To establish the origins of the archipelago's name, which encompasses Cres, Losinj, and around thirty smaller islands, we need to examine the myths of the Greek Classical period and in particular the story of Apsyrtus. While searching for the Golden Fleece, he found death on these shores from the hand of Jason, betrayed by his own sister Medea. Because of the story the islands were named - Apsyrtides. Not counting the Neolithic settlements, the first people that found their homes here were the Liburnian-Illyrian tribes, followed by Greek seamen. During its long, distinguished history, this region experienced not only all the splendour and opulence of the Roman civilization, but also the tragic consequences of the Roman Empire's demise and the emergence of the Byzantine Empire. However, the Croat migrations to the area and the later serfdom to the Republic of Mljet, left the most indelible marks on the spiritual and material culture of these islands. Despite these historical events, it is the interwined relationship between man and nature, which can be cruel and generous at the same time, that accounts for this strange symbiosis, making the human endeavour look like the natural progression of nature itself. Everywhere you can feel the magical effects of this relationship. Beginning with the island's northern ridges, impassable, and worn down by the wind, continuing by way of the central plateau, wrinkled, rocky and barren, and finally, arriving to the southern edges of the island, open to the "maestral" wind and the sea washing its shores. One can also see these effects on the stone walls called "gromacas", and moreover on the houses and ancient churches. Stone to stone, stone that reaches towards the velvet sky where the white-headed condor flies proudly and defiantly in all its boundless freedom.
Already populated in the Neolithic period, the town become known as "Res Publica Crepsa" under Roman rule. The most significant remains of the era can be seen in and around the Liburnian-built structures on the nearby Hill of St. Bartholomew. Everyone will most likely be impressed by the "gromacas", terraces of short stone walls built without using mortar, with which the Cres inhabitant was able to preserve, through years of patient and exhausting work, at least that little land that mother nature had given him.
The cultural monuments in the historic centre of town testify as to the achievements of a well-developed culture: the "loggia", the clock tower, and the city doors, are all certainly worth mentioning.
Continuing through the city doors, you will discover a little piazza with a church tower and the Parochial Church of St. Mary of the Snow, built in the Gothic-Renaissance style, which holds the valuable wooden Pieta from the XVI. century, and the altar painting of St. Sebastian, by the noted Antonio Vivarini. Especially interesting is the simple funcionality of the residential quarter, where you will find the XII. century Church of St. Isidore, named after the bishop who was considered the town's protector, which has among its possessions the statue of a saint in Late-Gothic style, and many other wooden statues. Of the many noble houses, the one that stands out by its beauty is the house of Petris family, a jewel of Gothic-Venetian architecture and the birth-place of the philosopher Franciscus Patritius (1521-1567), today housing a museum.
On reflection, we can say that the whole town is a sort of a big museum in which not only the old town walls and doors, but also the town's churches provoke admiration. Also deserving mention is the Church of St. Francis with its monastery and two arches. The museum within the church has various paintings, sculptures, an ethnographic collection, a number of incunabulums, and a rare Senj Prayer-Book from 1493, written in the Glagolic Alphabet. From behind the church, the garden extends all the way to the Roman built "Villa Rustica".