The Sugar Refinery

  Ulica Petra Krešimira IV     12 Jun 2024
A sugar refinery was built near Rijeka’s train station in 1754, by decree of Austrian Duchess Maria Theresa. It supplied the entire Austrian Empire with sugar (it was its biggest), and more than 600 workers were employed here. It was one of the first factories which kick-started the industrial development of the city. After a fire in 1785, the building was rebuilt and redecorated in late Baroque and Rococo style, in order to serve as the administration building of a lucrative business. Interiors are decorated with unusual medallions with Chinese motifs and baroque and rococo elements. Luscious frescoes feature Arcadian landscapes, scenes from myth and legend, and some unexpectedly sensual scenes of bathing goddesses. Subsequently dubbed the “Sugar Palace”, the building did not retain this finery for long. The sugar refinery became a tobacco factory, subsequently expanding to become a major industrial site (known as the Benčić Complex) that produced tractors and other machinery. Beginning in 2014 a major renovation project set about transforming the Benčić Complex into a new cultural hub comprising contemporary art museum, city library and a new “Children’s House” containing resources for children and parents. The Sugar Palace was earmarked as the new site of the city museum’s permanent display, and the building’s murals and stucco work were painstakingly restored. Now home to a fabulous display of municipal history, the Sugar Palace was reopened in autumn 2020.


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