Thursday, 13 May 2021

Croatian Poet Criticises Petition Against Culture Ministry's Tender for Support

May the 14th, 2021 - As the new public tender by the Croatian Ministry of Culture and Media was met with the outrage by writers community, a Croatian poet ranting about writers ranting about the culture ministry is quite the turn of events. TCN reporter and slam poet Ivor Kruljac approves but also debates parts of the petition launched against the aforementioned ministry.

The ever-unfortunate literary scene in Croatia, which is sadly not represented as it should be neither in Croatia nor abroad, took heavy blows as a result of the coronavirus pandemic - much like the majority of other sectors. Popular literary events such as Interliber, and many more fairs ended up being cancelled, the blow to this specific branch of cultural industry that generally receives poor investments and poor profits thus became even more challenging.

To jump to the rescue, The Croatian Ministry of Culture and Media issued a public tender for both writers and translators. As Jutarnji list reported, the tender for the provision of financial aid to authors and translators for the best books and translations in 2019/2020 introduced a little novelty along with it.

''With the commissional value of the books, which in previous editions [of such tenders] was the only criterium of assigning financial support, this new tender also has a numerical valuing of literal works“, reported Jutarnji.

This numerical valuing is assessed by the number of awards, the level of participation in literal manifestations and festivals, and critical responses.

''Forty points goes to the winners of the awards: Janko Polić Kamov, Fric, Ksaver Šandor Gjalski, Edo Budiša, Vladimir Nazor, Kvirin, Judita etc. While rewards such as Post Scriptum, going to Fran Galović, Sfera, Tea Rimay Benčić etc, are worth only half of those points. Fifteen points can be received by participating in some festivals and manifestations, while the lower rank of such events is worth ten points. Ten points are also added for reviews in certain media while for others (this sometimes includes expert magazines), the critical review is worth only seven or four points,'' wrote Jutarnji List.

The literary community rebelled, and they started a petition called "The Right to Quality" against these propositions, demanding for the tender to be cancelled, which is supported at the time of writing this article with 233 signatures of Croatian writers and other concerned citizens.

''Public funding support for the best work has significant importance for the number of authors, which is why the authors themselves fought for the existence of this type of support with the initiative ''The Right to a Profession'', reads the text of the petition. The petition also welcomed the description of the criteria to improve transparency but determines that the quantification of literary value, which is a qualitative category in itself, ''disables the authors of a high aesthetic value to get the support their work truly deserves.''

Additionally, playwriters aren't even mentioned in this tender (despite grading rewards which are reserved for playwrites, poets, and essay writers, who are also in a bad position), and the winners of some of these awards will be known only after the ministry's tender closes.  

The Culture Ministry could make many, many improvements, but, having the (mis)fortune of being present on the writing and more particularly, the poetry scene for the last six years (publishing and performing at various events, publishing short stories, and for better or worse, even being covered by the media for my work) I can't say, as a Croatian poet, that the arguments are really on the side of the writer's community either.

Here are several arguments regarding to petition (in bold), as well as counter-arguments (not in bold) from the most annoying Croatian poet in the country. I have no doubt my other colleagues will most likely hate me for it, but you, the reader, are free decide what seems to have more sense. Given the fact that Croatia is a democracy, the pluralism of opinions and civilised public debate is always welcome. Despite the fact that I will not sign the petition, you should sign it yourself if you feel it to be the right thing.

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Assigning the funds by the number of sold copies of books borrowed in libraries is problematic as it's not showing the work's actual quality. Readership is affected by various factors, which don't always come because of a book's quality, but from the previous visibility of the author and the budget the publisher has.

Well, how exactly do we determine the value of literary work? I'm no literature academic, and literary academics don't really communicate these ''legitimate criteria that makes a good book'' all that well. Additionally, these books which are labelled as being good, are so boring to the average reader, and then the reader often gets insulted by ''the intellectuals'' for reading such garbage. When you look at other arts, such as music, you can see that music academics favour some music over other types but then again, some music, known as pop, is made for common people and the artists don't focus on achieving some melodic masterpiece but rather to entertain their audience or send a brief message.

Why do writers who do the same get so ridiculed by academic circles?

Why are they ignored by Croatian publishers? Why do writers then insult the readers, making literature more repulsive to the audience, and then get shocked when there isn't a lot of reading done and consequently not much money to be had from the book business? This also makes the Croatian literary offer very poor, and often its style and topics end up being very similar as a result of this unexplained criteria. In return, there's very little Croatian crime fiction, SF, fantasy, love stories, and other genres, and the readers turn to foreign writers in search of such stories (Jo Nesbo, Stephanie Meyer, J.K Rowling. Lois McMaster Bujold and many, many more). Such writing makes them popular and also visible. That's the answer as to whose work gets most bought and borrowed in Croatia, give them the cash!

