Thursday, 14 October 2021

Discover the Beautiful Drava River in Koprivnica Križevci County

October 14, 2021 – From thrilling watersports and cycling, brilliant wine and food festivals to wonderful weekend escapes, the epic Drava river in Koprivnica Križevci County is an endless source of fun and inspiration.

Of the many rivers that run through Croatia, five of them could truly be classed as European giants – they stretch for around 300 kilometres or longer. They are Sava (945km), Drava (749km), Kupa (297km), Mura (483km) and Danube (2860km).

These rivers help define Croatia. They dictate the agriculture, activities and cuisine of the Croatian regions they pass through. Furthermore, they often create the very borders of the country.

Goran_ŠafarekIMG_1479_DxO.jpg© Goran Šafarek

Running along the length of the country's most northerly border, the Mur river separates Croatia from Slovenia in the west and Hungary in the east. But, near the Nature Preserve of Veliki Pažut and the historic municipality of Legrad, both in Koprivnica Križevci County, the Mur river gives up its task. Here it flows into the Drava river, becoming its biggest tributary. Thereafter, the Drava continues the job of separating Croatia and Hungary.

The Drava River in Koprivnica Križevci County

marcy387u5ythg.JPGA wide expanse of water, the Drava river in Koprivnica Križevci County © Marc Rowlands

By the time the Mur meets the Drava river in Koprivnica Križevci County, the Drava has already travelled more than half of its journey. To get here, it has descended over 1150 metres. Such a long fall has a significant effect on how the river looks and behaves here.

Željko_Car_12.jpgTraditional wooden fishing boat by the Drava river in Koprivnica Križevci County © Željko Car

Gone are the violent drops, gushing waterfalls, narrow channels, big boulders and sharp rocks. By now, it has left all that far behind. Instead, the Drava river in Koprivnica Križevci County is an epic, wide expanse of water. On either side, it is bordered by thick, green forests and fields. Its banks are a fine sand, creating beaches on which fishermen and families happily sit all day. This is how the Drava river is here, the perfect natural place for relaxing and recreation.

DSC_1247.jpgFishermen enjoying summertime on a Drava beach © Mato Zeman

Recreation, relaxation, activities and unmissable sights on the Drava River in Koprivnica Križevci County
Beaches, birdwatching and boats in Legrad and Veliki Pažut

Goran_ŠafarekIMG_1847_DxO.jpgFrom above, part of the Veliki Pažut Special Zoological Reserve at the confluence of the rivers Mur and Drava © Goran Šafarek

Further upstream, people take advantage of the Drava's powerful descent. There, the river is regulated, channelled and harnessed for hydroelectric power. But, where the Drava meets the Mur in Legard, it is wild and unregulated.

Goran_Šafarekušće_Mure_u_Dravu_Meridijani_2019.jpgIn the mist, the Veliki Pažut Special Zoological Reserve © Goran Šafarek

This is an ever-changing landscape, right on the border of Međimurje. Here, the rivers are left free to roam. Before 1710, nearby Legrad was actually in Međimurje. But, the Drava changed course and gave Legrad to Podravina. These constantly shifting waterways and floodplains create new habitats and restore existing ones. Subsequently, this is an area of immense biodiversity.

Goran_ŠafarekMG_8164_DxO.jpgTwo of the colorful residents in the Veliki Pažut Special Zoological Reserve, captured by © Goran Šafarek

The Veliki Pažut Special Zoological Reserve is 1000 hectares that are specially protected to preserve this biodiversity. Its wetlands and running waters are home to beavers, ducks, coots, waterfowl and reed warblers. In winter, wild geese (spotted goose and hawthorn goose) stay here in large numbers. The deer who wander the surrounding forest are also protected, so long as they stay in Veliki Pažut. You can catch sight of this wildlife and photograph it from the new, specially designated solar-powered boat.

Article_2_solar_boat_in_Legrad_2.jpg

In warmer months, people bring their picnics and barbecues down here to the water's edge. There's a famous beach at the old Legrad-Halasz Csarda resort and nearby a new children's playground.

čigre_na_sprudu_National_Geographic_2015.jpgAnother two residents in the Veliki Pažut Special Zoological Reserve, captured by © Goran Šafarek

You can read more about the visitor offer in Legrad and at the Veliki Pažut Special Zoological Reserve here

Cycling the Drava river routes

podravina-prigorje-bike-ilustracija-005_1.jpgCycling by the Drava River in Koprivnica Križevci County © Podravinaprigorjebike.com

The Drava route is the oldest and most famous bicycle path in Podravina. As its name suggests, it largely follows the course of the Drava river. Although, it veers away from the riverside to take in some of the must-see sights of the county.

podravina-prigorje-bike-ilustracija-001_1.jpg© Podravinaprigorjebike.com

On the 84 kilometre route, you pass through a diverse landscape - fields of golden agriculture, the neat rows of gently descending vineyards and forests that filter the sunlight. From the confluence of the Mura and Drava in Legrad, you drop down past Šoderica lake, before taking in the remarkable village of Hlebine, world-renowned as the centre of an art movement.

podravina-prigorje-bike-ilustracija-015_1.jpg© Podravinaprigorjebike.com

It's not the only historic settlement you meet. The grand city of Koprivnica sits on the route. Its town centre holds several monuments to cycling, so appreciated is the pastime here. Thereafter, traditional rural villages like Podravske Sesvete and Ferdinandovac give a timeless sense of life next to this great river.

Of course, this epic bike path is not the only one in Koprivnica Križevci County (you can see all of the specially designated ones here). Nor is it the only one to pass by the county's special waters.

Goran_ŠafarekD__6321_DxO-1.jpgDeer climbing the banks of the Drava, captured by © Goran Šafarek

At 394 kilometres in length, the D7 bicycle route is incomparable. Starting on the Adriatic sea and ending on Lake Balaton in Hungary, it takes in some of Croatia's greatest water features, including Plitvice Lakes National Park, Lonjsko polje Nature Park and the Drava river in Koprivnica Križevci County. Other highlights it passes in the county are the medieval town of Đurđevac and the village of Gola. From Gola, an alternative bicycle route takes you back along the Drava, then across the river and on to Šoderica lake. The lake is surrounded by new recreational paths perfect for walking, cycling and skating.

Fishing on the Drava river in Koprivnica Križevci County

Željko_Car_2.jpgIn autumn. Fishing on the Drava is enjoyed all year. © Željko Car

Boasting a massive 831,43 hectares of fishing waters, Koprivnica Križevci County is a fisherman's paradise. Carp, catfish, common bream, trout and pike are among the most commonly encountered here. These waters include not only the Drava and the Mura rivers but also more than 20 designated fishing lakes. They're managed by ZŠRK Koprivnica (here), who can also issue permits to any visitors drawn to fish in the spectacular county waters.

0000180000.jpgPeaceful seclusion on the Drava © Mato Zeman

Camping by the Drava and Šoderica lake

Soderica54.jpgOn a summer day, Šoderica lake © Marc Rowlands

Often, the best way to connect with nature is to get up close and stay awhile. Camping by the Drava is great for relaxing and enjoying the surroundings. The Aqua Terra campsite (here) at Šoderica lake is just a couple of hundred metres from the river. There, you're only a few steps from the recreational lake, which is fed underground by the Drava itself.

117035465_2693303857613533_5173964214743674320_n_1.jpgSummer fun on the beach at Šoderica lake © Aqua Terra

You're not alone on the lakeshore. Since before the 1960s, this has been a favourite place to come. Weekend houses sit back from the shoreline promenade. In warmer months, children's voices carry across the water while they're swimming in Šoderica. In the evenings, young adults congregate at popular bars on the edge of the lake. Music concerts, sports tournaments fill the lake's social calendar.

Marcy1.JPGCyclists take a break from the sun at Šoderica lake © Marc Rowlands

The camp itself is spread across 20,000 square meters and includes an activities park - with rope bridges through the treetops - and a beach bar. You can find out more about the events and activities on Šoderica lake here.

Hunting in the forests of the Drava

dia_0090_levels.jpgThe river in winter © Mato Zeman

The forests that thickly line the banks of the Drava are filled with wildlife. Roe deer, red deer, boar, rabbits and pheasants are just some of the inhabitants. The region's hunters play a vital role in maintaining the habitat of these animals and in keeping track of population numbers. Visitors from several European countries are regularly welcomed to join their activities. Koprivnica-Križevci County Hunting Association can be contacted via local tourist board offices. Alternatively, there are private hunting grounds run by tourism experts KTC (here), who also offer hunting lodge accommodation (here).

