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Cultural Sights of the Island of Rab

Dorian Antešić

November 28, 2023

Rab has a rich history in which many famous people stand out. The island was inhabited by the Illyrians in 350 BC, and in the 1st century Rab became a Roman municipality that developed into an important center on the east coast of the Adriatic called Felix Arba (Arb is an Illyrian word meaning wooded, dark, green). Its rise began in the second half of the 11th century and lasted until the 13th century, when it was ruled by Croatian rulers and the Venetian Republic in the form of a free Adriatic commune. In the 15th century it was sold to the Venetians, under whose rule it remained until 1798 and the arrival of Napoleon.

Below is a list of facilities that can be visited in Rab.

City walls, palaces and other buildings

Built in the 15th century to strengthen the city’s fortifications, these two towers are located on the site of earlier medieval walls built in the 12th or 13th century.

Rector’s Palace

The construction of the Rector’s Palace began in the 13th century, but its most significant parts were built in the 15th and 16th centuries. The palace is dominated by a tower in the Gothic and Renaissance style. Today, the Rector’s Palace houses the offices of the Rab city administration and the town hall.

City Lodge

The town lodge was built in the Renaissance style in 1509 as a spacious hall with a roof supported by a series of pillars. The lodge was the center of Rab until the fall of the Venetian Republic in 1797.

City clock

At the same time as the lodge was built, a clock tower was erected which still works today.

Dominis Nimira Palace

The Dominis Nimira Palace, dating from the 15th century, is one of the most beautiful Renaissance buildings on Rab. It is adorned with Renaissance windows and a portal with the coat of arms of the Dominis family, who taught the people to read and write in this palace.

Bakota Palace

A beautiful palace around which there is still a garden wall with a portal in the Venetian Gothic style.

 

Tip: Built in the 13th century and later renovated, this church today serves as a stage for Rab music evenings.

Monastery of St. Antuna Opata

This Franciscan monastery is located in the old town (Kladanac), and was founded in the 11th century as a refuge for aristocrats. Today it houses a gallery of antique oils on canvas with Rab motifs from 1638. The monastery is still inhabited by nuns who take care of the garden and make various souvenirs.

The bell tower of the cathedral on Rab island

Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

It was built probably in the 4th century as an early Christian church, and later remodeled in the Romanesque style. It was consecrated by Pope Alexander III. in the 12th century. It was last renovated in the 15th century. The ciborium above the main altar is characterized by different architectural styles, which is why the church has great significance. The front of the canteen is decorated with a marble statue depicting St. Christopher walking through the water with a child on his shoulders.

This church is a real treasure trove of precious paintings, various relics and reliquaries, among which the skull of St. Christopher, the patron saint of Rab who saved the island and its inhabitants, and died a martyr’s death.

The bell tower of the cathedral

Built in the Romanesque style sometime in the 13th century, this bell tower is the most beautiful building of its kind on the Croatian coast. It is 26 meters high. The original four-sided dome was destroyed by lightning, after which a six-sided pyramid was built

St. Andrew’s Monastery

Benedictine Monastery of St. Andrew has existed since the early 11th century. The three-nave church that is part of the monastery was restored in the 18th century, so that beautiful Romanesque elements are hidden under the Baroque decorations. Belfry of St. Andrije is the oldest on the island and with four bell towers in Rab it gives a special look to the view of the old town.

St. Justine’s Church

The church and the Benedictine monastery were built between 1573 and 1578. The monastery was closed in 1808 and today serves as a museum with a collection of sacral objects. Above the altar is a painting from Titian’s school depicting the death of St. Joseph.

Church of the Holy Cross

Built in the 13th century and later renovated, this church today serves as a stage for Rab music evenings.

The bell tower and the remains of the church of St. John the Evangelist

Built in the 13th century and later renovated, this church today serves as a stage for Rab music evenings.

Church of St. Christopher – Lapidary

Rebuilt chapel of the patron saint of the island of Rab, St. Today, Christopher is a museum and a lapidary.

Church of St. Francis in the cemetery

The only preserved building of the Glagolitic Franciscans (third order). According to the inscription on the facade, it was built in 1490 in the transitional style between the Gothic and Renaissance.

Rab Cathedral

 

Church of St. Peter

The church was built in 1059, and is the oldest church on the island, next to which once stood the oldest poor dictatorial monastery. The monastery was founded by the Bishop of Rab Drago, who in 1071 from Petar Krešimir IV. received permission to establish a monastery. The church was built as a three-nave basilica and has recently been restored. It is known as one of the best preserved Romanesque buildings on the east coast of the Adriatic. The church still has a Gothic bell tower, which is one of the oldest on the Croatian Adriatic coast. The bell was made in 1299 by Luke, a religious brother from Venice.

 

Church of St. Damian

The hill trail leads to the remains of the church on the hill of Sv. Damjan – 223 m above Barbat. Recent research confirms the thesis that it was once a building that had three functions: a facility for defense, reconnaissance and observation, which was also a fortress and shelter from enemy attacks. The ground plan of the fort opens the thesis that the largest Justinian fort was located here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dorian Antešić

Dorian Antešić is the Co-founder of Apostollo. He is a devoted Catholic working to serve God's little children.

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