Poets are at a disadvantage from the very beginning. There are far fewer rewards for poetry than there are for prose, which means the poets can do nothing else but achieve fewer points. There's also less poetry writing in general, which means a lower amount of points coming from critical reviews. Child authors, essay writers, and comic book artists are in a worse position than poets as well.  

The above gets right to the heart of the point from the perspective of a Croatian poet. But, why is it like that, exactly? Before the coronavirus pandemic took the world by storm, there were so many poetry events filled with poets performing and the audience coming to watch them perform. Be it slam poetry, open mics, or some other poetry events, be it in the libraries, bars, or clubs, it was apparent that Croatia doesn't lack poets, nor does it lack an audience for it. These events were in the majority and were always very open to newcomers.

Social media is also filled with people, either quoting their favourite poets or posting their own, personal poetry. So, why are there no more rewards and why is there not more extensive interest from the publishers (with some honorable exceptions) to invest in poetry and keep up with the trends? Culture journalists working for various media outlets should focus more on poetry as well, and coming from TCN's perspective, poetry articles really do attract an audience, as we saw on March the 21st (assuming that reporting on poetry, an important artistic and historical heritage of the linguistic form, isn't rewarding enough in itself).

Evaluating work by the number of reviews is problematic as books that are more visible, in principle, receive more reviews. The authors whose books are published by smaller editors, who have fewer resources to invest in their promotion, are in a less favourable position. In addition, evaluating the number of reviews where three negatives are worth more than two positives is also illogical in order to evaluate the quality of a piece of work.

On top of that still, the amount of points based on the media site on which the critic is published seems to be very random. The result is the unusual circumstance in which, if the same critic writes two reviews of two different books and publishes them on two different sites, depending on where the critic published the review, one writer will receive 10 points, and the other one four even if the first review was positive, and the other one - negative.    

Again, the beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and there's no empirical way to determine which book is a good book and which isn't. If there were such a righteous empirical way of determining the quality of a book, we wouldn't have the difference between positive and negative reviews. Bad would always be bad, and good would always be good, and there wouldn't be any debates.

Take a look at the empirical field of physics and the definition of friction; ''Friction is a force between two surfaces that are sliding, or trying to slide, across each other“. This definition will always be the correct definition regardless of culture, personal preferences etc. Furthermore, positive reviews, even if done correctly by the rules of the still ''unclear criteria of literature scholars“, that wouldn't be set in stone.

When the poetry volume ''The Flowers of Evil“ by Charles Baudelaire was originally published back in 1857, the academics of the time condemned it as immoral and wrong, and of a poor quality, but today it is celebrated by the successors of that same academia, as one of the best poetry books ever. So, no writer should even care if the reviews are good or bad in terms of quality. That being said, reviews will raise a publication's visibility, attract readership, and inspire critics to write more reviews (combined with the PR done by the publisher). All of this shows the writer's ability to spark a reaction with their work. As such, whether a review is good or bad is irrelevant, but reviews do show the impact and public importance of the book, and therefore it seems to be quite the right direction to go in assessing books by the ministry.

That being said, the tender benefiting the publishing of one review in one media outlet over another is problematic if it doesn't better elaborate why some media outlets are favoured over others in the tender.

Furthermore, big publishers publish more books in larger quantities, and invest more in their promotion, and they already have a name that attracts the press. That is absolutely true. But, today, with the development of social media (which allows promotion without high expenses), and while journalists strive to discover new things, new names, new approaches - small publishers have never before been in a better position to push themselves and the writers they represent out into the public arena and develop and expand to the level of ''big players“. The only question is - do they have the will to do it?

It's not adequate that the esthetical value of a book is evaluated by attending events and manifestations. Festivals more often call upon already established authors who then have an unfair advantage. Additionally, every organiser mostly invites his own authors who again have an advantage over the others. The tender doesn't value international festivals, which causes a paradoxical situation in which the promotion in the organisation of the publisher is evaluated, but it's not evaluated when the promotion happens during an established international festival.

The term ''the presenting of the book“ is problematic for multiple reasons. First and foremost, the majority of these festivals don't present the book (and its a problem to prove that by participating in these festivals, the book was actually presented). Last, but not least – this is discriminatory towards authors of a weaker state of health, who are older (with the risk of the novel coronavirus still large) or busy with family and work obligations and are unable to travel.

