History of the Cres and Losinj archipelago

Old postcard Island Losinj


Even the old Liburnians and Romans while sailing through the Osor Canal, excavated by Illyrians, recognized the benefits and beauty of these region. Romans inhabited Osor in 7th century, while the Croats at the same time settled on the rest of the Cres region. Smaller island Osor overgrown by bushes and woods, rangy and hardly passable, Osor's richmans used for cattle pasture.

Because of the poor living conditions they renamed it from Osor to Losinj. (Los in Croatian means bad). The first major settlement on the island of Losinj has been created in early 13th century, when according to legend,12 families under the leadership of Obrad Harnovic settled on Mount St. Nicholas (now Mount St.Ana in Veli Losinj).

Second, the small settlement, today's Mali Losinj, has been created at the end of 13th century when a group of immigrants settled in a bay of Saint Martin.

During the course of the history islands were governed by Republic of Venice, Byzantium, Austro Hungarian Monarchy.In 1920 by the end of the First World War, islands were assigned to the management of Italian fascists, until its capitulation in 1945. when they returned to the Croatian government.

19th century brings change, a stable political situation, the status of Losinj as a strong maritime center, and Cres as developed agricultural area. 1852 The captain Antonio Baricevic started the construction of shipyards in Veli Losinj. 1856 in order to expand the port Rovenska he builded breakwater, for which the foundation stone was laid by the Hapsburg Archduke Maximilian, the younger brother of Emperor Franz Joseph I.

In 1868 Mali Losinj reached its peak, and with 11 shipyards became a place with the strongest commercial fleet in the Adriatic. Developmental stagnation of Losinj started after steam engine invention and with appearance of peronospora - diseases of the vine, a rapid displacement of population started, mostly to America.

Mild climate, rich flora and the exceptional quality of the air with high sea aerosol levels, 1892 provided Losinj with a status of winter health and climate resort. In 1893 Spiridon Gopcevic opened first astronomical observatory in Adriatic and launched first astronomy journal.

Did you know?

That the first large ship built on Kvarner islands was made in 1799 in a small shipyard in the Rovenska harbor in Veli Losinj.

That residents of Mali Losinj (1960) and Veli Losinj (1963) couldn’t drink tap water until a 42 km water pipeline was finally built leading from the Vrana lake.

That until 1964 both Mali and Veli Losinj had limitations on electrical energy supply. Electricity was turned off even during the season, so tourists had to call in an early night as well.


That the island “magistrala” road was opened on 4th of July 1968 from Porozin across Cres to Veli Losinj.


That on 8th of June 1915 Austrio-Hungarian airforce attacked and downed an Italian zeppelin “Città di Ferrara” somewhere around Krivica lagoon.


 Città di Ferrara