ancient mediterranean town is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful
places in the entire Adriatic. A special feature of the island is the walled
old town of Rab with its the numerous Gotik- and renaissance palaces, churches
and characteristic 4 belfries. The integrity of the city in a form
of a ship with dominant four belfries attracts numberless visitors.
The city radiates with the mediterranean spirit and in the summer months
it is the liveliest and the most
frequented place on the
island and a center for all possible interests; from gastronomy and shopping
to art exhibitions, musical evenings and other street shows to the famous
Rab knight games and Medieval festival.
In the narrow streets and
medieval alleyways, town Rab has a scattering of welcoming restaurants,
cosy cafes and of course picturesque meditteranean houses, churches and
palaces. From St. Christopher's square to Lodge, town's main street practically
named Srednja ulica ( Middle street) transforms itself into a big gallery.
Here people enjoy company amongst others but can easily escape from all
the hustle to more secluded parts of the town ( Gornja ulica / Upper street,
the Park, the remains of St. John or rest by the St. Mary church to take
pleasure in a peaceful Mediterranean surroundings.
One can also enjoy in open
air cinema ( subtitled films).
Since the principal impression
about the town is that of historical sight, let's review it.
Town and island Rab has a
long history that dates way back to 360 BC when it was first heard of under
rule of Illyrians. From
3 ct. BC to 6 ct. Rab became part of the great Roman Empire. The whole
region was quite prosperous due to the old amber routes and maritime trade.
Throughout the history until
the modern age and shift to steam shipping, Rab flourished due to this
important strategicly position on the Adriatic trade routes. Old town Rab
( lat. Arba ) holds the status of the Municipium ( status of
the self -governing town) for longer then 2000 years, of which
the inhabitants are very proud today.
It was the 1st town of the
roman Dalmatia to be given this rare honorary title FELIX ( happy). It
is incrypted on a small amphora; "Felix Arba" and the amphora has
a particular importance as the historical artefact dating to 2-3 ct. BC.
Few artefacts of that time
bear witness to present day that Rab was fully developed and highly civilized
town, providing amenities such as running water, baths, temples, a theatre
and a network of cardo streets. Although little is left to see of the antique
roman build, the base - the main town layout and portions of the
town walls still remain
recognisible. The town is one of the oldest dioseses on this part
of the Adriatic, with the bishop seat from 530 AD.
During the entire medieval
period Rab flourished thanks to the trade in natural products with the
neighbours on this and other side of the Adriatic; in particular trading
the salt, wines, wood and silk.
It is interesting that silk
was known in Rab earlier than in the Wester Europe. This is also
the period when the main monumental buidlings were constructed ( Cathedral
and the belltowers). Rab had its society organised after old the
roman partician traditions, clergy, patricians, free citizens, peasants
and vasals. Town statutes date way back to 13 ct. and itís patrician families
their family trees way back to 9th century. How important the town
was speaks the fact that the Pope Alexander III sanctified Rab's Cathedral
in 1177 on his return to Rome from Zara ( Zadar).
Patron saint of the town
and the island is St. Christopher.
The legend has it that when
the Saint relic ( guarded in Rab - came as a gift from Constantinopole
) was exposed on the towns walls against enemies, his patronage saved the
town and the island from the invasion in 11th century e.g. 09.05.1075.
This event was described in the "St. Christopher's miracles" and
the Bishop Juraj de Hermolais
in the 13 century.
Traces of the past glory
are read in towns heritage records: for expl. in 1018 the yearly tribute
due to Venice was of ten pounds of silk or five pounds of gold. This richness
was the reason why many Venetians gladly came to this to them remote
island to serve the Serrenisima and enjoyed their life on Rab. Under the
venetian flags Rab people and their captains took part in the great Lephant
battle and lost many good sons.
After often switching rulers,
in 1358. Rab came under the rule of the King Ludovic - House of Anjou,
who was welcomed on the island as the great liberator. In remembrance
of the great King and gratitude to the patron saint it was decided to annually
celebrate the 9th of May as the Liberation dayor the Town day.
Though never independent
like Dubrovnik, Rab had a prosperous and influential life.
It reached its prosperous
peak in 14-15 ct. in reneissance era when the palaces where build.
In the houses, churches, cloisters and towers one can see many details
from the time and sense the contrasting environment of
the life outside and within the town walls. Many portals and windows
along the Upper and
sideways streets talk of
these prosperous and rich times when Rab had a theatre and
a rich social life and when Rab ladies enjoyed the latiest fashion. This
is also the period when Rab gave two important persons;
- the famouse cannon and
bell founder in bronze, Magister Johannes Baptista Arbensis (1470-1540)
who worked in Dubrovnik and made their defense cannons
- a philosopher, theologist
and natual scientist, Marco
Antonio de Dominis, who was known as one of the most influential intelectuals
and scolars of his time.
Rab was also a birthplace
of one of the saint: Marino
- founder of the Republic of San Marino.
After the fall of Venice,
Rab came for a short while under the rule of Napoleon. After the 1st industrial
revolution, the island was rediscovered again by austrian, hungarian and
czech industrailists as a tourist destination. In 1889 it was declared
by the austrian local council as the sea bath and spa resort and
after that started the construction
of first hotels on the island of Rab. By 1940-ties Rab became very
popular with the european elite. Let us just mention a few of the important
guests of the time;
- Emperor Franz Josef 1875,
Prinz of Lichtenstein, 1910, Austrian heir Franz
Ferdinand 1911, Mayor of
Wiena dr. Lueger 1909, legendary film director Friedrich Wilhelm
british Heir Edward
VIII and Wallis Simpson 1936.
After the 2 nd World. War
it took several years of reconstruction until the tourism recovered. Tourism
the main island orientation
until present day.
Nowdays Rab is enchanting
and sharming place, visited throughout the whole year.
- 2nd week after Easter
- Krizi ( "Crosses") - procession
- 09.May - Town Rab Day
( Victory day - see legend
- 25 - 27. July. - St.
Christopher's Fest, with knight's tournament and Medieval Festival
- 15. August - Knight's
- summer Musical evenings;
classical music concerts
- art exhibitions
- folks fests / bank
holidays, local festivities
- pop concerts ( irregular,
RAB MEDIEVAL SUMMER FESTIVAL
- Rapska Fiera
The patron saint of the
town and the island is St. Christopher. The Saint's intercession freed
Rab from the siege and in his honour are organized Rab's festive days (
25.07.-27.07.) when many tourists can enjoy in the medieval crossbow tournament
and medieval workshops of various kind ( traditional pottery, weaving,
medieval singing, traditional crafts).
Tournament dates: Dates:
09.05.; 25.06.; 27.07.; 15.08.;
legend of St. Christopher
de Dominis - ecclesiastic, apostate, and man of science
See photo albums of the events
Tournament and Medieval Festival 2002-2003
Crossbow tournament May 2004