Fort of our lady of the snows

Hreljin Old Town

"Above Bakarac, the former harbour of Hreljin, on a steep elevation 321 metres above the sea rise the remains of a mediaeval Frankopan town. Built in the Middle Ages, Hreljin was an important residential, commercial, defensive and administrative centre located in a strategic point which monitored the communication routes that connected the interior of Croatia to the sea."

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Its local title of “Gradina”, meaning small fortified settlement, may point to the oldest, prehistoric phase of Hreljin. Later Hreljin was most likely a part of the chain of the Roman Septem turres fortifications. In 1255 it became a possession of the Counts of Krk, i.e. the Frankopans. The first mention of Hreljin dates back to 1225 when the Croatian-Hungarian King Andrew II donated the Vinodol countdom, which also included Hreljin, to the Counts of Krk, and somewhat later in 1288 its leaders also signed the Law Codex of Vinodol. In 1440 a Glagolitic document was issued in Hreljin with which Count Ivan donated land to the Pauline monks of the Monastery of St Mary’s in Crikvenica. From the 16th century it was in the possession of the aristocratic Zrinski family and it was an important fortress in the defence against the Ottoman intrusions towards Istria and Slovenia. After the construction of the Via Carolina Augusta road the population moved to nearby Piket, in 1789 the Hreljin chapter was abolished, and after 1790 the town was abandoned. The ground plan of the town shows irregularities, which was conditioned by the configuration of the land. The oldest part, the castle itself, is located in the south-eastern part of the town. The square and round towers are accentuated in the irregular foundation. The town had southern and northern entrances. Today the fame of Hreljin, besides the remains of the town walls and other buildings, is only witnessed by two churches, more accurately their remains: the bell tower of the Church of St George and the preserved Chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary or Our Lady of the Snows.