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Labin and Rabac - the not-so-typical Istrian setting on the east coast

Labin and Rabac - the not-so-typical Istrian setting on the east coast

A combination of palaces, antifascism and perfect beaches

Labin and Rabac are two cute, not overcrowded Istrian towns. Known for their peaceful environment, Labin & Rabac are an ideal place for a relaxing holiday. We can say that Labin is suitable for those who do not need waves and amusement parks. On the contrary, the best thing about Rabac are the beaches!

Labin is a medieval town located in the southeastern part of Istria, on a 320 meters high hill above Rabac. The town developed on the site of a Roman settlement called Albona (“alb” meaning hill), which was first mentioned in 285 AD. Labin consists of two parts: the old town, which is located on top of the hill, and the new settlement, the so-called Podlabin (“Underlabin”). The combination of the old and new town makes the walk through the streets like a visit to a museum. You can see the town gates from the 15th century, the lodge from the 17th century, renaissance details and baroque facades.

If swimming and sunbathing are not the most important part of your vacation, and you are more into cultural tourism and antiquities, Labin is the perfect destination. The rich cultural and architectural heritage of Labin is enlivened by numerous art ateliers. Take a walk through the charming streets and check out the lovely palaces, like the Manzini Palace, the Battiala-Lazzarini Palace or the Scampicchio Palace. Art lovers can enjoy the Dubrova Sculpture Park, near Labin. The park extends over 40 hectares, partly fenced with a drywall, with natural valleys and rich and varied flora. There are 95 sculptures in the grove, made by famous Croatian and international artists, from Joost Barbiers to Dusan Dzamonja. The park is located at the entrance to Labin, next to the main road Labin - Rijeka, next to Dubrova restaurant.

One of the most beautiful buildings in Labin - Baroque Palace Battiala-Lazzarini

An interesting fact is that the economy of Labin was previously based on mining. For a long time, the town was the centre of Croatia’s largest coal mining district, with four mines operating at the height of its production. Before Mussolini’s march on Rome, fascists occupied the headquarters of the Workers Committee in Trieste. With regard to this event and the exploitative relationship with mine workers, a general strike broke out in spring 1921. The miners (about two thousand of them) proclaimed the Albona Republic, organised a government and started to manage the production of the mines by themselves.

The Italian administration suppressed the republic using military force. Dozens of miners were arrested and charged with a litany of crimes. But due to the miners’ refusal to testify against one another, a robust legal defence and support of the local population eventually none were convicted. This multi-ethnic (Croatians, Hungarians, Slovaks, Poles, Czechs, Italians, Germans and Slovenians) resistance to overwhelm fascism has paved the way for anti-fascism, and is in fact the world’s first anti-fascist uprising. The famous mines were closed in 1989, but Labin has not forgotten its past.
The most interesting feature of the Labin National Museum is the faithful representation of the 150 m long mining corridors located in the basement of the building, which encompasses all the characteristic features of the mine, including the original sounds recorded in the original mine.
Labin is also the birthplace of Matthias Flacius Illyricus, the famous Lutheran reformer. His Memorial Collection is kept in the beautiful baroque Frankovic-Vlacic palace.

The former fishing village of Rabac: beautiful round pebble & crystal clear sea

If swimming and sunbathing is on top of your list, Rabac is the right place for you. Today, a well-known tourist resort, this “Pearl of the Kvarner Bay” was a small fishermen village until the middle of the 19th century. Due to its location (beautiful bay and splendid surroundings), Rabac started to attract visitors, including the English writer Richard Francis Burton, who even wrote a book called “The Istrian coast”. Together with the visitors came the first villas: the Prohaska family villa was the most well-known. The villa was destroyed during the Second world war, but one of the most attractive nature locations in Rabac still bears the name Prohaska. The first hotel, “Quarnaro”, was opened in 1889, with only a few rooms and a pub on the ground floor.

Rabac is especially attractive because of its many pebbled beaches. The four main beaches in the town of Rabac are: Maslinica, Lanterna, Girandella and St. Andrea beach. All four beaches are awarded with the Blue Flag, an indication of their high environmental, safety and quality standards. Hiking and cycling are also popular activities in Rabac. The most popular hike is from Rabac to Labin. The hike is 5 km through thick pine forest and you’ll pass by spring waterfalls, Negri's cave, and cross over small bridges.
I hope this article has inspired you to book a lovely villa in the area, explore Labin’s history and enjoy the marvellous beaches in Rabac.

Sanja Varovic

+385 1 222 70 50