Senj-cultural heritage

Senj is an old settlement which was founded on the hill Kuk, east of the town more than 3000 years ago. In the pre-historic times under the fortificated settlement, on the place where the brook flows into the sea bay, there was a port and a trade center, a place where people coming from different directions (inland, islands and the coast) could exchange their goods. As the importance of the place gradualy grew, the settlers from the hill moved nearer and nearer to the sea forming there a new place which was mentioned for the 1st time in 4th century B.C. It was the Greek sailor and a writer Pseudoskilaks who mentioned the place under the name of Attienities. In the 2nd century B.C. the Romans came and little by little they overtook the control over the town which was at that time known as Senia. From Senia they could easily attack the Japods and other Illyrian tribes whichwere in the inlad. But, the Romans didn’t lead only wars. They continued to buikd the town especially from the second half of the 1st century B.C. till the 4th century. During that period Senia become the most important port and the main trading, cultural centre of this part of Adriatic coast. The Town hall, an aqueduct, thermes, temples ( to the Gods and Godesses Diana, Magna Mater, Kibela and Liberus) and many other objects build at that time which we can trace in numerous archeological findings such as stone monuments, sculptures of Gods and Godesses, pieces of architectural works and tomb stones.

During the 5th, 6th and 7th centuries, when the Migration took pleace, many Barbarian tribes from the East invaded the town breaking its golden age. Due to the danger of the Barbarian invasion, the number of inhabitants decreased and the economic power of the town was dropping more and more. It was the era of tension and disorder. There was no more prosperity and it was, most probably, robbed and burned down during thease Barbarian attacks. We cannot be sure which tribe did it but it was very likely that West Ghots started the process of destruction which was completed by the Avaris and the Slavs at the begining of the 7th century. In the 17th century, the Croats along with the Avars settled down on the ruins of the Roman Senia and they established the mediaeval settlemant called Senj which in its name preserved the Roman tradition. This part of history from the 6th to the 10th century is not known. Center of the Mediaeval Croatian state was moved to the south (in Dalmatia) and Senj lost its omportance.Much later, after graviting Pacta Conventa in 1102. The political power moved towards the North, Senj become once again prosperius town. It was a part of the Ugro-Croat kingdom. In 1169. The diocese was established and it clearly points on the importance of the town.

In 1184., owing to the Hungarian king Bela the 3rd who gave Senj as a present to the Templares, the order of priests and knights, the town was in their possession for the next seventy years. After the Templares, from 1271. on, Senj was ruled by the Dukes of Krk who were later renamed the Frankopans. The town becomed prosperious both in its economic and cultural life. A large number of sacred and profane structures were built not only in the tiwn but in its surrounding as well.

In the Mediaeval age Senj is known for its glagolic alphabet, the alphabet which had alredy been created in the 9th century for the need of the Slavs. From the 12th century on the glagolic alphabet exsisted only on the Croatian soil and it was particulary developed in the area of Senj. In 1248. The Bishop of Senj got a permision from the Pope Inocent the 4th and become the only Bishop who was allowed to use the glagolic alphabet and the people’s language in his liturgy service. This fact influenced the development of the glagolic alphabet during the 14th and 15th centuries so we have many glagolyan stone board and hand written books and documents. A glagolic printing press was established in Senj in 1494. Which was one of the earliest printing press houses in southeast Europe. Two incunabues “The Glagolic Missal” and “Spovid općena” were printed at that time.In the middle of the 15th century the millitary forces of the Hungarian-Croatian king Matija Korvin came to town. In the 1469. Senj became a center of its captaincy, established because of danger which was coming closer and closer from the Turks but also with the aim to defend from the policy of Venice. The Ottoman campaigns to this area were especially during the firs half of the 16th century. At that time the neighbouring places were totally devasteded and the town became the refuge for a large number of refuges from the occupied areas. The millitary units were formed of the refuges. They were the famous Uskoks who successfully defended Senj till the twenties of the 17th century and who managed to cause hard lossesto the armed forces of the Ottoman Empire and Venice. In 1558. A construction of the fortress Nehaj, on the hill Trbušnjak, was finished for the needs of defence. The Uskoks was placed there. Because of the heroic resistance to much stronger enemy, these brave worriors got into the legend and folk songs. In the 17th century they became disturbance and a danger to a new peaceful policy of the Habsburg Monarchy towards the Ottoman Empire and Venice, and were evacuated to the other places in Croatia. Peaceful times enabled a restoration of trade in Senj and with that economic prosperety of the town wes provided. That was especially expressed in the second half of the 18th century and in the first half of the 19th century, when the great constructive works were being taken out (construction of the new Josephina’s road, restoration of the port, construction of the big imperial depot, regulation of the strong current and similar works). At that time started the golden age of the town which became one of most important in the country. The import of salt and export of grain and wood were passing through that port. The sailors from Senj sailed on their ships all over the world and they traded especially intensive with the Mediterranean countries. The entrepreneurs and labour came to that properus town; the comercial and shipbuilding companies, chamber of commerce, chamber of trades were founded and the important cultural activity was developed. Also the town music society, the reading club and other cultural organisations were founded. Senj became an important cultural center and its intellectuals and inhabitans were bearers of the Croatian national ideology. The most famous Croatian writers and poets were born and lived there: Silvije Strahimir Kranjčević (1865.-1908.), Vjenceslav Novak (1859.-1905.), Milutin Cihlar Nehajev (1880.-1931.) and Milan Ogrizović (1877.-1923.). Their busts can be seen in the Poet’s Park in Senj. The construction of the railway line Karlovac- Rijeka (1873.), which went round Senj, had the disastrous consequences for the economy and comertial meaning of the town. The traffic in the port was very reduced and the goods took another direction to Trieste and Rijeka. These two towns were connected with the hinterland by the railway-lines. The rde of Senj was reduced just to an export port for wood. The obscene of the economic prosperety and marginalization of the traffic direction had a negative effect on the town life and the life of the neighbourhood. In the late 19th century a migration of the inhabitants started. It was very intensive in the 20th century, especially after the end of the World war II, when political reasons were added to the economic reasons. The old town center suffered a great damage in bombing, when many of the extraordinary valuble cultural inheritance desappeared. But still many are preserved to the present days and they make Senj worth visiting both for domestic and foregin tourists.


