Fažana through history
The history of Mediterranean towns often relies on mythopoetic records and legends. The story of the Argonauts, mythical seafarers who fleeing with the Golden Fleece from the Black Sea upstream along the Danube arrived to the north Adriatic coast, is also related to Istria, its coastal region. Among other things it is a story of ancient Mediterranean connections, exchange of experience and trade. Such an exchange also included the area of today’s Fažana and Valbandon.
The name Fažana is related to ancient Phasiana and Vasianum. Very often the name of the town is connected with the field bird pheasant (Croatian "fazan") or pottery. In Roman times an especially important activity in this area was the production of amphoras, and the ceramics workshop of Caius Laecanius Bassus, who was consul in AD 64. The famed consul-imperial road Via Flavia passed along Fažana from Pula, echoing the thunder of horses and the creaking of wheels – soldiers, traders and post (cursus publicus), traveling towards the upper Adriatic regions.
In Late Antiquity Fažana belonged to the fief of St. Apollinaris. Amphoras continue to be mentioned, but mostly for the fine olive oil and wine. Viewed from the sea, this entire area, which was also known as "the land of basilicas", was compared in Late Antiquity by Cassiodorus to the "ornaments on the head of a beautiful woman".
In ancient documents Fažana was mentioned in 1150 as an old parish which the bishops of Pula received by the emperor’s consent at the beginning of the 11th century. This was followed by a period during which it was the property of various noble families, Aquileian patriarchs and patricians of Pula, Jonatasi. The centuries of Venetian rule left traces on the appearance of this coastal town.
The waters of Fažana were the site of a naval battle that took place in 1379 between two republics, Venice and Genoa. There were about 250 ships and the Venetian fleet was defeated.
From the fall of Venice in 1797, a short period of the first Austrian domination and Napoleon’s rule followed, and then over a century of Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, mostly under the rule of Emperor Franz Joseph I. After World War I Fažana, just like entire Istria was under Italian rule, whereas after World War II it became part of Croatia in former Yugoslavia. After the Croatian Patriotic War and democratic changes at the beginning of the 1990s it became part of the independent country – the Republic of Croatia.
During the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, with the construction of the Shipyard and Arsenal, Pula became the main naval base of the Empire, watching over the entire Adriatic region from Trieste to Boka. Pula was also the port of departure for many ships sailing around the world. During the Austrian period the fleet under the command of Wilhelm von Tegetthoff left from Fažana Channel towards Vis Island. That is where the famous Vis naval battle took place in 1866 with the victory of Tegetthoff’s fleet.
Owing to the efforts and great care of the new owner of Brijuni, the Viennese industrialist Paul Kupelwieser – who came to the Islands for the first time in 1893 – the badly neglected archipelago experienced a revival. Kupelwieser brought back the splendor of Antiquity to Veliki Brijun, the largest of the 14 islands, and even surpassed it. After the famed scientist and doctor, Nobel Prize winner Robert Koch had sanitized Brijuni and completely destroyed malarial mosquitoes at the beginning of the 20th century; the Islands began to develop into a health resort and fashionable retreat for the élite. In 1900 the first hotel “Brioni” was built. Fažana also prospered as an embarkation point for Brijuni so that in 1912 there were as many as 1034 registered moorings. During the Italian rule, until the war, Brijuni continued the tradition of an exclusive seaside resort: first through the family tradition of Paul’s son Karl Kupelwieser, and then as part of Italy. At this time various economic and trade activities began to develop in Fažana; the building of wooden boats, production of liqueurs and other drinks, fish processing plant...
After World War II and the beginning of the reconstruction period, the Yugoslav president Marshal Josip Broz Tito came to Brijuni for the first time in June 1947. The fact that Brijuni became Tito’s residence defined the way of life of the surrounding area. Many different heads of state, political leaders from all continents, businessmen, artists visited Brijuni; but Fažana turned into a zone closed for foreigners, which defined its restricted area of prosperity. The fish processing plant was moved, and instead the production of glass and non-alcoholic beverages was started. However, both of these plants were closed down at the end of the 1990's.
In 1983 the Brijuni Islands were proclaimed a national park, which gave a strong impetus for tourist development, as did the changes during the 1990s, especially after Fažana gained the status of a Municipality in 2001. Since then great efforts have been made for the renovation of the town, as well as for providing a richer and more varied tourist evaluation and promotion of Fažana.
The image of Fažana’s future viewed from its waterfront sets off from the identity of a town with a fervent desire to preserve the picturesque quality of a small fishing town, waterfront cafés and restaurants, intimacy of local rooftops and the liveliness of the local harbor.Fažana.