Festival organisers do discriminate against writers, but whose fault is that exactly? Are these festivals organised by the Republic of Croatia, by the Ministry of Culture? If they are, then it's problematic, but if these festivals aren't organised by the ministry, then this whole petition is barking up the wrong tree. If the festival organisers aren't willing to be more fair and open to new names, then we, the writers, need to show solidarity with our colleagues and negotiate with festival organisers to invite our colleagues who are less presented to participate. If you're a writer/publisher seriously concerned with this issue, but you're among the lucky ones who get invited, use your position to help others out a little.

On the other hand, it's too bad international festivals aren't valued in the tender, and the ministry should work more in helping Croatian writers become more visible on the international scene. Regarding ''vulnerable writers, the old, the sick, and those too pre-occupied to attend'', they should be presented by their publishers, and an additional problem is that often the expenses of travelling to festivals aren't covered for the writer, and their participation costs money.

Awards such as the VBZ award, the Dragutin Tadijanović award assigned by (HAZU) etc aren't mentioned in the tender. Relevant international awards Croatian authors frequently are awarded, such as the Bridges of Struga (Macedonian award), the European Union Literature Award, the European Poet of Freedom, etc, are also ignored.

Every single award, be it Croatian, European or international, should be valued in the tender, but VBZ really shouldn't be. For those who don't know, the VBZ award is the annual award for the best-unpublished novel, and the winner sees their manuscript published, and there is a financial 100,000 kuna prize that goes with it too. With a huge monetary prize and the chance to have that piece of work published, why would VBZ be part of a tender whose goal is to financially help those writers who have run out of money?

The bigger problem is the question of how fair are these awards in the first place. Are they transparent? Are there no biases from the judges appointing these awards? Interestingly enough, there used to be an award called ''Kiklop'', which was given to the most purchased book in Croatia, but was cancelled in 2009 because the winning book by Nives Celzijus (about what's it like to be the wife of a Dinamo footballer) was considered by writing community to ''not be intellectual enough''. When in reality, for a book that can appeal so much to the Croatian readership, in a country that doesn't read much, such rewards should still be respected.

The final item of the tender that tries to consider the books that went unnoticed isn't going to accomplish too much. From the whole tender, it's visible that the emphasis is being placed on the work that received the most media attention and follows the old principle - The more attention something gets, even if it isn't good attention - the better.

Again, books should be visible to the public, and visibility should be awarded. The majority of publishers seem to see the distribution of a writer's work as their only job, and then they're surprised when despite distribution, the books just sit there not being snapped up by eager readers. Knock on doors, contact people, contact the press, everyone. Prepare a decent press release. Scream from the rooftops that you published a book from the top of your lungs and afford your writer the attention their work deserves. With the aforementioned development of social media, there's truly no excuse to be lagging in that respect today. Then, you'll get the media attention, and half of this tender would not be problematic at all. The problem is the policy of publisher's work and not the criteria by the ministry for this particular item.  

Overall, the Ministry isn't without sin in this saga, but the Croatian writing community (particularly publishers, and event organisers) also needs to act differently to benefit the writers themselves, especially the new generations (and poets, stop forgetting the poets!).

Poets and writers deal with language, and you can learn more about the ins and outs of the Croatian language on our TC page.

For more about culture in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Identity of Boka Kotorska Croatians - Scientific Conference by Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute

May 12, 2021 - Earlier in May, Boka Kotorska, in the town of Tivat in Montenegro, was the host of the scientific conference "Identity of Boka Kotorska Croatians" which will introduce changes in Croatian education.

Croatia has a big diaspora, no secrets there, but its worldwide spread makes you miss the region.

In Boka Kotorska, in Montenegro, Croatia's first neighbor on the southern border after Dubrovnik, not only is there a huge population of Croatians, but they also have a significant cultural impact on the area. So significant it even calls for social science to step in.

As Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute reported on its website, May 6 to 9 saw the conference “Identity of Boka Kotorska Croatians“. The three-day conference gathered crucial scientific institutes in Croatia to the town of Tivat in the Bay of Croatian Saints. Headed with Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute, Croatian Catholic University, Croatian Studies Faculty, Institute of Croatian Language and Linguistics as well as Institute for Historical Sciences in Zadar attended the conference while Croatian ministries of European, and Foreign Affairs, Science and Education, Culture, and Media, as well as Croatian Central State Office for Croatians Outside of the Republic of Croatia, founded the event.

„The scientific conference went well as well as signing conclusions with recommendations that that knowledge on Bokelj Croatians we learned on this conference enter the Croatian national curriculum in important subjects. These conclusions are the crown of our efforts to launch this conference in public, not just in an academical way, but to massively popularize to ensure long-term benefits for Bokelj Croatians as for every educated citizen of Croatia and Montenegro“, said Dr. Željko Holjevac, head of the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute.