DSC_8738.jpgRaft on the Drava © Mato Zeman

Wild swimming in Koprivnica Križevci County

DSC_0332.jpgJumping into the Drava © Mato Zeman

In summer and early autumn, the Drava warms before reaching the county. In some stretches, where the water is deep enough, yet protected from the always strong currents, you can swim in the river. Children jump from rope swings, then plunge into the cooling waters. The river feeds two lakes which are also popular places for summer swimming; Šoderica near Legrad and Đelekovec and the Čingi lingi lake, which lies between the villages of Repaš and Molve.

Goran_ŠafarekČingi_Lingi_DJI_0062_1.jpgFrom above, Čingi lingi lake © Goran Šafarek

Rafting, kayaking, canoeing and boat trips on the Drava river

Željko_Car_1.jpgThis giant river is full and wide, even in summer © Željko Car

Many of Croatia's rivers are too dry in summer to support activities. Not the Drava. This giant flows thick and fast even during peak summertime. A great way to enjoy the natural surroundings is from atop the water itself. A whole new perspective of the riverside banks and forests opens up from a canoe or kayak. Gliding silently through the landscape allows it to unfold. For a more thrilling experience, take to the Drava by motorboat or wild rafting.

Željko_Car_10.jpgCanoeing through an epic landscape © Željko Car

You can go rafting with Rafting Club Koprivnica (here) or with Etno Kuce Karlovcan (here). Karlovcan also offer motorboat excursions and accommodate larger parties on river tours. You can find out more from the Tourist Board of Dravski Peski (link below). 

Food and drink from the Drava river and its fields

Fishyev1234.JPGFrying fish at Fišijada Ferdinandovac © Marc Rowlands

At the annual outdoor cook-off Fišijada Ferdinandovac, you could well imagine being further down the Drava in the region of Slavonia. The fried fish and the deep red, paprika-rich fish stews here are classics of Slavonia. And they're favourites here too. The carp and catfish are pulled from the same river, the paprika a long embraced influence from Hungary on the other side.

IMG_2251REJIG_1.jpgMaking gulash in competition at Rokovo in Kozarevac © Marc Rowlands

But, you'd be wrong to think that Podravina cuisine is an exact match of Slavonia's. Koprivnica-Križevci County has its own distinct recipes, ingredients and flavours. Wild mushrooms, plucked from the forests and fields by the Drava, can be found alongside barley in a classic local soup. It's delicious.

AnyConv.com__IMG_2044fgvbnmjnhg.jpgThe all-organic vines of Vinarija Šipek in Kloštar Podravski, Koprivnica-Križevci County © Marc Rowlands

Koprivnica-Križevci County also has exemplary wines. You'll find superb whites like Riesling, Chardonnay, Grasevina, Sauvignon blanc and more here. They thrive in sandy soil. It has been deposited in the fields here over millennia by the Drava. Vinarija Šipek in Kloštar Podravski (here) run an all-organic winery with excellent wines and heritage grapes. Vinarija Kostanjevec in Lukovec (here) are decorated internationally. In 2020, their Premium Riesling won Silver at the Decanter World Wine Awards. But, there are many more great winemakers all across the county.

fishandfootball.JPGFood preparation and football from ŠNK Bušpan at Rokovo in Kozarevac © Marc Rowlands

In this part of Podravina, celebrating the fine local food and drink is a regular part of the culture. Every village has at least one notable event. Often held outdoors, they are great social occasions and a good excuse to visit a neighbouring place. More often than not, a sports match, music concert or a funfair runs in tandem. If you want to try the river fish dishes of Podravina, restaurant Ribička hiža near Đurđevac (here) serves these specialities year-round.

cheese.JPGSelection of award-winning cheeses, fresh from the farm shop at Family Farm Imbrišić (here) in Kozarevac, Kloštar Podravski © Marc Rowlands

Staying by the Drava river

218857084_129845805966818_2553627362942924296_n_1.jpgFrom above, Dravski raj on the Drava River in Koprivnica Križevci County © Toni Fereža/FT STUDIO

You can find great traditional accommodation across all of Koprivnica-Križevci County. And, if you want to stay right next to the Drava, there are some super options.

accomm.JPGOrnamental gardens at Dravski raj © Marc Rowlands

Dravski raj (here) is a delightful renovated farm complex that backs onto the Drava. Inside traditional buildings, you'll find modern bedrooms, a games room, hot tub and free bicycles for exploring the surrounding nature. You can draw your own water from the well to drink – or just take it from the tap, of course.

accomm234566.jpgPerfect for events and relaxing, the sprawling grounds of Etno kuce Karlovcan © Marc Rowlands

Etno kuce Karlovcan (here) is a large plot containing artefacts of regional agriculture and life from the last few hundred years. Longstanding stakeholders in tourism on the Drava, they offer food, accommodation, boat rides, rafting and horse riding too.

58462828_636129590147500_5910088862897537024_n.jpgFrom the water, Country House Ivančan © Domagoj Krznarić

Art centar Ješkovo have robinson accommodation near Ješkovo. Also, Country House Ivančan (here) is perfect for a riverside getaway. The family enterprise is also famed for the food they prepare.

This article was produced with the co-operation of Koprivnica-Križevci County Tourist Board. Both the author and Total Croatia News would like to sincerely thank Željko Car, Mato Zeman and Goran Šafarek for the kind permission to use their photography here.

If you would like more information about any of the mentioned events, activities or county cycle routes, you can contact Koprivnica-Križevci County's tourist boards on these links.

Koprivnica town tourist board here 
Križevci tourist board here 
Đurđevac tourist board here 
Central Podravina tourist board here 
Tourist board of Dravski Peski here 
Kalnik tourist board here 

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

PHOTOS: Colour, Cuisine and Art of Koprivnica at Motifs of Podravina

September 28, 2021 – 27-year-old Motifs of Podravina Festival showcases all the region's unique art, cuisine and culture, including fantastic wines, music, dance, folklore, food, arts & crafts plus a huge outdoor exhibition of Croatian Naive Art. We preview the 2021 Autumn edition in pictures...

Puhački_orkestar_Grada_Koprivnice.jpg© Puhački orkestar Grada Koprivnice

DSC_7057.jpg© Mato Zeman

DSCF7788.jpg© Mato Zeman

The city centre streets and parks of Koprivnica will once again explode with colour, cuisine, music, dance and art this weekend for the 28th Motifs of Podravina Festival. The much-loved event showcases all of the unique aspects of culture from the region.

19575425_1703858969641992_934163681752732336_o.jpg© Turistička Zajednica Koprivnica

58442340_2623787240982489_7140235872351289344_n.jpg© Turistička Zajednica Koprivnica

Usually taking place in summer, the 2020 event was postponed by the pandemic and instead held in autumn. With very surprising results. Numbers of visitors to the event increased dramatically. As a result, another autumn edition of Motifs of Podravina will take place on Saturday 2 October and Sunday 3 October 2021.

19488650_1703858972975325_2254106294995156293_o.jpg© Turistička Zajednica Koprivnica

19488753_1703859206308635_124983653371108446_o.jpg© Turistička Zajednica Koprivnica

60218729_2647962695231610_2862254076790308864_n.jpg© Turistička Zajednica Koprivnica

A run-up to the event is already underway at some of Koprivnica Križevci County's most famous museums. There are special exhibitions currently on show at Koprivnica Gallery, the Gallery of Naive Art in Hlebine and the Mijo Kovačić Gallery in Koprivnica. All these participating museums will open their doors to the public for free this weekend.

Damir_SpeharPIXSELL.jpg© Damir Spehar/PIXSEL

213446709_4675281032499756_8221180981284860485_n.jpg© Turistička Zajednica Koprivnica

The celebrated works of the region's famous artists will be joined by an explosion of colour through Koprivnica City Park. There, one of the largest outdoor exhibitions of art in Croatia takes place. Over 50 Croatian Naive Artists will be displayed through the park and on Zrinski Square. As such, this is one of the best times and places to come and learn more about Croatian Naive Art and the very famous branch of it that comes from this region - the Hlebine School (you can read more about it here).

DSC_2049.jpg© Mato Zeman

13179349_1272049402822953_963944158979435237_n.jpg© Turistička Zajednica Koprivnica

13558798_1309142192447007_2179776285567409474_o.jpg© Turistička Zajednica Koprivnica

Stalls displaying Hlebine school paintings and other art of the region will be interspersed with others offering arts & crafts, traditional produce and tasty treats.

13568796_1308462045848355_3214339414383773437_o.jpg© Turistička Zajednica Koprivnica

DSCF7762.jpg© Mato Zeman

61651477_2698359726858573_3126198869604433920_n.jpg© Turistička Zajednica Koprivnica

DSC_7000.jpg© Mato Zeman

Holding the event in autumn allows Motifs of Podravina to take advantage of harvest time. Colourful pumpkins and squash might well be seen. The surrounding countryside is rich with wild mushrooms. Famously, they are collected to make a local specialty soup. And, the county's famous corn is ripe and ready, as are the chestnuts. So, too, the brilliant, new season wines of Koprivnica Križevci County. This year, some of the best local wines will be joined by guests from Hungary and presented by Koprivnica City Museum.

