Wish You Were Here: Vintage Postcards Exhibition in Opatija

Total Croatia News

Nikolina Demark

Did you know the first postcard from Istria was sent in 1869?

A wonderful exhibition is currently on display at the Croatian Museum of Tourism in Opatija. Coming from the archives of the Historical and Maritime Museum of Istria in Pula, the guest exhibition is titled “Istria Memento – a selection from the old postcards collection”. The impressive number of 283 exhibits represents only a fragment of the vast collection counting more than 14.000 vintage postcards origination from the region.

The oldest postcards on display date back to the late 19th century. After the Vienna postal authority issued the first official postcard (Correspondenz-Karte) on October 1st 1869, they quickly became a popular method of correspondence. Three million postcards were sold in the first three months, owing to the fact the postage was twice as cheap as the standard rate for posting a letter. The rapid development of tourism at the turn of the century also played its part.


(Draguć village, 1911)

As Pula used to be the principal port of the Austro-Hungarian Navy, postcards depicting Pula and the rest of Istria used to be printed by well-known European publishers. First greetings from Istria via postcard were sent from Pula on October 24th 1869; the following increase in demand resulted in a large number of diverse motives, including even the smallest villages that nowadays aren’t attracting tourists and are certainly not to be found on postcards anymore.

The exhibition is divided into units covering various Istrian towns and their surroundings, such as Pula, Vodnjan, Poreč, Rovinj, Pazin, Labin, Opatija and the Kvarner islands, as well as Kopar and Muggia that used to be part of the administrative unit of Istria back in the day.


(Mine in Krapanj,1915)

I’m probably not the most objective person in this case as I’ve been a postcard geek my whole life; it’s a multi-generational character trait that was passed onto me and managed to survive without being affected by increasing dominance of social media. Don’t get me wrong, I’m an Instagram aficionado, but taking the time to send someone a hand-written message in this day and age makes the act even more personal than it used to be. That’s why I found the exhibition to be so delightful: not only it provides us with valuable insight into the history of Istria, it also tells the story of a heartwarming tradition that still hasn’t gone out of style.

“Istria Memento” is on display until May 10th 2017.


Croatian Museum of Tourism


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