Most magical undiscovered paradise – Lubenice, the Island of Cres
Croatian islands of northern Adriatic are located at the former crossroad or “mare quaternium”- the four seas, referring to four different routes by sea, heading to Rijeka and Senj, Venice to Trieste, Ancona, and Zadar, nowadays called in Croatian language Kvarner. This beautiful bay hides three large islands – Cres, Lošinj and Krk, with two more extended further to the south– the islands of Rab and Pag.
In the past, the islands of Cres and Lošinj were connected, but they got separated in Roman times by building the canal between them. All of the northern islands combine the beauty of nature versus culture – an interesting discrepancy!
Foreign people often wonder what the differences between the northern vs. southern islands are. I find the answer in their complex history and geographic position. Cres has definitely had a turbulent and very interesting history. Illyrian and Liburnian tribes were the first to build stone houses here, and later on, the Romans have arrived. The exchange of hands happened often between Byzantine power and Croatian Kings. The island was also later under the rule of Francs. The Venetians conquered this part of the coast very early – sometimes around the year 1000. By the 12th century, Venetians were exchanging power over the island with Hungarians on several occasions. Austrians arrived too, and the Napoleon as well, and then Austrians again – people of these northern islands have seen it all!
I have explored the island of Cres on several occasions and have discovered some truly magical sites. The coast abounds in coves and pebble beaches on the western and southern parts, while the northern and eastern parts are very rocky. A regular ferry runs to the town of Cres from Rijeka, Pula, and Zadar, and twice a week from Ancona or Venice as well. The island is a habitat of a rare bird, a griffon vulture. The real natural phenomenon is that the island hides a sweet water lake – Vrana. It also has a very unique flora and fauna – more than 1200 species.
Some 22 km from the picturesque and very Italianized town of Cres you will reach a magical place called Lubenice – a tiny stone village erected on the cliff of 378 meters, overlooking the bay which was named by Romans “Hibernicia”. Romans have thus built here a fortified place with a defensive wall and two doors in it. The legend says the place was first inhabited when the local king expelled his daughter from Osor, for she fell in love with the man from the mountains of the island. The girl’s name was Ljubica – pronounced as Lubenice by the Italians later on. The village has only a small population of 40 people but was inhabited continuously for more than 4000 years.
The island provides the food to its inhabitants –the rich agriculture, mainly sustained by olive trees plantations and vineyards, and lots of sheep farming. Every little corner of this village inspires peace and the view is breathtaking from every point. Some of the houses have a strange type of “ship-like” windows and everything here speaks about the past. After the sightseeing, you can enjoy the local specialty – deliciously roasted lamb!
During the summer nights, there are musicians playing in the central square, adding more charm to the atmosphere. There are other beautiful locations on the island (Valun, Pernat, and Osor) but none can compare with the beauty of the tiny Lubenice, which will enchant every visitor with its unspoiled beauty.
Cres image – Photo by Davor Rostuhar/ owner – TZG Cres/ Tourist Board of Cres
Lubenice – Photo by Robert Sablić/ owner -TZG Cres/ Tourist Board of Cres