become a kind of symbol of the town.
During the festival, which also includes music, visitors can taste roasted sweet chestnuts as well as desserts and various other specialities prepared with this delicious fruit – even brandy and beer! The prestigious British newspaper The Guardian listed Marunada among its Top 10 European autumn food festivals.
Wild asparagus is one of the most prized forest products. Every spring, many people from Lovran fight their way through the undergrowth to find this wild-growing plant, famous for its particular taste, which grows abundantly on the slopes of Mount Učka. Its special flavour comes from the influence of sea spray, or the mixing of sea and mountain air. The positive effects of asparagus on health were known to the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans.
The Asparagus Festival takes place in April, when its season begins. It opens with a big party on Trg Slobode square, with a music, dancing and entertainment programme and a special gastronomic offer including a large fritaja (a kind of omelette) prepared by a team of chefs with more than a thousand eggs and several dozen kilograms of asparagus in a huge two-metre pan.
Fritaja is the most popular asparagus dish, but this plant can also be used to prepare sensational savoury and sweet specialities, some of which are on offer in Lovran’s taverns and restaurants during the festival.
Fritaja je najpopularnije jelo od šparuga, no s ovom se šumskom namirnicom mogu spraviti i senzacionalni slani i slatki specijaliteti. Probrana jela tijekom trajanja festivala mogu se kušati u lovranskim konobama i restoranima.
The celebrated Lovran cherries are juicier and sweeter than most other types of this fruit. The summertime gardens of Lovran turn dark red with these fruits that in turn find their way into various culinary specialities.
The local microclimate has enabled the development of several varieties, the most famous being Brtošinka, which is most similar to the world-famous Lambert variety. Along with sweet chestnuts, cherries have been one of the main export products of Lovran throughout history, valued for their taste and quality, and have had a significant impact on Lovran’s culture, economy, and gastronomy.
Cherry Days take place throughout June, at the time of the cherry harvest. In this period, Lovran’s cafés and restaurants offer cakes and desserts as well as other dishes made from this juicy, sweet fruit. The main event, which includes music and a culinary programme, is held on Trg Slobode square. A special attraction is a large cherry strudel, more than 10 metres long, prepared by Lovran’s top pastry chefs.
Carnival in Lovran has a history of more than a hundred years, and the oldest carnival groups are co-creators of social events during the ‘fifth season’.
Carnival begins on 17 January, the feast of St Anthony, with the raising of the carnival flag and the hanging of the Mesopust carnival puppet in the central town square. The Mesopust is a straw puppet, which personifies the key negative event that has marked the past twelve months. Carnival ends on Ash Wednesday, when the Mesopust is ritually burned: this cathartic tradition symbolises cleansing from all the sins and misfortunes of the preceding year.
During the carnival, various costumed parties and masquerade dances take place. The central event is the International Carnival Parade, which brings together dozens of groups and thousands of participants to satirise everyday social and political life with their witty costumes and allegorical floats.
Tijekom trajanja karnevala održavaju se fešte i plesovi pod maskama. Središnji dio manifestacije je velika Međunarodna karnevalska povorka u kojoj u šarenom i veselom defileu kroz centar Lovrana prošeta preko 40-tak grupa i tisuće sudionika koji duhovitim kostimima i vozilima ironiziraju društvenu i političku svakodnevicu.
When it comes to its share of top musicians among the population, Lovran surpasses not only Croatian, but many European towns. The credit for this goes to the Lovran Brass Band, which was founded in 1912 and has since made every local event a special music experience. During more than a century of existence, the Lovran Brass Band has educated generations of musical virtuosos and turned into one of the leading Croatian musical sensations, playing alongside many music stars.
The band also organises the three-day ‘Our World is Music’ festival on the first weekend in May, when prominent orchestras from the Alpe-Adria region present themselves and their region and country of origin through music. Their concerts combine the passion of the csardas and the musicality of operatic aria, the enthusiasm of the polka and the splendour of the waltz. The highlight of the festival is a joint parade along Lovran’s main street, in which two hundred musicians unite into one large, coordinated, international orchestra.
The Lovran guc is a product of the town’s long shipbuilding tradition. Lovran has always been oriented towards the sea (either as a means of passage for its skilled seafarers, or as a source of food for its experienced fishermen) and has nurtured an innovative approach to boat design for centuries. The culmination of this centuries-old tradition was a boat built in the 1950s by local master Nino Gašparinić, and modelled on the Korčula gajeta. It is called the Lovran guc.
This stable, fast and simple boat, made of quality and exotic wood such as mahogany and teak, was ideal not only for fishing, but also for increasingly popular activities in this town visited by numerous tourists: transporting guests and excursions along the riviera.
In honour of the master and his boat, the ‘Nino Gašparinić’ regatta is held in June, featuring only historical, wooden boats. During the regatta, boatbuilding, fishing and sailing skills workshops take place in the Mandrać harbour.
Lovran, like the entire riviera, had a water supply system relatively early on. In the period of rapid tourism development in the late 19th century, running water was a necessity. The area received its first running water in 1884, and ten years later Lovran received the first connections to the water supply network. However, these were reserved for the wealthiest: the owners of hotels, family summer residences, or patrician houses… Other residents relied on cisterns, rainwater tanks in backyards, or the work of two people who carried this essential liquid on their backs.
Testimonies recall two famous water carriers. Andre Lazarić-Bak (whose nickname means ‘strong as a bull’) carried water in a wooden vessel from a well at Tuliševica several times a day to Lovran’s Old Town. The other was Tonka Martinčić Lulu, who lived in the Old Town and was responsible for bringing water to certain streets in her neighbourhood.
Besides the Old Town and the luxurious villas, the rural houses in Lovran’s hinterland constitute the third distinctive architectural style of this area.
The story of Lovran is to a great extent a story of ‘two towns’ that differ dramatically from each other. The fortified Old Town, built in the Mediterranean style with tightly packed houses and narrow cobbled streets, is in contrast with the luxury Secession-style villas surrounded by lush gardens along the coast. However, the architecture of Lovran has another layer ‘hidden’ among the vineyards, gardens and forests on the slopes of Mount Učka and inspired by natural conditions.
The small villages in the Lovran hinterland are distinguished by a recognisable architectural style. The scattered houses are connected by well-preserved paths that have for centuries connected the coast with the slopes of Učka, enabling the exchange of goods. The houses are mostly stone-built one-storey buildings with basements. Specific construction elements are small windows, the štrem (a covered porch above the entrance), and tornica (a semi-circular annexe with a fireplace). The outbuildings (barns) had very thick walls and thatched roofs.
Local customs, gastronomic specialties and even a unique climate have created a rich cultural heritage that is enjoyed today by visitors from all over the world.