Visitors to any part of Croatia will be fascinated by the culture of a country that only re-emerged as a nation state in the 1990s, but in Rijeka one attraction truly stands out.Ivan Zajc is the name of the city’s branch of the Croatian National Theatre, a name it has borne since 1953.
The city has been a major centre for theatre over the last couple of centuries, irrespective of the changing of national borders and other turbulent events going on around it. The standing of the theatre was such that when Croatia was reborn in 1991 it was assigned national theatre status.The programme at the theatre is based on the work of the Croatian and Italian drama ensembles, as well as the opera and ballet ensembles.
The theatre also hosts a number of concerts too, so there is always lots of variety, with plenty of Croatian heritage included in the plays and musicals being performed there.Frequently hosting national premieres, the Ivan Zajc is a member of the European Theatre Convention and in the summer it hosts Rijeka Summer Nights, a series that has been going on since 2004.All this means it is a great idea to check out the theatre if you are staying in Rijeka. The shows are of a high quality, while the building itself is hugely impressive. Built from white stone, its pillared entrance and imposing facade convey grandeur on the outside, while its cavernous interior and numerous balconies give it a sense of scale, charm and class on the inside.
The theatre is located close to the city’s port and is just up the riverbank from the Bridge of Croatian Defenders of the Homeland War, a crossing that may not be hugely aesthetic, but is a clear tribute to those who fought to restore a country as Yugoslavia broke up.Now there is peace, visitors may want to enjoy a riverside stroll or visit Park Kazalizni, which is also near the theatre. Either way, a gentle afternoon followed by an evening in this superb theatre is a great way to spend time in Rijeka.