Saturday, 17 September 2022

Losinj Gets First Sculpture Dedicated to Wives of Croatian Seamen

September the 17th, 2022 - Losinj has become home to the very first sculpture dedicated to the wives of Croatian seamen, who would be frequently seen down by the shoreline waving goodbye to their men heading off to sea.

As Morski writes, when every vessel set sail from the Port of Losinj for a long journey, it would dock in one of the most beautiful coves there - Cikat bay near the church, where the crew would disembark and pray with their families in the church before parting.

The "ADDIO" sculpture dedicated to the wives of Croatian seamen was created as a symbol of tradition, but also of love and loyalty. The bronze sculpture, which stands at a height of 178 cm, found its place exactly in the same place where Losinj's local wives used to wave goodbye to their sailor husbands many, many years ago. It is dedicated to Marija Stuparic, the wife of Captain Aldebrand Petrina, who waved to him as he sailed off into the distance. "Goodbye, my beloved!" she said into the wind while waving a white handkerchief to the sailing ship that was disappearing over the horizon.

After that, she would return to the small church of the Annunciation of Mary (Annunziata) to pray once more for her husband's eventual safe return. The Initials M.S. on the facolic (handkerchief) belong to her, and she was considered to be a dear woman, the wife of Captain Aldebrand Petrina. During their 32 years of married life, they spent only 13 months together in their home in Losinj. Sailors' wives had to be strong-minded, persistent, patient and ready for anything to occur.

''Our desire was to pay tribute to all the sailors' wives who saw Croatian seamen off on their journeys and waited for their return home in an attractive, modern and somewhat abstract way. The form of a classical sculpture has been retained but with a silhouette, and it is somewhat more airy and unique. The sculpture is life-size, on the back is a motif that used to be found on the headbands of women from Losinj, and which can be seen in our permanent exhibition,'' explained the director of the Losinj Museum, Zrinka Ettinger Starcic.

Academic sculptor and the creator of this new Losinj sculpture, Zvonimira Obad, explained the artistic interpretation of the sculpture.

''This is the shape of a woman and it is layered and lost in space, showing how she is being "carried away by the wind". The idea comes from the symbol of a tradition that is falling into oblivion, all for the purpose of "retaining" the time that has passed and renewing the feeling of belonging. The "Addio" sculpture is a symbol of both love and fidelity,'' according to author Obad.

''In this way, we're helping to preserve another valuable memory of our rich maritime past,'' said the director of the Tourist Board of the Town of Mali Losinj, Dalibor Cvitkovic.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 30 August 2022

Fifteen Years Pass Since Devastating Kornati Tragedy

August the 30th, 2022 - Fifteen whole years have passed since the devastating Kornati tragedy took the lives of twelve out of the 23 firefighters sent to the island of Kornat to battle the wildfires that had broken out there on the 30th of August, 2007.

A series of horrendous wildfires broke out between June the 1st and August the 8th, 2007, and the period is even referred to as the 2007 Croatian coast fires. The fire which broke out on the island of Kornat, part of the heavily visited Kornati National Park, became the horrific scene of the worst Croatian firefighting accident in the history of firefighting in this country.

As Morski writes, twelve tremendously brave and selfless firefighters lost their lives either at the scene on the island of Kornat, or died later on when in hospital. The only survivor at that time was 23-year-old Frane Lucic from Tisno.

In Vodice, the commemoration of another sad anniversary of the Kornati tragedy began with a parade of local fire brigades. The pilots of the 855th firefighting squadron of the HRZ also paid their respects to the firefighters with a canadair flight over the town, writes HRT.

At the monument to the victims, a model of the helicopter that flew over the Kornati National Park on the fateful day, as well as the black box from that aircraft, which was subsequently lost, were placed.

''Our message that we wanted to showcase with this is that the black box was removed from the helicopter and was lost on the day of the accident and it has still not be found, fifteen years have now passed and the question arises as to why it even disappeared in the first place,'' said Matija-Karlo Valincic, president of the Vodice Fire Brigade.

Some of the families of the fallen firefighters who lost their lives to the fire that day still think that they were doused with kerosene from a helicopter. Officially, according to experts, the Kornati tragedy was caused by different versions of a "rare natural phenomenon" - an eruptive fire, the combustion of an inhomogeneous gas mixture and a fire with an eruptive effect. In the case against former fire chief Drazen Slavica, the court rejected the possibility that the firefighters died due to the effects of kerosene. In the meantime, Slavica has been legally acquitted and will now sue the state.

Despite the passage of time and the chances of getting answers seeming to get further and further away as the clock ticks, the families whose lives have been stuck in summer 2007 ever since the Kornati tragedy aren't giving up on their search for the truth and for justice. They have jointly submitted a constitutional complaint and requests to the European Court of Human Rights.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Sunday, 14 August 2022

Croatian Socialist Past Responsible for Lower Wages? Analysis Says Yes

August the 14th, 2022 - Is the Croatian socialist past responsible for the big wage gap between the country and other European Union member states which were never part of Yugoslavia? One Croatian Employment Service (HZZ) analysis says an emphatic yes.

