This post offers a short virtual tour of the town of Rab both through the streets and origins.
Strolling by the pier to park Kaldanac, then back through the main street and main squares. Then up wide stairs to the upper street where popular four towers are lined up.
Although known most only as a family holiday and a beach destination, Rab has intriguing history and legends. Island was mapped first by ancient Greek seafarers and cartographers all the way back in 4th century BC. Seafaring Greek by the name of Skilaks noted the cluster of islands Pag and Rab by a single name “Mentorides”. That account was found in his written material “Periplus”, which literally means “sailing around”. Older artefacts, like an ancient hook for fishing, knives and stone axes found on island Rab, point to a more ancient history. Artefacts like these can be found in the Archaeological Museum of Zadar among many other found in North Dalmatian region.
But the current appearance of a town with defensive stone walls and medieval towers Rab owes entirely to Venetian period. It was during the rule of Venice that most of the present recognizable architecture was created. But let’s leave past to Wikipedia and go back to the Now.. Rab town is centrally positioned on the island so here you will find most activity, greatest choice of restaurants, places for shopping and events. Not unlike other tourist destinations of the Adriatic, it is a Mediterranean web of stone surfaced streets. Not as crowded as Rovinj or Dubrovnik, but full of activity and tourist venues. Couple of shaded places along the port side street and the two town squares are the best for a hot summer day in town.
ALONG THE PORT
Places along the port, like the light jazz club with a port view “Moderato” or “Old town Bar“, are very tastefully designed. With terraces ositioned right next to the piers, you may observe passing boats and yachts. Along the waterfront and the two main town squares are also the other bars and restaurants. Interplay of the sound of waves, docked yachts and fishing boats and rentals creates a lively scene here, but not a rush. “Municipium Arba” is a large square in the centre of town where island authority offices are. At this square you may enjoy your evenings sitting on the table filled terraces. Clubs like “San Antonio” or a more romantic one “Conte Nero” organize here great evening themes with open air coctail bars and TV screens. This square is where you may enjoy a concert on the open or watch live sport events like a World Cup.
Along the port of Rab are some of the busiest boat tour stations. You may reserve here a daily boat tour to nearest islands Losinj or Pag, or around island Rab itself. Some of the most frequented boats are “Eros” and “Kordika”. As you go on by the waterfront you’ll find a luxurious hotel “Arbiana” and just next to it a stone arch entrance to park “Kaldanac”.
SREDNJA ULICA – STREET AND THE SQUARES
As park Kaldanac is at the tip of the Rab town, you may only go back toward the town, or up the stairs toward four towers. Going back you’ll find yourself at “Srednja” (middle) Street. This is the central stone layered street of Rab town and the most active one. Many boutiques, gelaterias where you can try the well rated local icecream. Continuing down Srednja ulica, you’ll come across another of the main squares, by the name “Varos”. Varos in the olden times more than a hundred years ago used to be the central market square, hence the name. Diring summer here you will find open stands and shops, bohemian painters on the open and dominating stairs ascending from the square up to a former Fort and Church of St. Christopher. Top of the old fort stands right above the square offering a great view of all four towers. Still it is not not the best view overlooking the town and it’s main streets. We’ll leave that for o walk on the “Gornja” (upper) Street, where the Towers and the churches are.
GORNJA ULICA – STREET AND THE FOUR TOWERS
Four towers are on Upper Street lined up conveniently for a stroll. First one as you walk is the Tower by the former (now in ruins) church of Saint John the Evangelist. It was built in Pre Christian era and already re-established but in 19th century turned to ruins. Here by the church ruins you can find stone plates with Roman inscriptions alog with original church columns. Second church with tower as you continue down the street is one of Church of Sainte (female saint) Justina. Church was closed in 1808 but recently has been renovated and now a museum within exhibits sacral art and ornaments like the skull of St. Christopher (Christ-bearer). He is also regarded as protector Saint of Rab. As you pass by the church you may hear chamber music from inside, but don’t worry, it’s not the ghosts. It’s just a music school by the church premises (or I like to think so).
LIBERTY SQUARE AND THE OTHER SIDE OF TOWN
As you continue walking, you’ll arrive to the “Square of Liberty”. Positioned between Town on one side seaside walkway on the other side down the stairs, you’ll notice it’s time to stop and look around. Splendid view from the square of the sea below city walls, and the main defensive walls and buildings of the highest of towers. Liberty square features some Venetian style balconies and buildings as you’ll notice. If you exit the Upper street and take a stroll down by the sea, you’ll get some of the best wiews of the towers. Also continuing along the promenade you might visit a popular latino beach bar “https://www.rab-visit.com/hr/beach-bar-banova-vila/gid/430”. Next from the Liberty square on our tour is the tower by the Monastery of Saint Andreas (Sv. Andrije). Oldest of the bell towers, it was built back in the 11th century.
CHURCH OF SAINT MARY’S ASCENSION AND VIEW FROM THE TOP
Shortly after that one, we arrive to the highest of the towers, next to the Church of Saint Mary’s Ascension. It is the largest of the four towers, and open to the public but not at all times. Visitors are able to get to the very top, above the tower bells. You will have to pay a small entrance fee. 360 degree view from the top is truly impressive, with view of the port and town, as well as neighbouring island Pag and open seas. Bell of the tower also has a story, afirst time being mentioned back in year 1212. It’s top was changed due to a storm lightning destroying it in 15th century. New top is octagonal instead of having four sides, and contains inscriptions with names of saints, like Sainte Barbara, protector from storms. Next to the tower is the Romanesque church of Saint Mary’s Ascension. It is the most popular and beautiful of the churches on Rab, having a status of cathedral until 1828. Church has been canonised in 1175 by pope Alexander III, while he was on his path from town Zadar to Venice. This church contains typical Croatian decorative elements like braiding patterns.