Monday, 13 April 2020

Meet Croatia's UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Plitvice Lakes National Park

April 13, 2020 - Continuing her look at the UNESCO treasures of Croatia, Filipa Marusic enjoys some blissful self-isolation at Plitvice Lakes National Park. 

This article will take a look into probably the best-known UNESCO World Heritage from Croatia – Plitvice Lakes. Plitvice Lakes is the oldest and largest National Park in Croatia. Its location is between Mala Kapela mountain in the west and northwest and Lička Plješivica mountain in the southeast. It is covering two counties – Lika-Senj county 90.7% surface and Karlovac county 9.3% surface, and the total park surface is 29 630,77 ha. The Plitvice Lakes became a national park on April 8th, 1949, and was inscribed to UNESCO World Heritage List on October 26th, 1979, due to its outstanding universal value. Its outstanding universal value lies in the travertine (tufa) formation process, which, as a result, has travertine barriers and created the lakes, caves, and waterfalls in the Park.

plitvice-lakes-filipa-marusic (10).jpg

The national Park is mostly forest, and the lakes cover just under 1% of the total park area. Forests are the home many rare and endangered species. There is a total of 16 lakes that cascade one into another. Lakes are divided into Upper and Lower lakes based on their geological structure and hydrogeological conditions. Twelve lakes form the Upper Lakes: Prošćansko Lake, Ciginovac, Okrugljak, Batinovac, Veliko jezero, Malo jezero, Vir, Galovac, Milino jezero, Gradinsko jezero, Burgeti, and Kozjak. These lakes have a base of dolomite rock. They are larger than the Lower Lakes and have a rugged shore. Four lakes form the Lower Lakes: Milanovac, Gavanovac, Kaluđerovac, and Novakovića Brod. The Lower lakes were created in the narrow limestone canyon, and they have a steep shore. These lakes end with the Sastavci waterfalls where the Korana River springs under the base of falls. The biggest lake is Kozjak, followed by Prošćansko lake. The origin of these lakes goes back to about 12000 to 15000 years ago.

plitvice-lakes-filipa-marusic (9).jpg

The Plitvice Lakes are part of the Dinarides karst region, and it is one of the most significant karst landscapes in the world. This kind of landscape is primarily made up of carbonate rocks such as limestone and dolomite rocks, which are sensitive to chemical and mechanical influences, as well as the influence of tectonics. The water with carbon dioxide goes through cracks in carbonate rock, and it leaves its trace in the rock and makes different karst forms on the land surface and underground, such as funnels, depressions, karst fields, towers, columns, caves, and pits. There are 114 speleological structures in the Park, out of which are 72% pits and 28% caves. Most of the structures are smaller, and the total length of all structures is 1664 m, and the overall depth is 2251 meters. Most of the water surface is cascading into 16 lakes of different sizes, which are created by the biodynamic process of travertine barriers. Water covers less than 1% of the territory of the park, and this makes 22.95 million cubic meters of water. As the travertine barriers grow, the water levels rise and increase the volume of water in the lakes. The lakes have connecting waterfalls between the lakes.

plitvice-lakes-filipa-marusic (8).jpg

Travertine barriers formation

The travertine barriers have an ongoing growing process, and the biodynamic structures are changing all the time, and it changes the appearance of the lakes and the waterfalls. Travertine or tufa, by definition, is "Tufa is a hollow, porous rock created from the deposition of dissolved calcium carbonate in the water by plants, algae, and mosses." The second definition is: "Tufa is a product of calcium carbonate deposited at temperature conditions near to the ambient temperature, and often contains the remnants of microphytes and macrophytes, invertebrates and bacteria."