As Marija Brnic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the growth of wages over the last year has been mostly attributed to the chronic lack of workers in Croatia, but calls are regularly heard from the ranks of Croatian businessmen to the government to undertake tax reforms and finally reduce the high burdens due to which workers' wages are low compared to other countries, and their products are as such very uncompetitive.

In recent statements, they warned that 42% of an employee's gross salary goes straight to the state. However, an analysis of the Croatian Employment Service (HZZ) on the average gross wages in the manufacturing industry across EU member states shows that the level of wages and indeed large differences between EU countries is also determined by a number of other elements that determine labour productivity, and the most interesting conclusion they've drawn is that such differences are greatly influenced by the legacy of socialism.

The Croatian socialist past - Life behind the "Iron Curtain"

This fact can be seen at first glance from the very ranking of wages paid per hour of work by industrialists in certain other countries, because they are the highest among the older EU member states, while the countries behind the former "Iron Curtain", including Croatia, come second with gross salaries which are several times lower.

According to Eurostat data for 2021, the highest gross hourly wage is paid in Denmark (48.5 euros), while the lowest (5.8 euros) in Bulgaria is 8 and a half times less. Workers at processors in Belgium, Sweden and Germany had more than 40 euros in gross hourly wages, and almost 40 euros is paid out per hour in both Austria and France.

Among the former socialist countries, the highest gross wages are paid to employees in neighbouring Slovenia (20.3 euros), which is twice as much as in Croatia, where an hour of production costs an average of 10.3 euros. Industrial workers in the Baltic country of Latvia also have a very similar gross salary, and only salaries in Romania, along with Bulgaria, are lower than that.

This trend, although CES analysts refrain from drawing firm conclusions since the past two years we've all been operating under the conditions of a global coronavirus pandemic, shows that in most countries the price of labour in industry has increased, and this is most visible in hourly rates in Denmark and Sweden, while in some countries, slight reductions were also recorded.

Here in the Republic of Croatia back during the pre-pandemic year of 2019, the average gross hourly wage stood at 10.1 euros, a year later it stood at 9.9 euros, and last year it rose to 10.3 euros.

Due to the unreliability of the data from the time of the unprecedented situation involving the spread of the novel coronavirus, CES analysts based their further research on wage differences on 2019, i.e. data on what affected labour productivity, and thus wages, in the period from 1996 until that time. The data on the share of experts and the share of technicians in the total number of employees were also compared, and they also processed data on the extent of investments in machines and equipment during that longer period.

Impacts on productivity

It has been shown that Finland (23.8%) and Luxembourg (229%) have the largest share of experts in the total number of employees in the processing industry, while Sweden (24.8%) and France (24.6%) lead the way in terms of the share of technicians, Belgium leads in terms of industrialists (305,000 euros per worker) and Sweden (262,500) in terms of relative investment in machinery and equipment.

Former socialist countries are at the bottom again - Slovakia in terms of the share of experts (3.6), Romania in terms of the number of technicians (4.5), and Bulgaria in terms of investments in machinery and equipment (34,200 euros per worker). In Croatia, 7.6% of the employees in the industry are experts, 12.3% are technicians, and the average investment per worker was 60,000 euros.

CES analysts calculated that the share of specialists in the total number of employees, higher by one percentage point, increases wages by 3.7%, and the share of technicians by 2.7%. In the case of investments, the ratio of logarithmic values ​​shows that investments are higher by 10%, with an unchanged share of experts and technicians, associated with a higher salary level by 5.7%.

It is clear that part of today's wage differences very likely reflect the historical handicap of countries that were once socialist, and as such the Croatian socialist past should as such be taken into account. CES analysts pointed out that according to their calculations, the historical legacy of socialism reduces today's wages in the industry sector by a not at all insignificant 21% in total.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated politics and business sections.

Sunday, 31 July 2022

What Did Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Get Wrong About Croatia?

July 31, 2022 - In one of the least important articles ever posted on this site, we examine a brief conversation in the TV series 'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' which features Croatia as a plot point.

Disclaimer no. 1: Yes, I know I'm late. The episode I'm talking about here, the 7th episode of the fourth season of the Amazon Prime Video series, was released in March, but hey, there are so many shows to see, so little time!

Disclaimer no. 2: Total Croatia News is a serious site, bringing you the most important news about Croatia in the English language. However, please keep in mind that my biggest (potentially only?) claim to fame is the fact that my article from a long time ago is still cited on a Wikipedia page for a TV show that has since won 9 Emmys, and is currently nominated for 25. Don't believe me? See for yourself, it's reference no. 89 in the article!)

So, Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is a TV show about a newly divorced lady from New York, who decides to pursue a career in stand-up comedy - in the late 1950s and the early 1960s! It has had a very successful run of 4 seasons thus far, created by Amy Sherman-Palladino (of the Gilmore Girls fame), and starring the amazing Rachel Brosnahan as the title character, Midge Maisel.

In the aforementioned episode seven of season four, Midge has a conversation with Susie, her manager (played marvellously, pun intended, by Alex Borstein). Previously in the season, Midge has decided she doesn't want to open for anyone else, under any circumstances, and that she only wants to do shows where she'd be the headliner. Susie brings her the good news:

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Now, don't get me wrong: I get the point, I get the joke! But, many of my online friends have asked me, and I've since found out that there've been discussions about the mention of Croatia in this context. Important point: we know exactly when this episode is taking place, as it includes a long scene of Midge doing a performance at one of John F. Kennedy's campaign events. And as we know, he was elected to become the US President in November of 1960, so we can timestamp the episode as "during 1960".