AnyConv.com__IMG_2044fgvbnmjnhg.jpgVineyards of Koprivnica-Križevci County © Marc Rowlands

IMG_1802wsdfgh.JPGAward-winning wine of Koprivnica © Marc Rowlands

Adding to the colour with a distinctly local flavour, music, folklore and dance are offered by Folklore Ensemble Koprivnica, the International Children's Folklore Societies Meeting and KUD Rudar Glogovac. Additional music comes from Koprivnica City Puhački Orkestar, folk-rock band Ogenj and singer Eric Vidovic.

Folklorni_ansambl_Koprivnica.jpg© Folklore Ensemble Koprivnica

64228557_2704861002875112_8717602078261772288_n.jpg© Turistička Zajednica Koprivnica

13575878_1309142109113682_3176602002895970111_o.jpg© Turistička Zajednica Koprivnica

Folklorni_ansambl_Koprivnica2.jpg© Folklore Ensemble Koprivnica

Entrance to Motifs of Podravina Festival. Photographic preview of the event made possible with the kind assistance of Turistička Zajednica Koprivnica here and photographer Mato Zeman.

2009Mato.jpg

DSCF3503.jpgPhotos of celebrity and local guests at previous editions of Motifs of Podravina, captured by © Mato Zeman
Wednesday, 22 September 2021

16 Super Reasons to Visit Croatia Now: September October 2021

September 22, 2021 – The sun is shining and we'll still be swimming in the sea for some time yet, although the weather and warm Adriatic are far from the only reasons to visit Croatia now

Here are a full 16 reasons to visit Croatia now, in September and October 2021
The weather is fantastic and the forecast is great!

Screenshot_205.pngVisit Croatia now: screenshot © Marc Rowlands

Screenshot_204.pngVisit Croatia now: screenshot

The sea is still warm enough for swimming

242336077_6243047692432629_2508322542701942610_n.jpgSwimming in very late September 2021 on the Omiš riviera, one of the best reasons to visit Croatia now © Marc Rowlands

The very best Croatian food

241480915_6170941186309947_1327304007351009063_n.jpgDomestic bacon and prosciutto, a classic Croatian 'tapas' served at the last surviving inn on Biokovo mountain, Vrata Biokovo © Marc Rowlands

There's no shortage of the finest fresh fish and seafood now the rush have tourists have gone. Want to cook them for yourself? Buy straight from the fishermen on the beach. You can't do that in peak season – it all goes to the restaurants. Also, Croatia's fruit and vegetables are ripe and at their best right now.

241126505_6138144742922925_8968400606881277475_n.jpgUnique, miniature squid, served in ink, with a medley of fresh, roasted vegetables at the restaurant of Camping Labadusa on the island of Čiovo, 2021. Yes, this is how amazing food is at some campsites in Croatia © Marc Rowlands

From figs, melons, mushrooms and truffles to salad greens, pumpkins and mandarins, Croatia is currently the land of plenty. And, the lunchtime specials – Marenda (Dalmatia), Gablets (Zagreb) are outstanding and super cheap right now. Looking for an amazing 50 kuna lunch in Dalmatia right now? Try Konoba Marenda in Šibenik, Konoba Joskan in Omiš or Gastro Diva or Konoba Kalalarga in Makarska?

242356626_6243046882432710_3401854122891850972_n.jpgRoast beef and beetroot risotto with sour cream, pomegranate and apple. Marenda of Konoba Joskan in Omiš © Marc Rowlands

Sports, activity and recreation

242223445_6222414447829287_952918838844562246_n.jpgCycling in Šibenik © Marc Rowlands

Now the temperature have grown more gentle, it's the perfect time to get sporty or active in Croatia. Why not try cycling and hiking in and around Šibenik? Or how about golfing in Zagreb? Inland Dalmatia is a great place for quad biking. Try it in Drniš, Knin, near Vrlika or in Imotski. If you want to try a range of activities and sports, then maybe head for Omiš. You can try canyoning, white water rafting, diving, mountain biking, hiking and a thrilling zip line in Omiš.

Peace, quiet, relaxation

IMG_3328defcvbnjuhgfcv.JPGThe peaceful beach at Kamp Adria Village Baško Polje, pictured in late September 2021 © Marc Rowlands

The kids are mostly back at school, the students have finished partying and are returned to university. Right now, Croatia's campsites, beaches and lunchtime restaurants are quiet and chilled. Romantic couples walk undisturbed across the sands or sip wine as they watch the sunset. The only sound you often hear is the lapping of the waves against the shore.

Idyllic camping

IMG_3321edrfghjnk.JPGRelaxing and peaceful, individual terraces of each glamping unit in Kamp Adria Village Baško Polje © Marc Rowlands

If you want to get up close to nature, camping in Croatia is one of the best ways to do this. And, right now, the country's campsites are at their best. Incredibly peaceful and way under full capacity, there are no more children, families or teenagers. You can bring your own mobile home or even tent – it's cool enough to sleep under canvas now (tents are too hot during the height of a Croatian summer).

241130404_6149405168463549_8737034291319710149_n.jpgUnforgettable sunset views at Camping Rožac, Trogir © Marc Rowlands

Looking for a brilliant Croatian campsite for late September / early October 2021? Camping Rožac, Trogir here has incredible sunset views, whereas the beach at nearby Camping Labadusa here on Čiovo island's other side is a faultless slice of paradise. Further south, the glamping offer of Kamp Adria Village Baško Polje here is also among the finest in Croatia. All three sites are nestled under strongly scented pine trees, just metres from the shore.

IMG_2401dfvgbhnjkiuyhgb.JPGIncredible paradise beach at Camping Labadusa on the island of Čiovo © Marc Rowlands

Discover some of Europe's greatest white and sparkling wine in continental Croatia

AnyConv.com__IMG_2044fgvbnmjnhg.jpgVineyards of Koprivnica-Križevci County winemakers © Marc Rowlands

Been to the Croatian coast before? Then no doubt you've tried some of Dalmatia's famous red wines. Unlike other places, where white wines usually accompany the lighter seafood, pasta and fish dishes of the seaside and summer, on the Croatian coast it's the red wines that rule. Big, gutsy red wines like Plavac mali and Syrah are found by the Croatian Adriatic.

IMG_1802wsdfgh.JPGWinemakers of Koprivnica-Križevci County © Marc Rowlands

Less well known are Croatian white wines Even more hidden are Croatia's sparkling wines. Because, if you want to find them, you have to move away from the sea and come inland. For the best sparkling wines, look to Zagreb County.

IMG_2122.JPGWinemakers of south Koprivnica-Križevci County © Marc Rowlands

For brilliant white wines, there's a thick strip of continental Croatia you simply must get to know. Its north is the Drava river and the sandy soil runs along its length from Koprivnica and Đurđevac to the start of Baranja. Up into the hills of Baranja and to the border with Hungary the vineyards stretch. To the east, Aljmas and Erdut, to the south Ilok, then west through Kutjevo and back to Zagreb County. Now is the time of the newest wines, of harvest celebrations. Now is the best time to walk the wine roads and trails of this massive white wine super-region.

It's the perfect time for a city break

AnyConv.com__ETugIXoWoAA2NmI_1.jpgVisit Croatia now: Zagreb © Alan Grubelić

Nobody wants to be trapped in a bustling city in summertime's 40-degree heat. The high temperatures never subside. The concrete retains it. When things really heat up in Croatia, you need the cooler mountain air or the sea, which at night absorbs the heat of the day. But, right now is the perfect time to go exploring Croatia's bigger cities.

Why not try Osijek, with its kilometres of cycle routes and parks, epic riverside promenades and the best-preserved complex of baroque buildings in Croatia? Certainly, Osijek's Tvrda and its Secession architecture should be seen by everyone once.

croatia_slavonija_osijek_0001.jpgVisit Croatia now: Osijek © Romulić & Stojcic

Or, how about Zagreb, the country's social, cultural and economic capital? There are different happenings in Zagreb streets and parks almost every day. And the atmosphere is second to none.

In Istria, you can linger for much longer on the Roman Forum at this time of year. No need now for running urgently between shadows. You can instead afford to take your time as you wander around the epic Roman architecture here. You'll find more unmissable Roman architecture in Croatia's second city of Split, by way of Diocletian's Palace.

A packed events calendar

_MG_9181fgvbnh.JPGEvents of Zagreb parks 2021, captured by © Marc Rowlands

Croatia's event calendar explodes at this time of year. In Zagreb and Dubrovnik, famous music festivals fill the parks and streets. Elsewhere, this is one of the most important times of the year for food and drink festivals...

