In ancient times the illyric tribe of Japods erected Tarsat on top of the hill.
During the roman era the fortress was built and the settlement around it given the name Tarsatica.


In a dominating position on a 138 m high hill above Rijeka and the river Rijecina lies the ancient fortress of Trsat, simply called Gradina.

The croats acquired the fortress in the 7th century. The obvious strategic importance of this authoritative landmark has caused many conflicts, one of them being the catastrophic defeat which the francs experienced on the slopes below the fortress. Apparently, during that battle the famous warrior Erik lost his life there in 799, an event that enraged Carl the Great so much that he subsequently destroyed Tarsatica, and whatever there was of Rijeka at that time.

In the 13th century Trsat fell under the County of Vinodol and within the administration of the Lords Frankopan, that most prominent croatian family descending from Krk.

The fortress also played a significant role in the defense against turkish assaults. There used to be a constant guard watching for any possible invasion attempts. But with time and a diminishing threat of invasions from the sea, the fortress lost some of its strategic importance. And just as well, as it was razed to the ground by the great earthquake of 1750.
Thereafter Trsat came under austro-hungarian authority, but even then, at the end of 18th century, it still retained local government.

In 1824 what remained of the fortress was yielded to the austrian general Laval Nugent, who took on the task of reconstruction. He renovated the towers, rebuild the mausoleum and constructed in the north-eastern tower a museum. But Nugent's beneficiaries were incapable of the upkeep and restoration was stopped.

The final improvements were made in 1960.

Trsat has been throughout the centuries an ardent guard and watchful custodian of an expanding city. It is a mementum relevant to understanding Rijeka and its surrounds.




Photographs: Laurie Hensman
Text summarized from What's on Kvarner, 1995
What's on Kvarner, 1999

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