So, let's go point by point, and untangle this mess:

  • Was there a 'Republic of Croatia' in 1960? Well, that's a "yes" and a "no" at the same time. The People's Republic of Croatia was a part of the Federal National Republic of Yugoslavia between 1945 and 1963, when the new constitution was instituted (after 1963, it was the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Socialist Republic of Croatia". Constitutions are complicated, obviously, but would anyone say that they were going to Croatia in 1960? Not very likely, unless they had close ties to the country. Would you say you were going to Montana now, if anyone asked you? Probably not, you'd say you're going to the USA, and then the next question might be about the state where you're going to.
  • Was Zagreb the capital of Croatia then? Yes, absolutely. It has been the capital of Croatia (at least!) since 1918, when it joined the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croatians and Slovenians (later to be renamed the Kingdom of Yugoslavia), although the Croatian Parliament has been seated in Zagreb since 1825. So, nothing wrong there, Zagreb was the capital.
  • Is there any link whatsoever between Croatia and Pennsylvania? Actually, yes. There is a huge Croatian community in Pittsburgh (and the rest of Pennsylvania), and that's where the Croatian Fraternal Union was established.
  • Was there a thousand-seat theater in Zagreb in 1960?  No, not really. The Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall was the first such venue in Zagreb. It was decided that it would be built in 1957, the works on it started in 1961 and it wasn't finished until late 1973. Before that, except for a football stadium, there were no venues in the city of Zagreb with such a capacity.
  • Does "Make Laugh Showing Teeth" mean anything to anyone in Croatia, when translated? Absolutely not. I would love to know how and where the scriptwriters got the idea to give that name to their imaginary venue. No matter how you translate that to Croatian, there has never been a place called anything similar to that.
  • Were there electricity problems in Croatia in the 1960s? Also, that's a resounding "No!" The former Yugoslavia, and therefore, Croatia, was very stable during that period. Stuck in a position best described as "no-man's land" during the Cold War, the Tito government was borderline pampered by both the Soviets and the Western powers in that period. Croatia was experiencing a cultural and economic boom in that period, as stated by the historians Tvrtko Jakovina and Dušan Bilandžić in their piece you can access here (.pdf, in Croatian). The economy was doing OK, and there were cultural breakthroughs that made Zagreb one of the centres of culture in Europe during that period (Modern Arts Gallery, International Festival of the Student Theatre, Animated Film Festival, Ivo Robić and his international hit "Morgen"* all happened at the time). The country has seen electricity rationing, but it happened 20 years later - in the period after 1983, the electricity was rationed in Zagreb (the so-called "redukcije", that this author is old enough to remember) and in other major towns in the former Yugoslavia. However, even when those happened, it was not "one night of electricity, six nights without", rather - we didn't have electricity twice a week. If my memory serves, it was on Tuesdays and Thursdays. So, there would be no reason for Midge to travel in and out of the country each week, she could've had 7 shows a week in the sixties, and 4 or 5 shows a week even during the worst period of austerity before the Homeland War.
  • What about those freakin' shots? I'm not sure. Honestly, there's only so much research one can do for a piece such as this one. I don't know, and can't easily find out which vaccines the USA citizens needed in 1960 to go to the former Yugoslavia and get back (and honestly, I doubt that the screenwriters did any more research than I did). However, there are two points I'd like to make regarding the vaccinations mentioned: 
    • as anyone who's recently stepped on a nail or was bitten on the chin by their dog can tell you, the tetanus vaccination is a normal thing we should all take when needed, and it's not 'excruciatingly painful';
    • there was a smallpox outbreak in the former Yugoslavia in 1972, it's well-documented and written about. There's even an amazing movie about the outbreak, and you should watch it if you haven't already. However, that's more than a decade after the events of the episode we're talking about, and the smallpox threat was not considered to be high, so I'm not convinced that US citizens would need to be vaccinated against the disease for travel. I do know that the children in the former Yugoslavia were vaccinated against smallpox almost until the end of the seventies, to make sure that we don't have another outbreak.

 

So, not having lived in Zagreb in 1960, what do I think, would it be the worst thing in the world for the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel to perform here? No, I honestly don't. There was electricity, there were people who'd be interested in seeing her perform, but unfortunately, there wasn't a thousand-seat theatre for her to perform in, especially not one called "Make Laugh Showing Teeth" or any version of that name.

 

* - featured in another international TV hit this year, Natasha Lyonne's second season of Russian Doll, as shown below:

Monday, 11 July 2022

Did You Know That Pirovac Was Called Zloselo (Evil Village) Until 1930?

July the 11th, 2022 - Croatian history is turbulent, often violent, and is as rugged as the landscape itself. But wars, changes of state and changes of often rather brutal regime aside, it's also absolutely full of strange little stories like this one. Did you know that Pirovac was called Zloselo (which literally translates to evil village) until 1930?

As Morski/Ivo Glavas writes, When looking at how Pirovac was once referred to back in April 1930, you might find yourself raising an eyebrow or two...