Harvest time

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It's harvest time, and when the local produce is collected from the trees or fields, usually there's an accompanying celebration. The party always extends well beyond championing the local produce. These are some of the best events in Croatia – accessible to all ages and appealing especially to gastro fans.

For example, Ivanić-Grad's pumpkin festival - Bučijada - always has a great music and entertainment programme attached. Held on October 1, 2 and 3 in 2021, it draws folks from far and wide to the pretty Zagreb County town. You won't have to look hard to find fun events like this all across Croatia at this time of year, celebrating everything from walnuts and almonds to grapes, olives and mushrooms.

Budget flights are still available

d75218b48e994601038e90bf5fc21f51_XL.jpgVisit Croatia now: Budget flights from Ryanair

Not only are budget flights still available, but the summertime routes to all Croatian airports are also still in play. Everywhere in Croatia is easily accessible right now. And for very little cost.

Last minute deals and inexpensive accommodation

AnyConv.com__IMG_3340edrfghjnmkjhgfd.jpgPrivate pool of the 4-star Boutique Hotel Noemia, Baška Voda © Marc Rowlands

It's no secret that prices plummet on Croatia's coast at this time of year. Smart operators do their best to extend the season by dropping prices. You can pick up incredible deals at this time of year everywhere from restaurant dining to luxury resorts, villas, apartments and hotels with full or half board.

Sailing in Croatia

AnyConv.com__IMG_3354ertyhujhgfd.jpgA regular visitor to Brela, Baska Voda and Split returned again in September 2021 © Marc Rowlands

The season for sailing Croatia is nowhere near as short as that enjoyed by most sunbathers. You only need look at the daily newspapers to read about the latest luxury yacht to sail into Croatian Adriatic waters. But, you don't need to be a Russian oligarch to enjoy the beautiful bays, beaches and islands of Croatia. Charter yachts in Croatia can be found at reasonable rates – especially in late September and early October!

Volunteering

IMG_20210915_165305139_HDR.jpg2021 volunteer divers at Calypso Diving in Omiš © Marc Rowlands

Late summer, early autumn and spring are the best time to come volunteer in Croatia. In late summer and early autumn, it's the Adriatic that needs a little love. Volunteer divers undertake ecological missions to clean the seabed around the coast. It's surprising just how much trash falls into the seas after a summer season.

IMG_2818edcvbnhgf.JPGExperienced divers, pictured in 2021 at Trogir Diving Centre © Marc Rowlands

If you're a qualified diver, why not come and help out? Try Trogir Diving Centre here, the oldest diving school in Croatia. Or try Calypso Diving in Omiš here. There, you don't even need to be qualified - beginners can learn from scratch and earn their first diving certificates in return for their volunteering!

242151424_6227553893982009_4396189167021449696_n.jpgVolunteer divers at Calypso Diving in Omiš, 2021 © Marc Rowlands

It's the best time to explore Croatia's National Parks and Nature Parks

241316764_6170947642975968_6841343418900551668_n.jpgThe famous Skywalk of Biokovo Nature Park on the Makarska riviera in Dalmatia, 2021 © Marc Rowlands

In the preserved and protected wilderness of Croatian National Parks and Nature Parks, there's sometimes very little shelter from the sun. They can be tough to explore at the height of summer. Mountainous parks like Paklenica, Velebit and Biokovo have incredible hiking trails that are best enjoyed at this time.

241631995_6170951239642275_3522302139938915487_n.jpgBiokovo Nature Park peaks in 2021 © Marc Rowlands

Elsewhere, you can trace the waterways and waterfalls of Krka National Park, Kopački rit, Plitvice lakes and Žumberak-Samoborsko gorje in relative calm right now. No long lines of queueing tourists spoiling your photos. The island parks like Mljet, Kornati and Brijuni are all the more idyllic when there's nobody else around.

reIMG_5488.jpg

There are much worse places you could be working remotely

Working.JPGVisit Croatia now: September October 2021 © Marc Rowlands

Monday, 13 September 2021

87 Million Kuna Renovation of Podravka Office Building on Cards

September the 13th, 2021 - An 87 million kuna renovation for the Podravka office building is set to take place, with a company from the continental Croatian town of Krizevci being ''the chosen ones'' for the job.

As Novac/Vedran Marjanovic writes, Podravka's Supervisory Board approved the Management Board's decision to invest a massive 87.7 million kuna in the renovation of the company's office building, and to conclude a contract with the construction company Radnik (Worker) from Krizevci for the job, the much loved Koprivnica-based company announced yesterday.

The renovation of the Podravka office building includes IT and energy reconstruction, as well as its modernisation. The current Podravka office building was built back in 1979 and hasn't been renovated for practically 42 years.

With this, the reconstruction project, which has been being planned for many years now, has entered the implementation phase, and includes a seven-storey office building, a restaurant, a car park and the surrounding area, Podravka announced, adding that the works will begin on October the 1st this year and will be completed in July 2022.

During this time, according to the announcement of the Koprivnica company, employees whose workplace is in the Podravka office building will be relocated to other locations in the company.

Podravka pointed out that the renovation of the company's office building will be financed from its own sources, without any borrowing involved. They added that the renovation of the Podravka office building is being done in its existing dimensions and that the investment framework is appropriate for a challenging business year with careful cost management.

When it comes to the selection of Radnik d.d. from Krizevci as the contractor, Podravka revealed that three rounds of collecting bids from contractors were conducted and that the selection was based on the project of renovation of the office building prepared by the company Forma-Biro, also from Koprivnica.

The amount of the investment in the renovation of the Podravka office building refers to construction works, the mechanical installations, works on the facade and those on the electrical installations, according to the Koprivnica company, noting that the renovation project incorporates elements of material artistic value of the building.

The reconstruction of the office building, Podravka noted, will improve the company's energy efficiency, corporate and information security and ensure that the new requirements of the prescribed standards are met in the time after the coronavirus pandemic.

For more, follow our business section.

Friday, 10 September 2021

Promising Croatian Footballer Lovro Zvonarek Signs with Bayern Munich at 16

September 10, 2021 - The weeks-long negotiations have finally ended to the satisfaction of all parties: Lovro Zvonarek has signed for Bayern Munich and will remain on loan at Slaven Belupo until the end of this season!

It is a denouement in which everyone is satisfied - Bayern swooped in on the promising young Croatian talent, and Zvonarek, in addition to signing a contract with the Bavarian giant, got the much-needed peace to continue developing his football career. Furthermore, with compensation of 1,800,000 euros, the Koprivnica club managed to keep their #10, reports Gol.hr.

Bayern will immediately pay the mentioned amount to Podravka, and the compensation may eventually increase to five million euros over the next few years. This will depend on when Zvonarek makes his debut for Bayern's first team, his performance, and other details built into the contract.

Zvonarek was born on May 8, 2005, in Prelog, where he started playing football at the Mladost Prelog club.

His phenomenal talent was first noticed by Slaven Belupo, who, five years ago, when he was 11, brought him to Koprivnica, from which he later moved to the youth division of the Koprivnica first league.

Zvonarek gives the most as an offensive midfielder, but can also play on both wings.

At the end of last season, Zvonarek made his debut for the Slaven Belupo first team, and made history in the last round, becoming the youngest scorer in the history of the Croatian First League. At 16 years and 14 days, he scored the only goal in the Slaven Belupo - Varaždin match and broke the previous record held by Alen Halilović.

"Lovro Zvonarek is the new player of the German great FC Bayern Munich, and he will stay in our club until the end of the current season!!!

Congratulations to the youngest debutant in the history of Slaven Belupo at only 16 years and four days and the youngest scorer in the history of the HNL at only 16 years and 14 days on the biggest transfer in the history of our club!" wrote Slaven Belupo in their Facebook page. 

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

World's Best Naive Art: Authentically Croatian Hlebine School

September 1, 2021 – We visit Podravina to discover the incredible Hlebine School of Croatian Naive Art

Croatia is sometimes difficult to find. Of course, with modern GPS and Croatia's nine international airports, getting here is no problem. But just where are you when you arrive?

Looking down at your dinner, the plate may hold a dish recognisable across the Mediterranean. Above your head, the architecture could be Roman, Austro-Hungarian or modern, indistinguishable. Ottoman influence lies everywhere from the best-loved handheld snacks to the mountain of slippers in every dwelling's doorway.

FolkCost.jpgA friendly local wears the folk costume of the small region surrounding Koprivnički Ivanec, near Koprivnica. The costume features the incredibly intricate Ivanečki vez embroidery, which has been safeguarded locally for over 90 years and is now a protected part of Croatia's cultural heritage. Photo © Marc Rowlands.

