Like every year, Christmas has arrived to my beloved Rijeka. Unlike every year, however, one of Rijeka’s main touristic sights, the Trsat Castle, this year got a new sparkly holiday makeover and brought even more holiday cheer to people of Rijeka and their visitors. Yesterday I got the chance to visit the Trsat castle in the evening and was completely stunned by how fairy-tale like it looks!
This year’s Trsat Castle holiday decorations consist of 11 kilometers of Christmas lights, and the biggest Christmas bauble, 5 meters in diameter, placed at the entrance to the castle. Inside the castle, there is also a dragon pulling a carriage, made entirely of lights. You can visit the ice cave and treat yourself with mulled wine, hot punch, doughnuts and other similar holiday food and beverages. During the holidays, many manifestations are organized in the Castle, such as the arrival of Santa Clause, concerts and live nativity scene.
Located on a 138-meter hill overlooking the city, Trsat Castle has always been loved by both locals and tourists. It was mentioned as a parochial center for the first time in 1288, but the site was used in prehistoric times by Liburnian tribes, for monitoring roads leading to the coast. It was also a part of the Roman defense system, the Liburnian limes. Trsat Castle is one of the oldest fortifications on the Croatian coast which preserved the features of the early medieval town construction. In the 19th century, it was bought by count Laval Nugent who envisaged Trsat Castle as his family mausoleum, and some hundred years later, returned under the ownership and governance of the City of Rijeka.
A dragon (well, a basilisk, to be more precise) is the symbol of Trsat Castle. How that came to be is explained by a legend told by the locals to the younger generations. According to the legend, a dragon from Trsat Castle took a walk one morning, and saw a little girl, a mayor’s daughter, sitting near the Mrtvi kanal, below the Trsat hill, and drawing boats that were tied in the port. She was also there the next day to finish her drawings, when she was attacked by an evil octopus living in the Canal. The octopus was the dragon’s swarn enemy and the dragon immediately jumped to save the girl. The battle between the dragon and the octopus lasted for a long time, and people of Rijeka gathered and looked on in fear of what might happen. Finally, the dragon won, pulling the octopus out of the canal and throwing it all the way to the city of Grobnik, where the people caught it and brought it to the fish market.
The little girl and her father thanked the dragon and that was a start of their friendship which lasted until the dragon had to leave the Castle because the world Association of dragons did not look kindly upon friendships between dragons and humans. In honor of the brave and kind dragon, the city mayor had a statue made of the dragon, and placed it in the center of the Trsat Castle, where it can also be seen today.
With this legend and with images of holiday magic from Trsat Castle, I want to wish you all the most wonderful holidays and a happy, fulfilled new year. May it be the best one yet!