plitvice-lakes-filipa-marusic (7).jpg

The water of the Plitvice lakes is over-saturated with dissolved calcium carbonate in the form of calcium bicarbonate. At the travertine barriers, calcium carbonate is extracted from the mineralised water in from crystals, which accumulate on the surface. The travertine forming process is dependent on specific algae, various bacteria, protozoan, and other microscopic organisms. These organisms are a living community developed on rocks, plants, mosses, and objects immersed in water. The calcite microcrystals adhere to the algae and bacteria secreting substances. These bonded crystals represent crystallisation sites around which calcium carbonate will continue to accumulate, and it will form travertine barriers. The moss and other micro and macrophytes are common around travertine barriers. The moss is quite common – some become petrifies in tufa making process, and some continue to grow. The travertine forming process goes back to the geological part during periods with a warm and humid climate, which is similar to climate nowadays. The age of the active travertine barriers is estimated between 6000 and 7000 years, which corresponds to the theory the tufa began its process following the end of the ice age. In the flanks of today's streams and sources of lakes, there were paleobarriers of higher altitude and older age. Analyse dated the age of 250 000 – 300 000 years (Midel-Riss interglacial) and 90 000 – 300 000 (Riss-Wurm interglacial).

plitvice-lakes-filipa-marusic (4).jpg

Analysis of the age of the active barriers and lake sediments show the average annual deposition rate of lake sediment is about 17 times slower than the speed of travertine barriers growth (about 13.5 mm) – this increases water level. Each lake barrier has its growth dynamic, and some grow faster another slower. Sometimes the downstream barriers grow faster than the upstream obstacles, and this way, they submerge the upstream barrier and two lakes from one lake. For example, on the location of Kozjak lake, there were 400 years ago two lakes and were separated by travertine barrier and 40 m high waterfall. The travertine barrier at the end of Kozjak lake grew faster than the barrier separating it. This way, the water level raised, the lake level increased and covered the waterfall, and the barrier and merged two lakes into one. This process created the lake as we see it today - lake Kozjak the biggest lake of the Plitvice lakes. The travertine barrier growth is affected by changes in physicochemical and biological factors that are important in the travertine growth process. It can be damaged with mechanical processes and is affected by water flow. This way, travertine barriers stop growing or can break if trees fall or ice melts after winter.

plitvice-lakes-filipa-marusic (3).jpg

Biodiversity of Plitvice Lakes

The Plitvice Lakes national park has rich flora and fauna. The fauna is diverse due to the preservation of natural habitats, but biological diversity researched is not entirely researched. There are 259 species of vertebrates about which we have enough information, while numerous invertebrate species are not sufficiently studied except for the limnological researches in aquatic habitats. From the all researched species, there is a significant number of rare and endangered species that are included in different flora protection directives and conventions. All these species are evidence of the diversity and specific natural surroundings of the Park area. In the insect group, there are various species, and just in the butterfly group, there are 321 different species. There are only 321 of butterflies. Several butterfly species are listed as endangered. Other insects include caddisflies, dragonflies and other, out of which some are endangered, and they show the connection between water and land ecosystems and are essential bioindicators. In the water ecosystem, there are several crayfish endangered species as well as various fish species even though the fish structure changed during years. There are 14 species of each amphibian and reptiles – there are six protected amphibians, and ten protected reptile species of them are protected. The Park has 168 bird species. Bird species include woodpeckers, owls, gazebos, and birds of prey, which are proof of the excellent quality of forest habitats – there is about 76% of Park area covered in forest. Grasslands and lawns cover 23% of the Park area and are habitats and nesting locations for several bird species. There is a total of 37 endangered bird species and 76 protected bird species. There are 50 mammal species out of which 22 protected bat species. There are large carnivores like brown bear, grey wolf, lynx, and otter, which are all protected and endangered species and show quality and conservation level of the natural environment in the Park. These species look for secluded areas where there is enough prey, shelters for rest, and upbringing the cubs. There is an indigenous breed in the park area - Lika Pramenka sheep – the total population of this sheep species, is around 400 heads. This sheep herd is found in the mountain regions on natural pastures rich in vegetation but under harsh winter conditions. This breed is adaptive and resistant and gives meat and milk.

