With Limerick City currently bidding for a spot as co-host of European Capital of Culture 2020, it’s the ideal time to check out the other already-selected capital of culture has to offer. Located in the rapidly growing tourist destination of Croatia, the city of Rijeka has recently won the bid for European Capital of Culture 2020. To the north of the country and located near what has been quaintly dubbed the Balkan Riviera, Rijeka is situated by the course of Rječina River, and is Croatia’s third largest city and the country’s principal seaport.

Rijeka 2020’s success was not only down to all of the fascinating features that the city has to offer, but was received as a result of their impressive programme ‘Port of Diversity’, a book based on three pillars which are Water, Work and Migration. The book explores all of the historical and culturally unique elements of the city, as well as highlighting what is to come in the future.
Port of Diversity also creates a narrative on Rijeka’s particularities, history and present values that are deeply woven into the historical identity of the city, while also reflecting the multiculturalism, diversity and openness of Europe.

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While Rijeka displayed an impressive bid for the title by showcasing their heritage and interesting past, it was also highlighted how the city has a number of plans for the future.
Those involved in the city’s bid for Rijeka 2020 showed an extraordinary effort in making sure that the city was recognised as a culturally rich location.
Rijeka 2020 promises a plethora of dynamic activities and vibrant events that will certainly be enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.

The city is rich in ancient beauties, from striking monuments to exquisite buildings, as well as social hotspots and an inviting atmosphere throughout the area. If culture is what you’re after, Korzo is certainly one spot which is a definite must see. Korzo is the main promenade, showcasing the true beauty that Rijeka offers throughout pedestrianised streets that display scenic buildings, exquisite architectural structures, historical monuments and most notably the picturesque terraces where you can relax in the ambience of the city.

Korzo is where most of the biggest tourist attractions are located, with the street filled with enticing walkways and shops, including the stunning city tower of Gradski Toran, a spot Rijeka is most commonly recognised by. You can also do a two-hour walking tour along here to explore every corner of the city and get an authentic insight into the area’s prominent features.

There’s also the Mercato Central di Rijeka by the sea shore, which has been described as being the soul of the city, where food producers and traders of all crafts gather, and it is popular with locals and tourists alike. There is very much an element of the artisan heritage which evidently exists in the city.

Rijeka is filled with a myriad of things to do and see, no matter where your interests lie. There’s the beautiful Trsat Castle. Located 138 metres above sea level, the castle is a superb lookout over the stunning Rječina River that runs through the city. Revived as a multipurpose venue, the castle offers a host of events including open-air concerts, theatre performances and a visual art gallery.This is not unlike St. Vitus’ Cathedral, which is an elevated area built in the Middle Ages dedicated to Rijeka’s patron Saint and protector of the city, and displays a Baroque architectural structure that has attracted a vast amount of visitors. These tourist hotspots are easily reached and considered to be integral parts of your holiday experience in Rijeka.

If you’re looking to take a break from traveling around the city, there are a variety of relaxing activities at hand. The beaches in Rijeka are numerous. Close to the city centre is Pećine, which houses beautiful beaches on the eastern side of Rijeka’s coast and even includes a dog beach. You can also escape from the lively crowds to the Molo Longo sea side walkway, and view the town’s natural elements. There are plenty of beaches easily accessible and within walking distance of the city centre.

With Croatia’s Mediterranean climate, visits between spring and autumn are recommended as being the best times for getting the most out of the weather, although the winter months promise beautiful advent events too. From walking tours to relaxed days in the town, Rijeka has you covered on providing some of the best tourist activities all year round.

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Rijeka is a city with an incredibly unusual past, and you can find out more about this history in the City Museum of Rijeka, where visitors can experience unique exhibitions, as well as taking a trip to the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, where you’re guaranteed beautiful pieces of visual work. Part of the city’s identity is music music, especially rock, a feature that is cherished and has a very special place in the hearts and minds of Rijeka’s inhabitants. The music festival RI Rock has been a long running occasion in the city, with musicians travelling from all over the globe to play at the event. Literature and theatre are also strongholds in the city, as tourists are encouraged to take a trip to the Ivan pl. Zajc Croatian National Theatre to experience Croatian theatre at its finest.

While Rijeka’s history and heritage are undoubtedly extraordinary assets to the city, it is exciting to see how the area is growing and expanding. The eccentricities of the cultural dynamics from music to art also make for a strongpoint in Rijeka’s confirmed European Capital of Culture bid, and this promises to grow and advance between now and then.

Article by: Laura McNamara
Photography by: www.visitrijeka.eu

Fusion Magazine
Written by Fusion Magazine