History of Opatija

Learn why Opatija is called the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’ and why the town’s history is so breathtaking. Let us acquaint you with Croatia’s ‘cradle of tourism’.

The Church of St. James in the centre of Opatija is one of the town’s most significant buildings. The story of Opatija is closely related to this church and its monastery, since this is where the town got its name (Opatija is the Croatian word for abbey). Four centuries after the construction of the church, Opatija emerged as a holiday resort for the elite.

The first holiday house in Opatija, the Villa Angiolina, was built by Iginio Scarpa back in 1844. This year is now officially considered as the beginning of tourism in the town. The Villa Angiolina played host to many famous historical figures, such as Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria-Hungary, the Empress Maria Anna and the Croatian Ban Josip Jelačić.

Today, you can learn more about Opatija’s interesting history in the Croatian Museum of Tourism, which has three exhibition venues: the Swiss House, Villa Angiolina and Juraj Šporer Art Pavilion, where you can acquaint yourself with the town’s intriguing history.