Interesting historical facts about Rijeka

Rijeka grbSome historical facts about the city of Rijeka
Did you know…?

– that in Rijeka in 1909 the first Croatian feature film was made.

– that the first television aerials in Croatia were placed on the roofs of houses in Rijeka.

– that the first kidney transplant in the ex-Yugoslavia was performed in Rijeka, in 1971.

– that in the Arctic there is a piece of land named after Rijeka (Cape Fiume).

– that Robert Ludvigovich Bartini born in Rijeka was an accomplished aircraft designer.

– that in Rijeka the trajectory of a gunshot was photographed for the first time in history.

– that the postmark ‘V’ Fiume from 1755, is the oldest surviving postmark in the Republic of Croatia.

– a life jacket from the Titanic is located in the local museum. It was collected by the RMS Carpathia (the ship that saved the Titanic’s survivors) on route from New York-Rijeka.

– that in Rijeka in 1786 the first midwifery school in Croatia was founded.

– that the ‘Husar’ disco club in Rijeka was the first in this part of Europe.

– that ‘Quorum Colours’ was the first and largest Croatian underground club.

– that the first Yugoslav rock band, ‘Uragani’ came from Rijeka.

– that the first punk group in Croatia ‘Paraf’ came from Rijeka.

– that Croatian Hip-Hop began in Rijeka.

– that in Rijeka the first speedway race was held in Italy and that the founder of Italian speedway was in fact from Rijeka.

– that the first psychiatric hospital in Yugoslavia was built in Rijeka.

– that the oldest lift in Croatia is in Rijeka.

– that the first vehicle marked “Made in Croatia” was built in Rijeka.

– that under Rijeka there is a cave which has been declared a natural geomorphologic monument.

– that Rijeka had its very own Schindler who helped hundreds of Jews.

– that in 1852 in Rijeka the first gas production plant began operation in South East Europe.

– that Rijeka’s rope factory is the oldest industrial plant in the city’s history.

– that the first sanatorium in Croatia was opened in the district of Pećine.

– that the first radio transmission in the ex-Yugoslavia was made in Rijeka, back in 1920. It was a speech by D’Annunzio.

– that the first Croatian steamship was built in Rijeka and with it a regular passenger route between Senj and Rijeka was established which is considered to be the start of passenger travel on the Croatian Adriatic.

– that the Croatian national anthem was written in Rijeka by Antun Mihanović.

– that French writer Henri Beyle Stendhal spent some time in Rijeka.

– that member of the American Senate and Mayor of New York Fiorello Henry La Guardia stayed in Rijeka as the US consul and played in the Rijeka football club Atletico Fiumano.

– that Rijeka’s Pero Radaković scored the only goal in the quarter-final match against Germany, during the Football World Cup in Chile in 1962, ensuring Yugoslavia’s 4th place, which was to be its best ever result.

– that Nikola Tesla had a sister who lived in Rijeka and that D’Annunzio’s legionnaires destroyed all her personal letters and other effects which should have been preserved for history.

– that Georg Ludwig Ritter von Trapp, the most decorated submarine captain of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, attended the Naval Academy in Rijeka. At the shipyard in Kantrida, where the submarines were launched, he met and fell in love with Agathe, the granddaughter of Robert Whitehead (inventor of the torpedo in Rijeka), and they married on 10th January 1911 in Rijeka. In the 1960s one of the best musical films of all time ‘The Sound of Music’ was filmed about the von Trapp family.

– that in 1937 Gino and Oscar Jankovits from Rijeka designed, constructed and tested the first car in Croatia. It was the Alfa Romeo Aerospider. It was the first vehicle in the world with fitted door handles and lights in the chassis, the first with the steering wheel in the centre, the first with the engine placed centrally at the rear, the first with a horizontally placed radiator and it could reach a speed of 230 km/h.

– that in Rijeka on 9th June 1969 the first library bus in Yugoslavia began working. It visited the city’s surroundings which had no access to library facilities providing all the inhabitants with library services.

– that in 1984 the first cash machine, ATM, in Yugoslavia was installed in Rijeka by Riječka Banka.

Titanic centenary – Rijeka connection

It was on the fateful night of the 14-15th April 1912 that the British passenger liner the RMS Titanic hit an iceberg, 375 miles from the coast of New Foundland in the North Altantic, and sank on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City.

Did you know that there is a connection between the Titanic and the city of Rijeka? (at that time known as ‘Fiume’, within the Austro-Hungarian Empire)

RMS Titanic

The connection is another liner the RMS Carpathia. This ship travelled regularly between Rijeka and New York when it would transport immigrants seeking a new life in America.

RMS Carpathia

On the night of the 14-15th April 1912 the Titanic sent out SOS distress calls for help after colliding with an ice berg which the Carpathia, which was at that time travelling from New York to Rijeka then picked-up and headed to its assistance. The Carpathia managed to save over 700 people (a handful of whom were Croats) from the icy waters who had escaped the sinking. Unfortunately the other 1,500 or so passengers and crew perished.

One crew member of the Carpathia, a Croat, Josip Car, held onto to a life jacket from one of the survivors of the Titanic and this historical item was later donated after his death to the Maritime and History Museum in Rijeka (PPMHP)

Titanic life jacket held in the Maritime and Historical Museum of the Croatian Littoral in Rijeka

There are several commemorative events of this tragic maritime event being held in the UK (where both ships were built) as well as an exhibition being staged at the Maritime and Historical Museum of the Croatian Littoral in Rijeka.

The Peek & Poke Computer Museum in Rijeka also held a special event until 15th April 2012 on the Arca Fiumana boat, moored on Rijeka’s waterfront entitled ‘Carpathia 2012’:

For a superb selection of photographs visit: British Pathe collection

Titanic footage and survivors interviews. On 14 April 1912, on her maiden voyage, the passenger liner RMS Titanic hit an iceberg. More than 1500 men, women and children perished. This is a short television documentary about the sinking of the Titanic, including interviews with survivors talking about their experiences and their escape.


Official commemorative postage stamps from UK

RMS Titanic Centenary postage stamps

More info visit