Located in an indented bay, Cres Town is the largest town on the island of Cres.
Around the town are numerous olive groves which produce the well-known Cres olive oil but it’s the old core of Cres Town that really stands out with a maze-like warren of narrow streets and alleyways, framed with tall Venetian terraced mansions stacked against one another.
Back in the 16th century the old town was surrounded by fortified walls and the city could be entered via three city gates. With most of the walls destroyed, today the three city gates still stand, along with a round Venetian Tower at the north of the city. This was the only tower preserved of the four that once stood here.
We start in the city centre at the Main Square of Frane Petrica. Frane was a Renaissance philosopher from Cres, you’ll find his statue in the square. You’ll also find the Municipal Loggia from the 15th century complete with main City Gate of St Nicholas with a coat of arms and blue-faced clock. The other gates include; the south gate, Bragadina and the northern gate, Marcela. Frane Petrica Square opens out the harbour and waterfront promenade which is perfect for a stroll.
Take a peek into the parish church of St Mary of the Snow, just behind the St Nicholas Gate. You can only enter the church when mass is being said but the glassed foyer allows you to peer inside. If you stay for mass (said in Croatian) look out for the 15th century wooden pietà, under glass at the left altar.
For a treat, head to the Franciscan Convent built around 1300 that features a double cloister. The outer Renaissance cloister holds tombs of wealthy Cres families while the inner cloister features the oldest carved emblem of Cres. The convent houses a museum with an art and ethnographic collection along with a rare liturgical book – a Glagolitic missal from 1494.
The Cres Museum is housed in the Gothic-Renaissance palace Arsan (Ribarska 7) and has the occasional exhibition showing life on the island throughout the centuries.
Drop into the tourist office for maps of the walking and cycling trails around the town and follow the waterfront promenade on the western side for some great swimming spots and beaches. For diving try the diving school at Kamp Kovacine about one kilometre south-west of town.