"As is known, recently, at the request of the village of Zloselo in the Municipality of Tijesno in the Sibenik region, it was decided by decree to replace the name of the respective village with the name of Pirovac, which is older and belongs more to the national past of that region, since the name of Zloselo was given during the time of the struggle with the Ottomans (Turks), i.e. during the time of Venetian rule."

That's how they talk about the great ceremony at which on April the 23rd, 1930, the inhabitants of the former Zloselo changed the name of their settlement to Pirovac. This was reported on by a local Split newspaper called Novo doba (New age). On that day, a commemorative plaque was placed above the entrance to the settlement, which is part of the former defensive wall from the time of the long battles with the marauding Ottomans.

In this way, the people of Pirovac scrapped the name of the settlement that was of course, not pleasant at all to their ears. Who would want to tell people they're from the evil village when asked? The real truth about the name of their settlement is quite different and, as it always happens, buried a little deeper in history, local portal SibenikIN writes.

The local people of Pirovac were brave and cunning and doggedly determined to defend their homes from the Ottoman invaders, but they were few in numbers compared to the Turkish forces. That's why in a small group, headed by a local captain, they left their defensive fort and ambushed a Turkish officer. Thinking that there were many of them coming to attack them, the Turks ran away shouting: "Evil village, evil people!"

This is how the origin of the name Zloselo is explained on the official website of the Municipality of Pirovac. However, it's of course not the only settlement in the Republic of Croatia and elsewhere in Southeastern Europe with the prefix ''evil''. None of these other names have anything to do with the Ottomans or with their invasion.

Zlopolje (evil field), for example, is the name for fertile fields on the Dalmatian islands of Vis, Korcula and Lastovo. Velo and Malo Zlopolje on the island of Vis are part of the Vis area known for the popular Vugava grape variety. On the first Austrian cadastral map of the island of Vis from the first half of the 19th century, there were already vineyards there. The name Zlopolje hardly outlines the character of that part of the area. As we've also seen, the easiest thing to do is to blame the Ottomans for, well... just about everything, even in situations and in locations they've never been in.

The oldest historical record we've found that mentions Zloselo (which is now Pirovac) dates all the way back to 1460. At that time, some Vlaska families, by contract with Sibenik nobles from the Tomasevic and Misic families, settled in the village of Zloselo. Therefore, Zloselo had existed under that name since some time before 1460, which was again before the serious penetration of the Ottomans into Dalmatia and the territory of Sibenik. In an ownership dispute back in 1505 between the then owner of Zloselo, Sibenik noble Petar Draganic, and the Bishopric of Sibenik, witnesses claimed that Zloselo as a settlement was founded 50 years ago, i.e. somewhere around the year 1450. Therefore, when all the aforementioned historical data is carefully analysed, Zloselo, or should we say Pirovac to be polite, was most likely founded by Sibenik nobleman Toma Tomasevic sometime during the first half of the 15th century.

If that's the case, where did the name Pirovac actually come from? This question can be answered in the same historical document from way back in 1460, because according to that document, Pirane is the former name for Pirovac. Later on in history, in archival documents, the names of Pirane and Zloselo were exchanged for the current Pirovac.

There were also other locations called ''Zloselo'' close to Sibenik near what is now Zaton...

Looking back in time, there was another Zloselo on the territory of medieval Sibenik, somewhere in the western part of Zaton. Those locations called Zloselo were also founded in the 15th century.

The story of Pirovac and Zloselo is a standard story about how we think we know everything and that everything has been known for a long time, and of course, some blame on the Ottomans is implied. In these cases, our alleged knowledge is the result of solutions that we've seen at first glance and accepted without doing any deeper scientific analysis. We wouldn't know this much about the history of Zloselo and Pirovac if it weren't for Kristijan Juran, professor of history from the University of Zadar, whose main topics are the territory of medieval Sibenik, and especially the island of Murter.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Friday, 27 May 2022

Top 10 Historic Sites to Visit Along the Croatian Adriatic Coast

May 27, 2022 - While Croatia is the country to find paradise with its beaches, islands, activities, and parties, there are plenty of historic sites on the Croatian Adriatic coast that should be on your travel itinerary.

From Istria to Dubrovnik, the Croatian Adriatic coast has witnessed throughout history the presence of various civilizations and cultures that found it the ideal land with resources to settle. If you believe that Croatia is an earthly paradise, then surely you would have coincided with the Illyrians, the Greeks, the Celts, the Romans, and the Byzantines, who left evidence of their passage along the coast.

Whether you are coming by plane, bus, or in your own car or camper, it is always a good idea to find a moment in your busy itinerary to be amazed by the enormous historical heritage that can be found on the 1,880 km of Croatian Adriatic coastline. These are just 10 of some of the historical sites that you must visit during your stay.

The Euphrasian Basilica in Poreč

Poreč's most valuable cultural property, the Euphrasian Basilica, was registered on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list in 1997. The Early Christian complex is the only complete monument in the world preserved from that period.

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Photo: Mario Romulić

Built during the time of Bishop Euphrasius in the 6th century, it includes an atrium, baptistery, episcopal palace, mosaics, and remains of sacred buildings dating from the 3rd to 4th centuries. The mosaics that decorate the interior and the facade of the church are considered a valuable legacy of Byzantine art, and thanks to the floor mosaics and preserved scriptures, the periods of its construction and renovation can be read.

