Cres


The island of Cres (405.78 km2), after Krk is the largest island in the Adriatic. The islands of Cres and Losinj are separated at Osor by an ll m wide channel, but since ancient times they have a shared history, firstly under the Greek name Apsyrtides and then as the Osor islands; today, part of the Coastal and Mountain County, they are linked by a common administrative and economic policy. From the north to the south of these islands it is 83 km by road (the total length of the islands is 99 km) so the climatic characteristics also depend on geographical location: the average temperature in Ianuary in the northern parts of the island is 5 °C with 900-1000 mm precipitation annually, whereas in the south, the average temperature is 7 °C and there are 800-900 mm of precipitation annually. The average January temperature in Mali Losinj is higher than in many places further south. In the northern part of Cres, there are large forests of hop hornbeam (Ostrya carpinifolia), pubescent oak (Quercus pubescens), European hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) and holm oak (Quercus ilex). The central area is occupied by pastures, olive groves and vineyards, but in the southern part, because of the well-developed animal husbandry, there was only very poor vegetation until the intensive planting of coniferous forests during the 19th century. In terms of fauna, the islands abound in small and feathered wild life, birds of prey, song birds, and sea gulls. One igri especially interesting feature is that there are no poisonous snakes on the islands.

Cres population is 2500 inhabitants. The town has developed in the Bay of Cres, on the western, most fertile part of the island. It is 26 km from the ferry port Porozina, 5 km from the ferry at Merag, and 53 km from Mali Losinj. The origins of the town are still not clearly known. The exact site of Roman Cres has not been establi- shed but it is thought that it was in the area near L0vre- ski (Palacine) on the coast beneath St. Bartholomew’s hill (Sveti Bartolomej) where there are the remains of a Roman villa rustica and a necropolis. It is known that Roman Crepsa was granted the rights of a town during the reign of one of the first Emperors (Augustus or Tiberius). After the fall of the Western Roman Empire (AD 476) the area was inhabited by Goths for a short period. It then came under the Byzantine Empire and was joined to the Croatian state in the 10th century. Because of its proximity to Venice, of all the Adriatic islands it remained the longest under Venetian rule. During the entire period from the first campaign of Pietros II (1000) to the fall of the Venetian Empire (1797) Cres was only ruled by the Croatian-Hungarian kings between 1358- 1409. In the time when the official language of the Venetian administration and church was Latin, or rather Italian, in Cres and its surroundings Glagolitic was used for legal documents, registers, books of the religious fraternities, the community roll and public announcements, as well as private correspondence. After the fall of Venice (apart from a short period of French occupation) the town came under Austrian rule, and on 4th November 1918 it was occupied by the Italian army. This occupation was confirmed in 1920 in the Treaty of Rapallo, and Cres was not liberated until 1943. The Town Walls. In the Middle Ages Cres was surrounded by walls. The town centre was at that time on the eastern side of the town. In the 16th century (1509-1610), the Venetians built new walls and a system of corner defensive towers, so that the whole town became one rectangular entity. The walls were demolished in the iast and in this century, but the round tower on the north western corner remains, with 200 m of wall and two town gates built in the high Renaissance style. The Parish Church of St. Mary of the Snow” (Sveta Marija Snjeina) stands in the town square. It is a triple-naved building, dating from the l5th century, with a separate bell tower from the l6th century. The portal is basically Gothic, but the facade and the sculptured decorations on the semicircular arcade are Renaissance. Inside the church there is a 15th century Gothic sculptured Pieta and the parish offices house a collection of pictures dating from the period between the 15th and the 17th centuries. The most valuable is a polyptych by Alviseo Vivarini, entitled St. Sebastian with the Saints. The Church of St. Isidore“ (Sveti Siclar) was originally the parish church and stands behind the Petris Palace. It is the oldest church in the town, partially built in Romanesque style but with a Gothic facade. Amongst its valuable treasures the church possesses a 15th century wooden statue of St. Isidore and fragments of a Gothic polyptych.