Mali Losinj is undoubtedly the major attraction of Losinj Island largely because of its stunning setting. Luxuriant Cikat bay is to the north of town while the conelike peak of Umpiljak rises over Mali Losinj's eye-catching port.
The flourishing shipbuilding industry of the 18th and 19th centuries was gradually replaced by tourism as Austrians and Hungarians flocked to Cikat bay for a sea & sun cure in the 19th centuries. They left a number of ornate villas in their wake, some of which are now hotels.
things to Do
Cikat beaches include a small, sandy beach and a longer pebble beach along Cikat bay. The protected bay is separated from Mali Losinj harbour by a fragrant forest of towering pines which provides a shady shelter from the sunny beach. The pine forest is a cool and attractive place to cycle, stroll or jog. plus there are plenty of places to windsurf, stroll along the seaside promenade and sunbathe on the sandy beach of Cikat bay. Scuba diving is also good in the offshore waters.
The clear, blue sea and pine-scented air create an aura of healthy living which is what put Mali Losinj on the tourist map along with its sister town, Veli Losinj. First there were aristocratic villas in the 19th century soon followed by luxurious hotels. The owners came mainly from Vienna and Budapest, bringing their opulent style with them. Some of the 19th-century style hotels remain, augmented by more modern hotels, artfully hidden in the pines.
things to See
Mali Losinj owes its fame to beautiful, relaxing scenery but now visitors are coming for a extraordinary new museum.
Museum of Apoxyomenos
This museum is the highlight and must-see of any visit to Mali Losinj and worth travelling here to experience. The centrepiece and namesake of the museum is Apoxyomenos (Apoksiomen in Croatian), a 1.9m tall 300kg bronze statue that dates from the 1st or 2nd century BC. The name refers to the Greek word for "man giving himself a scrape" and depicts a beautiful athlete poised to scrape off the dirt and sweat after his exertions. Originally found in 1996 on the seabed of a nearby islet, the statue was in remarkably good condition, missing only the "scraper" or strigil. Nevertheless, Apoxyomenos spent six years in restoration and then many more years visiting museums in Croatia and abroad before coming to rest in its home here.
The design of the museum is a fitting tribute to the quality of this 2000-year old sculpture. Although housed in the 19th-century Kvarner Palace, the museum is fully 21st century in its conception. Local architects boldly created a series of nine highly distinctive rooms that a visitor proceeds to experience like a theatre piece, replete with sound, light and even smell. The culmination of the experience is an entirely white and silent room dominated by the bronze Apoxyomenos. After, the visitor can reflect on the experience in the Caleidoscope Room, where scenes from Losinj harbour are reflected in ceiling mirrors.
As the museum only admits 20 visitors at a time and all visits are guided, a reservation is essential. See the Apoxyomenos Museum website for details.
Other sights include the Church of St Martin which dates back to the 15th century but has been reconstructed and modernized several times since.
Take a look at the graveyard around St Martin's Church with tombstones that provide a short history of the island. Particularly touching are the graves of children whose respiratory problems were not cured by Mali Losinj's breezes.
There are also a few interesting art collections and fine works of art in the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin. Built between 1696 and 1757, this church was outside the main settlement of Mali Losinj. Behind the baroque facade lies an interior marked by a long double colonnade leading to the sanctuary. The main altar holds the relics of St Romulus and a painting of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary by a Venetian artist. On the northern altar is a painting from the late 18th century with a representation of old Mali Losinj at the foot of St Roch.
Tourist Information in Mali Losinj
This short video takes in the colourful harbour of Mali Losinj.
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