Life on the coastal area of the Gulf of Rijeka can be traced back to the prehistoric period. The Celts once lived here and it is possible that the name Trsat comes from the Celtic word "tarsa", which means "hill above the river". The fortified settlements bore the Illyrian name Liburnia and were inhabited by sailors, pirates and shipbuilders. In ancient times, the town's name was Tarsattica. The fortress was a Roman municipality. Unfortunately, traces of this period have almost disappeared.
The historical centre of Rijeka was formed at the mouth of the River Rječina where it enters the Adriatic Sea. The Old Town of Rijeka, situated on the right bank of the Rječina, has lost a lot of its historical buildings but is still the living heart of the city. Beneath its streets, there are valuable archaeological excavations and a network of old tunnels. The construction of the well-known promenade the Korzo and Riva began on the southern edge of the Old Town in the second half of the eighteenth century. At the end of the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century, Sušak, Brajda and other parts of the city were built.
The city has an unusual and complicated past which could be compared with an olive tree: long-lived and buckled, with a fruit that is bitter to the taste but the oil is good quality.