There Are More Than a Few Curious Things in the Waters of Rovinj Aquatorium

Baron Gautsch

Apart from being surrounded by beautiful bays, clear waters, and a mild Mediterranean climate, Rovinj waters keep several curious secrets in its depths. Some even go way back back for centuries. We dived deep into those secrets and placed them chronologically:


Old books witness how some time ago, in the middle of the VIII century, a city disappeared in the depths of Rovinj Aquatorium: Cissa, or Old Ruven, Ruvin, Rubino.
Pliny the Elder mentions an Istrian island by the name of Cissa, and later in the VI century, the names of bishops of Cissa occur in ecclesiastical records. Nothing more we known of the lost island Cissa, but some people claim it sunk near the island Sveti Ivan na Pučini.  On this location, fishermen often used to catch strange things and remains of objects from the bottom of the sea.

Apparently, a diver stated that he saw walls and streets of the lost city Cissa beneath the water.
The quest for Cissa does not vanish through the years, Rovinj’s fishermen continue to notice strane findings in their nets. The Austro-Hungarian Admiralty in Pula in January 1890 sent the ship Laudon for an examination. The examination was carried out with the presence of Captain Covacevich.

Other than that, Angelo Butković in July 1955 examined the underwater world od Rovinj’s Atlantis and breaks the spell of the lost city:



“Lying 150 meters southeast of the lighthouse on the cliff of Sveti Ivan na Pučini, apart from the wonderful creations of nature, I did not notice anything particularly … There were some diving explorations later. Mostly sponge fishermen explore those depths, among which I have many friends. They would inform me as soon as they find something interesting. However – nothing.”


Through a stormy night, on the dawn of July 13th, year 800, a strange sailboat had arrived to the coast of Rovinj, right under the church of St. Cross

 Long 208 cm, wide 95 cm, tall 195 cm. The most secretive, most unusual vessel that had arrived had also benn mentioned in the 14/15th century codex

“Translatio Corporis Sanctae Euphemiae”.

Is it a batana? – People have curiously asked themselves.

The stone sarcophagus that had arrived has attracted as much attention among Rovinj people as never before.

The decorated stone had aroused curiosity and it was necessary to get it to a safe and dry place as soon as possible. For the miraculous sarcophagus, it had to be examined.
This is the legend of the stormy night that had brought the stone sarcophagus and the body of the sacred
Saint Euphemia – known as the patron-saint of Rovinj.


Apart from its unique location, featuring a beautiful view over the city of Rovinj, the St. Pelagius peninsula has a special healing feature. The mild Mediterranean climate has undeniably treated and cured many children in the age of Austro-Hungarian empire.

Since, the peninsula is home to the famous Hospital for Orthopedics and Rehabilitation Prim. Dr. Martin Horvat. At the end of the 19thcentury this location was one of the most famous and most successful seaside medical resorts in the region.At the initiative of archduchess Maria Theresa of Austria, St. Pelagius became a children’s medical resort in the late 19th century called “Archduchess Maria Theresa of Austria”. The primary aim of the medical resort was to treat and heal children with bone diseases. Although that was the primary aim, hospital doctors cured many other diseases as well.

The medical resort was officially opened at 22th May, 1888. Nowadays, inhabitants and locals of Rovinj call it ‘Špicije’. People believed that the mild Mediterranean climate of the St. Pelagiuspeninsula had special healing features. Hence, that Mediterranean climate significantly helped children with bone diseases during their recovery. The combination of healing climate, excellent equipment and good hospital management helped curing 6,637 children patients of total 7,926. To put it another way, during the period from 1888thtill 1907th.

The total percentage of cured patients was unbelievable 83%.

Courtesy of


Only the depths of the Rovinj Aquatorium are telling us the story of a terrible accident that hit the Baron Gautsch ship on August 13th, 1914.

It was a fatal day with rare survivors.

The ship was traveling on the route of Boka Kotorska – Trieste.  About nine miles from the Rovinj harbor, the Austro-Hungarian started sinking after a terrible explosion in the engine room. It took merely 5-6 minutes for the grand Baron Gautsch to sink to a depth of 40 meters. Baron Gautsch was 84.5 meters long, 11.8 meters wide, with a 4.5 meters pitch and three 4.600 hp steam engines. The surface of the water was filled with floating items from the sunken ship. Around 250 passengers lost their lives, and 34 crew members. There was a total number of 64 crew members. However, the total number of all passengers is unknown until this day.  Nevertheless, 70 lucky ones survived.

Today the remains of Baron Gautsch are covered with shellfish. The old Austro-Hungarian beauty is resting peacefully not far from island St. Ivan na Pučini.

Only organized diving groups are able to visit the sunken ship, confusing the eternal silence of the sea dephts.

Author: Annamaria Gržetić
*Founded in 2015, we are solely focused on contributing to sustainable tourism development. Therefore we are keen on building a travel brand to connect travelers with locals and the destination. Agora Off The Beaten Path is a movement that embraces tourism development in a respectful manner, while preserving nature and encouraging the locals to involve themselves in a much meaningful, deeper connecting between the guests and the destination. 
Want to work with us, be featured in our interview or simply have a story to tell? Reach us:
A. Coane 6, 52210 Rovinj
+385 91 600 4278

You Might Also Like

No Comments

Leave a Reply

We are using cookies on our website

Please confirm, if you accept our tracking cookies. You can also decline the tracking, so you can continue to visit our website without any data sent to third party services.