Of all the tourist destinations on the Croatian Adriatic coast, Opatija is the most beautiful example of a town whose recognisable image is shaped by the synergy of its urban planning, architecture and park architecture. The town’s identity is particularly distinguished by its park heritage that plays an important role in shaping its appearance and creates extraordinary townscape value.  However, this heritage must not be just a monument to the past: as an extremely valuable resource, it should contribute to the economic and social development of the town. Therefore, the City of Opatija, in the year when the nearby city of Rijeka was to be the European Capital of Culture should be presented as a town-park under the title OPATIJA PARK 2020. 

This is a year-round project that will help affirm the town’s ten parks as a new tourist product – a themed route called the  – Necklace of Opatija.

With the implementation of the project throughout 2020, the Town of Opatija will also mark two important anniversaries: 175 years of park architecture in Opatija (because the beginning of its development is considered to be 1845, the year when Angiolina Park was established), and 70 years of the continuous maintenance of Opatija’s parks, since the town’s first park and beach maintenance company was founded in 1950.

About the author

Associate Professor Koraljka Vahtar-Jurković, PhD, has a master’s degree in civil engineering and a PhD in urban planning, architecture and landscape architecture, and is senior research associate and associate professor at the Faculty of Civil Engineering of the University of Rijeka. She is head of the Department for Spatial Planning, Construction and Environmental Protection of Primorje-Gorski Kotar County.

The park heritage of Opatija has been the main subject of her scientific research for more than 20 years. This resulted in a master’s thesis, a doctoral dissertation, two scientific books: Opatija – urbanistički razvoj i perivojno naslijeđe [Opatija – Urban Development and Park Heritage] and Opatijski gradski perivoji [Town Parks of Opatija], three chapters in different books, 15 scientific papers, the expert basis for the proposal to proclaim St James’ Park a protected area, two conservation plans, the foreword to The Golden Book of Camellia Donors, and several popular articles and lectures.

Koraljka Vahtar-Jurković worked in the same field as an external associate on two four-year scientific projects at the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Zagreb led by Prof Mladen Obad Šćitaroci, Member of the Academy. As part of the recent Heritage Urbanism project that explored models of revitalisation of cultural and historical heritage with the aim of making it not just a monument of the past, but also a driver of economic and social development, she focused on the restoration of the American Gardens and proposed promoting all ten Opatija town parks as a new unique tourist product called the Necklace of Opatija within the OPATIJA PARK 2020 project.

The necklace of Opatija

Due to their ambience and cultural, historic, urban, health-promoting, ecological and educational value, the parks of Opatija can be regarded as the town’s pearls that are now connected in a unique string, a necklace, or kolajnica in local dialect.

The Necklace of Opatija consists of ten public town parks, which are shown on the map:

  1. Angiolina Park
  2. St James’ Park
  3. Slatina Park
  4. Esperia Park
  5. American Gardens
  1. Margarita Park
  2. Imperial Park
  3. Park in Ulica Vladimira Nazora
  4. Drago Gervais Park
  5. Bulgaria Park