Nehaj Fortress

Let us tell you a few words about the history of our Nehaj fortress. Fortress Nehaj was erected in 1558 when the Turks and Venice were at the peak of their power. In those bitter times Senj with its inhabitants resisted numerous attacks of the enemy trying to seize control over the town. Ivan Lenković, the capitain of the Senj uskoks ordered all churches and monasteries being outside the town walls to be destroyed and a new fortress on the Trbušnjak hill (62 m) to be built. The fortress erected on the hill top was difficult to access so that it was impossible to carry it. This 18 m high and 23 m wide fortress could be reached by staircases via wooden bridge through narrow double gate The powerful walls 3,30 m thick narrowing towards the top ended with crenel and five small corner towers. They comprised a hundred of loopholes and eleven embrasures. Within the groundfloor right section there was a fire-place surrounded by premises for the garrison and arsenal . The remains of a small Early Romansque church of St. Juraj from the 11 th c. Can be seen here. In the centre there is a triple coat of arms, that of the Gradac archduke who administered Senj in that period flanked by those of Ivan Lenković (on the left) comprising the year of the fortress erection ond of his successor captain (on the right). The premises for the garrison and the captain were on the first floor.

On the second floor works on reconstruction of the former battery with 11 heavy guns have been currently undertaken This is also the place where well-known “Nehaj music perfomances” are regulary organized in summer. The Nehaj fortress keep is a belvedere today. In the old times it was the observation post and the guards were looking out for the enemy approaching the town from the sea or land or received the smoke or lights signals from their neighbours of the nearby islands or coastal region. Thank you for your visit!


Park Nehaj

Park Nehaj is located between the old city centre and the settlement Trbušnjak, about 50 meters above sea level, next to the sea. Fortress Nehaj, symbol of the Uskoks of Senj and the famous history of Senj, is located in the heart of Park. Park Nehaj spreads over 14 hectares around Fortress Nehaj, and it offers a variety of activities for all ages. Monument Kalvarija was built in 1740, which can be seen by the carved number MDCCXL in the bottom back side of the stone portion of a previously damaged cross. Religious believers visit Kalvarija throughout the year. The path to the

monument is a path of cross with 14 stations of cross, symbolized by 14 resting places in the Park.In the centre of the Park, there is a monument to the antifascist movement and all who died for freedom – Kosturnica. The view from the Park overlooks Senj and especially its old city centre – a protected medieval cultural monument. The hill is intertwined with about 4 kilometres of gravel pathways, ideal for recreation such as walking, power walking, jogging or cycling, and two playgrounds in the Park allow children to have fun and play on swings, slides and seesaws. Sports ground Tenis is a popular gathering place for athletes of all ages. On this polyvalent ground, visitors can play soccer, volleyball or exercise. In the summer, this location is used also as a summer stage for attractive cultural and entertainment events, such as classical concerts, pop concerts, book nights, movie nights, plays and festivals.


Senj Town Museum

It is situated in the palace of the Vukasović family wich was one of the most respectable and most influential family in Senj. The palace was built in the fourteenth and fifteenth century in the Gothic and Renaissance style, being the supreme structure of the profane architecture of the town of Senj. The Senj town museum was established on the 7 th of May 1962 as a cultural and scientific institution with the aim to collect, preserve, classify, study, process, present and publish museological, historical and cultural dana. It also has an educational function taking care of the whole cultural and natural heritage of the town and its surroundings.

The museum houses the archeological collection-lapidarius, the hydro-archeological collection, the collection of the recent history of Senj and the Fatherland`s war, the etnographic collection of the Bunjevac community and the collection of the Velebit flora and fauna. The professional library (Seninensia) with its archive, photo-documentation and paintings is part of the town`s museum of Senj.


