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Raša

The youngest small town in Istria

Raša, the youngest town in Istria, was built in just 547 days, for the purposes of a local coal mine, as one of the newly built towns (citta di fondazione) during Italian administration, namely, during the so called Fascist era. The village construction began in late April 1936 and in April 1937 most of the buildings were completed so tenants began to move in. Raša was officially inaugurated on November 4, 1937 in the presence of a government representative Horst Venturi and kings representative the Duke of Spoleto, and many senior government officials. A year later the new municipality Raša was established. During construction, the name of the village was Liburnia, but later the name Arsia (Raša) prevailed after the eponymous river that determines this area with its tributaries, both geographically and morphologically.

The mining activity in this area goes back to the 17th century, to the period of Venetian administration, because the first known concession for coal digging in the valley of Krapan dates from 1926. Continuous production of coal took place during the 18th century. About forty miners were producing about 560 tons of coal per year.
The universal industrialization, with the widespread use of the steam engine, has enabled significant development of coal mines, so during Austrian administration, in the late 19th and early 20th century, annual production had increased to about 90,000 tons and the number of employees increased to approximately 1,500. During that period Krapan blossomed with the construction of numerous new facilities of economic and residential nature, all in the function of the mine. A small church of St. Barabara was built in 1905. She was the patroness of the miners. The church was in the form of a turned coal wagon and the bell tower looked like a miner's lamp. In stone embossed figure of St.Barbara stands out on the main façade. It is the work of Ugo Carà, a sculptor from Trieste.
The Italian administration worked on a significant increase in production, so 735,610 tons of coal were produced in 1936. The plans were to reach the goal of one million tons and about 7,000 employees with a tendency of continuous growth. That was the reason why the coal mine ”Raša“ (”Arsa” Società Anonima Carbonifera) and its real successor A.Ca.I. (Azienda Carboni Italiani) ordered the construction of a new village. The project and the supervision of construction was entrusted to the architect from Trieste, Gustavo Pulitzer Finali, and to his architectural studio STUARD (Ceppi, Lah, Kosovel). He had a unique opportunity to solve the plan of the complete place and architecturally shape every object. In addition, he edited many interiors, especially public facilities and he also made drawings of furniture and interpreted the principles of a complete work (Gesamtswerk) in a personal way adopted at the Academy in Munich. Pulitzer divided the village hierarchically into the labour and clerical entity and the central square with the role to connect and as well as to separate the two entities. A house with four two-room apartments, each with separate entrance and a garden, dominates in the working-class district. He also designed a coal burner that allows heating of the entire apartment. Flats for officers and managers had greater comfort and heating was enabled by hot water from the town heating plant. In total, 96 houses were built.
The town, planned for 2000 to 3000 inhabitants, had all necessary facilities, such as municipality building, police station, school, kindergarten, post office, coffee bar, restaurant, hotel, stores, cinema and hospital, sports playgrounds and even an outdoor pool of Olympic proportions. Infrastructure was also remarkably well solved: water and sewer networks, public lighting and asphalt roads, hot water in all public facilities.
Of course, along the suburbs there was the mine administration.

After the World War II, Raša has experienced a paradoxical fate. On one hand, due to its incidental, fascist past it was systematically neglected and left to decay, and on the other hand, as a producer of the precious black gold it was glorified and respected, but with the aim of its most effective exploitation. In the period of Yugoslav administration, the municipality of Raša was integrated with the Municipality of Labin, and then in the new Croatian Republic it regained the status of an independent municipality.