History of Rovinj

Rovinj until the end of Middle Ages

Rovinj was mentioned for the first time by the name Castrum Rubini in the opus 'Cosmographia' written by an Anonimus from Ravenna, Italy. The work, that dates to the 7th century, contains many geographical information pertaining to the 5th century AD, and that is why Rovinj chroniclers conclude that the city was founded between 3rd and 5th century AD.
According to archeological findings, regions near Rovinj were inhabited even in the prehistoric period. In the Bronze and Iron Ages, the culture of the Histrian tribe who lived in Istria traded with he Greek an Etruscan cultures.
After the peaceful reign of the Roman Empire, while trying to escape many aggressors, people inhabited islands od Mons Albanus, St. Catherine, St. Andrew and Cissa. It is believed that the island of Cissa sank during a major earthqake in the second half of the 8 th century. At the time,Rovinj was called Castrum Robini and was located where today stands the chruch of St. Euphemia. Later Castrum Rubini became Ruigno, Ruginio, Ruvigno and survived devastating attacks from land and sea.
In the 12th century Rovinj conflicts repeatedly with some of the west Istrian cities like Piran and Kopar. The period of Venetian rule began when the Venitians decided to transform Norh Adriatic into Venitian Bay and make Istra it's shield. Eventhough the Venetian repulic apparently gave Rovinj comunal freedom, Rovinj's autonomy was limited and only a few important families were given the oportunity to participate in the Council.
The Venetian economy was mostly concentrated on mercantile and that was the reason for a typical urban change. Rovinj was known as a town of fisherman and farmers, but now there were also artisans, merchants and sailors among them. Because of a rapid development of maritime economy there was a great deal of competitiveness between the cities in Istra.
In the Midle Ages the plague has ravaged Europe, but Rovinj was partially spared due to it's favorable climate.

Rovinj from the 16th until the 19th Century

In the period from 16th to 19th century, coastal parts of Istria were settled by the refugees from Bosnia, Dalmatia, Greece and Albania who managed to escape the Turkish incursion. The population of Rovinj grew rapidly, and by the 1775. it increased to 13 788. And that explains the typical Rovinj architecture of the old town core: dense houses that grow high, narrow streets so there would be more space for houses and many chimneys because every room, where one family lives, has a chimney.
In that period Rovinj was an important seaport for merchant ships on their way from the Middle East to Venice. Rovinj sailors were well known by their skill and courage. They proved in the battles led between Venice and Turks. Garzotto, one of the streets of the old town was named after one of the Rovinj capitains.
In 1650, when the risk of attacks decreased, the town expanded to the areas outside the town walls, on the land where Francisian monestery was located. When the channel and the small bridge became an obstacle in comunication between the land and the island, the channel was clutterred in 1763. and Rovinj became a peninsula.
During the 17th and 18th century besides being the strongest fishing, maritime and shipbulding center of Istra, Rovinj was also the most important source of the white and gray stone.

Rovinj from the 19th Century until Today

The Austro-Hungarian rule was the period of great blossom for Rovinj. Most of the town factories and hospitals were built in that time. Rovinj developed in the industrial, maritime and cultural terms and that was the main reason for better living conditions.
In 1816 street-lights were introduced, from 1819 to 1840 - the old school, in 1847 a steam mill for pasta production was built, in 1850 the Commerce-Crafts Chamber for Istria was founded, in 1853 a lighthouse on the island of St. John was built, from 1854 to 1865 - a theatre, in 1852 - cement production facility, in 1859 - Large pier, in 1872 - tobacco factory, in 1878 - wax factory, in 1882 - glass and sardine factory, in 1888 - hospital, in 1891 - Institute of marine biology. Rovinj was connected by a railway line; the first train arrived from Kanfanar in 1876. The port of Valdibora was expanded, in 1905 town gas lights were introduced, and in 1906 the town telephone.

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