The first and largest medieval summer fair in Croatia, Rabska fjera is based on a tradition that started on 21st of July 1364, when the City Council of Rab decided to celebrate and honor King Louis the Great who freed them from the Venetian rule, as well as a holiday honoring St. Christopher, patron saint of the town of Rab. Fjera used to last for 14 days to celebrate and praise the saints powers that supposedly saved the town from destruction.
The entire island goes back in time during those days. Small artisan stores move to the streets, so you can have your belt or a perfumed pomade made in front of your eyes, while your hair is being braided with tiny flowers into a typical do from medieval times. Freshly fried šulčići are served and at the beach, an entire fishermen village is built altogether with the traditional tools, machines, and even toys for children. Air is filled with song and music, while tuna, fritule, cheese, and wine are served to passers-by.
Fori et chori
The celebrations always began in the cathedral, with the obligatory attendance of the prince, judges and the town council, who carried candles. In the formal procession, the head of St. Christopher is carried in a silver relic box through the town. Medieval games are played, and the winner receives a prize. During these holidays, the town court was closed. Debtors from the village could enter and leave the town freely for two whole weeks since the court did not conduct its official business. The public merriment lasted several days, and the gates to the town were open to all.
From the writings of the chroniclers of Rab.
In more recent times, the holidays have been shortened to 3 days:
25th July – St. James’ Day
26th July – St. Anna’s Day and
27th July – St. Christopher’s Day.
Today’s Rapska fjera celebrations hark back to the Rab of yesteryear, which celebrated its liberty and the independence of its municipal.
The city becomes a great stage, a huge public celebration by the people of Rab and their friends from San Marino. In their colorful historical costumes, the people of Rab demonstrate their traditional art and craftwork to their guests. The Rapska fjera end in a medieval tournament.
“Window to the past”
“…the fjera is a celebration which was returned to life six and a half centuries ago. It is not a parade of brilliance, but an expression of the desire to delve back, in spirit at least, into past centuries, in which we recognize our ancestors and our roots and in so doing affirm our own identity. In a sea of highly developed, modern technology, we want to spare a look for the beauty of handicraft and of a fast-moving hand, with calluses instead of gloves, of a connection to nature, the earth, and the sea, of the spiritual and material creativity of our ancestors, their individual, rich creativity which today, in this modern time of machines,
Slobodan Novak – poet, Academy member, a writer who is closely tied to his homeland and to Rab, one of the great classic writers of Croatian literature.
On the St. Jacob’s Day 25 July
- Introduction of the “Rabska fjera” guests
- Participants: the prince, the judge, the district council, the nobility and the big landowners, dealers, craftsmen, traders, the people artist, and Guests-participants
Ceremonial opening of the “Rabska fjera” .
- St. Christophers Square at 9,30 PM
- Opening of the “Rabska fjera” by the mayor of the Town of Rab Mr. Nikola Grgurić
- Ceremonial parade of the participants of the “Rabska fjera” towards the City Loggia
Beginning of the festivities and opening of the exhibition of crafts from the Middle Ages
- City Loggiaat 10,30 PM
- The ancient city center of Rab, until 01.00 AM
On the St. Anna’s Day
Exhibition of crafts from the Middle Ages
- The ancient city center of Rab from 09,00 PM until 01,00 AM
The old craft fishing
- Harbour of Rab and “under the Pjaceta” at09,00 PM
On the St. Christopher’s Day
- St. Andrea Church at 07,30 AM
Procession with the St. Christopher reliquary and Solemn worship
- Assumption of Virgin MaryCathedral at 09,30 AM
- Assumption of Virgin Mary Cathedral at 08,00 PM
Traditional Knights’ Games of Rab
Ceremonial parade and competition of the and Rab Crossbowmen.
- St. Christopher’s Square at 09,00 PM
Exhibition of crafts from the Middle Ages
- Ancient city centre of Rabfrom 09,00 PM until 11,30 PM
Ceremonial closing of the “Rabska fjera”
- Municipium Arba square, at 11:50 PM
- The port of Rabat 00,00 AM
The entertaining program – concert. High On Heels until the early hours – Municipium Arba Square