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In Kastav, history is everywhere. It is impossible to speak about the ancient town made of stone, situated on the top of the hill and encircled with the town’s wall, without mentioning its indisputable historical significance preserved throughout the ages.

The history of Kastav dates back to prehistoric times, which is borne out by numerous archaeological finds. A valuable archaeological site is the Illyrian necropolis found in the Mišinci karst valley at the foot of the town. It is where the Iapodes, one of the Illyrian tribes, buried their deceased. Pieces of jewellery, buttons and needle pins were also found.

It is not known for sure how Kastav gained its name. Some claim the name is derived from the Celtic word kast (rock) while others say it is derived from the Latin word castellum (fort, castle).

Valuable monuments preserved to this day witness the medieval liveliness of the Kastav area. Among them are the town's Kaštel, the Municipal Loggia, the Volta (arched doorway), The Parish Church of Saint Jelena Križarica, Lokvina square, the remains of the Crekvina and the Church of the Holy Trinity and a number of ornaments embedded in the nucleus of the town.

Writings in various books witness the town's rich history. Kastav is mentioned in all the important editions that deal with the history of Croatia as well as in those that deal with the history of this part of Europe.

Prehistory till the 17th century

Kastav, a town that watches over the northest part of the Kvarner Bay from the 365m high hill is much more than just an old hillfort. Its story begins in ancient history. It is mentioned in almost every period of our region's history, ever since it was a prehistoric settlement in the Stone Age, in the period when it was a Roman camp and up to the arrival of the Croats.

Kastav area is not large nowadays but in ancient times it stretched all the way to Mount Učka’s slopes so the villages of Veprinac and Mošćenice were parts of Kastav feudal estate. In its ancient towers, medieval Municipal Loggia, Crekvina walls, the Parish Church of Saint Jelena Križarica, old water well on Lokvina square and the former Kaštel (where the town’s government’s premises are) the town keeps all its told and untold stories.

Zakon Grada Kastva iz leta 1400. (The Law of the City of Kastav from the year of 1400), town’s statute written in the čakavian dialect and in ancient Croatian Glagolitic script is one of the pearls in a string of statutes of the Kvarner area written in the Croatian vernacular. The law is based on the common law. Like any other statute, The Law of the City of Kastav is an important legal record of that time.

Kastav’s Kaštel, the seat of the kapitan (the official representative of the town's proprietor) was originally built at the end of the 14th century. Unfortunatelly, on the eve of the revolutions in Europe, in 1843, Ivan Thierry, the last but one of Kastav’s proprietors, ordered that the complete archives of the manorial estate be burned. Centuries-old documents that witnessed the town's rich history were almost completely destroyed. The last owner of the town was Juraj Vranyczany Dobrinović (until 1848).

Since the 17th century

In the 17th century, Kastav was in the possession of the Jesuits. During their rule, in the middle of the 18th century, the building of the Crekvina church started in the place of the former Church of Saint Mary whose construction halted after the annulment of the Jesuit order in 1773. According to legend, a woman serf, a widow and a mother of four, had to build the church. The church was almost finished when the woman's curse knocked down the church. Only the northern wall and the shrine remain.

In 1666 on Lokvina square beneath Kaštel, Kastav citizens rebelled against all the major taxes and Captain Morelli's autocracy. They broke into Kaštel and drowned the captain in a pond which has been known as the Captain's pond ever since. Inscription on the well (We all did it ...) bears witness to the event and the unity of the people of Kastav.

The history of institutionalized education in Kastav began in 1770. This was when the first elementary school of the area opened its door. In 1866, under the motto of: Složimo se! (Let’s agree!) Kastav Čitalnica, the first Croatian reading room in Istria was established.

In Rubeši near Kastav, on the hillock of Saint Mihovil (Michael), the First Assembly of the Croatians of Istria, Primorje and the Kvarner islands took place on 21st May 1871. It gathered around 10,000 people, quite a number in those days!

In 1885 Državna stručna škola obrtnog risanja, the popular Worker’s School opened its door. The children from the Kastav region and the surrounding area, as well as from Istria, Gorski kotar and the Kvarner islands were taught various crafts there. In 1906 The Primary School Teacher’s Training College was established and remained open until 1947.
The greater Kastav area suffered utter devastation at the beginning of WWII. In the period between the two world wars, the Kastav area had been divided between Italy and Yugoslavia. The city of Kastav remained in the Yugoslav kingdom and was both the centre of the district and the smallest county in the country.

After WWII the city of Kastav was an independent district until 1956 when it was incorporated into the greater Rijeka district. It became an independent district back in 1993 and in 1997 it became a town.