St Mary Cathedral

The Cathedral of the Virgin Mary built in the Romanesque style, probably dates from the eleventh or twelveth century. Around the cathedral, i.e. in front of the portal and on the backside of the apse, the paleo-Christian tombs, mosaics, and ceramics were found. The Romanesque arches on the portal are of the North Italian influence confirming the origin of a single apse of this cathedral. The church has become more spacious by building the sacristy in 1497 bearing the inscrption “Andreas de Mutina” while before 1752 the side naves were built. It was severely damaged during the bombardement of Senj in 1943 an it was rebuilt after the World War II. It is 39 m long and 21.90 m wide. The sacristy is on the left of the newly decorated altar. The baroque preaching stand with the inscription from 1757 mentioning the offering made by Klara Udragović, sister of the poet Mateša Kuhačević, is situated sideway from the midle nave. The most ancient monument in the cathedral is the tomb of Ivan de Cardinalibus (1386-1392), the Bishop of Senj, built in 1392 by his successor Bishop Leonard de Cardinalibus (1392-1405) who is also buried there. The bust of Mirko Ožegović, the Bishop of Senj, is situated in the side nave near the sacristy. The Renaissance relief of St. Trinity was moved to cathedral in 1865 from the St.Peter’s cementery along the Knežić promenade and it bears the coats of arms with the inscription from 1491. According to the tradition, the bishop of Senj are buried in the cathedral’s crypt. The graveyard from the beginning of the nineteenth century is situated on the Cimiter square and around the cathedral when the new one was built. The tower bell was built in 1900 according to the blueprints of Josip pl. Vancaš.


Religious Heritage

In the year 1987. the permanent exhibition of the sacral art was founded with the help of the town of Senj. The exhibition includes selected artifacts from the Cathedral’s treasury, the archive and the bishopic Library. There artistic remains from the churches of Senj, the keys of the town of Klis and the stylish furniture from the time of Bishop Ožegović, the portraits of the bishops of the Senj-Modruš diocese and the sacral dishes can be seen as well.

In the period from 15th July to 1st September the exhibition is opened daily from 9 a.m. – 12 a.m. and 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.; other months on working days from 7 a.m. – 3 p.m.; on weekends is closed.


Glagolitic Script – Senj Printing Works


The plate of Senj is one of the oldest Croatian glagolitic monuments. It shows that at the time of its creation, the glagotic alphabet was a widely spread and generally accepted one in the area of Senj. It was discovered on the Nehaj tower during excavation works. It is not entirely preserved, only parts with carved plant ornaments and glagotic letters were found. The preserved parts of it are kept in the town’s museum in Senj.

After the plate of Senj, there were no written traces on the use of Glagotic alphabet in Senj and its sourandings for a long time. It is seen from the letter of Pope Inocent IV addresed to Bishop of Senj Philip on the 29th of March 1248 that Glagotic alphabet did not disappear. The importance of this letter is in the fact that for the first time a catholic priest recives a permission to use the non Latin languange and alphabet, i.e. the old Slavic and the Glagotic one. This letter is the base of the rising period of the Croatian glagotic culture in the fourteenth and fifteenth century. The letter is kept today in the Secret Vatikan archive.

The largest number of inscription and documents written in the Glagotic alphabet are from the fourteenth and fifteenth century. The Statute of the church of Senj from 1340 and the so-called Lobkowitz’s Psalter, the book of psalms intended for the layman were written in 1359 in Senj by Zakan Kirin. The revival of the Glagotic alphabet happend after the Ungaro-Croatian king Zigmund gave the church of Senj the right to use the seal of the 25th of June 1392, becoming thus a justified place (locus credibilis). After having recived the said privileges, the church started to issue the Glagotic and Latin documents and their translations in co-operation with the town’s clark.



Fiftisch years after the invention of the printing press, a group of people who realized the advanteges of this invention, gatherd in Senj. One of them named Blaž Baromić went to Venice, where printing was highly developed, to learn the trade. In 1493 he printed in Venice a breviary wich was named after him. It is probable that Blaž after being successful with printing of his breviary decided to acquire a printing press for the organisation of a printinghouse in his country. Already the next year was printed a Misal, the first and most valuable edition of the glagotic printing house from Senj. Missal is a book of texts used in religious services troughout the whole liturgical year. It was written in the Croatian and old Slavic language, usually used in all Croatian, Glagolitic and liturgical books in the fifteenth and the sixteenth centuries. Beside the Misal another six book-lets were printed in glagotic printing house in Senj.


The Park of Senj Writters

In Senj were born and lived some of the most famous Croatian writers and poets of his time (Silvie Strahimir Kranjcevic, Milutin Cihlar Nehajev, Vjenceslav Novak, Milan Ogrizovic, Pavao Ritter Vitezovizovic). Town of Senj devoted to them the park above the beach “Banja”,  in which are placed their busts. Here is also situated votive church St. Maria of Art.


Our Lady of Krasno Sanctuary

Krasno has sanctuary of Our Lady of Krasno. Church was built in 18th century. It is believed that Mother of God has shown her face in a flower and on that place the church was built. Here are traditionally gather people on 15th August on the Feast of the Assumption.


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Kulturna baština Senja