Actually, the true essence of the country you'll find in the Croatians themselves. And yet, their history is all too often obscured by the impositions of empires that once were here. However, we can find this history away from the major cities, the centres of influence. We find it in the villages. Specifically, in their folk costume, their folk song and folk dance. And we find it in the art there.

What is Naive Art?

IvanGenerali_Kraveuumi_1.jpegCows In The Woods by Ivan Generalić, hanging at the Galerija naivne umjetnosti (Gallery of Naive Art), Hlebine © Koprivnica Town Museum

Naive art is any art made by someone who has received no formal or classical training. In this sense, the earliest discovered art of humans – cave paintings – are naïve art. However, there is nothing the classical art world likes more than specifically defining art movements. And, to them, the modern era of European Naive Art begins in the late 19th Century, with a growing appreciation of painters like French Post-Impressionist Henri Rousseau (1844–1910).

Because of the lack of formal, classical or academic training, it is said that common characteristics exist within the work of many Naive Artists. Specifically, these characteristics stem from an ignorance of strict perspective. Naive Artists often do not mute colours or lessen detail with distance. Also, they often don't attempt to accurately decrease the size of objects at distance.

Croatian culture as a part of national identity

IvanGenerali_Rogatikonj_1.jpegHorned horse by Ivan Generalić, hanging at the Galerija naivne umjetnosti (Gallery of Naive Art), Hlebine © Koprivnica Town Museum

Croatian Naive Art is one of the best recognised and best-loved in the world. In truth, Croatia's movement doesn't begin to emerge until well into the 20th Century. Although, it is important to view the country's Naive Art within its broader search for a Croatian national identity. The roots of this movement stem back over 100 years prior to the emergence of Croatian Naive Art, beginning with the foundation of the Illyrian movement, Matica Hrvatska and more.

This older movement of national awakening had strong preoccupations with language, written text and cultural identity. Actually, its instigators were very much the educated intelligentsia of cities like Zagreb.

ivangeneralioupanipevec1954_1.jpeg'A Battered Rooster' by Ivan Generalić, hanging at the Galerija naivne umjetnosti (Gallery of Naive Art), Hlebine © Koprivnica Town Museum

Before the end of World War I, Russia had undergone two revolutions. After the war, the German, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires collapsed. Much of Europe was plunged into over half a decade of political upheaval - revolts, unrest and strikes by workers. Mostly socialist in sentiment - organised by workers and disillusioned former soldiers – this unrest and the accompanying birth of new nations lay not in the hands of the inner-city intelligentsia. And, many believed the cultural and artistic expression which reflected this new era should also come from the proletariat.

Krsto Hegedušić and the Earth Group (Grupa Zemlja)

imagKrsto_Hegedušić.jpgKrsto Hegedušić 'poklade' © Muzej moderne i suvremene umjetnosti Rijeka (MMSU)

One Croat who believed strongly in this was painter Krsto Hegedušić. He co-founded the Earth Group in 1929 during a challenging period for Croatia. Europe was still reaping the dire economic repercussions of the First World War. Croatia had finally been freed of Austro-Hungarian hegemony, only to be forced into existing within another monarchy.

The founding beliefs of the Earth Group were that authentic artistic expression should be a product of the time and space whence it came and should be free of foreign influence. Art should not be created for the sake of art, but to depict an actual reality.

imagerequiem.jpgKrsto Hegedušić 'Rekvizicija (Requisition)', 1929 © Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Rijeka

Krsto Hegedušić himself was very much a product of his studies. In 1920 he enrolled in what is today the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb. After graduating, he spent an additional two years on a scholarship in Paris. And yet, as a painter, his subject matter often reflected the world around him. Social critiques, within his work he depicted everyday poverty and the exploitation of Croatian peasants.

Ivan_Tabaković.jpg'Football match' by another of the Earth Group's founding members, Ivan Tabaković, 1927 © Gallery of Matica srpska, Novi Sad

Born in Petrinja, Krsto Hegedušić spent summer holidays in the idyllic countryside and agricultural land surrounding his father's birth village of Hlebine, Podravina. When he was aged just 8 years old, Krsto's father died. Subsequently, the family moved to Hlebine. Later, Krsto would spend time living in Zagreb, not least for the duration of his studies. But, just one year into the life of the Earth Group, Krsto Hegedušić discovered a teenage artist back in Hlebine.

Hlebine School First Generation: Ivan Generalić, Franjo Mraz and Mirko Virius

Ivan_Generalić_Autoportret_1953.jpgSelf-portrait by Ivan Generalić, hanging at the Galerija naivne umjetnosti (Gallery of Naive Art), Hlebine. Photo © Koprivnica Town Museum

When we speak of the Hlebine School within Croatian Naive Art we are not actually talking about a building, an institution of learning. After all, the very definition of a Naive Artist is they are not classically trained. Instead, the Hlebine School is a discipline. And, more so than any Croatian Naive Art that followed, it is quite easy to define.

IvanGenerali_Kanas_1.jpeg'Kanas' by Ivan Generalić, hanging at the Galerija naivne umjetnosti (Gallery of Naive Art), Hlebine © Koprivnica Town Museum

Within its first generation, the three most prominent artists are Ivan Generalić, Franjo Mraz and Mirko Virius. Both Ivan Generalić and Franjo Mraz were born, lived and were discovered by Krsto Hegedušić in the village of Hlebine. Mirko Virius was from Đelekovec, less than 15 kilometres to their north-west.

IvanGenerali_Plesvgoricaj_1.jpeg'Ples v goricaj' by Ivan Generalić, hanging at the Galerija naivne umjetnosti (Gallery of Naive Art), Hlebine © Koprivnica Town Museum

Key to identifying the Hlebine School in its First Generation is the subject matter. All three of these artists painted the world around them – their neighbours and peers, living everyday lives, in the villages, landscape and towns of today's Koprivnica-Križevci County. Certainly, Krsto Hegedušić helped inspire this subject matter, moulding the artists to suit the ethos of the Earth Group.

HlebMusJosip1.JPGSome of Ivan Generalić's earliest drawings, made on brown paper shopping bags, now displayed at Galerija Josip Generalić, Hlebine. Photo © Marc Rowlands

Ivan Generalić was just 16 years old when discovered by Krsto Hegedušić in 1930. The meeting would have a fast and long-lasting impact on Generalić. Ivan's humble early canvasses were the brown paper bags used in the business of a close relative. Yet, within a year of meeting Hegedušić, Ivan Generalić found his work being exhibited in Zagreb.

HlebMusJosip2.JPGProgramme from the 1932 Earth Group exhibition at Zagreb's prestigious Art Pavillion. Ivan Generalić was exhibited by Yemlja in Zagreb in 1932 and the year before, 1931, when he was just 17. From Galerija Josip Generalić, Hlebine. Photo © Marc Rowlands

Hegedušić's shaping of the artists didn't obliterate their existing perspectives as much as it simply shifted them. For instance, Hegedušić's advice might have been "Instead of painting the church, why not paint people walking to the church in the snow?" or "Instead of marking the religious holiday by painting its origin story, why not show how you and your neighbours celebrate this holiday?"

Whether Hegedušić was conscious of doing it, or whether the artists were willfully lead, this guidance ultimately had the effect of politicising their work. In turn, this would lead the most authentic of all Croatian art into dangerous times when fascists took over the country. Proletarian in their themes, the Hlebine School and the Earth Group became viewed as Communist. The latter group was banned and Hegedušić arrested several times. During the Second World War, Mirko Virius was arrested, taken to a concentration camp in Zemun and executed. Ivan Generalić's painting of the sorrowful incident, 'The Death of Virius', is among his most famous. Franjo Mraz was also arrested during World War II but managed to escape.

Ivan_Generalić_195.jpg'Mask' by Ivan Generalić, hanging at the Galerija naivne umjetnosti (Gallery of Naive Art), Hlebine © Koprivnica Town Museum

Aside from informing the subject matter of their work, Hegedušić also educated the painters in different techniques. One of these techniques – painting on glass – would become an enduring component of the Hlebine School and Croatian Naive Art.

Painting on glass

Galerija_naivne_umjetnosti_-_Ivan_Generalić_Krave_pod_Ajfelovim_tornjem_1.jpg'Eiffel Tower' by Ivan Generalić. The original hangs at Galerija naivne umjetnosti (Gallery of Naive Art), Hlebine © Koprivnica Town Museum

Copying the style from imported religious art, when Hlebine School artists learned to paint on glass, it gave their efforts several distinct qualities. Firstly, if stored in the right conditions – away from damaging light – the glass protects the colours of the paint. As a result, much Hlebine School art is as brilliantly vivid today as the day it was first painted.

