Opatija, Croatia – 2017 International Finalist
Opatija lies at the centre of the Riviera with the longest tradition of tourism in Croatia. Well-maintained public gardens, the illuminated 12-km-long coastal promenade known as the “Lungomare”, well-kept beaches and fountains provide a stunning backdrop for the villas and hotels.
Most of the villas and hotels in Opatija were built towards the end of the 19th or at the beginning of the 20th century and are architecturally well preserved. The most famous villa in Opatija is Villa Angiolina. This is the building that certainly marked the beginning of the tourist epoch in the history of Opatija and Croatia also. Today the villa is a headquarter of Croatian Museum of Tourism. In front of Villa Angiolina was settled the Park Angiolina. The history of the park is known already from the time of the director of Vienna’s Imperial Society for Park Constructions, Carl Schubert. He said that in the old part of the park domestic and exotic flora was planted between 1845 and 1860.
The area in front of the Villa was in Biedermaier style with a small meadow full of various types of flowers. The special park attraction is Camelia, which became the symbol of Opatija.
Second most important Opatija’s park is Saint James Park which is located in the centre of the town, in the protected historic part, next to the Church of St. James. Apart from the church, the park is surrounded by several other buildings that have played an important role in the history of tourism in Opatija. The park is divided into two parts: the lower part lies right by the sea, on a promontory in front of the Juraj Šporer Arts Pavilion, and the upper part is dominated by the neo-baroque fountain of 1889, the work of the sculptor Hans Ratkausky. The fountain is placed on an octagonal plateau, and in the centre of its marble basin there is a pedestal with sculptures of Helios and Selene. The fountain is a popular motif in many photographs and one of the landmarks of Opatija. Thanks to its exceptionally well-mantained lawn and variety of colourful flowers, and the fantastic harmony between the beautiful nature and surrounding buildings, the park is the winner of several awards for the best park in Croatia.
At the time when Opatija was emerging as a tourist resort, it was primarily a winter spa for the elite. This tradition is continued today with a wide range of health and wellness services offered by high-class wellness centres in many of Opatija’s hotels, and also in the Thalassotherapia, a specialised clinic for treating, recovering from and preventing heart and circulatory diseases, as well as in a series of specialised dental, aesthetic surgery and orthopaedic clinics. Thanks to the care and attention of the people who live and work in town, Opatija is becoming more and more beautiful each day. It is no accident that it holds also the title of a “Child-friendly city” with a 31 children playgrounds and a “Healthy town” (Opatija is a member of croatian healthy city association) – they speak for the quality of life in Opatija. Only 15-minute’s drive from the town centre is Opatija’s hinterland, characterised not only by a picturesque landscape, but also by its long and eventful history.
An additional 20-minute-drive will take the guests to the top of Mount/Nature Park Učka (whose main part is under authority of the Town of Opatija). This is one of the most impressive vantage points in Europe, offering panoramic views of Kvarner Bay and its islands and the peninsula of Istria.
URL : http://www.opatija.hr/