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Croatia, Istria, Mediterranean sea, Adriatic Coast, Opatija, The bronze statue girl with seagull, symbol of the city, and the lights of Rijeka in background

Rijeka, Croatia

Tucked into Kvarner Bay off the Dalmatian Coast of the Adriatic, Rijeka is Croatia’s premier seaport and third largest city. It is a mix of modern structures and grand old buildings from the heyday of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The city skyline is dominated by the 13th century Trsat Castle, believed to be the oldest fortification on Croatia’s coast, and now a tourist visitor center. The traditional entry to the medieval city is the round, yellow City Tower with its 18th century clock. The Our Lady of Trsat Sanctuary has been a pilgrimage site since the 14th century, when a pope gifted the church with an icon of the Virgin, which still graces the altar. It can be reached by the 16th century Petar Kruzic Stairway, and also contains an extensive collection of sacral art and artifacts. The Habsburg-era Governor’s Palace hosts a Maritime and Historic Museum, and the unique, round St. Vitus Cathedral is from the same period. Stroll the main city market, the Placa, to get a feel of the city and its people. Although the city itself does not have much to offer in the way of beaches, it is the gateway to the fabulous Dalmatian islands playgrounds just offshore.