A small fishing settlement with a Benedictine abbey from which the town gets its name, along with the church of St. James, is first mentioned in the middle of the 15th century. Rijeka’s patrician, Iginio Scarpa, played a crucial role in the tourist history of Opatija. In 1844 he decided to build a summer residence and called it after his wife, Angiolina. Numerous eminent guests came to visit this patrician and Opatija became a well-known meeting place. With investment from Vienna’s Southern Railways Company, in bay groves, amidst tall palms and subtropical plants, the building of many hotels, guest houses, villas, palaces, summer houses along with beaches, soon began. In 1884 Hotel Kvarner opened, in 1885 Kronprinzessin Stephanie opened – today named Imperial, and this was followed by the opening of Hotel Quississana - today named Opatija. After this a park, a sea promenade (lungomare) and a forest pathway were built. Famous for its mild climate, ensuring a pleasant stay throughout the year, Opatija began its rise to the top and in 1907 from 243 health resorts of the Austrian part of the Monarchy it came second, immediately after Karlovy Vary. At the beginning of the 20th century, it had a 16 km long forest pathway along with a 7 km coastal promenade (lungomare). In 1912 there were 12 sanatoria with no less than 62 doctors.
Almost all members of the Austro-Hungarian imperial royal families visited Opatija headed by the emperor, Franz Josef. The Croatian Ban Josip Jelačić, along with the German emperor, Wilhelm II, the Romanian royal couple, Karlo and Elizabeta, the Swedish-Norwegian king, Oskar II, all visited Opatija. Anton Čehov, Gustav Mahler, Isadora Duncan, James Joyce…. and many more artists and politicians stayed here and Opatija, in its own unique way, marked their passage through history by erecting memorials to them.
The Angiolina park - Villa Angiolina
Villa "Angiolina" is the building that certainly marked the beginning of the tourist epoch in the history of Opatija. Saint Jacob’s Church Pending its building in 1844. (actually a reconstruction of an older building owned by baron Haller von Hallerstein), Opatija was a relatively large settlement with about 120 houses, clustered mainly around plots further away from the sea coast and chiefly oriented towards fishing and seafaring.
The Park of Sv. Jakov
The central Opatija's park is a horticultural monument covering an area of 3.64 hectares. It is divided into 60 fields and about 159 plant species grow here. A great number of them originates from distant parts of the world and is not typical of this region.
Madonna with the Seagull
Work of the sculptor Zvonko Car, placed near the sea in 1956. It is one of the symbols of Opatija.
Art pavilion "Juraj Matija Sporer"
An exhibition space named after the physician dr. Juraj Matija Sporer (in 1859 he suggested the establishment of a society for the constuction of Opatija as a sea resort and a natural health centre).
St. Jakov's Church
Built on the foundations of the past Benedictine monastery, it is mentioned for the first time in 1439. To the left, near the church, the monastery and the cloister are located , with a well in the middle. Between the church and the monastery stands the stone bell-tower.