The tourist development of Opatija began in 1844 when a classical “villa Angelina” was built, and tourism experienced a sudden rise after 1880 when the whole area was bought by the Southern Railway Company.
At that time Opatija has numerous luxurious villas, summer houses, hotels, boarding houses, sanatoriums, pavilions, baths, promenades, and parks. In 1889 Opatija gets the status of an elite summer resort and winter resort.
The architecture of hotels, boarding houses, and villas have features of historical neo-tents with lesser examples of the Secession. The Mediterranean ambiance gives the buildings a split façade, the size, and type of openings (balconies and loggias), and ornaments on the facades. The most famous architects in Opatija were Carlo Conigh (the hotel “Marina” in 1893), Maks Fabiani (1897, “Villa Schwegel” in Volovsko, around 1906), and the Vienna Archbishop Karl.
Tourism left valuable heritage especially in urban greenery and beautiful parks. Two such parks are protected as monuments of garden architecture. The first park in front of the already mentioned villa Angelina, which is one of the most beautiful parks on the Adriatic. It distinguishes two parts, the southern part of the open park with exotic plants and lawns, and the northern part with thick lavender stands mixed with pines and cedars. Particularly interesting are Japanese camellias, bamboo, and bananas. This park is also the most visited because it is next to the famous promenade of Lungo mare.
The coastal belt from Opatija to Lovran and Volosko covers the area of gardens and buildings by the sea. These are mostly buildings built at the time of the tourist rise of this area, surrounded by gardens. Among these buildings, most are built-in architectural forms characteristic for the luxury resorts at the turn of the century, often Neo-Gothic and Secession style of buildings.