Tourist Info Rovinj and History of Rovinj
Rovinj is one of the most picturesque Croatian Mediterranean towns located on the western coast of Istria – the biggest Adriatic peninsula. Rovinj is only one hour ride away from Trieste, 270 km away from Zagreb, a little bit more than 500 km away from Vienna and around 700 km away from Munich.
Rovinj has around 15.000 inhabitants and most of them are largely engaged in tourism, in the fishing trade and in agriculture. The town has very rich history, as well as interesting architectural buildings, beautiful natural resources and industrious people who are certainly worth your visit.
The Rovinj coastal area is very well articulated with numerous bays, creeks, and capes. There are places of great natural and ecological value: Forest Park Punta Corente-Muntrav, St. Andrea’s archipelago, the Palud marsh, the Limski kanal, and Monfiorenzo cave.
The most important places for you to visit is definitely the cathedral of St. Euphemia (built in 1736) which is the largest Baroque building in Istria, together with the town’s museum and Rovinj Aquarium.
For the first time mentioned in 7th century, Rovinj is today a treasury of cultural and historical monuments: a 13th century Romanesque heptagonal baptistery, the baroque Parish church of St. Euphemia (1736), the church of St Francis and the Franciscan monastery dating from the 18th century with very rich library collections, the Baroque town hall built a century before, ornamented by the symbolic city clock, the city museum, the Local Magistrate’s Court, and finally the city walls with the famous Balbi’s gate…
It is very likely that Rovinj is much older, emerging somewhere at the turn of the 3rd and the 4th century, and maybe even at an earlier period. In the 1st and 2nd century B.E. proofs of life on the island had been found. «Castrum Rubini» was certainly located at today’s site of the parish church of St.Euphemia. During this period, Istria was under Roman rule that stayed there until 476, when the invasions of the Huns, the Ostrogoths and in 539 of the Byzantine started. The inhabitants refuged to the island of Rovinj which at that time had around hundred inhabitants. After Byzant (788) Istria fell under French rule. During the 9th century, it was invaded from the sea and from the mainland by various robbers (Slavs, Croats, people who inhabited the Neretva area, Saracens). Istria experienced a very turbulent period between the 9th and the 11th century, since the properties often changed their owners and the cities started their struggle for autonomy. For this reason they founded a municipal structure in opposition to Istria’s church and feudal ruler – the Aquileian patriarch. At that time Venice, a very strong maritime republic, grew stronger, under the power of which Rovinj fell in 1283. In this way, the local government in the town was limited and the Venetians put their own man in the leading role in the town. During Venetian times, Rovinj was developing into a strong fishing, ship building and maritime center, especially in the 17th and 18th century when they had the precedence over Istria. At that time the town walls were secured, the town started to expand itself to the mainland, so that in 1763 the channel between the mainland and the island was covered up and Rovinj became a peninsula.
In the mid 18th century Rovinj had more than eight thousand inhabitants and thus there were also more houses than there used to be in other similar towns at the Adriatic Sea. Because of the high number of inhabitants and pilgrims, today’s parish church St. Euphemus was built. In 1797 the Venetian republic lost its power and for a short time Istria is first under Austrian (until 1805) and then under Napoleon’s rule. From 1809 to 1813 Istria was a part of Napoleon’s Illyrian provinces.
In 1813 the Austrians took their power back and a period of industrial and urban development started. In 1852 Rovinj built cement production facilities, in 1872 a tobacco factory followed, in 1878 a wax factory was built and in 1882 a glass and sardine factory were erected. At that time, the shipbuilding industry was in full stride, and the southern part of the town even had six smaller shipyards, of which one is still working today. In 1865 Rovinj built a theater as well, in 1888 a hospital was built and in 1891 the construction of a Sea biology institute followed.
Many inhabitants of Rovinj went to Pula in the 19th century, which at that time was the biggest naval port in the Austria-Hungary monarchy.
When the monarchy fell apart, Rovinj fell under the fascist Italy at the end of WW I (1914 – 1918) and remained under that rule until the capitulation in 1943, and by the end of WW II the town remained under German occupation.
In the second half of the 20th century Rovinj was, like the whole of Croatia, a part of Yugoslavia, which lasted until 1991, the year of big political changes, when Croatia started its journey towards independence and the acknowledgement of which followed in January 1992. For the past few centuries, the number of inhabitants fluctuated between 12 and 15 thousand, and today the town officially has a number of 14.234 citizens.
In the past 40 years Rovinj has developed into a real tourist center thanks to its nature, the well-indented coast and a large number of islands, an interesting surrounding, its pleasant Mediterranean climate, the variety of accommodations and tourist attractions and its cultural-historical values. All of this makes Rovinj an ideal holiday destination, which has been proven by many acknowledgements by a large number of guests and by many awards of various tourist associations and patrols.