The town of Rab was founded as an ancient Roman municipality in the last decades of the 1st century B.C. A deed of gift given by the emperor Octavian Augustus 10 years before the end of tho century endows this already formed urban Liburnian colonial community with walls and towers. It develops successfully, skilfully and fortunately and the evidence for this is given in the time of Emperor Septimus Severus - "Felix Arba" the only town along with Salona in the eastern Adriatic that became the capital of the province of Dalmatia.
It became the early-Christian centre whose citizens in the period between the end of the 3rd and the beginning of the 4th centuries were St. Leo. St. Marin (the founder of the Republic of San Manno) and bishop Titian who is said to have been the third in Dalmatia on the synods of Salona in the beginning of the 6th century.
The town within the Byzantine and the Dalmatian theme was important until the 11th century but it witnessed the biggest prosperity as a free Adriatic commune from the second half of the 11th and during the 12th and the 13th centuries. During this period it acknowledged the alternating authorities of Croatian and Venetian rulers. The Venetian Republic bought it in 1409 along with the entire Dalmatia. ruling this area until its fall under Napoleon's conquers in 1798.
After a brief period of French and the first Austrian predominance, it became a part of tho Austrian province of Dalmatia until the end of the First World War. After a two-year Italian occupation it fell under the governing of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and after the Second World War to its mother country Croatia within the Yugoslavian Federation. Ever since 1990 it has been a part of the Republic of Croatia.
In the spot of today's town there used to be an already developed pre-Roman Liburnian centre. It probably had the same urban basis that was accepted and based on firm principles of the town construction of that time by the Roman community. This basic matrix with three longitudinal streets and a number of transversal staircases was preserved until today but its historical outline was defined in the late medieval age by the Romanesque style, which is particularly evident in the sacral structures. Therefore, its three bell-towers from the 12th century and one additional Baroque almost became its symbols.
The view of the town from the sea. which was the only way of accessing it during the long millennia, is one of the most beautiful Adriatic vistas, marrying in harmony attractive and impressive natural and cultural unmatched landscape with inspirational architecture mutually permeating and imbuing each other.
Within densely built insulaes of the town tissue, numerous architectural monuments were built during the long history. Some of them, with their outstanding quality and importance, exceed the local and even the national frames and we will present them with this information system on the historical core of our town.
Varoš, The Central Street,The Tower and the Church of St. Christophor,The Remnants of the Church and the Monastery of St. John the Evangelist,The Church of the Holy Cross,The Square of Liberty,The Monastery of St. Andrew,The Cathedral of the Holy Virgin Mary's Assumption,The Monastery of St. Anthony the AbboT,The Square Municipium Arbe,The Harbour and the Town Prospect,The Town Loggi, St. Francis Church at the Cemetery.
Rab Town dates back to the 12th century when the ancient settlement was fortified. The town was sold to Venice in 1409 and much of the architecture you see was built under Venetian rule. The town is organized around three straight streets that run parallel to the sea, aptly named the Lower Street, Middle Street and Upper Street. Particularly striking are Rab's four famous bell towers. Several of them date back to the 12th century and have survived the collapse of their attached churches.
In addition to sightseeing in Rab's compact and attractive Old Town, Rab Town makes a good base for exploring Rab Island.
The earliest history of the Adriatic coast and islands is only the subject of legends, myths and stories. Somewhat more reliable date can be found in ancient Greek travelogues and seamen's guides. The earliest information on the Liburnian islands, Rab included, is provided by the geographical writings of Skylax of Chariandon (4th c. B. C.) Several Greek and Roman geographers also mention an island, which ought to be Rab, un their geographical writings. The mention Rab as Arba, Arbia, Arbiana or Arbitana, but the origins of the name are unknown. The present-day Slav inhabitants of the island, Croats, adapted the name to the spirit of their language by transforming it into Rab. The latter name probably dates from early as the 7th c. A.D., i.e., from the time immediately after the settlement of the first Slavs on the island. The museum of the Franciscan monastery of st. Eufemija contains a Latin deed in the foundation of the monastery, from the mid-15th century; this is the (so far) oldest known document with the Croatian name of the island, Rab.