plitvice-lakes-filipa-marusic (2).jpg

At the moment, there are more than 1400 species and subspecies of plants, and they equal to 30% of the entire Croatian flora. The diversity of plants is due to a specific geographic location. Plitvice Lakes is located just 55 km air distance from the sea and in the inland of Velebit mountain and on slopes of Mala Kapela and Lička Plješevica at an altitude of 369 – 1279 m. This area has different geomorphological, climatological, and ecological factors. In the relatively small park area, there are plants from different areas ranging from the Mediterranean, Mediterranean-Atlantic, Illyrian, Balkan, Carpathian, Eurasian, Circulatory, Boreal, and others. The number of endemic plant species is just 1,7%, but there is 4,64% of endangered plant species. There are 60 species of orchids and three species of carnivorous plants. The park has plenty of fungi and lichens, which have a role in the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems. There are more than 800 fungi species in the Park.

Grasslands habitats (meadows and pastures) are essential for the diversity of flora and fauna in the Park. In the past, people needed these spaces for livestock and food. In this way, they increased the biodiversity and the stability of the ecosystem by practicing a traditional way of life. As fewer and fewer people live in the area and the traditional way of life is abandoned, there is a potential problem in the survival of grassland and heaths flora. Heaths are also in the park area and represent grasslands developed in relatively dry habitats. The Park has bog habitats too – they date back to the glacial period – these are small areas highly dependent on microclimate conditions. Underground habitats and species living there are not sufficiently researched and are under constant threat from visitors, illegal waste disposal, and polluting water.

plitvice-lakes-filipa-marusic (1).jpg

The location of Plitvice Lakes National park gives the area a moderately warm and humid climate. The vegetation is defined by altitude, terrain characteristics, but also geological background, soil type, and way of using it. The geological base is limestone and dolomitic rocks. Forests cover ¾ of the park area and are ranging from shrubs to rainforests. There are different forest zones – there is a predominant beech forest zone and beech-fir zone. There is also azonal vegetation like willow, black alder, black hornbeam, common pine, spruce forest. As part of the beech forest, there is a rocks community developed on stone blocks. There are several forest communities within the park area. They include alpine beech forest, beech-fir forest, common beech, and hellebore forest, spruce forest with hellebore, silver pine forest with black hellebore, hop hornbeam with winter heather, hop hornbeam forest and thicket with autumn moor-grass. The forests are habitats for already mentioned forest flora and home for wildlife species. They have an essential role in preventing soil erosion and affect climate and hydrological conditions as well as contribute production of oxygen and storing carbon.

The biodiversity of the aquatic ecosystem is valuable for the Park, and there are three different habitats in aquatic ecosystems. The species living the water need good water quality, and their presence indicates the quality of water and conservation of these habitats. Wetlands also represent essential habitat in the Park.

History and culture of the area

Plitvice Lakes and the surrounding areas stand as proof of human presence since prehistoric times. The area is rich in water, forests, flora, and fauna, as in natural shelters that allowed humans to live in this area. The area is between routes and roads from continental to the Adriatic region. First inhabitants from prehistoric times were Iapodes, from 12th to 1st century BC, when Romans started to rule the area but lived in cohabitation with Iapodes. In the medieval times, Croatian settlers mixed with Romanised Iapodes. There is also heritage in the form of medieval fortresses and churches. By the end of the 14th century, this area suffered from Ottoman invasions and was the location of constant warfare. After Ottomans, the Vlachs settled in the area. This area represented a border zone with the Hapsburg Monarchy, where there were ongoing conflicts. At the end of the 17th century, Lika was free from Ottoman rule, and this became the Military Frontier (Vojna Krajina). When Vojna Krajina came to an end in the 19th century, there were no more military conflicts in the area. Although there are a lot of different archaeological localities, they aren't systematically researched or used in tourism purposes. The best-explored example is Krčingrad grad located on the peninsula between Kozjak lake and Gradinsko lake, where the was evidence of external defensive walls and two towers – one rectangular and large triangular.

