The first written record of the name Matulji dates back to the mid-17th century. It is derived from the family name Matulja, originally recorded as Matuglia. The Municipality of Matulji is conveniently situated in the hinterland of the Opatija Riviera, in the northern part of the County of Primorje-Gorski kotar, close to two busy border crossings with Slovenia – Rupa and Pasjak.
Nature and landscapes
The Matulji area is characterised by a Mediterranean climate influenced by the nearby mountains, which occasionally results in gusts of fresh air. The dominant wind here, locally known as the Tramontana, blows throughout the year. The Matulji area is also distinguished for its great number of caves, pits, groundwater streams and other karst features. The karst plateaus feature some pits that are more than 100 metres deep but that have not been fully explored yet
The Lisina area is a particularly valuable protected landscape characterised by a great diversity of plant communities and interesting landscapes. It has a long tradition of attracting day-trippers, hikers and hunters. It is located very close to the urban area and some important tourist destinations. The whole area can be easily reached by car and is criss-crossed by a network of forest paths and logging roads. Lisina is also the meeting point of mountain trails that lead across the peaks of Gomila, Vodička Griža, Vodice etc. Most of the Matulji area is covered in woods, in which we have created a network of bike biking and hiking trails, to a total length of 130 km. The difficulty of the trails is identified by green, blue, red and black colours: here even the most demanding visitors can find something to suit them. Whether you choose a trail that leads entirely through a wood, or a route that runs along one of the roads, rest assured you will always have the chance to enjoy the natural beauty or discover some quaint and interesting places. If you want to take a nice panoramic photo of the Matulji area, make sure to visit the vantage points in Škrapna, Zvoneća, Rukavac and Črnčići.
Carnival Bike Tour
The Carnival Bike Tour takes you on a rather undemanding but interesting and funny route across the Matulji area. On finishing the tour, at the same spot where we started, a typical carnival dish will be waiting for us (bean soup with sausages, polenta with turnip, or sauerkraut with sausages), something sweet, and of course a glass of the area’s original jarbola wine. Along the way, we will stop at local taverns to sample some home-made drinks, and maybe sing a song or two. All participants have to be masked, but the quality of the mask is not crucial – we give awards for both the best and the worst masks. The Carnival Bike Tour takes place every year in February
Traditional Food Bike Tour
Another cycling event is the Traditional Food Bike Tour that takes place every year on the 25th of June. To make sure this event is suitable for both young and the old, we have designed two routes that start on the same spot, but that have different levels of difficulty. The basic philosophy of this bike tour is the enjoyment of cycling in company and sampling local dishes and drinks: along the way we stop at five restaurants and taverns for breakfast, a snack, lunch, another snack, and dinner. Of course, the menus are all based on traditional local specialties.
The tradition of wearing masks to chase evil forces away and summon the spring is maintained in many mountainous areas. This local custom has deep roots in the Matulji area. The local carnival tradition is characterised by groups of zvončari (the bell-ringers). The Zvončari, or bell-ringers, mark the beginning of every carnival season. They start ringing their bells in the villages of Žejane and Mune on the feast of the Epiphany (January 6th), and then in other villages of the area on the feast of Saint Anthony (January 17th). Since 1995, Matulji has been hosting the Zvončari Festival on the last Saturday of the Carnival. It is a unique opportunity to enjoy this local tradition in all its beauty. The ringing of the bells, the smell of sheepskin, the colourful flowers on the hats – for a moment, you truly will believe that winter will really be gone tomorrow, and spring is about to arrive. The bell-ringers’ pageant has been included in the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Visit us at the Zvončari Festival – discover our local carnival tradition and let it become a part of you!