Cres is, along with its neighbouring island of Krk, the biggest, and after the island of Hvar, the longest Croatian island. It is 66 km long and 12 km wide at the widest point. The first known inhabitants of the island were Liburnians, who inhabited the area from the 7th century B.C.
Even today, it is believed that the Liburnians dug an artificial canal separating the two islands of Cres and Losinj so they can navigate the sea faster in the northern Adriatic.
In Roman times the seafaring was on the rise, and the town of Osor on Cres became an important maritime and commercial center of the northern Adriatic.
In the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, power often shifted, from the Venetians and the French, eventually to the Austrians. Inhabitants were engaged in fishing, and the export of timber also encouraged the development of shipping, thus Cres developed in that direction. In the port of Cres one could see many sailboats carrying wine, fish, livestock, oil and wood. During the rule of the Austrians, which began in 1814, a period of long-awaited peace came and the islanders turned to seafaring.
Today, Cres is a typical Mediterranean small town with many streets and remnants of predominantly Venetian culture. It is not densely populated, has a population of just over 3000, and has been especially endowed by nature.
"On the north of the island where the Tramontana forest is located, the Griffon Vulture protection centre can be found, which has been very well equipped in the last 3 years. No country in Europe can be ashamed of it, and everyone who visits says 'wow' because of how good it looks. If more than two-thirds of the vultures have decided to live on this island, this confirms that this is indeed an eco-island. The lamb offered on the island of Cres has continuously won various competitions for its quality over the last 5 years. We can say that some of our restauranteurs have even become “celebrities.” Last year, we had a reporter from Le Mond on the island, he wrote about two counties, Istria and Kvarner County, and presented 3 restaurants in both counties, they were all from Cres. They sensed not only local food, not only eco-food, but also the soul of the hosts. We have also experienced that the lady who holds the lamb restaurant here in Cres travels all over the world and in the months of the year when the restaurant is not open, she tries to find out what's new in the world of gastronomy and elsewhere, she gets off the plane in the US and people want to take pictures with her! We are recognized in gastronomy not only in Europe but even in America. She was there last year and people asked her "can you take a picture with us, you have the best lamb in the world.” Tourists who come here usually want to come back, some come back, buy houses, come here and retire. We have very many foreigners who came here once and practically remained permanently. Here, we have an interesting man here who has been coming here for many year and is the first person to buy a house in Croatia as a foreign national. The man is a Scot, he has his boat here, he has his friends here, he still doesn't speak Croatian well, but he sings very well. Very often you can hear him on one of the terraces on Cres. When you hear a voice that sounds like Tom Jones - that's him,” said the director of the Cres tourist board Sanja Živanović.
The highest peak on the island is Gorice, 648 meters high. On the island there is a freshwater lake, Vransko, which is the main source of drinking water for the whole archipelago.
Although the main activity is tourism, they produce the world's highest quality sage honey, high-quality olive oil, they fish and breed livestock, especially sheep, all closely related to tourism.
“Although we are predominantly living from tourism, this does not mean that everyone is directly involved in tourism, our farmers have the opportunity to market their produce directly ... Cres is known of course for the Cres sheep, for the Cres lamb that has fed many generations of islanders. Cres is known for extra virgin olive oil, the first Croatian oil to be awarded a European designation of origin. What I am particularly proud of when it comes to agriculture is that the first cheese plant to be built on the island of Cres or the Cres-Lošinj archipelago, after 50 years, is being built in Loznati. In my generation there are those whose parents moved here, and later there were those who moved here themselves ... these are ordinary migrations, mostly all are economic in nature, like some left here when a disease destroyed vineyards and there were other waves of immigration, so there is immigration. For three years now the number of children has not dropped, in the last three years it has grown, not by much, but from 200 to 210 to 215 students in three years, meaning that there are children, although this is not only due to birth on Cres itself, but precisely by the migration of those who came here again for economic reasons, brought their whole families and decided to settle,” said Cres Mayor Kristijan Jurajko.
If you are not attracted to Cres by the beauty of nature, peace and kindness of people, you may be attracted by stories and legends that say there was a witch Kirka on this island, who enchanted and mesmerized Jason and the Argonauts, and they may also enchant you!
Source: HRT/prepared by Tomislav Šikić and Slavica Štefić.
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