Conference conclusions suggest additions to the curriculum documents on key definitions of Croatian National Identity to make space for Croatians outside Croatia, including Boka Kotorska Croatians. Identity features and creativity of Bokelj Croatians in Croatian education, and the book „Boka Kotorska - the Bay of the Saints and Croatian Culture“, by Vanda Babić to be the mandatory literature for tourist guides in Montenegro.
Final meetings at the conference, as well as sailing with a „Katica“ ship through Boka Kotorska Bay, Saw the participation of Boris Bastijančić, the advisor and representative of the Montenegro president and representer of Croatian parliament and MP, Zdravka Bušić, and others.

„I'm glad to be at this scientific conference, and I want to thank everyone's effort for something like this to happen in Boka Kotorska. I would especially like to thank students that took part in this and gave their part as young people who love the truth of Boka, the place of saints. This is a message that we too need to do something to mark this time with love, hope, and faith“, said the Kotorska bishop, mons. Ivan Štironja.

Some Croatians live outside of Croatia, but maybe you would want to live in Croatia. Learn more about living in Croatia on our TC page

For more about the Croatian Diaspora, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 7 May 2021

Miroslav Krleža Institute of Lexicography Publishes Book On All things Turopolje

May 7, 2021 - Last month, The Miroslav Krleža Institute of Lexicography had a presentation in Velika Gorica regarding the newly published book on all things Turopolje.

The ever-fascinating region of Turopolje, not so far from Zagreb, as the largest city of the region is Velika Gorica (connected by Zagreb with a regular public service bus) earlier this month good a book that gives an overview of every knowledge collected about Turopolje. Or in a noun: a lexicon.

As The Miroslav Krleža Institute of Lexicography informs on its website, the end of April saw the presentation of the latest work in the edition of the Institute in Velika Gorica.

In respect to the epidemiological measures, the presentation was held among a limited number of journalists and attendees. Nina Obuljen Koržinek, the minister of culture was present along with the mayor of Velika Gorica Krešimir Ačkar, and the head if Miroslav Krleža Insitute, Bruno Kragić. The county ruler of the noble county of Turopolje Mladen Klemenčić was present too and talked about the book. Katja Matković Mikulčić, the headmistress of Velika Gorica City Library and a co-editor of the lexicon, had an opening speech.

The accompanying culture program saw an actor and singer Adam Končić recite poems by Krleža (a famous Croatian writer, poet, publicist, and encyclopedist the Institute was named after) and pupils from Franje Lučić Art School that sing with the back-up of Krešimir Starčević that followed the notes of a famous conductor from Turopolje Franjo Lučić (the inspiration for the name of the art school).

As usual, the Institute was determined to gather as a wider circle of associates as possible, especially the authors. Some of the authors are individuals from heritage, educational, and cultural institutions, but researchers from specific scientific areas and noted publicists contributed to the book as well.

„The project started with the overwhelming support of the City of Velika Gorica, the central administration unit of Turopolje, and the cooperation contract was signed in 2018. With its concept and graphics, this lexicon continues the previous editions of the Lexicography Institute, which focuses on individual Croatian regions (Istria, Croatian Zagorje) or towns (Zagreb)“, the Institute's website quotes the foreword of the book.

When it comes to history, science, and art, museums are great institutions to learn more. You can learn more about museums in Croatia on our TC page.

For more about science in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 2 December 2020

PHOTOS: Huge New Street Art by Zagreb's Lunar in Rijeka and Dobrinj

December 2, 2020 – Streets have been noticeably quieter over recent days, although not by one building in Rijeka and a roadside in Dobrinj, Krk island, where renowned street artist, Zagreb's Lunar, has left two huge new murals

The cafes are closed but, what's more, there's a chill in the air. It's not only the lockdown that has made the streets of Croatia more quiet than usual at this time of year. Over recent days, temperatures have dropped to around zero when the sun falls. And it falls early. The light can be gone by 5pm.

tall127280197_1098489500609588_3642240075077466328_o.jpgRijeka

Exercise or a simple pleasant stroll around the Christmas lights have been all that's been drawing folks out onto the streets after dark, save for the food delivery guys whose bikes whizz past you faster than ever in the chill. Even during the day, the streets of Croatia are quieter than normal because of the lockdown.

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Dobrinj

But, these days haven't been anything other than normal for acclaimed artist Slaven Kosanovic aka Zagreb's Lunar. The cooler temperatures have only meant wearing more clothes and the quieter streets have not made his careful craftsmanship any quicker. His sometimes vast murals often require him to be above pedestrians passing below, up a ladder or even on a crane.

