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Story of Lovran
Historical heritage
Position and climate

Story of Lovran

Lovran is a town with a long and diverse past, with a hundred-year-long tradition of tourism. It took its name from laurel, laurus nobilis, which grows abundantly in the evergreen groves in the town and environs. The settlement was first mentioned as Lauriana in the 7th century. In the 12th century, the Arab writer and geographer Al-Idrisi gives the following description of the town: Lovran is a large and progressive city, which has ships always ready, and shipbuilders always employed. As well as fishing and seafaring, the people of Lovran were involved in the fruit trade, going with full boats of cherries, peaches and sweet chestnuts (the renowned marrons) to Rijeka, Senj, Pula and Trieste. In the terraced gardens, along with fruit, they grew the grape vine, olives and various kinds of vegetable.

In the Middle Ages, Lovran was a typical Mediterreanean town, with narrow, paved streets, three storey houses packed close together, with steps, chimneys and the little windows characteristic of the coast. It was girded with a defensive wall, and the town was entered through three gates that were shut at night. St George’s Square (Trg sv. Jurja), St George being the patron saint of the town, was the main square in the city and the centre of public life. In it were the parish church, the city’s tower with its garrison, and the government of the town. The common people spoke Croatian, in the Chakavian dialect, while it was Italian that was the language of the sailor. In Pazin, however, the seat of the lords of Lovran, they spoke German. Lovran belonged to the counts of Istria, and was ruled by Austria from the 15th century until the end of World War I, when it came under the rule of the Kingdom of Italy.

The end of the 19th century marked the collapse of the sailing ship and wooden boatbuilding. Steel and steam conquered the seas, and modern steamships replaced the sail. The lives of the inhabitants of Lovran and the surroundings changed, and tourism became the principle means of earning a living. After the larger and better-known Opatija, Lovran became the second most important town on the famed Royal and Imperial (K. und K.) Riviera. Because of its mild and invigorating climate, in 1878 the Istrian parliament in Poreč proclaimed it a Kurort, or cure town. In 1873 the first pension was built, the Villa Fernandea (today the Belvedere annexe), and by the beginning of the twentieth century, all the necessary infrastructure was in place. To accompany the steamship lines that linked Lovran with Opatija, Rijeka, Pula and Trieste, in 1908 it acquired an electric tramline that joined it to Opatija and to Matulji railway station.

Outside the old city centre, along the shoreline, villas, pensions, hotels, and sanatoriums surrounded by carefully cultivated gardens were created. Large and luxurious parks were laid out, in which, alongside the indigenous laurel, they planted cypresses, pines, magnolias, palms and an abundance of flowers. The coastal promenade, the lungomare or Strandweg, was constructed over the twelve kilometres to Opatija and Volosko.

At the turn of the century, Lovran was a winter resort, a fashionable bathing place, and a health resort for the Austro-Hungarian aristocracy, and the artistic, financial and political elites. It had four large hotels, 20 or so pensions and four sanatoriums, as well as the large public bathing places called Peharovo and Kvarner. Karl Lueger, the mayor of Vienna, and the Polish artist Stanislaw Witkiewicz, who were delighted by the climate and the beauties of Lovran, stand out as pronounced Lovranophiles among the European upper classes.

At the end of World War I, with the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, in 1918 Lovran came under the rule of the Kingdom of Italy. Then fascism came to Italy, and there were bad times for the Istrian Croats in Lovran. The Croatian language was banned from school and church, and there were overt attempts to Italianize the Croats. After the collapse of fascism and the capitulation of Italy in 1943, Lovran was occupied by the Third Reich. Lovran’s hotels were filled with wounded and exhausted soldiers of the Wehrmacht on R and R. On April 26, 1945, Lovran was liberated from both fascism and the occupation.

At the beginning of the sixties, the hotels, villas and pensions were reconstructed and renovated. Soon, too, privately owned houses came into the market. Mass market tourism developed, and in 1987 Lovran recorded 438,195 bed-nights. The peak of this period closed with the building of the grand Hotel Excelsior, which at that time was the most up-to-date and luxurious hotel on the Adriatic coast.

The grave political and economic crisis of the late 1980s ended with the collapse of Yugoslavia as it then was. Multiparty elections and a referendum about independence were held, and on June 25 1991 the Parliament of Croatia proclaimed the country an independent and sovereign state. In 1993 Lovran became a municipality, with 3 987 inhabitants in its five settlements of Lovran, Medveja, Lovranska Draga, Liganj and Tuliševica. After the war, and the final act of reintegration of the country on 15 January 1998, Croatia was at last at peace.

On the threshold of the 21st century, Lovran can draw on a rich historical heritage, a hundred-year-old tradition of tourism, a well-preserved nature, a developed infrastructure and everything else that permits a new take-off in the tourist industry combined with sustainable development and respect for all ecological standards.

HR-51415 Lovran, Trg slobode 1
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