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In ancient times the Cres and Lošinj archipelago was known as the Apsyrtides. The name is derived from that of the mythical hero Apsyrtus. In times of old the islands of Cres and Lošinj used be a whole. The islands were later separated by an artificial canal at Osor to satisfy the needs of sea trade on the so-called Amber Route. Historical changes have hit these islands like sea waves. Millennia have passed like a storm. The presence of small and big nations that have conquered this area has left permanent traces of their material culture, brought with them or created on this soil.
The oldest island settlements (Lubenice, Osor, Beli) have more than 4000 years of history. The Roman town of Osor was the seat of the bishopric in the 9th century. Lošinj, which had been almost uninhabited until the middle of the 13th century, developed into a leading regional maritime power by the 19th century. The town of Lošinj became the second most important port in the Adriatic, immediately after Trieste. The inhabitants of Lošinj were not only known for their skillfulness in constructing sailing ships but they were also known as the best seamen in the Mediterranean. The architectural appearance of the centre of Mali Lošinj, which has remained almost the same until the present day, was determined in that period. The beginnings of tourism date back to 1885, when health tourism began to develop on the island. On 21st January 1885 the first tourist was registered. The first hotel in Mali Lošinj, named Vindobona, was built in 1887. Owing to the exceptional characteristics of the climate Lošinj was proclaimed a climatic health resort by a decree of the Ministry of Health of the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy in 1892. Soon it became a popular holiday destination of the Austrian-Hungarian aristocracy, who built numerous villas and summer residences on the island. Lošinj is still a famous climatic health resort suitable for treating diseases of the respiratory tract and allergies. The island offers ideal conditions for a physical and psychological recovery, particularly during the winter, spring and autumn. The local hotels offer weekend and week’s anti-stress and wellness programmes.