Bukovac Cave, an archaeological site located in the area of the municipality of Lokve, attests to a human presence in Gorski kotar as early as the early Upper Palaeolithic. In this cave, traces of prehistoric man have been found, as well as remnants of the animals that inhabited these areas in ancient times, such as the cave bear and panther.
In Antiquity, the main routes avoided the barely accessible, wooded hills in the area. In the Roman period, the most important roads from northern Italy bypassed Gorski kotar from the north and south. As a result, the area, located between the Roman provinces of Pannonia and Dalmatia, remained outside the main commercial routes of the time. Significant changes began in the Migration Period after barbarian invasions from the east and north, especially in the 4th century and after the Gothic invasions of the Roman state. The remnants of the "Liburnian Limes" are a witness to this period. This was a system of fortifications that stretched from Tarsatica (today's Rijeka) on the coast via the plain of Grobničko polje in the hinterland to Prezid in Gorski kotar. The fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century resulted in constant changes of rulers in Gorski kotar: from the Lombards and Franks to the Byzantines. The first Croats came to this area in the 7th century.
A more intensive and organised populating of Gorski kotar only began in the late 13th century. After the Turkish invasions at the end of the 15th century, the Frankopans started a more intense colonisation of the area with refugees from the south who had fled Turkish invasion.
The Princes of Krk, and later the Frankopans, expanded their estates up to the border with Carniola, boosting commercial and cultural activities in the area. The first settlements in Gorski kotar were mentioned as early as 1481, when the Royal Court in Zagreb requested that Prince Stjepan Frankopan respects the privileges of merchants from Zagreb who traded in Lukovdol, Brod, Moravice, Vrbovsko, Delnice, Lokve and other places in the area. Due to its favourable location by a crossing of the River Kupa, Brod over time became the centre of this large estate.
In the 16th century, the Frankopans were succeeded by members of the Zrinski family, who established commercial links across Vinodol with other parts of Croatia and even with Slovenia and Hungary. This was when Čabar began to emerge as an important centre which eventually became an individual estate. Gorski kotar remained in the possession of the Zrinski family until their downfall in 1670. After this, several rulers continued to wilfully and ruthlessly increase feudal exploitation of the area until the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy took possession of it.
The most important period in the economic development of Gorski kotar was the beginning of road construction. When the construction of the so-called Karolinska road began in 1726, it determined the future not only of the local area but also the whole of Croatia. The Karolinska road, which was named after Charles III, ran through barely passable uninhabited terrain, deserted canyons and valleys, and up to high mountains and passes characterised by long and harsh winters. Such a road was impossible to maintain. However, although the Karolinska road failed to fulfil its main purpose, it nevertheless brought about a new impulse for the economic revitalisation of Gorski kotar, gradually transforming the area into one of the most important transport areas of Croatia. In 1803, the construction of the road locally known as the Lujzinska road began. This road today still connects places from Karlovac to Rijeka without major changes to its route. In the past, it was of vital importance to Gorski kotar and the Croatian Littoral (Primorje).
In the mid-19th century, a railway through Gorski kotar was built to connect the port of Rijeka with Budapest. This created more favourable conditions for the further development of Gorski kotar. However, it was insufficient for a more intense demographic, spatial and economic expansion of the area. The consequences of this could be felt throughout the 20th century.
In more recent times, new opportunities for economic development were created after the construction of the modern Rijeka-Zagreb motorway.


Službene stranice Gorskog kotara rađene su u suradnji sa Turističkom zajednicom Kvarnera