Rijeka's Clock Tower
During the day Rijeka is all business (nightlife in Rijeka is another story) but in the middle of the hustle-bustle, there are a wealth of interesting sights to see. You just have to poke around a little. Here's what to see in Rijeka if you have:
Head right to Korzo, Rijeka's pedestrian promenade that runs parallel to the port. There you will see Rijeka's most distinctive monument, the Clock Tower. As one of the few monuments to have survived Rijeka's devastating earthquake of 1750, it has a special place in the hearts of Rijekans. The still-functioning clock dates from the 17th century and was once part of the city gates.
Go through the arch under the clock tower and you'll come to the Roman gate. Don't expect the kind of triumphal arch you'll see in Pula: this Roman gate is a simple affair just to mark the entrance to the ancient and now disappeared Roman fort.
Now return to Korzo and head west to the Hotel Bonavia. Adjacent to the hotel are stairs leading to the former Governor's Palace. The building's architecture reflects its administrative importance as the residence of the Hungarian governor when Rijeka was under Hungarian control in 1869. If you liked the architecture in Budapest you'll love this impressive structure. The architect was Alajos Hauszmann whose other works include the Buda Castle and the Palace of Justice in Budapest.
Elekes Andor under cc license
Inside is the Naval & Historical Museum, with plenty of exhibits for maritime-buffs. Also interesting are the rooms decorated in period style. A little further to the northeast is the Natural History Museum, an especially good stop if you have kids. They'll love the new aquarium with its multimedia displays and the botanical gardens make a cool retreat on a hot day.
In the morning check out Rijeka's churches (open mornings only). My favourite is the Capuchin Church of Our Lady of Lourdes looming over the bus station. With its colourful red and white brick exterior the church is hard to miss. Built in the early 20th century, the ornate neo-Gothic facade is the inspiration of architect Giovanni Mario Cureto. Inside, the narthex ceiling is decorated with frescoes but you get a great view of the port from the top of the stairs if the church is closed.
Another beautiful church is the Church of St Jerome and Dominican Monastery. Begun in 1315, the church was reconstructed several times most thoroughly after the earthquake of 1750. The style is now thoroughly baroque and the church contains tombs of nobility and other Rijeka VIPS. Next to the church is the Chapel of the Holy Trinity built in the 15th century in a Gothic Alpine style.
The Church of St Vito is especially beloved in Rijeka as it is built to honour Rijeka's patron saint. The Jesuit began the building in 1638 and it lasted for a hundred years. If you've seen the church of Sta. Maria della Salute in Venice, you'll notice some similarities. The main altar contains a Gothic crucifix that allegedly inspired a miracle. In 1296, someone threw a stone at the crucifix and blood began to pour from Christ's body which is still kept in an ampoule. That give rise to the cult of the "miraculous crucifix" in Rijeka which was encouraged by the Jesuits. Naturally the church is the centre of festivities on 15 June--the feast day of St Vitus.
In the afternoon head up to Trsat, the hill-fort northeast of the town centre. The best way of seeing it is to take the 538 steps (Petar Kruzic stairway) from Krizaniceva ulica in the Susak part of Rijeka. True pilgrims make the climb on their knees! Too much work? Then take bus 1 or 1a to the top. Read more about Trsat.
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