Jadrolinija's business premises - the Adria Palace
The Adriatic Pallace is the most representative building of Rijeka, adding since the time of its construction to the reputation of the town as a maritime trading centre of cosmopolitan character. It was erected to seat Hungarian first shipping company
founded there in 1882 under the name of ‘Adria’, which started its regular merchant shipping with legal capital of 2,5 million Hungarian forints and seven medium-sized vessels.
At the time, the port of Rijeka required complete arrangement,
whereas Austrian competition from Trieste was fierce. Nevertheless, starting from 1887 with modern business practices, engaging experienced local seafarers on its modern steamships, the company decided to face the future bravely and forcefully. Subsidies
for Lloyd were increased to be allocated to ‘Adria’, the number of steamships was also increased in regular and express services calling at all the ports of the western world. The introduction of new shipping services was followed by the growing
need for representative business premises in form of a strikingly imposing structure to seat the administration and management of the company. Involved in the risky worldwide trade, ‘Adria’ relied on local ‘old salts’ whose experience
enabled them to sail through nags out to the ports of Spain, western Africa, Tunisia, Algeria, Gibraltar and Messina. Later on, those ships were engaged in the corn and coffee trade with Brazil, calling at Rio de Janeiro and Santos where their load of
Panonian corn was replaced with coffee on their voyages homeward. ‘Adria’ used to call at Liverpool, Glasgow, Antwerp and Rotterdam.
Owing to contacts with the world, our bold seafarers were able to broaden their minds and develop
cosmopolitan feelings. It was their soberness and full commitment they exercised in ports of the western world that acquired the renown of reliable owners for the Adria Steamship Company. It seems that seafarers’ statues and statues symbolizing
different continents, decorating the fronts of the ‘Adria’ pallace, had determined its fate of business premises of a large shipping company at the very beginning. The changes introduced in 1945, when the building was renamed the Adriatic
Pallace, have not affected the meaning of the old familiar saying: ‘Navigare necesse est, vivere non!’
The ’Adria’ Pallace having been meant to permanently symbolize the shipping trade, its architect Giacomo Zammatio
ordered four high baroque…. statues to personify ship’s key figures: the master, chief engineer, helmsman, and pilot. According to sources, the four figures represented at the same time the four then leading persons of ‘Adria’.
Thus, Emilio Curanda, one of the pillars within ‘Adria’, was portrayed as helmsman, and Ugo Eidlitz, director, as master. There are eight statues in total, each of them representing a real masterpiece of the famous Italian sculptor Sebastian
Bonomi in one way or the other. Placed very high, they can escape passenger’s view easily, not allowing their symbolism and meaning to be admired the way they deserve. Seafarers’ statues are convincingly expressive, each one being a synthesis
of specific features of a particular profession, and four of them making a complex whole. They stand as a monument in memory of all the seafarers cradled in Rijeka and its neighbouring places, in Dalmatia and the islands. The statues valuably symbolizing
the four continents stand for ships’ sailing routes all over the globe. Africa is represented by an Egyptian woman, Asia by a Japanese woman, America by an Indian woman, and Europe by a Nordic fisherman statue. There are two giant Atlas statues,
one on either side of the pallace doorway, characterized by strong backs, tense muscles, strong-minded expression, symbolically carrying great responsibilities and difficulties of seafarers’ duties. These massively built statues, performed by the
same author, represent the best quality masterpieces of the complete architectural pieces of plastic art created in Rijeka at the end of 19th century.