Secondly, this format makes the works heavy and fragile. Several masterpieces have been lost by falling to the floor and smashing.

Thirdly, painting on glass is time-consuming and challenging. Each painting must be thought out and planned in advance. The painter initially makes a sketch or preliminary painting as a guide. The image is then transferred to glass effectively in reverse. Details in the forefront of the painting must be applied first, with the background painted on top. Throughout the process, the artist will continuously check their progress on the opposite side of the glass.

Hlebine School Second Generation and onwards: Josip Generalić, Ivan Večenaj, Ivan Lacković, Mijo Kovačić, Franjo Filipović, Dragan Gaži

Ivan_Večenaj_Pevec_na_sunčaniciRooster_on_sunflower_oil_on_glass_1971.jpgRooster on Sunflower by Ivan Večenaj © Galerija Ivan Večenaj

Perhaps to their surprise, the painters of Hlebine School first generation became a big hit. Exhibitions of their work were appreciated first in Zagreb. But, then the exhibitions began to tour across Yugoslavia and eventually the art capitals of the world. This attention would help inspire a new generation of artists from Hlebine and the surrounding area.

Kovačić_Mijo_1995_Lončari.jpg'Lončari' by Mijo Kovačić at Galerija Mijo Kovačić © Koprivnica Town Museum

Success for the Hlebine School artists showed that Croatian art and self-expression were valid and valued even if unstudied. Thereafter, the tiny village of Hlebine would never look the same. More and more Naive Artists and folk artists were inspired to create. Still to this day, many continue.

While some Hlebine School artists carried on the tradition of painting on glass, others were inspired to sculpt in wood or, like Mirko Virius, paint on canvas. One of the key distinctions between later generations of the Hlebine School and the first is the subject matter.

Kovačić_Mijo_1997_Prodavači_kruha.jpgPodravina bread sellers in a picture hanging at Galerija Mijo Kovačić © Koprivnica Town Museum

Second and then third generation Hlebine School artists were inspired to paint folklore, fantasy, from imagination, and with symbolic uses of vivid colur. This broadening of the style was partially the influence of Dimitrije Bašičević Mangelos, the first curator of the Gallery of Primitive Art in Zagreb (today Croatian Museum of Naïve Art). Subsequently, many of these later works would not fit within the paradigms of the Earth Group.

ŽabeFrogs_oil_on_glass_private_collection_of_Galerija_Ivan_Večenaj.jpg'Žabe (Frogs)' by Ivan Večenaj © Galerija Ivan Večenaj

For example, some of Ivan Večenaj's sacral paintings clearly come from the author's imagination and not his actual vision. Similarly, Josip Generalić, son of Ivan, travelled far beyond the limits of his home village in pursuit of his socio-political subject matter. Both artists were concerned with environmental issues on a global, not just a local level. Although, their work is still inextricably linked to their locale; Večenaj works the Podravina rooster emblem into many of his paintings and even depicts Christ within a Podravina landscape. So too does Josip Generalić when he paints The Beatles and others from the 60s counterculture movement.

On the Trail of the Hlebine School in Podravina & Prigorje, Home of the Treasures of Croatian Naive Art

GalerijaMijoKovai-Povratakzgjiva.jpegLocals return from mushroom picking in autumnal Podravina in a picture hanging at Galerija Mijo Kovačić © Koprivnica Town Museum

Some Croatian Naive Art is held in private and public collections across the world. Some of it finds a home in the National Museum of Naive Art in Zagreb. However, the vast majority of treasures from the Hlebine School of Croatian Naive Art remain in Podravina & Prigorje. The national Museum of Naive Art in Zagreb is currently closed as it undergoes the lengthy process of changing address. As a result, the following addresses in Koprivnica-Križevci County are currently the best places to see the most authentically Croatian of all the country's art.

Also, because the landscape of Hlebine, Koprivnica and wider Podravina appears in so much Hlebine School art, you genuinely need to come here to view both together. You'll get a much better understanding and appreciation of this art when you see it in its natural surroundings.

Galerija Mijo Kovačić, Koprivnica Town Museum, Koprivnica

DJI_0007-1.jpgKoprivnica Town Museum © Koprivnica Town Museum

Born 5 August 1935 in Gornja Šuma, Molve, Podravina, Mijo Kovačić is one of the last remaining Croatian Naive Artists of the Hlebine School's second generation. He still paints today, albeit not quite as prolifically as in the past. He has produced such a body of work that not only can you find him exhibited in Croatian Museum of Naïve Art in Zagreb, but also in dedicated Mijo Kovačić galleries in Zagreb and Koprivnica. The one is run by Koprivnica Town Museum, which you can see above. Find out more about the gallery here.

Galerija_Mijo_Kovačić_-Mijo_Kovačić_Portret.jpg'Portrait' hanging at Galerija Mijo Kovačić © Koprivnica Town Museum 

Galerija naivne umjetnosti (Gallery of Naive Art), Hlebine

HlebMus2.JPGInside the Ivan Generalić permanent exhibition wing of Galerija naivne umjetnosti (Gallery of Naive Art), Hlebine. Photo © Marc Rowlands

Founded in 1968, the Gallery of Naive Art in Hlebine is one of the top two most important galleries for Naïve Art in Croatia, the other being the Croatian Museum of Naïve Art in Zagreb. But, unlike their Zagreb counterpart, this gallery concentrates specifically on the Hlebine School and locally produced art. A crowd of sculpted wooden figures greets you on the front lawn. Inside, beneath the wooden beams of a beautiful building designed specifically for this purpose, some of the best artists and paintings of the Hlebine School.

HlebMus.JPGStatues greet you at the front of Galerija naivne umjetnosti (Gallery of Naive Art), Hlebine. Photo © Marc Rowlands

In the mid-1980s, when he was the most famous of all Croatian Naive Artists, neighbour Ivan Generalić paid the gallery a visit. He offered to pay for an extension to the gallery, on condition that it be used to house a permanent exhibition of his work. It was a win-win for the museum and Ivan Generalić subsequently donated some of his true masterpieces for the collection.

Ivan_Generalić_Maska.JPG'Maska' by Ivan Generalić, hanging at the Galerija naivne umjetnosti (Gallery of Naive Art), Hlebine © Koprivnica Town Museum

The newer part of the gallery is so true to the original design that, unless informed, you'd never guess it was built later. You'll find works by every key member of the Hlebine School here, including Ivan Generalić, Franjo Mraz and Mirko Virius, Josip Generalić, Ivan Večenaj, Ivan Lacković, Mijo Kovačić, Franjo Filipović and Dragan Gaži. Today, the museum is run by Koprivnica Town Museum. Find out more about the gallery here.

Galerija Josip Generalić, Hlebine

HlebMusJosip.JPGSummer house of Ivan Generalić at Galerija Josip Generalić, Hlebine. Photo © Marc Rowlands

“How long have you got?” asks Ivan Generalić, grandson of Josip Generalić, great-grandson of Ivan Generalić, as he greets you at the Galerija Josip Generalić, Hlebine. He's asking if there's time for the1 hour tour or 6-hour tour. We think he's joking. He's not.

Generalić family have lived here for at least five generations. Having two of the Hlebine School's most famous and most successful painters within their ranks has allowed them to expand their property portfolio. It's just as well, because there's a lot to see here. What was once the simple, semi-agricultural farmstead where Ivan's great grandfather was born is now a sprawling family estate that houses an ethno-museum and considerable gallery spaces filled with incredible exhibits. All of the original furniture from how his great grandfather lived is preserved, displayed as it was, only in an adjoining property the family now own. Alongside the history and many works of Ivan Generalić and Josip Generalić, folk art, sculpture and artisan furniture made by incredible craftsmen from across the Balkans, who the painters once traded with.

Galerija_naivne_umjetnosti_-_Josip_Generalić-Luda_Jaga.jpgLuda Jaga by Josip Generalić, hanging at the Galerija naivne umjetnosti (Gallery of Naive Art), Hlebine © Koprivnica Town Museum

If you already like this kind of art, you might have to pinch yourself more than once that you're being shown around by someone called Ivan Generalić. Ivan himself is not only knowledgeable but extremely engaging - there are several big laughs on the tour. Ivan points out one image of an unloved neighbour, who grandfather Josip sent to the moon. He provides him with a Podravina cow so at least he can survive. Perhaps feeling slightly guilty, in the next room, Josip has painted the neighbour's return to earth. Although, he lands nearby in the famously barren Đurđevac desert (sometimes known as the Croatian Sahara). That's quite a lot of time and paint spent on someone you don't like!

Ivan's great grandfather also had a sense of humour. Having grown tired of friends bragging about their holidays in summer houses on the Croatian coast (which he did not like), at the height of his fame he decided to build his own. He invited several friends to accompany him on his holiday. And proceeded to take them to his own back garden, just metres from his main residence, where he had built the summer house. Genuinely, you'll wish you had time for the 6-hour tour. Find out more about the gallery here.