Plitvice Lakes had the first accommodation facility in 1862 on Velika Poljana. After that, private accommodation facilities opened. Finally, the first hotel was built in 1896 called Hotel Plitvice, which got destroyed in a fire in 1939. By the end of the 19th century, there were also several roads connecting Plitvice lakes with the area. The beginning of 20th-century infrastructure was built too in the form of mills, sawmills, small hydropower plants, and various inns. Two world wars stopped any development of the area, and these old buildings don't exist nowadays. After the Second World War, the area started new development, and it was proclaimed a national park in 1949.

As any protected area, this area also needs to find a balance between natural processes in the area and infrastructure for visitors. The buildings in the Park should be adapted to the surroundings and shouldn't stand out. The example of this kind of building is Kozjak restaurant from 1949. which adapted to the national park area, and it is now a protected cultural structure. New hotel Plitvice from 1958 also was designed to fit into the forest environment. It is still in use and is a protected cultural building. In 1954 there were three forest lodges built as well as houses for accommodation for park staff. In the same area, there were several facilities to make it the administrative and tourist centre of Plitvice Lakes.

In the village Korana, along the northern border of the Plitvice lakes, there is a water mill and sawmill. In essence, these are rare examples of preserved traditional construction and the use of energy potential of the water. There was a hydropower plant on Burget lake, but it is not in use anymore. In several settlements in the Plitvice lakes national park, it is possible to see an example of the traditional architecture and way of life. The best examples are in villages Korana, Gornji Babin Potok, Donji Babin Potok, and Vrelo Koreničko. The residents mostly work in agriculture and tourism, and when you visit, you can buy homemade products. These are also protected cultural landscape of the Plitvice lakes national park.

Scientific development

The scientific and natural value can is visible in the fact that there is an almost 170-year long tradition of scientific research in the area. The first studies started in 1850 with the primary limnological depth measure and geological research. In 1893 the Society for the beautification of Plitvice Lakes and its surroundings was established, and it allowed research to continue.

The best-known researcher of the Plitvice lakes is Dr. Ivo Pevalek, who was the one to discover the aquatic mosses and algae were key factors for the formation of the unique geomorphology. He presented the fundamental phenomenon of the creation of travertine barriers. He was one of the strongest supporters of the decision to proclaim the Plitvice lakes national park. Before the area became national Park, the researchers worked as individuals and were self-funded. After the area became National Park, there was space for multidisciplinary studies and financial support by the national park administration. The vital contribution to Plitvice lakes research dates back to 1961 when the Plitvice Lakes got its biological station. The work here was continued in Ivo Pevalek scientific station opened 1975. These scientific stations had an essential role in initiating, intensifying, and coordinating scientific research and preparation for documents for the inscription of the Plitvice lakes on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The national Park published around this time the first issue of the Plitvice bulletin, which is the publication, which informs the expert public on the results of scientific research. There are also several scientific publications and organises scientific symposiums. During the Homeland war, the scientific work was interrupted. Still, in years after the war, there were numerous projects, and the work of scientific station is continuing in new Dr. Ivo Pevalek Scientific Research Centre. There are several ongoing water ecology projects as well as monitoring projects related to water and geology.

Visiting the lakes

The Plitvice Lakes National Park offers visitors seven different routes to tour the lakes and four hiking trails. The Park is open year-round, and all visitors must follow the instructions listed on the information board and keep to the marked trails and avoid leaving trash behind them. Some behaviour is not allowed in the National Park, and there are recommendations on how to prepare for the visit.

