Ahh, Yugoslavia, beautiful creator of ugly socialist architecture! In the middle of Rijeka’s gorgeous, historical, secessionist center, there lies a monument to the city’s Yugoslav period – shopping mall Robna kuća Ri. Built in 1974, it was a revolutionary project of the time. Its architect had the vision to connect Rijeka’s main promenade to the riviera by building a giant, gray shopping mall and changing the city center’s look.
Why check it out? Because it is historically very important. Just by looking at it, you can see Rijeka’s mixed identity: from Austro-Hungarian Empire and Italian influences to having its heart marked by the socialist metal-constructed giant Robna kuća Ri, now holding the title of Croatia’s most liberal, modern, and diverse city.
By visiting Robna kuća Ri, you can feel all that. The construction of the building is all metal, it has no windows, and its outdated, old-fashioned interior holds memories and stories of many locals’ childhoods.
Even though there are some chain stores inside, there are still plenty of small boutiques and stores for specific purposes (fishing equipment, sportswear, formal dresses). Recently a CBD shop was open, there is a sex shop, and a traditional Thai massage salon.
It is a mashup of various products, but more importantly, it’s a mashup of everything Rijeka is now and used to be.
You won’t feast your eyes on this piece (unless you love socialist architecture), but to get to know the soul of the city, make sure not to miss this stop.