Krk: Where History Lives on in the Present
Zagreb, December 24, 1999
Plentiful natural tourist attractions, a rich historical treasury and a dynamic everyday life have never negated each other, but have rather merged to create a singular tourist destination appreciated, in particular, by contemporary nomads.
If you ever ask yourself why you like islands, one of the main reasons will undoubtedly be their ability to offer the more than necessary occasional escape with its feeling of departure and the abandoning of everyday worries. If you come to the largest Croatian island of Krk, which boasts an area of over 400 square kilometers due to the numerous pleasurable attractions and particularities on offer, choosing the holiday program best suited to your tastes and wishes will not be an easy task.
So that your uncertainty does not overwhelm you, it should be said that Krk guarantees a truly unique experience with its mixture of classical vacation possibilities and its ties to the past. This experience is a part of the tourist, historical and cultural image of Croatia. You can reach the island of Krk by bridge, not to mention by sea routes, and since the island has an airport, it can be reached by plane as well. Plentiful natural tourist attractions, a rich historical treasury and a dynamic everyday life have never negated each other, but have rather merged to create a singular tourist destination appreciated, in particular, by contemporary nomads. You are free to chose from all of its particularities: the large and small towns and villages, the contrast between its gentle green promenades and its wild barren rocks, its islets with numerous hidden coves and beaches that you can enjoy completely to yourself. Krk is also an island of historical towns juxtaposed against contemporary marinas and tourist settlements.
In addition to the Krk of today, on which you will find pleasant wine cellars and konobas, luxury villas, hotels and houses by the sea, and desirable sea havens during a sail or cruise along the Adriatic, there is also another, historical, life to Krk. This is the island itself a treasury through which all those who want to understand the history of Croats and their literacy, as well as the achievements of civilization, find inspiration. Life on Krk is measured by a thousand-year history. Bearing testament to this fact are the mosaics of Roman thermae and the distinctiveness of small Early Christian churches, the extravagance of Glagolitic monuments, the heritage of the Krk Frankopan dukes and the paintings of Venetian masters.
The island of Krk is the center of Croatian Glagolitic literacy, the routes of which lead to Omišalj, the town of Krk, Vrbnik, Jurandvor and the islet of Košljun. Omišalj is one of four medieval citadels on the island. It has a Romanesque parish church with a rich collection of Glagolitic inscriptions dating back to the thirteenth century. The town of Krk is fortified by city walls and fortresses from the Roman and medieval period. In addition to other valuable monuments and artifacts, the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary from the twelfth century should be mentioned as a particularly valuable part of its heritage. The town of Vrbnik, built on a 50 meter high cliff, is particularly attractive to historians and painters who go there to find inspiration. If you walk down its cobble-stone streets, you will find Glagolitic inscriptions above front doors, and carved into the cornerstones of houses. This is irrefutable evidence that the Glagolitic script was present in the everyday life of the island.
You will be able to better understand the importance of these and many other monuments to Croatian history if you join us in our journey into the past. It all started over a thousand years ago, in the ninth century. The Salonika brothers, St. Cyril and Methodius, to facilitate the christening of pagan Slavs composed the Glagolitic alphabet. Although the alphabet was intended for the entire Slavic world, the Croats preserved it to the greatest degree. In addition to the Valun Tablet, a monument discovered on the island of Cres, a Glagolitic inscription on the Baška Tablet, dating back to the twelfth century, is of particular importance. It was found in the Church of St. Lucia in Jurandvor on the island of Krk. The Baška Tablet, which is an acknowledgement to Croatian king Zvonimir for the donated church estate, is also significant because it mentions the Croatian name in the Croatian language for the first time in history.
For all those who are interested in the history and culture of this region, an unavoidable destination is the nearby islet of Košljun, overgrown with coniferous trees and the only inhabited islet of the Krk archipelago. Rare samples of Glagolitic manuscripts and incunabula are kept in the museum of the Franciscan monastery. The museum collection also includes a Hebrew Bible from the eleventh century, one of only three preserved Ptolemaic Atlases dating back to 1511, and about 30 thousand other books. So small and yet so rich, Košljun is also known for its hundred year old grammar school, well-stocked library, museum, other collections and rarities. Another curiosity is that one of the first European financial institutions, the so-called Košljunska posujilnica (the Košljun Money-lending Institution) was established there and was active between the 17th and 19th centuries. It was a kind of a monetary institute aimed at insuring poorer inhabitants from usurers. Copious evidence of this past life can be found on the islet, with items such as a paraffin projector and a wooden iron attesting to this.
No matter whether you take a break in a café by the sea or in a wine cellar where you can enjoy figs and home made brandy, or try fresh shell fish sprinkled with home made olive oil, or sample Krk's world renowned wines in one of its elegant restaurants, you will always be aware of the unique island atmosphere. Krk's contagious melodies will help you feel this uniqueness, as will the cultural manifestations and waterfront fishing celebrations held for all those who enjoy good parties.
If you wish to exchange the island's vivacity and developed tourist settlements for a more solitary and a direct encounter with nature, you will find what you are looking for on the nearby isolated islets. You can then return to the tourist destinations of Malinska, Njivice, Baška or Punat with their large marinas, or to the other island towns and villages with their own distinctive traits. When you get to know all of the aspects of the island of Krk, you will know why it was worth exploring the treasury of its natural, cultural and tourist values. Namely, to know Krk is to love it!
This page compliments of Marisa Ciceran