Source: Poreč Tourist Board

Pula Arena

The most famous and important monument, the starting and ending point of every sightseeing tour is the Amphitheater, popularly called the Pula Arena, which was once the site of gladiator fights. It was built in the 1st century AD during the reign of Emperor Vespasian, at the same time as the magnificent Colosseum in Rome.

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Photo: Mario Romulić

The ground plan is elliptical, the longer axis measuring about 130 m and the shorter one about 100 m. Gladiator fights took place in the central flat area called the arena, while the spectators could sit on the stone tiers or stand in the gallery. It is believed that the Amphitheater could seat about 20,000 spectators. Local limestone was used for its construction. In the Middle Ages, it was the site of knights' tournaments and fairs.

Nowadays, the Pula Arena is also the main venue for the Pula Film Festival, one of the most important in the country.

Source: Pula Tourist Board

Trsat Castle

The Trsat Castle represents a strategically embossed lookout on a hill 138 meters above sea level dominating the city of Rijeka. It was mentioned as a parochial centre for the first time in 1288. At this same site, there was a Liburnian observation post from prehistoric times, used for monitoring the roads leading from the hinterland to the coast. This location served well for the Romans to establish their defence system, the so-called Liburnian limes, whose starting point was the Tarsatica fortress town – which was situated at the site of today’s Old City of Rijeka.

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Image: Rijeka Tourist Board

The plateau of the Trsat Castle offers a magnificent view of the ruins situated on opposite hills, Katarina and Kalvarija, as well as of the whole area of Rijeka’s Old City. The Trsat Castle is one of the oldest fortifications on the Croatian coast which preserves the features of the early medieval town construction. Today the Trsat Castle has been enriched by new facilities and events – visual arts gallery, open-air summer concerts, and theatre performances as well as fashion shows and literary evenings.

Source: Rijeka Tourist Board

Roman Forum in Zadar

The Forum in Zadar was built by the first Roman Emperor Gaius Julius Caesar Octavian, as witnessed by the stone inscriptions dating back to the 3rd century when the construction finished. It was once enclosed by a portico with galleries on the first floor, and under the portico there used to be shops and stalls.

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Image: Zadar Tourist Board

Since the first century B.C., the Forum was the main gathering place for Roman soldiers, religious people, administrators of the Republic and later of the Empire, as well as for traders and all Zadar citizens in Antiquity. At the time of its full glory, the Forum was surrounded on three sides by a magnificent portico. Today, it is an inevitable square for strolling and one of the symbols of the city.

Source: Zadar Tourist Board

St. James Cathedral in Šibenik

The Cathedral of St. James in Šibenik is one of the most significant and most beautiful architectural achievements in Croatia and was included on the UNESCO Cultural World Heritage List in 2000. It was built over a stretch of more than a hundred years, during the 15th and 16th centuries, and is unique for it is entirely built of stone. The most important builders of the Cathedral were Juraj Dalmatinac (Georgius Mathei Dalmaticus) and Nikola Firentinac (Niccolò di Giovanni Fiorentino). The Cathedral was first built in Gothic and completed in Renaissance style.

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Photo: Mario Romulić

Its beauty is especially emphasized by the imposing Renaissance dome, the work of Niccolò di Giovanni Fiorentino, which was damaged in the Croatian War of Independence, and nowadays is a special symbol of Šibenik. The Cathedral is also known for its iconographic innovations, among which a special place is occupied by sculptures of 71 heads on the outside part of the shrine, the work of Georgius Mathei Dalmaticus, for which scientists are still not quite sure who they represent.

Source: Šibenik Tourist Board

Trogir Old Town

Due to its geographical position, Trogir has always been a perfect place to live. With its naturally sheltered harbour, many springs of drinking water, fertile land inland, and stone from local quarries, Trogir has been inhabited for more than 3,600 years. years. This inspiring Mediterranean city has attracted many great masters since the time of the ancient Greeks. These masters lived in Trogir and created some of their most famous masterpieces here. Various artists, writers, craftsmen, and travelers found their inspiration here and have left numerous traces of their work.

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Photo: Mario Romulić

Trogir is a unique example in the history of European architecture and is the city with the largest number of signs or stone markings in Europe. Each brand has its own meaning. Some of them mark the end of construction, some represent the personal signature of the master, and some are engraved votive prayers. The masters also carved games in stone, such as chess, which was used as entertainment during their construction break.

Source: Trogir Tourist Board

Roman Amphitheatre in Solin

At the westernmost point of Solin (Salona) lies the most recognizable building of Roman architecture, the Amphitheatre, in the second half of the second century A.D. The remains of such an imposing Roman amphitheater indicate that gladiator fights were held in the city of Salona just as in other parts of the Roman empire, until the fifth century when they were banned.

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Photo: Mario Romulić

The building was ellipsoidal in shape, with three floors on the south side and one floor on the north side, which was conveniently laid down on a natural hillside. Despite its relatively small size (125 by 100 meters outer shell and 65 by 40 meters the arena), the Salonitan amphitheater could have been occupied by 15,000 up to 18,000 spectators. The auditorium was divided into three tiers, the lower two with seats and the upper one for standing.