Strictly forbidden:

  • Picking the plants or taking any "souvenirs" of natural origin
  • Feeding the animals
  • Swimming in the lakes
  • Throwing away the waste along the trails or elsewhere, except in the garbage bins
  • Drift away from the marked trails

Highly recommended

  • Wear appropriate clothing and footwear
  • Bring adequate rain and sun protection (umbrella, raincoat, sunglasses, hat, sunscreen – depending on the season)
  • Check the weather forecast before coming to the Park
  • Be sure to check the information listed on the website about the length of specific trails, to ensure that you have enough time to complete the desired tour
  • During your stay in nature, keep food and drink in closed containers and do not leave the food and other waste in nature
  • Throw away the garbage at the designated disposal site
  • Before eating wash your hands
  • Do not touch the nests and other places you notice during your visit

To see all the visiting options check the web app with different suggested park routes which include hiking, boat ride and train.

SOURCE (Text and photos): UNESCO, Plitvice Lakes National Park - Arhiva Nacionalnog parka Plitvička jezera

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Lipizzan Horse Breeding Traditions Proposed for UNESCO List

ZAGREB, March 29, 2020 - A request by eight countries for the Lipizzan Horse Breeding Traditions to be inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity has been recently submitted, and the final decision will be made by UNESCO in 2021.

The multinational request was forwarded by the following countries: Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia, the Croatian Ministry of Culture said in a press release on 26 March.

The UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage will evaluate the request and decide on inscription at its 16th session in December 2021.

The Lipizzan Horse Breeding Tradition in Slavonija, Baranja, and Srijem regions is an important part of Croatian cultural heritage, and it was inscribed in the Register of Croatian Cultural Heritage in 2017.

At the end of 2017, the international initiative for preparing the request for UNESCO started, and the main coordinator for preparing the request in Croatia is the Ministry of Culture.

The breeding of Lipizzan horses played an important role in Croatian history, both in the culture of the aristocratic, landowning, and military classes, and in folk life. The first Lipizzan horses were bred in Croatia around 1700 at Count Andrija Jankovic stables, where one of the eight acknowledged Lipizzan stallion bloodlines, Tulipan, was bred around 1800.

The Croatian ministry also notes that "from the foundation of the stud farm in Lipica in 1580, the breeding of Lipizzan horses spread through geographical areas of today’s Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia."

"For more than 450 years and through the changing political systems, the element has always united bearers, practitioners and communities from eight countries. They are the first caretakers of the Lipizzan horse breeding, based on a trustful bond between human and horse, and of a shared cultural heritage."

Croatia has 17 entries in UNESCO's Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

More news about Croatia and the UNESCO can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Croatian Culture Minister Attends UNESCO General Assembly Session

ZAGREB, November 19, 2019 - Croatian Culture Minister Nina Obuljen Koržinek addressed the 40th session of the UNESCO General Assembly in Paris on Monday, saying that on November 18 Croatia was paying tribute to the victims of the Homeland War in Vukovar, Škabrnja and elsewhere in the country and stressing that it was important to promote peace and tolerance as well as all values promoted by UNESCO.

Obuljen Koržinek said that Croatia supported the initiatives launched by UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. She cited efforts being invested by Croatia in strategic reform and financial consolidation, adding that she expected progress in implementing measures aimed at ensuring freedom of speech and safety for journalists, the Culture Ministry said in a statement.

Obuljen Koržinek said that Croatia was committed to sharing its experience from the post-war reconstruction of cultural heritage and that it would support UNESCO's efforts in rebuilding the Iraqi city of Mosul.

She said that Croatia continued to promote education on the arts and cultural heritage through UNESCO's World Heritage in Young Hands project. She recalled that as part of the European Year of Cultural Heritage, the Croatian UNESCO delegation hosted a European youth forum which brought together young professionals to promote education on world heritage.

The minister said that through the International Centre for Underwater Archaeology in Zadar, Croatia was strongly promoting the ratification and implementation of the Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage.

She announced that next year, during its presidency of the Council of the European Union, Croatia would host a conference on risks in the management of world heritage properties, at which initiatives and projects by different organisations, including UNESCO, would be presented.

Obuljen Koržinek is also to attend a forum of culture ministers scheduled for November 19, which will discuss the contribution of culture to achieving sustainable development goals.