Kulturni Dobrinj128523235_153713856498789_2905816790945272195_o.jpgDobrinj

The two new paintings of Zagreb's Lunar definitely fall at the larger end of the works he has produced over the last 25+ years. One towers above street level on an entire building facade in Rijeka. So tall is the painting that trying to take it all in could strain your neck in the wrong wind. The other piece, in Dobrinj, Krk island, is just as epic, although this vast canvas lies horizontal, by the roadside.

wide126953963_1098489497276255_8725607179832799540_o.jpgThe Rijeka mural is dedicated to the city's music scene - you can spot some of the names of famous Rijeka bands in the painting

The Rijeka mural of Zagreb's Lunar, which he painted alongside his brother, with whom he often collaborates, is a four-story wall of cats dedicated to Rijeka's famous music scene. The mural took two days to complete. In the mural, you can spot the names of many Rijeka music groups like The Siids. Let 3, Denis & Denis and Jonathan. The mural is another part of the manifestations organised in celebration of Rijeka 2020 Capital of Culture.

withcar128110244_153713663165475_3924298655060837569_o.jpgDobrinj

Krk island is a well-known tourist destination, but the pretty inland village of Dobrinj is far from the regular path of visitors. Anyone travelling past the enormous mural Zagreb's Lunar and his brother have left here will surely remember the name of Dobrinj. It may well entice some to come looking for it – it is by far the largest piece of public art on the island. It was facilitated by the community organisation Kulturni Dobrinj.

croppy128427057_153713673165474_3680630515522620610_o.jpgDobrinj

All photos © Antonija Diklic (Rijeka) Damir Jevtic (Dobrinj)

croppedKulturni Dobrinj128425032_153713356498839_3649981858921297334_o.jpgDobrinj, with the artist, Slaven Kosanovic aka Zagreb's Lunar, on the right

Sunday, 18 October 2020

Around Zagreb: Meet Zagreb Statues, Dressed for Tie Day

ZAGREB October 18, 2020 - Happy Tie Day! Worn today by millions across the world, the tie is a Croatian invention. In celebration of its Croatian origin, some of the most prominent monuments in Zagreb are each year dressed temporarily in red cravats. In these photos, we meet Zagreb statues on Tie Day

Croatia is today celebrating Tie Day. The country is the birthplace of the necktie or cravat - the forerunner of the tie worn by millions across the world. In the Croatian capital, Zagreb statues have been fitted with red cravats to mark the occasion. They are instantly noticeable to all of the city's visitors and residents, reminding us of the tie's Croatian origin.

IMG_6805.jpegJosip Jelačić, the most famous and most prominently placed of all Zagreb statues

The cravat originated in the 1630s and was worn by members of the Croatian military. Renowned for their ferocious fighting and bravery, Croatian soldiers fought in the army of King Louis XIII of France. Ever holding a sharp eye for the aesthetic, the French admired the Croats' red neckties and took them back to France where they were popularised. The French word cravat describes how the tie should be worn – a la Croat.

Tie Day is 18 October and to mark the occasion, over 40 city monuments are today wearing red cravats. These figures are scattered across the city, though some of the most famous are located in the heart of the Croatian capital. They can be visited on an untaxing stroll around beautiful Zagreb city centre. In this photos series, join us as we meet Zagreb statues on Tie Day.

IMG_6745.jpegKing Tomislav, facing the main train station - one of the most-striking Zagreb statues

King Tomislav of Croatia

The 10th-century first king of Croatia, Tomislav fended off encroaching influences from all sides in order to hold his kingdom together. That it fell apart after his death perhaps tells us something about the man's singular abilities. He stands impressively at the entrance to the three incredible parks in the heart of Zagreb, facing the main train station. It is thanks to him that Tomislav has remained such a popular boy's name in Croatia.


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August Šenoa

Born to an ethnic German and Slovak family, it is for his contributions to Croatian literature, language and identity that August Šenoa is remembered. Although he passed away aged just 43, so influential are his books and writings that he is regarded as the father of the Croatian novel and of modern national literature. 'I have never seen more horrible images, nor deeper sorrow in my life,' he wrote of the destruction visited upon his home city Zagreb in the earthquake of 1880. He died of an illness caught while assisting others in the earthquake's aftermath.

