Opatija, often called the pearl of the Adriatic, is one of Croatia’s most famous destinations, boasting a tradition of welcoming visitors dating back more than 160 years. Located at the edge of the Mediterranean, on the slopes of Mount Ucka gently descending towards the coast of Kvarner Bay, Opatija with its local climate, beautiful architecture, quality hotels and luxurious, well-tended parks and promenades, offers plenty of possibilities for a pleasant stay throughout the year. The notable person who first discovered the magic of Opatija was Iginio Scarpa, a merchant from Rijeka who built his holiday home here in 1844 and named it the Villa Angiolina after his late wife. This event marked the beginning of tourism in Opatija. After that, Opatija started intensely developing under the supervision of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Director of the Austrian Southern Railway Company Friedrich Schüler and its shareholders wanted to improve passenger traffic to the south. After choosing Opatija as the region’s most promising destination, they started building the first hotel in this new bathing and climatic health resort, advertising it widely as the “Austrian Nice”. Several important facilities were built alongside the first hotel: a pavilion with indoor pool for warm sea baths, a bathing place with separate areas for ladies and gentlemen, and the 12 kilometre-long coastal promenade from Volosko to Opatija and further to Lovran. The hotel was opened on the 27th March 1884. Its original name was Hotel Quarnero, and it offered its visitors 60 rooms. The second hotel that was built in Opatija after the Quarnero was the Hotel Kronprinzessin Stephanie.
In 1885, the Austrian Southern Railway Company organised the first congress of balneologists in Opatija, during which the decision was made to declare Opatija a climatic health resort, which was officially done in 1889. Some of the Monarchy’s most eminent physicians opened their sanatoriums in Opatija; numerous promenades and bathing places were being built. This all turned Opatija into one of Europe’s most important health resorts of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century, alongside Nice, Karlovy Vary, Cannes and Biarritz.
Kings and emperors, writers, philosophers, poets and composers used to stay here – let us mention some of them: the emperors Franz Joseph and William II, the queen of Romania Elisabeth who used to publish poems under the pseudonym of Carmen Sylva, then the empress Sissi, the writers A. P. Chekhov and James Joyce, the ballet dancer Isadora Duncan, and the composers Gustav Mahler and Giacomo Puccini. To see and be seen – this was the motto for those who came to Opatija. After World War Two, Opatija’s tourism became more orientated to the summer season and the hosting of conventions. Throughout that whole period, Opatija retained its importance as a destination with something special to offer.
Opatija has numerous advantages that will surely entice you – superb convention facilities, quality accommodation, modern wellness centres for relaxation, and last but not least, friendly and professional staff that will do their best to meet all your requirements. Not to forget the area’s great gastronomy, offering unique combinations of traditional recipes, modern cuisine and first-class wines. Get to know Opatija, and let Opatija get to know you!
To the organisers of business meetings, Opatija offers all the advantages of a major convention destination combined with the enticing charm of a more intimate holiday resort. The area’s extensive experience and tradition in organising conventions, combined with modern quality accommodation, provide excellent foundation for organising various meetings and events. Today, more than 125 years after the first congress, Opatija hosts more than 500 congresses, seminars, various meetings and events each year. Many of these are traditional and of national importance, but each time Opatija also hosts an increasing number of internationally relevant congresses. One of the reasons for this is undoubtedly Opatija’s favourable central position in the Alpe-Adria region, which includes the countries of Croatia, Slovenia, Italy, Austria and Hungary). Thanks to the modern motorway network, Opatija can today be easily reached by car in only several hours’ drive from all major centres of the region.
More precisely, Opatija is within the radius of 5-hour-drive from some of the most important citys in South and Central Europe (Zagreb, Varaždin, Osijek, Split, Ljubljana, Maribor, Venice, Milan, Vienna, Budapest, Salzburg, Munich, Belgrade etc.).
Opatija can also be reached by air via five international airports (Rijeka-island of Krk, Pula, Zagreb, Ljubljana and Trieste) that are all within two-hours’ drive. By train, Opatija can be reached from the railway station in Rijeka (15 km away; for trains coming from the direction of Zagreb), and the railway station Opatija- Matulji (6 km; for trains coming from the direction of Ljubljana).
As the former leading destination of Austria-Hungary, Opatija not only served as a venue for relaxation and healing of emperors, kings, counts and marquises – since the very beginning of its rich tradition of tourism, Opatija’s facilities were used for the purposes of the meetings industry at the time. As early as 1885, only one year after the opening of the first hotel, on the initiative of Friedrich Schüler and the Austrian Southern Railway Company, Opatija hosted the first congress of balneologists. One of the issues discussed was whether Opatija should be a summer resort, or be declared a climatic health resort. In 1894, the Austro-Hungarian emperor Franz Joseph I met the German emperor William II, and ten years later, in 1904, the king of Sweden Oscar II. Thanks to Dr. Julius Glax, balneologists met again in Opatija in 1904 at the Congress of Austrian Balneologists, and again in 1908 at the 4th International congress for thalassotherapy.
Ten years later, Opatija was witness to one of the greatest milestones of that time, the pact between Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy, which was concluded in Opatija in April 1914. After Europe recovered from World War One, Opatija again hosted important congresses, such as the Italian National Congress of Hotels and Tourism in 1933. In the aftermath of World War Two, in the 1950s, Opatija became more oriented towards congress tourism, and the city again hosted important national and international conventions, such as the International Congress of Hydroclimatology and Thalassotherapy (1954), or the Congress of the International Handball Federation (IHF). One of the most important years was 1971, when the first large congress hall in Opatija was built. It was the congress hall of the Grand Hotel Adriatic, opened for the Congress of the International Ski Federation (FIS).
The importance of Opatija as a convention destination is reflected in the fact that in the late 1960s and in the 1970s, the headquarters of Meditercongress, the international association of organisations and conference citys interested in the Mediterranean area, which had approximately thirty members, was located in Opatija. The scope of this association, which was founded on the 9th March 1968 in Venice, was a joint promotion of its members with the purpose of attracting new conferences and events. In 1973, negotiations about joining the European Federation of Conference Towns (EFCT) began, which resulted in the member citys becoming members of the EFCT (today, European Cities Marketing – ECM) by a special agreement in 1978, when the Meditercongress ceased to exist.
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