Pomorski i povijesni muzej Hrvatskog primorja Rijeka

Maritime and History Museum of the Croatian Littoral

Pomorski i povijesni muzej Hrvatskog primorja Rijeka

conceived by: Nikša Mendeš
organizer: Maritime and History Museum of the Croatian Littoral Rijeka
official opening: 8 March 2019 at 12 p.m. in the Maritime and History Museum of the Croatian Littoral Rijeka
The exhibition will run until 17 April 2019

With the exhibition “From a Small Harbour to Transoceanic Port,” the Maritime and Historical Museum of the Croatian Littoral Rijeka is joining the observation of the 300th anniversary of the proclamation of Rijeka as a free port in 1719.
Through several thematic units, the exhibition follows the development of this port by the city: from the Middle Ages and the events that preceded the conferral of free port status for Rijeka in 1719, through the reigns of Emperor Charles VI and Empress Maria Theresa and the first half of the 19th century, when the idea of constructing a new port west of the Rječina River emerged, to the most significant era in its history, the 1880s and 1890s.
For centuries, Rijeka’s main harbour for sailing vessels and smaller oar-propelled craft was the Rječina’s estuary, today known as the ‘Dead Channel,’ but as of the latter half of the 19th century, the need to expand the port to a new location emerged. In this period, Rijeka’s port experienced its peak in terms of technological fitness. The most important berths and piers were built, and the section of the city adjacent to it developed with the construction of exemplary palaces and port authority buildings, such as the Governo Marittimo and the palace of the Adria shipping company. The breakwater was completed and named after Empress Maria Theresa, with a new lighthouse built at its end – although it was later moved to the Mlaka area at the beginning of modern-day Industrijska street.
As of 1903, Rijeka also became the most important transoceanic port in the Croatian part of the Adriatic. By the beginning of the First World War, it was also the port of departure for the numerous emigrants who were seeking a better life outside of Europe. The port, like the city as a whole, experienced further development, but also its greatest devastation, in the first half of the 20th century, ending in 1945 with the final withdrawal of German troops from Rijeka. As a result, it recorded economic growth equalling the period prior to the First World War only at the beginning of the 1950s, and this continued in the subsequent decades.