Source: Solin Tourist Board

Diocletian's Palace in Split

Diocletian's Palace is one of the best-preserved monuments of Roman architecture in the world. The Emperor's Palace was built as a combination of a luxury villa - a summer house and a Roman military camp (castrum), divided into four parts with two main streets. The southern part of the Palace was intended for the Emperor's apartment and appropriate governmental and religious ceremonies, while the north part was for the Imperial guard - the military, servants, storage, etc.

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Photo: Davor Puklavec/PIXSELL

The Palace is a rectangular building (approximately 215 x 180 meters) with four large towers at the corners, doors on each of the four sides, and four small towers on the walls. The lower part of the walls has no openings, while the upper floor is open with a monumental porch on the south and halls with grand arch windows on the other three sides. Over the centuries the Palace inhabitants, and later also the citizens of Split adapted parts of the palace for their own requirements, thus the inside buildings, as well as the exterior walls with the towers, significantly changed the original appearance, but the outlines of the Imperial Palace are still very visible.

Source: Split Tourist Board

Walls of Ston

The walls of Ston were built in 1333 when Ston became a part of the Republic of Dubrovnik. Their purpose was to defend the Republic and the peninsula. Dubrovnik government in 1335 and amended in 1370 and is considered one of the best planned and best structured cities in Europe. The walls of Ston were a massive architecture and construction feat. Originally 7000-meters long (22 965 ft.), they consist of several parts; the Ston city walls, the Mali Ston city walls, and the Big wall with its three forts.

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Photo: Jules Verne Times Two/Wikimedia Commons

Its forts and towers are strengthened by 10 round and 31 square flanking towers and 6 semi-circular bastions. The walls were last used in the 19th century for the defense of the city and salt pans, and today they are priceless monuments of immense architectural and cultural value. You can visit the Walls during the whole year. Take a walk around the city of Ston (in roughly 20 minutes) and from Ston to Mali Ston (in roughly 40 minutes).

Source: Ston Tourist Board

Walls of Dubrovnik

The successful development of Dubrovnik in the past was conditioned primarily by its favorable geographical position, and by an economy based on maritime and merchant activities. When entering the Adriatic Sea, Dubrovnik is the first island-protected port on the maritime route going from east to west, with quick access to the hinterland by way of the Neretva Valley. Latest archaeological research has shown that a settlement dating to the 6th century or probably even earlier existed under today's city. It expanded with the arrival of the Croats in the 7th century, following the abandonment of ancient Epidaurus (today's Cavtat).

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Photo: Mario Romulić

The intensification of traffic between the East and West both during and after the Crusades resulted in the development of maritime and mercantile centers throughout the Mediterranean and the Adriatic Sea in the 12th and 13th centuries. Dubrovnik was one of them. The Zadar Treaty in 1358 liberated Dubrovnik from Venetian rule, and it was crucial to the successful furthering of its development.

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 31 January 2022

Miroslav Tuđman Helped Shape Croatian Society, Says Plenković

ZAGREB, 31 January 2022 - Opening an online seminar on Miroslav Tuđman on Monday, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said that Tuđman was among the researchers and politicians who in the past 30 years had shaped Croatian society and participated in the adoption of key decisions.

The two-day event, organised by the Ivo Pilar Institute of Social Sciences and the St. George association, is being held on the occasion of the first anniversary of the death of the prominent researcher and politician and founder of Croatia's security-intelligence community.

Plenković said Tuđman was one of the last actors on the Croatian political scene who had detailed knowledge of the events since 1990 and before, which, he said, had helped him analyse, in a truth-loving way, processes and phenomena the country had been faced with.

He said Tuđman's most important contribution was the establishment of the national security-intelligence system, his role in strengthening relations between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina and the equality of BiH Croats in relation to the other two biggest ethnic groups, as well as his role in the 1991-95 Homeland War.

"He participated, along with his father, Croatia's first president Franjo Tuđman, in all key events and is definitely one of the Croatian politicians who formed and shaped society and participated in the adoption of key strategic decisions that secured Croatia's freedom, democracy and integration with the EU and NATO," said Plenković.

As a member of parliament in several terms, Tuđman headed Croatia's delegation at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and contributed to global security also beyond that transatlantic organisation, he said, adding that with his research Tuđman defended "the truth about his father".

With books, facts and arguments he countered attacks by forgers of Croatia's modern history on the legacy of the first Croatian president, said Plenković, pointing also to Tuđman's political engagement in the HDZ party.

Tuđman was among the founders of the Ivo Pilar institute 30 years ago and the founder of the St. George association", a non-government, non-party and non-profit association founded to promote development and research in the field of international, homeland, national and corporate security, it was said at the seminar.

He was the editor of the "National security and the future" magazine for 21 years and was a long-time professor at the Zagreb Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences' Department of Information and Communication Sciences, it was said.

Wednesday, 26 January 2022

30 Years of International Recognition: A Look at Croatia's European Integration

January 26, 2022 - On January 15, Croatia celebrated 30-years of international recognition, marking yet another milestone for a country that has undergone drastic reform in only three short decades. To fully appreciate the significance of this anniversary, one must first understand where Croatia was and how it achieved its current standing as one of Europe’s safest nations. A look at Croatia's European integration. 

