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Cres island history

The islands of Cres and Lošinj have been inhabited since the stone age. The oldest remains found date back to the times of the cave man and his habitats, such as Jami na sredi in south Cres or Vela Spilja on the west coast of Osorščica.

A seafaring heritage

The first known residents of the islands were the Illyrians who inhabited the area since the 7th century B.C.. As skillful seafarers, the Illyrians recognized the advantages of two areas – the Osor channel and the Osor port area. They established their first settlements there – Apsoros (Osor) and Crepsa (Cres). It is still believed today that the Illyrians dug the artificial channel separating the islands of Cres and Lošinj to provide faster maritime transport in North Adriatic.

Part of Greek mythology

According to Greek written sources, the islands of Cres and Lošinj were referred to as Apsyrtides nesoi (Osor Islands) at the time, and this name is associated with one of the most interesting stories relating to the islands. A story says that Agronaut seafarers led by Jason stole King Aeëtes’ golden fleece and his daughter Medea and ran from king’s son Apsyrtus who pursued them. When he ultimately caught up with them near Osor, Jason and Medea tricked him and killed him and parts of his body created the Apsyrtides, the Apsyrtus islands.

The Romans arrive and Osor becomes prominent

In the Roman era, maritime affairs in Osor were in full swing and Osor was beconing an important maritime and commercial center in the North Adriatic. At the time, Osor had all characteristics of a Roman town: a forum, temple, theater and other public buildings. Osor lost none of its importance even after the decline of the West Roman Empire. On the contrary, it was safer to travel by sea than land at the time, so Osor remained an important maritime center during the 5th and 6th centuries.

Cres is referred to as Crexa, Crexi or Crepsa in Roman sources. It was important for its good and protected harbor, fertile land and close proximity to Istria.

Based on the legend of Apsyrtus and the Greek amforae discovered here, one may conclude that Cres and Osor were towns with developed overseas commercial connections.

As Osor was an important maritime center, wars were often waged over it, but they caused Osor to lose its power and gradually decline. A more sudden decline occurred after the wars between the Genoans and Venetians in 1377.

After this, Cres became the main center of the island and stronghold for the Venetian rulers, which provided it with quick development and economic advance. Shortly afterwards, Cres had a population of 2000 and Osor's population sank to 500.

Venetian and Austrian rule

In the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, the islands often changed their rulers, including the Venetians, the French, and finally the Austrians. Residents engaged in fishing and timber exports stimulated development of shipbuilding, so Cres developed in this direction. Plenty of sail ships transporting wine, fish, cattle, oil and timber could be seen in Cres Port.

The Austrian rule that began in 1814 brought a period of long-awaited peace and the islanders turned to maritime activities.

Cres is now a typical small Mediterranean town with plenty of narrow little street and alleys with prevailing remains of the Venetian culture. The town of Cres has a population of 2500.

The History of Camping on the Island of Cres
  • Camp Slatina – its history begins in 1985