Sunday, 31 October 2021

Best Croatian Nature and National Parks For Autumn 2021

October 31, 2021 – With treetops turning orange, red, yellow, purple and brown, the Croatian landscape is at its most colourful right now. These are the best Nature and National Parks for Autumn 2021

Krka National Park

Krka_National_Park2.jpg© Krka National Park

Famous for waterfalls that crash down only a few kilometres from the beaches of Šibenik, there are in fact a series of 7 waterfalls in the park. Several are far from the shoreline. You'll find some deep in the hinterland of Šibenik-Knin County because Krka National Park extends over 100 square kilometres. The river valley and its surroundings are crossed by numerous cycling paths and hiking trails. Now is one of the best times to explore them.

Krka_National_Park.jpg© Krka National Park

If you want to read more about Krka National Park, then look here

Where to stay: The city of Šibenik is truly a year-round destination, with famous fortresses, restaurants, first-class accommodation and brilliant options for active recreation.

Žumberak-Samoborsko gorje Nature Park

Samobor_by_silvijabutkovic.photographer.jpg© Silvija Butković

Covering a vast 342 square kilometres, Žumberak-Samoborsko gorje Nature Park is an epic and varied landscape. Best explored on long hikes, you'll discover rolling hills, mountain meadows, water mills sitting by streams, historic churches and chapels and charming rural communities.

Samoborsko_Zumberak.jpg© Goran Šafarek

Where to stay: If you want the contrast of a big city stay, then Zagreb is just 30 minutes to the east. But, if you prefer perfect seclusion within similar rural splendour, why not try one of these amazing Zagreb County holiday homes.

Veliki Pažut Special Zoological Reserve

Veliki_Pazut.jpg© Goran Šafarek

Although not classed as a national or nature park, this special zoological reserve really comes into its own during autumn. Within this season, the migration of birds has a great effect on the population of places like Veliki Pažut. From further north, residents who will spend all winter here are arriving to settle in. They are joined by temporary visitors who are just stopping off on their way further south. The thinner foliage in the autumn trees also makes it easier to spot deer who roam the forests on all sides of Veliki Pažut.

Goran_ŠafarekD__6321_DxO-1.jpg© Goran Šafarek

If you want to read more about Veliki Pažut Special Zoological Reserve, then look here

Where to stay: Veliki Pažut Special Zoological Reserve is located at the confluence of the rivers Mur and Drava in Legrad, Koprivnica-Križevci County. You could easily visit on a day trip from Zagreb. If you want to stay for the weekend, for an urban stay with lots of cultural options, try the stylish Apartmani Marbis (here) in Koprivnica, here. Or, if you want a secluded rural stay or you're on a weekend of wildlife photography and wish to remain very close to Veliki Pažut reserve, try Guest House Zajec in nearby Kuzminec (here).

251333204_10159958327839108_4607408917831515375_n.jpg© Goran Šafarek

Medvednica Nature Park

Park_prirode_Medvednica.jpg© Medvednica Nature Park

Sitting on the border of Zagreb, to its south and Zagorje, to its north, Medvednica is a protected area of mountains that is largely covered with thick forest. This makes for a wonderful natural habitat for birds and butterflies and others, which you can see while you walk, run or cycle through the park. The higher up the slopes you climb, the more rewarding the views. And, new to autumn 2021, the Medvedgrad Visitors Centre has just opened. It's a great time to go check it out.

zagreb_zagorje_julien_duval.jpg© Julien Duval

Where to stay: Medvednica Nature Park is on the doorstep of the Croatian capital, Zagreb, with some of the best city accommodation options in Southeast Europe.

Kopački rit Nature Park

Kopacki.jpgNational Parks For Autumn 2021: Kopački rit Nature Park © Mario Romulić

Truth be told, Kopački rit Nature Park is not at its best in summer. It's not just about the millions of warm weather mosquitoes. The waters of this marshland are at their lowest during summer and the wildlife population retracts. By autumn, rain has helped refill the Danube and Drava rivers, both of which feed Kopački rit.

Kopacki2.jpgNational Parks For Autumn 2021: Kopački rit Nature Park © Mario Romulić

The deer have just finished their rut and can be seen freely making their way through the forests. And, the bird population is spreading further throughout the park in response to the rising waters. Without question, boat trips on Kopački rit are best taken when water levels are at their peak.

If you want to read more about Kopački rit Nature Park, then look here

Where to stay: Kopački rit Nature Park is on the doorstep of Slavonian capital Osijek, which has many great accommodation options. Try Guesthouse Maksimilian (here) in the heart of the old city fort, Tvrđa.

Northern Velebit National Park (Sjeverni Velebit National Park)

Nacionalni_park_Sjeverni_Velebit2.jpgNational Parks For Autumn 2021 © Northern Velebit National Park

The whole Velebit region is a protected Nature Park. And, within it lie two National Parks. As its name suggests, Northern Velebit National Park is the most northerly. The park is exploding in colours rights now as the forests and fields turn from green to brown, purple, yellow, orange and red.