More news about Croatia and UNESCO can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Croatia Marks 40 Years Since Addition of Dubrovnik, Split and Plitvice to World Heritage List

ZAGREB, October 26, 2019 - Croatia's Ministry of Culture on Friday recalled that 40 years ago, UNESCO added the first three Croatian sites to its list of World Heritage sites: Diocletian’s Palace in Split, Dubrovnik's Old Town and the Plitvice Lakes, the oldest and the most visited national park in the country.

Since then, seven more Croatian sites have listed as World Heritage sites: St James Cathedral built in the Adriatic town of Šibenik in the 16th century, the old town of Trogir near Split, the Episcopal Complex of the Euphrasian Basilica in the Istrian town of Poreč, and the Stari Grad Plain on the Dalmatian island of Hvar.

Among those seven sites there are three multinational nominations: the medieval tombstones and graveyards called "Stečci", scattered in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and some parts of Montenegro and Serbia; the defensive system of Zadar and St Nicholas Fortress in Šibenik, that is six defensive walls built by the Republic of Venice between 15th and 17th century along the Adriatic coast, and this kind of fortifications can be found in Italy and Montenegro.

Croatia is also part of the Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe. Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians is the largest UNESCO World Heritage site in Europe, extending across 12 countries. The Croatian part of the Carpathians make the Paklenica and Northern Velebit national parks.

Croatia boasts a particularly rich intangible heritage, and 17 examples of this heritage are on the UNESCO list of intangible heritage.

Some of the most famous entries are lacemaking in Croatia, the Sinjska Alka knights' tournament in Sinj, and Klapa music, a form of traditional a cappella singing in Dalmatia.

More news about UNESCO heritage can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Lipik Farm to Propose Inclusion of Lipizzan Horses on UNESCO Heritage List

ZAGREB, October 13, 2019 - The 12th anniversary since the return of 68 Lipizzan horses, who were seized and taken to Serbia at the start of the war in 1991, was marked at the Lipik horse farm in eastern Croatia, and a proposal was put forward that the Lipizzan horses be protected as the intangible cultural heritage of humanity.

A working meeting was held in Lipik, involving officials from the culture ministries of Austria, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Italy and Croatia. A representative of Serbia attended as a guest.

The director of the Lipik horse farm, Damir Jakšić, said that the participants in the meeting had prepared a draft application that would be submitted to UNESCO in March 2020 requesting that the Lipizzan horses be protected as the intangible cultural heritage of humanity.

Horse-breeding has been consolidated and now the farm has 87 studs and mares which will be evaluated this autumn, Jakšić said, adding that 5,200 visitors had visited the farm last year and 6,200 so far this year. He said that a building permit had been secured and money was being raised to build a new farm.

More UNESCO heritage news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Renovated St. Nicholas' Fortress in Šibenik Opens Its Doors to Visitors

ZAGREB, June 16, 2019 - St. Nicholas' Fortress, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, formally opened its doors to visitors after two-year-long renovation. In the last three years, about five million kuna (675,000 euro) was spent on the revamping this fortress, and 4 million was set aside by the Šibenik-Knin County while the rest was provided by the Culture Ministry.

The project of revitalisation of the site encompassed the thorough cleaning and reconstruction of some segments of the fortress to improve the safety conditions for visitors.

Attending the ceremony, Culture Minister Nina Obuljen Koržinek thanked all who participated in the project. She emphasised the importance of the fortress as part of the national heritage.

Šibenik is the fifth city in the world to have two landmarks added to the UN World Heritage List -- the St. James' Cathedral and this fortress, she recalled.

In July 2017, Šibenik's St. Nicholas Fortress and Zadar’s fortified city walls and gates were officially inscribed on UNESCO's protected world heritage list at the 41st meeting of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Krakow.

