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Churches & Bell Towers

Rab Town is a city of churches (note that church opening hours are somewhat unreliable, so you’d do well to enquire at the tourist office to be sure of the exact hours during your visit). Most of these are along the Gornja spur (upper road) that parallels the riva. Some of the churches are open only for Mass, but most leave vestibule doors open all day so you can peek through a window or iron grate and get a glimpse of the inside. If you are heading uphill from the harbor, be sure to take a look at the fountain in Trg Svetog Kristofora (St. Christopher's Square), adorned with sculptures of the mythical star-crossed lovers Kalifront and Draga. Between the fountain and the churches are a few 15th-century palaces built by highborn families. Dominus Palace and Nimira Palace are the most impressive, but both are closed to the public.

If you are coming from the Nimira Palace and continue on to the top of the hill, you’ll run right into St. Christopher’s, which was once part of the city’s highest tower. A small lapidarium next door holds ancient tombstones and other artifacts. Turn down Gornja Ulica, and you’ll come to St. John the Evangelist Church (Sveti Ivan Evandelista), which dates to the 6th or 7th century and is little more than a ruin. The church served as a monastery for various religious orders as well as a bishop’s residence, but it was closed in the first third of the 19th century and many of its bricks were used to repair other churches in the city. The 13th-century bell tower next door can be climbed.

Next is Holy Cross Church (Sveti Križ), which, according to legend, has a crucifix with a Christ figure that wept because of the townspeople’s immoral conduct. St. Justine Church (Sveti Justina) follows, with its 16th-century bell tower and collection of sacral items, including a reliquary that supposedly holds the skull of St. Christopher. Continue on past Trg Slobode and you’ll come to a third bell tower at St. Andrew Church (Sveti Andrije), which dates from the 12th century.

Just beyond that is the Romanesque Church of St. Mary the Great (Sveta Marija Velika), which is not only on the highest hill in town, but also has the biggest bell tower. Both the church and tower were built in the 12th century. The Pietàabove the church door dates to the early 16th century. The church itself is packed with history, including an 11th-century altar canopy, 15th-century choir stalls, and interior additions made during the 16th-century. But it is the bell tower that draws the most attention. Situated on Roman ruins, the 23m-tall (75-ft.) tower has four floors and includes a balustraded pyramid on top, which you can climb up to. If you look at the four bell towers from the sea, they clearly slope from tallest to shortest.

The last church on the route is Baroque St. Anthony (Sveti Antun), which has an impressively carved marble altar.

Naked Truth

Croatia was the first country in the world to offer nudist vacations. It's common to find naked people on designated naturist beaches along the coast, not just in nudist camps. Each year, an estimated one million vacationers from around the world choose Croatia for their vacation specifically so they can enjoy naked bathing. Some of Croatia’s best nudist beaches include Nugal near Makarska, Paklina in Bol on Brač, and Jerolim on the Pakleni Islands opposite Hvar (all in Dalmatia). The Croatians say the British royals started the whole thing off when King Edward VIII and his mistress, Wallis Simpson, vacationed on Rab in 1936 and took a nude swim in the Bay of Kandarola off Frkanj peninsula.

Activities

Beyond looking at churches and bell towers, Rab offers a wide range of watersports.

Diving -- Scuba diving excursions can be arranged through Mirko Diving Center (www.mirkodivingcenter.com; tel. 051/721-154) atBarbat 17 or through Kron Diving Center (www.kron-diving.com; tel. 051/776-620) at 413a Kampor. One of the most spectacular dive sites in the area is off the tiny island of Mali Ĉutin, which lies west of Rab, close to the east coast of Cres. Here you can explore a dramatic seawall that drops 48m (157 ft.), home to red and yellow Gorgonians, schools of fish, and sponges.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.