The wider area of Kraljevica has been inhabited already in the prehistoric times, with Illyrian tribe of the Liburnians. The first archaeological finds are connected to the Roman rule, i.e. traffic and defense structures which are constructed by the Roman conquerors. Numerous finds from Bakar, Bakarac and Plase, as well as the supposed remains of Roman guard-houses above Bakarac and Turinovo Selo all witness the presence of the Romans.
The continuity of settling in the early Middle Ages is evidenced by the finds in the necropolis in Veli Dol, and together with the necroplois of Vinodol in Gorica (Stranče) they all give vital information about the civilizational shifts in this busy traffic area.
The present settlement of Kraljevica has developed near the natural port of old town of Hreljin in the 15th c. The oldest information date from 1443, when it is called Portum re and it serves as loading port of Hreljin. Customs duty was payed to Hungarian king and it is probably the reason why it got the name of Kraljevska luka (Royal port). In Italian it was called Porto re, and in Latin Portus regius, while in Croatian it is always called Kraljevica (for instance in the records of Town`s council of Rijeka from 1605 – port Kraljevica in Vinodol, in terrier of Novalja from 1606, and in the 18th c.).
At the beginning Kraljevica is under the rule of the Frankopans, and later in the 17th c. under the Zrinski. In the 17th c. the Zrinski construct a large castle (Stari grad), and the Frankopans another one luxurious Late-Renaissance castle (Novi grad).
In the Middle ages port Bakarac gains a greater importance.
In the first half of the 17th c. Kraljevica regains its significance with Charles VI resolving to make Kraljevica stronger with a new port and a shipyard for Austrian ships which were supposed to rival powerful Venice. The shipyard was founded with imperial decree in 1729. The most intensive works on the construction of the port were held from 1729 to 1732, when the renowned shipyard came to existence, the first in the Croatian littoral. Kraljevica starts to develop rapidly. The roads which were built during the 18th and 19th c. also enhance the favourable location for trade.
The construction of the historical road of Charles III (1726) causes port Bakarac attaining a leading role. The wood was delivered to Bakarac, from where it was distributed across the Littoral and the islands, as well to Venice. Bakrac was the main port until 1779 when the road of Joseph II was constructed from Karlovac to Senj, so that wood trade started to develop in Senj as well. This settlement was the centre for tunny fishing in the 19th c.
By the end of the 19th c. the port of Kraljevica was still busy in traffic, renowned as trading warehouse centre, mostly for wood and salt. The ruins of a large warehouse in the port were preserved till the beginning of the 20th c. At that time the port of Kraljevica lacked traffic, which was redirected to Trieste and Rijeka.
The declining of the port and the shipyard works brings the beginnings of tourism. The first seaside resort in Croatian littoral was founded in cove Oštro by the end of the 19th c., and its founder German Olschbaur constructs the first hotel in Kraljevica in 1904, the monumental Liburnia, which was later reconstructed into a sanatorium. In 1907 he obtains a permission to establish a sanatorium, but nevertheless he was forced to give up the project due to the renewal of shipyard works in the vicinity to the sanatorium. The shipyard is active in the period between the two wars, and it was thoroughly reconstructed in 1945 because it had been seriously damaged in bombing during the WW2. Villas and summer houses are built in cove Oštro in the period between the two wars.
The present state or registered cultural heritage in the area of the town of Kraljevica is:
© Ineco, 1995./2005.