In the Middle Ages the current town's territory was divided between Veprinac (now a locality of Opatija) and Kastav, where the fishermen's village of Veprinac stood. The small hamlet of Opatija itself developed around a Benedictine abbey dedicated to St. Jacob. While western Istria was gradually conquered by the Republic of Venice by 1420, the remaining territory up to Opatija fell to the House of Habsburg and later was incorporated into the Austrian Littoral.
The town's modern history began in 1844, when Iginio Scarpa, a wealthy merchant from Rijeka, had the Villa Angiolina manor built in an extended park, where he received notable guests. In 1873 the Austrian Southern Railway company from Vienna opened the branch line from Pivka to Rijeka via nearby Matulji and thus opened the path for the development of tourism in Opatija and neighbouring Lovran. In 1882, the railway company purchased the Villa Angiolina. At the time, Friedrich Julius Schüler, the Managing Director of the Southern Railways, started the construction of the Hotel Quarnero (Kvarner Hotel) and the Hotel Kronprinzessin Stephanie (present-day Hotel Imperial), and also was responsible for the unique lungomare and parks.
In 1887, Heinrich von Littrow established the "Union Yacht Club Quarnero" in Opatija - the first sailing club on the Adriatic coast. In 1889 the Cisleithanian government officially declared Abbazia (Opatija) the first climatic seaside resort (Seebad) on the Austrian Riviera. After the hotels, the building of villas started, for the needs of more demanding noble guests. The first Villa Amalia, in the immediate vicinity of the Hotel Quarnero, was built in 1890 as the hotel's annex.
During World War I the Hotel Icicii was converted to a military hospital. In 1920 Opatija was assigned to Italy. Two years later, with the advent of Fascism, the Italian government started a program of forced italianization of the population, and most of the public positions were assigned to Italian-speaking citizens. The upper floor of Villa Amalia was built in 1930, and the building was renovated to become the summer residence of the House of Savoy.
In 1947 Opatija was given to Yugoslavia. Most of the Italian-speaking population, whose percentage had substantially increased in the past years, emigrated to Italy. In 1963 the Hotel Adriatic was completed. Hotel "Adriatic" was the first hotel built in Opatija after the Austro-Hungarian era. The rooms have been described as novelties in the hospitality industry. The "Casino Rosalia" was opened in Opatija – the first casino in Eastern Europe. In 1981 the Hotel "Admiral" and marina were inaugurated. After the breakup of Yugoslavia which began in 1991, the town became part of Croatia.
Opatija is a town in Primorije-Gorski Kotar Country in western Croatia. Opatija is located 18 km southwest of the regional capital Rijeka, about 90 km from Trieste by rail and 82 km from Pula by road. The city is geographically located on the Istrian peninsula, though not in Istria Country. The tourist resort is situated on the Kvarner Gulf, part of the Adriatic coast, in a sheltered position at the foot of Ucka massif, with the Vojak peak reaching 1,401 m. As of 2011, the town had 11,659 inhabitants in total, of which 6,657 lived in the urban settlement.
Address: 51410 Opatija, Maršala Tita 3
Opatija is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Croatia and the town with the longest tourism tradition (celebrating 170 years of organized tourism). It captivates visitors with its unique architecture, especially the huge number of palaces and magnificent parks.
The town is a popular summer and winter resort, with average high temperatures of 10 °C in winter, and 32 °C in summer. Opatija is surrounded by beautiful woods of bay laurel. The whole sea-coast to the north and south of Opatija is rocky and picturesque, and contains several smaller winter resorts.
The old 14th-century Benedictine abbey, Opatija Sv. Jakova (Abbey of Saint Jacob), from which the town derives its name (opatija means “abbey”) is located in Park Svetog Jakova or Saint James's Park. Saint Jacob's church, built in 1506 and enlarged in 1937, now stands on the same spot. The neo-Romanesque Church of the Annunciation with its pronounced green cupola, was designed in 1906 by architect Karl Seidl.
Another sight is the Villa Angiolina, built in 1844 by Iginio Scarpa. This villa, transformed into a museum, had many prominent guests.
Opatija is known for the Maiden with the Seagull, a statue by Zvonko Car, which is positioned on a promontory by the Juraj Sporer art pavilion. It has turned into one of symbols of Opatija. A gilded replica of the statue Madonna that once stood here but was demolished by communists after the end of World War II, now stands in front of Saint Jacob's Church.