IMG_6800.jpegOne of the more contemporary Zagreb statues, Antun Gustav Matoš sits overlooking Zagreb on Strossmayer Promenade

Antun Gustav Matoš

A giant of Croatian modernist literature, Antun Gustav Matoš's wide-ranging legacy contains poetry, journalism, essays, art critique, short stories and beautifully emotive travel writing. He was separated from his home country of Croatia for 13 years of his 41-year existence, at first, as he was studying overseas, later, because he had deserted from the army. However, his home was never far from his thoughts. Croatian landscapes, Zagorje and the city of Zagreb are common locations depicted in his work (although he was actually born in Tovarnik, Vukovar-Srijem, eastern Croatia).

IMG_6755.jpegAndrija Medulić has two Zagreb statues. You can find this one at the southern entrance to Zrinjevac park, where no less than five Zagreb statues are wearing red cravats.

Andrija Medulić

Born in Zadar in 1510, Andrija Medulić was an artist who worked in fresco, painting and etching. Born to Italian parents and active as a painter in Venice, it's doubtful he ever heard the Croatian version of his family name. He certainly didn't use it. His works are kept in some of the most famous European museums including the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, the Uffizi and Pitti galleries in Venice and also in the Graphic Collection of the National and University Library in Zagreb.

IMG_6737.jpegAndrija Medulić has two Zagreb statues

IMG_6749.jpegIvan Mažuranić is one of several Zagreb statues you can find in Zrinjevac park

Ivan Mažuranić

Born into a regular, non-aristocratic household in Novi Vinodolski in 1814, Ivan Mažuranić nevertheless rose to the status of Ban of Croatia. He was the first commoner to do so. A poet, linguist, lawyer and politician, he is considered to be one of the most important figures in Croatia's political and cultural life in the mid-19th century thanks to his contributions to the development of the Croatian law system, economics, linguistics, and poetry.

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St George

A saint of both the Christian and Islamic religions, George of Lydda was the Christian son of an ethnically-Greek member of the Roman army. He followed in his father's footsteps and was popularised during the Crusades for his refusal to renounce his faith. He is often referenced as a slayer of dragons, as he is here on Radićeva - his horse stands on top of the slain beast. Despite this clear depiction, and St George being the patron saint of England (he is also claimed in the same role by Ethiopia, Georgia, and Catalonia and Aragon in Spain), this English writer still had to ask the tour guide on a Segway in the background who was depicted in this Zagreb statues.

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Tin Ujević

One of the more contemporary Croatians to have a statue in Zagreb, Tin Ujević was a Croatian poet, considered by many to be the greatest poet in 20th century Croatian literature. Born in Vrgorac in the Dalmatian hinterland, his continued studies brought him to Zagreb where he studied under Antun Gustav Matoš. In addition to his poetry, Ujević also wrote essays, short stories, literature critique, and worked as a translator on many documents of a philosophical nature from many foreign languages. He lived in many major cities throughout his life including Paris, Split and Belgrade as is remembered as a bit of a bohemian. He is known to have frequented cafe bars in the area around Kino Europa, where his statue now stands.

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Marija Juric Zagorka

One of the most widely-read and popular Croatian writers of all time, Marija Juric Zagorka was a trailblazer for women's standing in Croatian society and for liberalism. Highly educated and intelligent, she was forced into an abusive marriage to a Hungarian man 17 years her elder by her own mother. Who could imagine a close Croatian family member meddling so woefully in the affairs of another? She broke free of this disastrous relationship and started life afresh in Zagreb, where she became the country's first female journalist in the 1890s. She died aged 84 and left behind a colossal written legacy, so it's perhaps fitting that her statue now rests in the small, peaceful park area aside Tkalčićeva.

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Giorgio Giulio Clovio aka Juraj Julije Klović

Regarded as the last very notable artist in the tradition of the illuminated manuscript's long, original era, Giorgio Giulio Clovio was a painter associated with the Italian High Renaissance. Born in the Kotor village of Grižane in 1498, his works are today among the best preserved and most cherished within his chosen mediums.

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Fran Krsto Frankopan

The last male descendant of the Croatian noble house of Frankopan, Fran Krsto is best remembered as the co-founder of a failed attempt (alongside his brother-in-law Ban Petar Zrinski) to rebel against Holy Roman Emperor and King of Hungary Leopold 1st. He was also a writer of poetry.

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Nikola Tesla

An inventor and hugely innovative engineer, Nikola Tesla is best known for pioneering the alternating current (AC) electricity supply system. AC enables electricity to be provided safely to every home, street and business today. He was born in 1856 in the village of Smiljan, in Lika, present-day Croatia. He spent most of his adult life working in America and mystique continues to surround him because many of his wondrous ideas remain unrealised. He also worked within the fields of early x-rays, wireless power supply, electromagnetic radiation and radio waves, before his death in 1943. He sits in a pondering position on a street that also bears his name.