A Bit of Background

Before we can discuss recent events in Croatian economic and foreign policy, we should look back a little further. Prior to succession from communist Yugoslavia, Croatia existed in many forms over the last several centuries. Lying at the crossroads of central Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Balkans, Croatia has a history that is as long and rich as its coastline. While it is difficult to pinpoint an exact date for the origins of Croatian nationhood, the elevation of the Dutchy of Croatia to kingdom status in 925 is a sufficient starting point. The Kingdom of Croatia maintained its independence until 1102 when it entered a personal union with Hungary, marking the beginning of over 800 years of foreign rule. 

The subsequent eight centuries were turbulent, to say the least. Large portions of Croat inhabited territory changed hands as regional powers like the Ottoman and Venetian empires vied for dominance in southeastern Europe. This situation persisted until between the late 18th and mid 19th centuries with the fall of Venice and the subsequent establishment of the Austro-Hungarian compromise in 1867. Following the dissolution of Austria-Hungary post-WWI, Croatia was incorporated into the short-lived Kingdom of Yugoslavia. After a brief stint as a Nazi puppet state during WWII, Croatia was reincorporated into the land of the south Slavs, giving birth to the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, a communist dictatorship that lasted for almost five decades. Independence was finally won after the Croatian War of Independence which ensued from 1991 to 1995. 

Recovery and Leading Up to EU Membership

Coming out of a brutal conflict, the impacts of war can still be felt today. Croatia had won its independence but at a significant cost. Thousands of lives were lost, and thousands more were displaced. In the years immediately following, a period of reconstruction began as damaged cities were rebuilt the state reconsolidated the institutions that had been damaged or destroyed during the war. Going into the 21st century, Croatia entered a period of shaky but upgraded stability and modest economic growth. Ties with the European Union improved and an application for membership was lodged in 2003. 

The road to EU accession was long and at times tedious. The Union required Croatia to agree to judicial reforms as well as cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. These issues became somewhat contentious at the time, delaying the opening of accession talks. Fortunately, they were resolved to the satisfaction of both parties, allowing negotiations to begin in 2005, hailing the beginning of Croatia’s European future. The next eight years were spent opening and closing the 35 chapters of the accession acquis. There was a brief ten-month delay due to the Piran Bay border dispute with Slovenia. But the restraints were eventually lifted, paving the road for Croatia’s EU membership in 2013.

European Integration: Croatia Today

Since 2013, Croatia has worked consistently to implement reforms that have firmly established it as a bona fide EU member. The right to freedom of movement probably represents the most significant change to the average Croatian’s life. EU states have the right to impose restrictions on new members. So, European labour market access has been one of the more obvious signs of progress within the union. Additionally, Switzerland granted Croatians equal residency and labour privileges, putting Croatia on par with other EU citizens in all associated countries. 

Furthermore, Croatia has made huge advances towards Schengen and Eurozone membership. In December of last year, prime minister Plenković announced that he expects final decisions on both application procedures in 2022. These treaties represent progress not only to Croatia but to the EU as a whole, providing fresh advances to a stagnating Europe.  

As Croatia moves further along the road of development, the small country will continue to face challenges. Only in the last few years, Croatia has had to manage rapid population decline, a migrant crisis, unusually frequent natural disasters, and a global pandemic. These stressors represent just a few examples of the trials that will test Croatian resilience in the years to come. 

But for now, Croatia should be proud of its achievements. Croatia has carved a crescent-shaped niche for itself on the world stage, going from a vague war-torn corner of southeastern Europe into a country renowned for its natural beauty, sports icons, and rich history. Croatia serves as an example for other western Balkan nations, showing that despite a complicated history, a bright future remains possible. So, wherever you may be reading this, as you contemplate Croatia’s 30-year anniversary, be considerate of the past, mindful of the future, and appreciative of the present. 

For more on politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 8 November 2021

Did You Know These Lesser Known Facts About Dalmatian-Venetian Relations?

November the 8th, 2021 - Dalmatia and Venice have had quite the tumultuous relationship over the last few, well, thousand years or so, but did you know these lesser known facts about Dalmatian-Venetian relations? Put yourself to the test!

As Morski/Gordana Igrec writes, Dalmatian-Venetian relations used to be extremely complicated in the past, with trade issues and jealousy when it came to the former Dubrovnik Republic, which was once its own state, dominating. Their structure and relationship changed over time. Here are some lesser known facts.

Back in 1553, the Venetian representative Giovanni Battista Gistuiniani, when travelling through Dalmatia, wrote the following for Sibenik: ''the costumes of the inhabitants, their speech and their customs... everything is Croatian. All of the women dress in a Croatian style and almost none of them can speak Italian!''

For Trogir, he wrote: ''the population of this city lives according to Croatian customs. It's true that some of them dress in the Italian way, but these examples are rare. Everyone can speak Italian, but they still speak Croatian in their homes, and that's because of the women, because few of them understand Italian, and if they do understand it, they won't speak any language other than their mother tongue. The nuns in Sibenik, as well as others across Dalmatia, speak only in Croatian.''

When Venice took over Dalmatian cities, it didn't allow the clergy access to the great noble council, nor to the popular assemblies. (According to today's interpretation of that decision, the clergy had no influence on public and political life at the time.)