The two coastal sites were inscribed as part of protected defence systems on the territory of the former Republic of Venice. Šibenik's St. Nicholas Fortress, one of the strongest fortifications on the Adriatic, and Zadar’s 3-km-long fortified city walls and gates were built in the 16th century by the then Republic of Venice as defence from invading Turks.

Šibenik's cathedral, which was built in the 15th century, won its global recognition in 2000, when it was entered in the UNESCO World Heritage List. it is often known as "St Jacob's", because Croatian, like many other languages, uses the same name for both "James" and "Jacob". It is dedicated to Saint James the Greater.

More Šibenik news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Vis Archipelago Enters UNESCO Global Geopark Network

“It is official! The Vis Archipelago Geopark is now a member of UNESCO's Global Geopark Network! We congratulate and thank everyone who has contributed in any way to this project. We are sure this is just the beginning of a fantastic and beautiful story for the island of Vis and its archipelago,” wrote the Komiža Town Tourist Board on its Facebook page, reports Jutarnji List on April 18, 2019.

The Global Geopark Network is a UNESCO network of geoparks comprised of areas whose geological and geomorphological heritage makes them locations of international significance. Until now, the Papuk Nature Park was the only location in Croatia with such status.

Following a suggestion by the National Commission for UNESCO Global Geoparks, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Energy filed an application for the establishment of the Vis Archipelago Geopark in 2017. The initiative for the establishment of the geopark was first given by the Croatian Geological Institute, together with the towns of Vis and Komiža. The report was prepared by a working group headed by Jakša Božanić, with Tvrtko Korbar, Joško Božanić, Josip Belmarić and Dalka Zanka as members.

The area of Vis archipelago is a significant zone of the Adriatic Sea were some 220 million years ago major changes occurred through the propagation of diapirs, masses of searing deep ancient salts, which elevated sediment plates formed by the petrification of sand and organism shells. The summits of this magmatic penetration are nowadays the islands of Jabuka, Brusnik, Biševo and Palagruža, as the geologically oldest island of the Adriatic which, just like the island of Brusnik, continues to rise under the influence of tectonic activity.

The Vis archipelago includes seven areas protected by the Nature Protection Act in several different categories: in addition to the islets of Brusnik and Jabuka, they include Blue Cave, Medvidina Cave, Ravnik island and its cave, and Stiniva Cove.

The establishment of the Vis Archipelago Geopark will contribute to raising awareness about the importance of protecting geological and geomorphological heritage, as well as recognising geo-tourism as part of a unique tourist offer.

More info about the Vis Archipelago can be found at its official page.

Translated from Jutarnji List.

More Vis island news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Monday, 15 April 2019

Hvar’s Za Križen Procession, Major Religious Event Protected by UNESCO

Maundy Thursday is a special day on the island of Hvar due to the traditional Za Križen procession, which has been held every year for more than 500 years. This year, the traditional procession will take place in the central part of the island of Hvar on Thursday, April 18. The event has been included on the UNESCO World List of Intangible Heritage since 2009, reports on April 15, 2019.

The procession begins every year at exactly 10 pm, starting simultaneously from Pitve, Vrisnik, Svirče, Vrbanj, Vrboska and Jelsa, returning to their starting points at 7 in the morning. Overnight, the participants cover about 25 kilometres. Cross-bearers apply for the role years in advance, sometimes even 10 to 20 years before.

This year, the cross-bearers are: Krišto Barbić in Pitve, Božen Grgičević in Vrisnik, Frane Carić in Svirče, Josip Bojanić in Vrbanj, Robert Čagalj in Vrboska, and Petar Bunčuga in Jelsa.

The cross-bearers are accompanied by a group comprising of two candlesticks (kandeliri) bearers, 6 to 12 heavy wax candles (torci) bearers, up to 30 lanterns (ferali) bearers, two companions which take care of the cross-bearers safety, two lead singers of Gospin Plač, and another 3-4 singers who sing the responses.

