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Island Rab Info - Cultural Information

The town of Rab was founded as an ancient Roman municipality in the last decades of the 1st century B.C. A deed of gift given by the emperor Octavian Augustus 10 years before the end of tho century endows this already formed urban Liburnian colonial community with walls and towers. It develops successfully, skilfully and fortunately and the evidence for this is given in the time of Emperor Septimus Severus - "Felix Arba" the only town along with Salona in the eastern Adriatic that became the capital of the province of Dalmatia.

It became the early-Christian centre whose citizens in the period between the end of the 3rd and the beginning of the 4th centuries were St. Leo. St. Marin (the founder of the Republic of San Manno) and bishop Titian who is said to have been the third in Dalmatia on the synods of Salona in the beginning of the 6th century.

The town within the Byzantine and the Dalmatian theme was important until the 11th century but it witnessed the biggest prosperity as a free Adriatic commune from the second half of the 11th and during the 12th and the 13th centuries. During this period it acknowledged the alternating authorities of Croatian and Venetian rulers. The Venetian Republic bought it in 1409 along with the entire Dalmatia. ruling this area until its fall under Napoleon's conquers in 1798.

After a brief period of French and the first Austrian predominance, it became a part of tho Austrian province of Dalmatia until the end of the First World War. After a two-year Italian occupation it fell under the governing of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and after the Second World War to its mother country Croatia within the Yugoslavian Federation. Ever since 1990 it has been a part of the Republic of Croatia.

Town Rab - historic core

In the spot of today's town there used to be an already developed pre-Roman Liburnian centre. It probably had the same urban basis that was accepted and based on firm principles of the town construction of that time by the Roman community. This basic matrix with three longitudinal streets and a number of transversal staircases was preserved until today but its historical outline was defined in the late medieval age by the Romanesque style, which is particularly evident in the sacral structures. Therefore, its three bell-towers from the 12th century and one additional Baroque almost became its symbols.

The view of the town from the sea which was the only way of accessing it during the long millennia is one of the most beautiful Adriatic vistas, marrying in harmony attractive and impressive natural and cultural unmatched landscape with inspirational architecture mutually permeating and imbuing each other.

Within densely built insulaes of the town tissue, numerous architectural monuments were built during the long history. Some of them, with their outstanding quality and importance, exceed the local and even the national frames and we will present them with this information system on the historical core of our town.

The Early-Byzantine Fortification of Sv. Kuzma and Sv. Damjan (St. Cosmos and St. Damian) in Barbat

On the Kamenjak slopes of the hill of Sv. Damjan in Barbat, imposing ruins are visible even today, which have for centuries inspired the imagination of local inhabitants and inquisitive explorers.

Until now experts and researchers have taken different and mostly incorrect stands regarding the dating of the ruins of this historic complex and have cited them as Early-Medieval, Pre-Romanesque or even High-Medieval, Romanesque or Gothic. Only lately has it been recognized that these remnants are parts of one in a series of Early-Byzantine fortresses from the time of Justinian's reconquers of this region of the Adriatic coast in the first half of the 6th century.

The central building within the fort was undoubtedly the church with a single-nave and wide semicircular apse on the eastern side. The original form of the church can be reconstructed only in the ground plan as the north and south walls have been partially demolished and the facade has been destroyed completely.

Analyzing all the peculiarities of the ruins described and taking into consideration their characteristic disposition, we can state without any doubt that this Rab fort was one in a series of magnificent fortification systems controlling the borders of the Byzantine Empire. It dates from the time of renewed conquests of the eastern-Adriatic coast accomplished by Justinian's army commander Belizar. Moreover, this fortification was one of the largest costar which discharged the functions of defense, control and shelter.

The Franciscan Monasstery of Sv. Eufemija (St. Euphemia)


At the far end of the deepest and most picturesque cove on Rab, Sv.Eufemija, nestles the Franciscan monastery of the same name. The names of the cove and the monastery derive from the small Church of Sv. Eufemija (St.Euphemia) which was first mentioned already in the 13th century. Consequently, it has an Early-Christian floor plan. It was erected in honor of this 3rd-century martyr from Chalcedon. This monastery is a typical Franciscan architectural complex which perfectly merges with the natural environment, complementing it by its architectural excellence. The religious essence of every monastery, including this one, is its church. Most probably in the beginning the Church of Sv.Eufemija was here as a simple one-nave building, which was rebuilt several times. Nonetheless, it is certain that it was earlier than the 13th century when it was first mentioned. As a display of particular reverence for St. Bernardin of Siena, who was beatified at that time, a new church bearing his name was built as an integral part of the monastery complex. The church is an one-nave monastic building with a rectangular floor plan and a square chancel. On the principal alter in the church chancel there is a polyptych within a wooden carved and gilded Late-Gothic frame. In the year 1458 this polyptych was painted by the brothers Antonio and Bartolomeo Vivarini, the most prominent members of the Venetian painting workshop at that time. Flanking the south side of the chancel today stands the Chapel of Sveti Križ (Holy Cross). The wooden altar in the same chapel displays a truly magnificent wooden Crucifix on its east wall. In 1669, a new ceiling coffering was installed with 27 painted scenes from the life of St. Francis and other major Franciscan Saints.