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August Cesarec

A native of Zagreb, August Cesarec was a Croatian left-wing intellectual, writer and politician. As a youing man, he was a patriotic idealist. This lead him into trouble when he and cohorts were discovered to be plotting an assassination on Croatia's then-Ban. He was imprisoned and while in captivity, discovered and turned to socialist politics. He wrote poems, plays, short stories and novels and participated in literary magazines run by Miroslav Krleža. Alongside most of the left-wing intelligentsia of Croatia, he was arrested and imprisoned by the fascist Ustasha regime at the start of the Second World War. Following a failed escape attempt, he and others were shot by the Ustasha in Maksimir woods.

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Ruđer Bošković

A polymath who operated as a physicist, astronomer, mathematician, philosopher, diplomat, poet, theologian and Jesuit priest, Dubrovnik-born Ruđer Bošković is remembered for many groundbreaking discoveries, not least he absence of atmosphere on the Moon, a precursor of atomic theory and many contributions to astronomy. He lends his name to the largest Croatian research institute working in the fields of natural sciences and technology. The Ruđer Bošković Institute in Zagreb has been responsible for countless scientific discoveries and is famous all over the world.

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Josip Jelačić

Former Ban of Croatia and commander of all Habsburg troops within the country, Josip Jelačić's reputation can be difficult to understand. He sought autonomy for Croatia while remaining loyal to the Habsburgs, helping to put down similar moves towards independence in neighbouring Hungary. He was born in Novi Sad, Vojvodina (present-day Serbia) in 1801 and the very house where he was born was bought from private owners by the Serbian state and gifted the country's Croatian minority in 2020. The most famous statue in Zagreb because of its location on the main square (also named after Josip Jelačić), he used to face north, signifying the Ban's struggle for autonomy from Hungary. Communists removed the statue. Following Croatia's independence, it was put back facing south, as though warding off invaders from the direction of Bosnia. That doesn't seem to have worked so well (joke!) 'Beneath the horse' is a popular place to arrange meeting a friend.

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Josip Juraj Strossmayer

Osijek-born Josip Juraj Strossmayer was a Croatian politician and Catholic bishop. His desire was simultaneously the unification of all south Slavic peoples and the unification of lands that strongly resemble modern-day Croatia into a single autonomous region. He used church money to build schools, libraries, galleries and churches and to help the poor. This incredible statue of Strossmayer was made by Croatia's greatest ever sculptor, the internationally renowned Ivan Meštrović. It sits inside a park also named after the bishop.

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On these links you can check out the other features in our Around Zagreb series:

AROUND ZAGREB VIDEO: Zagreb to Zagorje in a Yugo Car

Around Zagreb Mirogoj Cemetery on All Saints


PHOTOS: Around Zagreb Dolac Market with a Michelin-starred Chef





For the latest travel info, bookmark our main travel info article, which is updated daily

Read the Croatian Travel Update in your language - now available in 24 languages.

Join the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community.

Sunday, 13 September 2020

Croatian Sculptor Spends Hours Liberating his Piece "Vodan"

September 13, 2020 - The Croatian media reported about the sculpture near the Sava river earlier this year, in January. Now it's back in the news, as its author had to do more work on the favorite piece. 

Robert Zdarilek (65) is a Croatian sculptor who spent years creating the sculpture right next to the Sava river, close to the iconic Hendrix Bridge in Zagreb (we've written about that bridge previously). During one of his regular walks along the Sava, he found one of the rocks from an old bridge protruding from the mud and decided to turn it into a sculpture. He used an ancient renaissance technique of sculpting and has created a head/face of a creature that appears to be living in the mud, sometimes submerged completely as the level of the river rises and falls throughout the year. 

And now that the sculpture is living its riverside life, Croatian sculptor Zdarilek explains to 24sata how it's the first thing he does while walking his dogs, visiting Vodan and making sure everything is OK with his art. Nobody has damaged it in the past months, and sometimes other walkers spend time cleaning the face of the sculpture from Sava's mud. But, sometime during this last August things took a turn: in the morning, everything was all right, but in the evening, Vodan was covered with a lot of soil! Croatian Waters (Hrvatske vode) were performing some excavations, and just dumped the leftover soil right over Vodan! 

Zdarilek explains that it took him two days to fully clean the sculpture, and he's asked those in charge at Hrvatske vode to be a bit more careful when performing such maintenance, as Vodan is an important piece of 'land art', well-known and liked by the people of Zagreb! 

For the latest travel info, bookmark our main travel info article, which is updated daily

Read the Croatian Travel Update in your language - now available in 24 languages!

Join the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community.