Back in the 15th century, there were bloody conflicts between nobles and commoners in Split, Trogir, Hvar and Sibenik.

There were no serfs in Dalmatia for the Venetian authorities! People were divided into nobles and commoners. Back in the 16th century, the bourgeoisie began to form in some Dalmatian cities.

Venice dealt Dalmatia the hardest blow when on January the 15th, 1452, its Government ordered that all merchandise in Dalmatia must be exported only to Venice and to no other place.

Even before the arrival and subsequent takeover of the Venetian Government, Dalmatian cities almost all had public schools.

In 1848, Emperor Ferdinand issued a patent granting freedom of the press, determined the National Guard and the convocation of deputies of the provincial estates so that all of them together could draft the Constitution which he had determined. Dalmatian intellectuals then enthusiastically accepted the idea of ​​the Habsburg emperor.

While the continental Croatian city of Varazdin, far from Dalmatia, was under the Habsburg monarchy, the capital of Croatia sought the accession of Dalmatia to Croatia, because it once belonged to it. A similar law was passed by the City of Zagreb on the same day, emphasising that: "Dalmatia belongs to Croatia by law, history and people."

For more on Croatian history, check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Thursday, 30 September 2021

Living History, a New Way to Learn the Rich History of Nin

September 30, 2021- This year, World Tourism Day was held under the theme Tourism for Inclusive Growth. As part of the celebration, the Living History program was organized in Nin, which is used as a method of interpreting historical heritage.

According to Turističke Priče, the Living History program was organized by the City of Nin Tourist Board, and using the motto ''Get to know the history of the royal city of Nin'', two days were dedicated to this topic. The groups were led by a tourist guide dressed in the clothes worn by the author of the Mountain Petar Zoranić Ninjanin at the time when, according to known data, he worked as a court notary in Nin. He was accompanied by a tourist guide who wore the uniform of a Croatian villa, which appears in the first Croatian novel.

Costumed guides guided tourists during the season, but this time they had a very demanding task. In front of them in the group were tourist workers and students from the area of ​​the town of Nin and beyond, who already had some prior knowledge about the first capital of the Croats. The challenge was to interpret history in a new way and supplement it with those important and little-known data.

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Photo: Official Facebook Page of the City of Nin Tourist Board

The Living History event was organized by the Tourist Board of the city of Nin. The goal was additional education through romantic stories of professional tourist guides. A group of 16 people had the opportunity to learn about how Prince Branimir received letters from Pope John VIII on June 7, 879 in the town of Nin, which at that time was interpreted as the first international recognition of the Croatian state. They toured the church of St. Anselm - the first cathedral in Croatia, the sacral heritage within the Parish Treasury of St. Anselma: reliquaries with the powers of Nin's heavenly patrons, a globally famous one Judas coin, the ring of Pope Pius II, and other valuables. Inside the church, they visited the miraculous statue of Our Lady of Zečevo and got acquainted with the church tradition of Nin saints, which according to tradition is associated with apostolic times. A monument to Gregory of Nin with an interpretation of the turbulent historical period and the struggle to preserve the Glagolitic alphabet was a must-see.

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Photo: Official Facebook Page of the City of Nin Tourist Board

Next on the Living History program, members of the group toured the Museum of Nin Antiquities, which, along with materials from prehistoric, Roman, early Christian, and modern periods, preserves the originals of Condure Croatica, which are considered the most valuable exhibits because they have the level of national cultural treasure. After that, the site with the remains of Roman buildings from the first to the sixth century in the center of which proudly stands the church of St. Križa, popularly called the smallest cathedral in the world. A site with the remains of the largest Roman temple on the eastern side of the Adriatic from the first century was visited. After that, the site of the Roman domus with remarkably preserved mosaics was visited, and the group ended up touring the historic island in the memorial park dedicated to the famous Zoranić. There was an opportunity so the guides performed a new performance through which the group learned how the Bura wind got its name and other curiosities.

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Photo: Official Facebook Page of the City of Nin Tourist Board

This concept has proven to be a very successful formula as it provides the opportunity for more fun and casual adoption of historical material. It was especially important to bring new data closer as tourism changes, and modern tourists are looking for new experiences, so this interpretation of heritage as a new tourist offer in Nin will be welcome. It is planned that visitors who will come to Nin through travel agencies will be able to participate in the so-called Living History program used as a method of interpreting historical heritage.

On the second day, a similar educational program was conducted in front of twenty-six eighth-grade students of Nin Elementary School, and the field lesson conducted by costumed guides was adapted to that age. First, the students learned through a performance that the Assyrian king Nino ordered a city to be built in Dalmatia and named after him, and that is the interpretation of the origin of the name of the city of Nino described in the Mountains by Zoranić. Among other interesting things, they went through an itinerary similar to the one that a group of adults had the previous day, but they showed great interest in the heritage of their city.

This educational program was performed for the first time, and it has already been agreed with the school management that it will be held every fall so that eighth grade students actively participate in the celebration of World Tourism Day while getting to know the history of their city more thoroughly.

To learn more about the region of Zadar and its sights, be sure to check Total Croatia's Zadar in a Page here

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page..

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