Galerija Ivan Večenaj, Gola

HlebMusVec.JPGGalerija Ivan Večenaj, Gola. Photo © Marc Rowlands

Some of the work by artists from the first and second generation of the Hlebine School are scattered far and wide. But, with the canon of Ivan Večenaj, it's a different story. Truly breathtaking examples of his finest work – definitely among the very best – were reserved by the artist for his family collection. Included in the collection, most of his key sacral works, including Golgotha, a triptych of the life of Jesus, crucifixion and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Don't worry, it's not all doom and gloom. Beautiful and bright images of Podravina roosters, agriculture and a charming portrait of his wife hang alongside. You can view them all at Večenaj's former home, now Galerija Ivan Večenaj in Gola. Across the road, an ethnic museum preserves life how it once was here. A truly unmissable highlight on the trail of Croatian Naive Art. Find out more about the gallery here.

Galerija_Ivan_Večenaj_-_Pevec_na_obedu.jpg'Pevec na obedu' © Galerija Ivan Večenaj

Galerija Ivan Lacković, Batinske

HlebMusVuk.JPGGalerija Ivan Lacković, Batinske. Photo © Marc Rowlands

Clearly something of a local patriot, Ivan Lacković donated some 300 works to the village of his birth. Within the collection, you'll find not only works by Lacković himself but also sculptures by Naive Artists Ljubica Marulec and the painter's brother, M. Lacković. Find out more about the gallery here.

HlebMusVuk2.JPGInterior of Galerija Ivan Lacković, Batinske. Photo © Marc Rowlands

Podravina Motifs (Podravski motivi)

P7140666-2.jpgPodravina Motifs (Podravski motivi). Photo © Grad Koprivnica

A three-decade-old Koprivnica event that showcases all of the cuisine, culture, music, dance, costume and art of Podravina. Naive Art is a key and central theme to the event. Usually, there are over 50 contemporary Naive Artists from the region exhibited, with their work on sale. Taking place each summer, it's a great place to get to know traditional Podravina and to pick up some amazing gifts. Find out more about the event here.

Šetnja kroz naivu u Hlebinama (Walk Through The Naive of Hlebine)

Šetnja_kroz_naivu_u_Hlebinama.jpgOutside Galerija Josip Generalić during Šetnja kroz naivu u Hlebinama © Tourist Board Central Podravina

An annual open-air gallery of Hlebine Naive Art taking place on the streets of the village itself. Organised by Tihomir Želimorski who has the rural accommodation offer Stari zanati in Hlebine, Šetnja kroz naivu u Hlebinama differs from Podravina Motifs because it focusses exclusively on art – painting and sculpture. The houses in Hlebine are treasure troves of Croatian Naive Art. During this summertime event, all village residents bring their paintings and statues out onto the streets, hang them on trees or in gardens. You're invited to walk around the delightful village to look. Find out more about the event here.

This article was produced with the kind help of Koprivnica-Križevci County Tourist Board and checked for accuracy by Koprivnica Town Museum.

If you want to find out the latest from Podravina, be sure to check TCN pages here.

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Three Continental Croatian Cities Cooperate in Name of EU Funding

August the 25th, 2021 - Numerous continental Croatian cities are hoping to get their hands on European Union (EU) Funds. Koprivnica, Cakovec and Varazdin are all on the hunt for EU cash injections following their recent decision on cooperation.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Ana Blaskovic writes, this year's Spancirfest not only turned the historic core of Varazdin into a festival stage once again, but also opened the door to cooperation between three continental Croatian cities: Varazdin, Koprivnica and Cakovec, all of which agreed on a joint application for individual European Union projects.

"We've agreed on the models of our future joint cooperation in applying for some EU projects and funds, where each of us is too small to be able to apply on our own,'' said Varazdin Mayor Neven Bosilj, who hosted Cakovec Mayor Ljerka Cividini and their colleague Misel Jaksic from Koprivnica on Monday.

According to Bosilj, these three continental Croatian cities are among the top six in the entire country in terms of employment and are the (probably rather unexpected) drivers of economic activities.

At the same time, these three continental Croatian host the largest traditional events in the country, such as the aforementioned Spancirfest which is held annually in beautiful Varazdin, whose edition this year has been being visited by about 20,000 people a day, Porcijunkulov in Cakovec, and the Koprivnica Renaissance Festival, all of which attract crowds year after year.

"Tourism doesn't solely exist down by the coast. These are the three most important tourist events not only in this part of the country, but in the whole of continental Croatia,'' said Bosilj.

Cividini stressed that they must not miss out on grabbing the opportunity for cooperation on projects that are opening up through the ITU mechanism and other European Union funds.

"Cooperation will take place through the economy, tourism, cultural development. Today, we've shown that we have the will and that we want to do this, and there are a lot of projects," she said.

"I think this is a good trigger for our agricultural production, traditional crafts, cultural development and everything that makes life what it is up here in the north," Jaksic said.

For more on Croatian access to EU funding, follow our dedicated politics section.

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Podravka Gets HRK 5.16m Grant For Its Future Solar Power Plant

ZAGREB, 1 June, 2021 - Podravka's project of a solar power plant, worth HRK 10.3 million, will be co-funded with a HRK 5.2 million grant by the European Union and the Croatian government under the Rural Development Programme, the Koprivnica-based food factory reported on Tuesday.

"The grant was awarded by the Ministry of Agriculture pursuant to a decision by the Agency for Payments in Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development, and pursuant to Podravka's application for implementation of the Sub-measure 4.2 'Support for investments in the processing, marketing and/or development of agricultural products' and implementation of operation type 4.2.2. 'Use of renewable energy sources'," the company said.

The expected period for return on investment with 50% support is 3.5 years.

The investment is valued at HRK 11.7 million, of which HRK 10.3 million is to be used for the construction of the solar power plant, while HRK 1.4 will be spent on the development of the measurement facility and the necessary transformer station.

"Podravka – Danica" 2.4 MW solar power plant is to be built at the Danica Industrial Zone in Koprivnica.

(€1= HRK 7.5)

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

Friday, 21 May 2021

Renaissance Festival 2021 in Koprivnica Offers Croatian Traditional Crafts Workshops from August 19 to 22

May 21, 2021 - The Renaissance Festival 2021 to be held from August 19 to 22 in Koprivnica features the revival of various old crafts of Croatia as one of its biggest attractions this year to preserve these traditional practices.

As turistickeprice.hr reports, this year, the Tourist Board of Koprivnica leads in reviving and promoting old crafts of Croatia to tourists. As the generation who knows and carries these rare skills and practices gets older, most Croatian traditional crafts become less and less practiced and are now on the brink of completely disappearing. Due to this, the organizers of the festival decided to launch free training for those who are interested, especially to the young people, who they think will play a big role in preserving and saving these almost extinct practices. The available traditional workshops that will be offered are: wheelwrighting, coopering, basket making, gold washing, and thatching (straw-roofing). The workshops will consist mostly of hands-on practices and basic theoretical knowledge. Furthermore, the last masters of these crafts in Northern Croatia will be spearheading the transfer of these traditions to the new generation.

After the training, the Tourist Board of Koprivnica and Central Podravina will give the participants a chance to be involved in future events that preserve cultural heritage and history and they will also be able to offer their own arrangements in cooperation with travel agencies. The workshops have been announced to take place in June, in accordance with the relaxation of epidemiological measures, and will last from 3 to 5 days depending on the type of workshop. For those who are interested in learning the old crafts and participating in the workshops, you may contact the Tourist Board of Koprivnica.

Other fun things to expect at the Renaissance Festival 2021

The Renaissance Festival will be held on the remains of Koprivnica's city walls and is also featured as one of the Best Tourist Events in Croatia 2019/2020. To bring you back to the long-gone times of the Middle Ages, the festival offers medieval music and entertainers, knightly tournaments and horse fights, fencing, the largest fair of old crafts, and the largest and most unique wooden maze. It offers, as well, a unique gastronomic experience with their variety of medieval beers made of nettle, mead, capon, and pheasant or boar. The festival is also expected to have over 1,300 costumed participants from 15 European countries!  

The use of plastic has been completely banned since several years ago, so expect your meals to be traditionally prepared - on the spot and in clay or wooden pots. The meals will showcase medieval recipes and it will also highlight the use of nettles (kopriva) - a plant that dominantly grows in this region and to which Koprivnica owes its name.

It will be a unique and authentic experience of the Middle Ages. Through interacting with historical figures such as brave knights, noble ladies, old crafts, beggars, lepers, court jesters, executioners and others - each visitor will be given a treat of a truly unique, bewitching, and fun return to history!