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Top 11 Croatia Travel Experiences American Tourists Seek: New Survey

What are the Croatia travel experiences Americans are looking for in Croatia? A new survey reveals all.

One of the highlights of this week's Days of Croatian Tourism on Hvar, which finished on October 25, 2018, was a presentation from Al Merschen of Myriad Marketing, on the results of a detailed survey of wealthy American tourists and their potential interest in visiting Croatia. Among the various results of the survey which were covered in Merschen's presentation (an overview of which you can read here), he revealed the top 11 things Americans want to experience when visiting Croatia. In descending order... 

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11. Croatia Travel Experience - Olive Oil Factories

They say a fish in Dalmatia swims three times in its life - firstly in the sea, then in olive oil during preparation, and finally in excellent Dalmatian wine. It is one way to enjoy three of the main attractions of life in Dalmatia. Croatian olive oil is EXCELLENT, among the best in the world, and it is little surprise that it is on the list of American desired experiences in Croatia. The next step to aid that process would be to build an online resource to facilitate tourism interest in olive oil.  

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10. Croatia Travel Experience - Zagreb Christmas

A lesson for all in tourism worldwide - how to create a new product in a successful tourism country, far away from its main attractions - the coast and in summer - and within just a few years become the 10th most sought-after experience. Advent in Zagreb has been voted the best Christmas marketplace for three years in a row. A wonderful time to visit Croatia. Here is the TCN guide to Advent in Zagreb 2017.  

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9. Croatia Travel Experience - Korcula Island

The birthplace of Marco Polo and also the 2018 Best Destination in Croatia, according to the annual Vecernji List Tourist Patrol. Thinking of visiting? Here are 25 things to know about Korcula

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8. Croatia Travel Experience - Hvar Island

And if you are looking to combine as many of these Croatia travel experiences as possible, you are in luck - the island of Hvar is just a short catamaran journey from Korcula. Hvar, which is celebrating 150 years of organised tourism in Europe this year, is also home to the most island sun in Europe, the oldest public theatre in Europe, and the most UNESCO heritage of any island in the world. Here are 25 things to know about Hvar.  

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7. Croatia Travel Experience - Game of Thrones Sites

Croatia is popular for so many reasons these days, but there has been a real surge of interest in recent years from the hit HBO series Games of Thrones, which was filmed in various locations in Croatia. Learn more about the top 5 Game of Thrones tours in Croatia

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6. Croatia Travel Experience - Art Museums

Did you know that Zagreb has more museums per square kilometre than any city in the world? Allegedly, and many of which are art museums. Good news for our American guests, as Art Museums features high on the list of desired things to do. 

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5. Croatia Travel Experience - Wineries and Vineyards

What to say? Croatian wine is fantastic! With more than 130 indigenous varieties, including the original Zinfandel, Croatian wine is so good TCN built an entire website to celebrate it. Learn all about Croatian wine on the TCN Total Croatia Wine website

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4. Croatia Travel Experience - The Blue Cave

The Blue Cave on Bisevo - one of the great natural tourist attractions in Croatia. Located close to the island of Vis, the Blue Cave tour has become insanely popular in recent years. Here are some things you need to know if you are planning a visit to the Blue Cave

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3. Croatia Travel Experience - National Parks

More than 10% of Croatia is covered by national parks and nature parks. Visit them, they are amazing. UNESCO World Heritage Site Plitvice Lakes, above, is magnificent in different ways all four seasons of the year. 

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2. Croatia Travel Experience - The Old Walls of Dubrovnik

With more than a million people a year now walking the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the old walls of Dubrovnik, the walls were popular enough. Then came Game of Thrones and Kings Landing - no wonder the walls of Dubrovnik are almost at the top of the list. There is plenty more to do in Dubrovnik once you have finished a stroll around the walls - 25 things to know about Dubrovnik

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(Photo credit Igor Tomjenlovic)

1. Croatia Travel Experience - The Dalmatian Coast

 And, with such a high quality of places to visit and things to experience, what could possibly be the most desirable experience for American tourists in Croatia? Why, heaven of course - the Dalmatian coast. 

To learn more about Al Menschen's presentation on American tourism interest in Croatia, click here

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Friday, 11 March 2016

Exhibition of Contemporary Croatian Art Opens in Zagreb

Contemporary Croatian artists show their works

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Retrospective Exhibition of the Art of Menci Clement Crnčić at Klovićevi Dvori in Zagreb

First Menci Clement Crnčić retrospective for over a quarter century is now open in Zagreb Old Town's Klovićevi Dvori (Klović Palace) art gallery. 

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Croatian Artists in the Museum of Modern Art in New York

A chance for New York art lovers to enjoy a taste of Croatian inspiration. 

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