Located on the outskirts of the city, on the Trsat hill, the castle was built in the 13th century. There is archeological evidence that Illyrian tribes and the Romans built their own fortresses at the same spot centuries earlier. The hill was a suitable location for building such a fortress because its height was a major strategic advantage as the entire bay of Kvarner (and, of course, Rijeka) can be seen from the castle walls.
Of course, the castle ceased to be a military facility centuries ago. Instead, it grew as an important pilgrimage point as thousands of people visit the Church of Our Lady of Trsat and the Franciscan Monastery built on the hill.
The pilgrimages started centuries ago. According to a local legend, the dwelling in which the Virgin Mary was born miraculously disappeared from Nazareth and appeared in Trsat around 1291 AD. It stood there for a few months when, as the legend states, the angels carried it to Loreto, Italy. Thus the place became a shrine. The church and the monastery were enlarged and reconstructed as years passed, which created a unique amalgam of styles.
The church is known for its great baroque cloister and the refectory decorated with many religious-themed works of art. Many similar works of art are exhibited in the monastery’s treasury. Such as the 16th century statue of the Virgin Mary or a 14th century painting of the Madonna.
The most popular way to reach the castle is to take the so-called Petar Kruzic Stairway. It consists of 538 stairs leading from Rijeka to the top of the hill, with chapels built along the way dedicated to various saints. First built in the 16th century, the stairway was nicknamed „The Pilgrim’s Way“ and expanded several times. Of course, those who find the walk too long or exhausting can always reach the hill by renting a car, taking local taxi or via local bus lines. There’s a bus to Trsat hill every fifteen minutes.
Nowadays even those who don’t consider themselves religious tend to visit the site as it has become a relaxation area for visitors and locals alike. Many people come to enjoy the viev, the fresh air and a cup of coffee at one of the many cafés in the vicinity. A number of cultural manifestations is held every year during the summer, such as open air concerts, theatre plays, art exhibitions and even fashion shows.
The main festival, called „Ljeto na Gradini“ usually lasts through the entire summer. The newest attraction are The Literary Evenings. If you’re a tourist, be sure to check out the Trsat Castle Info Point, located within the castle, where you’ll find all the information regarding the Trsat Castle legends and history, as well all the necessary tourist info about the city of Rijeka.
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It is estimated that over three thousand hundred people visit the Trsat Castle every year as it is the site of the oldest Roman-Catholic Marian Sanctuary in Croatia.
Croatia, Rijeka, Trsat Castle