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

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Thursday, 20 May 2021

Koprivnica-Made Somersby Finds Popularity on Five Continents

May the 20th, 2021 - The Koprivnica-made Somersby drink has been gaining international popularity as it is exported from this continental Croatian town to five continents.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Sergej Novosel Vuckovic writes, the Danish-owned Carlsberg Croatia Brewery, in addition to a wide range of its basic beer products also offers cider, a relatively new addition to the Croatian drinks scene, which is made from diluted fruit wine and based on apple juice.

This type of drink has been very popular in recent years in Croatia, despite having always been popular in Northern European countries such as the United Kingdom, and Carlsberg's cider brand Somersby is the leader on the Croatian market. It is produced in several flavours in the company's brewery in Koprivnica and from there it goes all over the world.

Koprivnica-made Somersby is enjoyed from distant Australia to Asia, and Marcin Burdach, President of the Management Board of Carlsberg Croatia, has been talking about the cider category, Croatian production, consumer trends as well as, of course, the beer market and expectations for the upcoming season.

You recently boasted that Somersby, produced in Koprivnica, is exported to 20 countries on 5 continents. What are the main markets?

Yes, you're right, we definitely did brag about it! We believe that consumers generally don't know that we produce Somersby in Koprivnica and export it. For us, it's a great source of pride. We’ve exported Koprivnica-made Somersby to different continents and countries around the world, and we don’t talk about it much. Back in 2020, Carlsberg Croatia regularly exported Somersby to eighteen markets.

As such, Koprivnica-made Somersby travelled to Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore, Israel, Austria, Tahiti, Taiwan, the Bahamas… However, it should be noted that this list is only relevant for last year - the list of countries to which Somersby has travelled from Croatia in recent years is much longer and includes Australia, the United States, the Congo, China, the Caribbean, Laos and many other places.

Isn’t that impressive and something to brag about? Our main export markets are Hungary and Germany and I think the fact that we export so much to Germany is a clear sign of quality, because everyone knows how crucial quality is in the German market.

How much Somersby was produced in the factory in Croatia last year? Have sales figures gone up?

Although we're still unable to release the full data for last year because the financial report hasn't yet been released, we can say that Somersby’s exports are increasing every year. If you want a picture of our exports, I can tell you that last year we exported 867 trucks of Somersby in bottles and more than 200 tanks of it. And yes, export numbers are better for 2020 than they were for 2019.

You've decided to further strengthen the visual of this drink with Croatian characteristics, why is that so?

We made a limited edition of the ''Croatian'' logo Somersby because we wanted to send the message that Somersby is not only a global, but also a local Croatian brand. Yes, the cans on our market are produced elsewhere, but we don't produce Somersby in bottles only for Croatia, that Koprivnica-made Somersby goes all over the world.

This is the merit of the Croatian mind and hardworking people in Croatia, who produce this drink for consumers around the world. We thought it would be easiest to convey that message visually and the feedback from consumers and our business partners about that has been great.

Your predecessor at the helm of Carlsberg Croatia told me that you would like to make Somersby from home-grown raw materials (apples), but that apple juice producers in the Republic of Croatia produce cloudy juice, and you need it to be clear. You've also expressed a desire for that to come to fruition, what does that happening depend on?

This is a logical question that always arises when we talk about the production of Somersby in Croatia - the question of the use of locally grown apples. The thing is that for the production of cider we need high quality apple juice which has certain characteristics, which allows us to produce apple wine.

Every time they ask us this question ''do you want to get those apples in Croatia'' the answer is simple - yes, we would like to get them from Croatia. But if there are no manufacturers who produce this product, it is simply not possible.

The first association to cider for Croats is Somersby, a recent Ipsos survey showed. Some respondents, as I've since foundd out, stated that this drink is more for younger people, they also said that the unit price in stores and bars is still too high. What actually is the target audience of Somersby cider in Croatia, and why is it more expensive than, for example, beer?

The truth is that Somersby is considered more of a drink for a younger audience, and its optimistic because consumers think of Somersby when they talk about cider. We found that consumers love the fact that we offer them a variety of flavours at Somersby, and that they consider it a refreshing summer drink.

Since Somersby is in a different price segment than beer, for example, we had feedback that consumers aren't the happiest with Somersby's prices in some cafes. But pricing in bars is something we can’t influence much, because it’s a matter of the owners and their business decisions.

After all, you know from personal experience that some locations in Croatia, especially those that target tourists, simply have higher prices than the average Croatian consumer considers affordable anyway.

Carlsberg is primarily a beer producer, how are things in Croatia in that regard? How much of a market share do your beer brands hold, given their wide range? How much do you produce?

Yes, beer is our main business, and it's something that isn't going to change, and you're right, we offer a wide range of beers. Last year we expanded our range to Pan, to which we added Pan Pilsner, so now we offer an even better choice in our main segment of stock.

So, now we have an offer for every taste - from Golden and Lager, through Pilsner, to Pan Dark and Pan Free. And that's just the beginning - Grimbergen, Carlsberg, Tuborg, Blanc 1664… Our portfolio of international brands provides even greater breadth to our consumers. Looking at last year’s data, we hold about 17 percent of the market and of course we want to grow that share even more.

What are your results for 2020 like? Most people's income was limited due to the pandemic, with closed bars and bans on larger gatherings...

We're unable to provide complete data for 2020 because the financial report hasn't yet been published. But of course, the pandemic influenced our results.

Everyone’s lives changed in 2020 and it’s hard for me to remember an industry or sector that hasn’t been affected by that change. Certainly, our partners in the HORECA segment have been hit hard, not to mention the situation with the event industry… these segments are still suffering and of course this is affecting us. It's hard to say when things will get better. In these circumstances, however, we're satisfied with our results.

Of course, we planned for bigger results, but we ended 2020 without any need to stop production and we managed to protect our employees and our business, which is certainly a success.

Carlsberg Croatia employs 300 people - how did you continue to organise production and the entire business with regard to the epidemiological measures?

Now that we've entered the second year of the pandemic, things are already well established and we've adapted to these new ways of working. But yes, at first it was difficult. There was so much that was unknown about this virus… I remember at one point we had a paper quarantine because we didn’t want to endanger our colleagues who deal with export paperwork.

Then came the shortages of protective equipment - in the spring of 2020, at one point we even used Somersby’s wine base to make disinfectants, so we could protect our employees. We teamed up with a small distillery and a disinfectant manufacturer and produced quantities that allowed us to give each employee half a litre of disinfectant so they could take it home and protect their families.

We donated the rest to the City of Koprivnica. We did this because it was so hard to get that protective equipment back then, and we wanted our employees to feel safer. Now it's all far simpler. We're applying various safeguards and we haven't relaxed, but now that is just another part of our health and safety rules. It's much easier psychologically.

Did you ask for state support to preserve jobs?

No, in 2020 we didn't use state aid, given the fact that we believed we could protect our business and that we could get help from the Carlsberg Group.

What do you expect from this year, especially from summer as the main period of consumption of your products?

We're optimistic about 2021. We think that globally as a Group, and locally as Carlsberg Croatia, we're strong, capable and in a good position to take advantage of opportunities. Of course, our success will depend on market trends and the development of the ongoing pandemic.

We hope that the season will be successful and that warmer weather will bring normalisation, as it did last year. I don't think you could find a person in Croatia who isn't looking forward to summer and I hope that people will welcome it with a cold Pan or Somersby in hand.

Carlsberg is also known for its promotion of drinking responsibly - in the workplace, while driving… How do you view the proposal for new regulations to repeal the provision on how much alcohol a driver can have in their blood?

We always promote responsible consumption. Through various programmes, and through the Association of Brewers, and within our company. In all our official vehicles, for example, we have a built-in Alcolock system.

The system is actually simple for the user, when sitting in the car it's necessary to blow into the test until it stops giving an audible signal. After a few seconds, in case the amount of alcohol is within the allowed limits, the system allows the car to be started. In this way, we motivate our employees to live in scope of the company rule of ''zero irresponsible consumption'' on a daily basis.

There are countless reasons why you shouldn't get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol and as a brewer, we're particularly sensitive to this topic. We believe that we need to make our employees aware of the importance of not driving at all when they drink.

When you think about what the regulation of the Labour Law is, then we don't even need such a measure. But we believe that promoting responsible behaviour and awareness is much more powerful than just relying on regulations. This is how I look at the proposal to change the regulations you're asking me about - yes, legal regulations are important, but I think it's even more important to educate and influence the consciousness of individuals.

Changing the law is a relatively easy and fairly quick process, but the effect that will be achieved as a result is questionable. Changing people's consciousness is a long-term job and a lot more effort needs to be put in there, but it is certain that positive change will happen.

For more, follow our business section.

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