The preparations for the event start long before. The festivities begin on Ash Wednesday, when the 40 days of Lent begin, which include the singing rehearsals and the selection of bearers of kandeliri, torci, and ferali. It is customary that every person that the cross-bearer selects for his procession is visited personally by him at their houses. Cross-bearers wear shoes or woollen socks or walk barefoot, depending on their personal vows. It is customary that, at the very start of the procession, their family members pray for them and kiss the bearer and the cross.

Maundy Thursday includes a dinner for the cross-bearer and the party before they start, while on Friday morning there is the so-called “jutrina” for everybody who accompanied the bearer overnight. Also, most families from the cross-bearer’s town give them symbolic presents, such as cakes. After Easter, the cross-bearer’s helpers distribute cakes to houses in the parish.

The procession in Jelsa is different from the others since the cross-bearer concludes his procession by running over the local square after the procession returns to Jelsa. He is welcomed at the very end by the Jelsa priest. The bearer kneels with the cross, before returning to the church. Each parish has its unique features. For example, the cross from Pitve always visits another church located above Jelsa, while in other parishes this is left to the cross-bearers’ decision.

Many inhabitants of the island of Hvar mark Easter with this sacred tradition, and not just in the central part of the island since each town has its distinctive features. This cultural and religious event continues the tradition of songs which have been sung for five centuries with common melodies, but also with differences specific to each part of the island.

Translated from

More news about “Za Križen” procession can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Međimurje Folksinging and Dry Stone Walling Added to UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List

ZAGREB, November 28, 2018 - Međimurska popevka, a folksong from the northwest Croatian region of Međimurje, and the art of dry stone walling, practiced in Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland, were inscribed on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list during an UNESCO meeting in Port Louis, Mauritius.

The folksong called "Međimurska popevka" was in the past "predominantly a soloist vocal genre practised by women. Nowadays, it is performed by individuals and groups, men and women, in vocal, vocal-instrumental, instrumental, monophonic and multipart renditions, as a musical genre or incorporated into the dance. The lyrics are of great importance and establish a basis for the classification into, among others, love, sad-melancholic, humorous and church popevkas," reads the explanation given on the web site of the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage programme.

"There are currently around fifty singers regarded as masters of the art for their transmission of classical merits of the genre and their capacity to imbue it with personal expressions, and women often serve as mentors in transmitting the practice to younger generations".

The nomination of Međimurska popevka folksong was prepared by experts Lidija Bajuk, Nail Ceribašić, Tvrtko Zebec and with the support of local communities in Međimurje, the Croatian Culture Ministry has reported.

The art of dry stone walling ("suhozidna gradnja" in Croatian) "concerns the knowhow related to making stone constructions by stacking stones upon each other, without using any other materials except sometimes dry soil. Dry stone structures are spread across most rural areas – mainly in steep terrains – both inside and outside inhabited spaces, though they are not unknown in urban areas. The stability of the structures is ensured through the careful selection and placement of the stones, and dry-stone structures have shaped numerous, diverse landscapes, forming various modes of dwelling, farming and husbandry."

"Such structures testify to the methods and practices used by people from prehistory to today to organize their living and working space by optimizing local natural and human resources. They play a vital role in preventing landslides, floods and avalanches, and in combating erosion and desertification of the land, enhancing biodiversity and creating adequate microclimatic conditions for agriculture."

The 13th meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage is taking place in Port Louis from Monday to Saturday, and Croatia is represented by Assistant Culture Minister Davor Trupković and the secretary-general of the Croatian commission for UNESCO, Rut Carek.

For more on Croatia and UNESCO, click here.

Thursday, 23 August 2018

UNESCO Called to Prevent a Ban on Traditional Singing Festival

ZAGREB, August 23, 2018 - The Serb cultural society "Prosvjeta" and the Serb National Council (SNV) said on Wednesday that they had notified UNESCO's World Heritage Committee of attempts to ban a festival of traditional “ojkanje” singing and threats sent to participants in the event promoting that traditional form of folk singing, inscribed on UNESCO's List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Page 1 of 3