Overlooking the northern end of the Kvarner Bay, with a view that takes in the coastline from the Opatija Riviera clear to Rijeka, is the city of Kastav. Its premier position high on a hilltop has been prized since ancient times, with archaeological finds and historical records confirming the presence of such groups as the Illyrians, Romans, Ostrogoths, and Greeks. The area was populated by Croats beginning in the 7th Century.
Kastav holds the remains of a medieval hilltop fortress built with stone walls and towers, some of which still stand today. The city’s status as a regional political and administrative center was evidenced by the Kastav Statute of 1400, a historical legal document written in the čakavian dialect with an ancient Croatian Glagolitic script. Kastav’s history has been no less turbulent than that of other coveted regions; over the centuries, both secular and religious ruling authorities have claimed the territory, including the Habsburgs, Jesuits, and the Kingdoms of Italy and Yugoslavia.
Today, Kastav is well respected among its neighbors, preserving its unique culture with historical buildings and monuments, ethnographic museums, events, and legends. You can read a few of the city’s colorful stories here. Every Karneval season before Ash Wednesday, the Zvončari bell-ringers, wearing frightening masks, animal skins, and huge bells, walk through the local villages and gather in Kastav, chasing away both evil spirits and winter itself, recreating a tradition that is said to have begun in pre-Christian times. Bela Nedeja, the historic celebration of new wine, was mentioned in the Kastav Statute of 1400 and is still held every October. A new tradition, the annual Kastav Summer of Culture, featuring music, drama, film, and exhibitions, attracts performers and guests from all over the world. As it is said in local dialect, “aš se va Grade vaveki neš dogaja” (“because in Kastav, there is always something going on”).
Kastav has a long history of craftsmanship, as can be seen by visiting its ethnographic museums.
We have found some new and traditional crafts from this historic city.