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Island Rab, Croatia

From Zeljko Lupic's Home Pages

Rab Island and Dalmatia

Copyright © 1995 - 1996 Jack Zeljko Lupic

This is a partial except of the page "Rab Island - Croatia" by Jack Z. Lupic, that is linked to his home page above.

Italian ARBE, island in the Adriatic Sea forming the northernmost part of Dalmatia in Croatia. Rab is separated from the mainland by Podvelebitski Kanal (the Velebit Channel). With an area of 91 sq km, it reaches a maximum altitude of 408 m at Mt. Kamenjak and comprises three ridges of limestone. It is one of the most densely wooded islands in the Adriatic and is a veritable botanical exhibition, with plants not native to the island. The Komrcar park, with its laurel, poplar, cypress, Indian fig-tree, rosemary, pine and hundred-year-old agave is now the pride of Rab. Its more than 300 freshwater springs provide a valuable water supply to the population of the island--which, in contrast to most of the Adriatic islands, is increasing, in part because of good communications with the mainland. After its initial settlement as the colony of Arba by prehistoric Illyrians, Rab successively came under Greek, Roman, Croatian, Venetian, Austrian, French, Italian, Yugoslavian, and again Croatian rule, reflecting the historic fluctuations of power in the Adriatic. 

The principal town, Rab, is a walled town with three parallel main streets built on a steep promontory along the west coast. At the south end is a 13th-century Romanesque cathedral, whose campanile is considered the finest example of Romanesque architecture on the Adriatic littoral. It is the first in a line of four bell towers on a ridge dominating the old town. The town with its typical, twisting and narrow Mediterranean streets preserves many monuments of art; medieval churches, the Loggia, Venetian patrician palaces with beautiful doorways, etc. Six hamlets are supported by fishing, agriculture, tourism, and a ready-made clothing enterprise. Pop. (1981) 8,877. 

Rab belongs to the group of Kvarner Archipelago Islands of the North Adriatic. Its winters are pleasant and mild, and the summers warm, with about 2500 hours of sunshine a year. The mean air temperature is 26C in the summer and 10C in the winter. The Kamenjak range (408m) protects the greater part of the island from cold north-eastern winds, and the temperature hardly ever drops below zero (centigrade). As early as 1889, the city council of Rab, proclaimed it a sea-side and health resort and established a committee to manage roads, beaches and rooms for guests. Thereby the people of Rab, famous for their hospitality, chose their destiny. The British King Edward VIII stayed on Rab with his American friend Wallis Simpson and swam naked there, thus making a substantial contribution to the popularity of naturist tourism as it is enthusiastically enjoyed today. Because of its mild climate, scenery, clear sea, sunshine and clear air made fragrant by ozone and the island's pine forests, Rab is an ideal holiday resort, and an internationally renowned health and recreational resort.

A Navigational Guide to the Adriatic (not copyrighted material)

RAB (440 45'N; 140 46'E), town and harbour (pop. 592 in 1991) on the island of the same name.

Approach. Landmarks: the town walls and four belfries; the round green tower with a gallery (green light) on a concrete base on Frkanj shoal; the quadrangular stone tower with a red top (red light) on Frkanj point; the round red tower on Sv Ante point (red light) and the multi-storey tower with a green topmark on the islet of Tunera (green light); the white tower with a column and gallery (white light) on Donji point (the islet of Dolin).

Sights. The town wall (12/13 C, later reinforced, pulled down in part at the beginning of 20 C), with the Town Tower; Rector's Palace (13 C, later reconstructions), the Loggia (1509), Sv Marija Velika cathedral (St Mary the Great, 1177, renovated in 1278 and 1483, ciborium about 1500, choir stalls 1455, with the parish art collection, the belfry from 1181); the ruins of Sv Ivan church (St John, 10/11 C, with the belfry from 12 C); the churches of Sv Andrija (St Andrew, Romanesque, reconstructed in the Renaissance) and Sv Justina (1573-1578); the residences of the families Crnota (15 C), Cassio (Gothic), Dominis-Nimira (15/16 C), Nimira (16 C, with a portal), Tudorin, Kukulic and Marcic- Galzigna. Komrcar Park, landscaped at the end of 19 C, with Sv Franjo church (St Francis, 1490). In Trg Slobode square stands the Tree of Freedom (Stablo slobode) a natural memorial. In the NW part of the island is Dundo Wood a nature reserve.

SUPETARSKA DRAGA (440 48.5'N; 140 42.5'E), town (pop. 1,114 in 1991), cove and marina in the NW part of Rab, some 2.5 M southeast of Sorinj point.

Sights. The disused Benedictine monastery of St Peter, established in 1059, abandoned in 16 C. Sv Petar church dating from the foundation period.

LOPAR (440 50'N; 150 43'E), town (pop. 1,215 in 1991) and small bay on the N coast of the island of Rab.

Approach. Shape course for the white tower (white light) on Sorinj point; the belfry of Sv Marija church on the hill above the town; the yellow building next to the pier; the green tower with a column and gallery (green light) on the head of the pier.

KAMPORSKA DRAGA (440 47'N; 140 42'E), cove E of Kalifront point on the NW coast of island of Rab.

Facilities. Supermarket in the W part of the village of Ruzici (pop. 1,102 in 1981). 

Sights. Sv Eufemija church (1237) with the Franciscan monastery (1446, library, historical collection, collection of stone monuments) and Sv Bernardin church (1458, later reconstructed in the Baroque style). Nearby the ruins there is a Roman villa rustica. Memorial cemetery, built in 1950-55 on the site of a former Nazi concentration camp (1942-43). 

Dalmatia: Geography and History

DALMACIJA, region of Croatia, comprising a central coastal strip and a fringe of islands along the Adriatic Sea. Its greatest breadth, on the mainland, is about 45 km, and its total length, from the Kvarner (Quarnero) gulf to the narrows of Kotor (Cattaro), is about 375 km. The major islands from north to south (with Italian names in parentheses) are Krk (Veglia), Cres (Cherso), Rab (Arba), Pag (Pago), Dugi Otok (Isola Lunga), Brac (Brazza), Hvar (Lesina), Vis (Lissa), Korcula (Curzola), Mljet (Meleda), and Lastovo (Lagosta). A rugged and barren range of mountains, the Dinaric Alps, divides Dalmatia from the interior. With peaks ranging from 450 m to more than 1,900 m, the Dinaric Alps offer only two main passes: the Krka River canyon and the Neretva River valley. The Dalmatian coastline has numerous bays and harbours and is noted for its scenic beauty. The climate is mild, with dry summers, abundant rain in autumn and winter, and very little snow.

The first recorded inhabitants of Dalmatia were Illyrians (the name Dalmatia probably comes from the name of an Illyrian tribe, the Delmata, an Indo-European people who overran the northwestern part of the Balkan Peninsula beginning about 1000 BC). The Greeks began to settle there from the 4th century, founding a number of colonies on the islands, the most famous of which were Issa (Vis), Pharos (Hvar), and Corcyra Melaina (Korcula), and a few towns on the mainland coast, one of which is Salona (Solin), near modern Split. The Greeks, opposed by the Illyrians, appealed to the Romans for help, and a long series of Roman-Illyrian wars began in 229. The fall of the Dalmatian capital, Delminium, in 155 brought Roman civilization to the country. On the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, Dalmatia fell under the power of Odoacer in AD 481 and later under that of Theodoric, to become a battlefield during the wars between the Goths and the Byzantine emperor Justinian I.

By the time permanent Venetian rule had been established (1420), Dalmatia had passed through about 30 changes of sovereignty. Byzantines, Greeks, Magyars, Tatars, Croatian and Serbian princes, Venetians, Sicilians, and Normans were among its conquerors. The Croatian kings and the Venetian doges were the only rulers who held power long enough to leave a permanent mark on Dalmatian character and consciousness.

Venetian rule, established in 1420 when the king of Croatia, Ladislas of Naples, ceded the country to the Venetian republic, ended in 1797. This period was marked by Venetian warfare against the Turks. When the French gave Venice to Austria under the Treaty of Campo Formio (1797), Dalmatia became Austrian also; but in 1805, under the Treaty of Pressburg, Austria had to cede Dalmatia to Napoleon. It was returned to Austria after Napoleon's fall and remained an Austrian crownland until 1918.

During World War I, by the secret Treaty of London (1915), the Allies had promised large territories, including northern Dalmatia, to the Italians in return for their support. This treaty embittered negotiations for a peace settlement. Finally, the Treaty of Rapallo (Nov. 12, 1920) between Italy and Yugoslavia gave all Dalmatia to the Yugoslavs except the mainland Zadar (Italian: Zara) enclave and the coastal islands of Cres, Losinj (Lussino), and Lastovo. The Palagruza islands, in the mid-Adriatic, also passed to Italy. During World War II, when Yugoslavia was partitioned by the Axis powers, Dalmatia was annexed by Italy, but it passed to Yugoslavia in its entirety in 1947 as part of the Croatian republic (independent from 1992), with the city of Split serving as provincial capital.

Dalmatia's principal cities are Zadar, Split (Spalato), Sibenik (Sebenico), Dubrovnik (Ragusa), Trogir (Trau), Korcula, and Kotor. The region's economy is mainly agricultural. The soil is unsuitable for the cultivation of cereal grains but favours olive trees, vegetables, and, above all, vines. Dalmatian vineyards are rich in wine production. There are deposits of bauxite that are exploited by the aluminum refinery near Sibenik. Abundant reserves of limestone coming from the neighbourhood of Split account for much of Croatia's cement output. There are also chemical factories as well as food-processing plants. Major shipbuilding yards are at Split. The rivers, except for a few miles on the Krka and on the Neretva, are unsuitable for navigation, but their precipitous fall makes them a natural source of hydroelectric power. Tourism has become a major economic factor; Dubrovnik and Split are major Mediterranean tourist attractions.

Language: Chakavian dialects prevail in parts of western Croatia, Istria, the coast of Dalmatia (where a literature in that dialect developed in the 15th century), and of some islands in the Adriatic; in those areas ca (cha) is the form for "what?".

Copyright © 1995 - 1996 Jack Zeljko Lupic

These pages, and all contents, are Copyright © 1996 by Jack Lupic, Toronto, Canada. These documents may be reproduced in whole or in part provided that this copyright notice is reproduced on each copy made.