Nacionalni_park_Sjeverni_Velebit.jpgNational Parks For Autumn 2021 © Northern Velebit National Park

What's even more spectacular is the contrast between these colours and the unique geological anomalies that are protected within the park - Hajdučki kukovi and Rožanski kukovi. Mystifying and beautiful, these rock formations cover an area of around 22 square kilometres and contain no less than 40 summits that lie over 1600 metres. Between them, you’ll see Skrbina Draga and the Veliki Lubenovac field. Hiking in autumn and spring is hands down the best way to explore the extraordinary Northern Velebit National Park.

If you want to read more about Northern Velebit National Park, then look here

Where to stay: The Kvarner town of Crikvenica is a great place to base yourself for exploring the Nature and National Parks of northwest Croatia. Učka Nature Park, Risnjak National Park, Plitvice Lakes National Park and Northern Velebit National Park are all within 60 to 90 minutes drive of the town. Jadran Hotels and Camps have several year-round hotel options in Crikvenica.

Paklenica National Park

PaklenicabyIvan_Coric_Photography2.jpgNational Parks For Autumn 2021: Paklenica National Park © Ivan Čorić Photography

Paklenica National Park is the second National Park within Velebit Nature Park. Like its northerly cousin, Paklenica is a joy to explore on long hikes. But, these mountains have a wholly different landscape. Paklenica is dominated by two distinct and dramatic canyons - Velika Paklenica and Mala Paklenica. Following either, away from the coast and further into the park, will lead you to black pine forest and spectacular karst rock formations. Paklenica is also famous as a climbing location. Recreational and expert climbers from all over the world come here to tackle the rocks between spring and autumn.

PaklenicabyIvan_Coric_Photography.jpgNational Parks For Autumn 2021: Paklenica National Park © Ivan Čorić Photography

If you want to read more about Paklenica National Park, then look here

Where to stay: If you're looking for a city stay with many cultural, activity, event and restaurant options, the vibrant university town of Zadar lies on the shore just an hour from Paklenica National Park. But, if you're visiting solely to explore this wonderful National Park and want to stay close by, the much smaller seaside town of Starigrad is where you'll find the main entrance to the park.

Lonjsko polje Nature Park

Lonjsko_polje.jpg© Goran Šafarek

Covering a massive 505 square kilometres, Lonjsko polje is the largest protected wetland in Croatia and the Danube basin. It is also the third-largest Nature Park in Croatia, its floodplain fields and forests are habitats for more than two-thirds of all birds in Croatia.

247218663_4254117711377441_2820130146317535557_n.jpg© Lonjsko polje Nature Park

Like Kopački rit, Lonjsko polje is best enjoyed outside of peak summer and the 'mosquito months'. Bicycle and walking trails along with its flat landscape make this an incredibly accessible park to all. The park s also famous for its accommodation and food offer, the latter featuring river fish and wild meats like boar and deer which are traditionally common in autumn.

If you want to read more about Lonjsko polje Nature Park, then look here

Where to stay: Lonjsko polje is around 90 minutes drive from Zagreb and an easy day trip from the capital. But, if you want a more rural escape, as mentioned, the park is known for its accommodation offer. You can see more of it here.

Biokovo Nature Park

biokovo2.jpgNational Parks For Autumn 2021: Biokovo Nature Park © Marc Rowlands

Offering some of the very best views in Dalmatia, Biokovo Nature Park is arguably at its best in autumn. Why? Well, the powerful Bura and Jugo winds are more common at this time of year. Visiting Biokovo the day after they've visited is incredibly rewarding. The winds clear the air and, as a result, the visibility is truly incredible. You can pick out tiny detail in the islands.

biokovo.jpgNational Parks For Autumn 2021: Biokovo Nature Park © Marc Rowlands

Turning away from the sea and islands, Biokovo has an incredible mountainous landscape of its own that is no less thrilling to the eye. You'll discover it best on long hikes. Autumn and spring are the very best times to hike on Biokovo.

If you want to learn more about Biokovo's hiking routes, then look here. And if you want to read more about Biokovo Nature Park in general, then look here.

Where to stay: Having experienced an explosion over recent years in the number of holiday homes available, the nearby city of Imotski is well equipped to welcome visitors. And, unlike some of the coastal options near Biokovo, the visitor offer in Imotski is not negatively impacted by the change in the seasons. Theirs is a year-round offer. Furthermore, the city's 11 lakes are due to join Biokovo within a new UNESCO Geopark from 2022. If you want to read more about Imotski, then look here.

Plitvice Lakes, most famous of the National Parks For Autumn 2021

Nacionalni_park_Plitvička_jezera_Plitvice_Lakes_National_Park.jpgNational Parks For Autumn 2021 © Plitvice Lakes National Park

The most famous of all Croatian National Parks is a treat in any season of the year. Plitvice's waters are full and more vibrant than ever at this time of year. And, the surrounding nature draws from an incredibly varied colour palette. Perhaps best of all, you have so much more of the park to yourself when you visit outside the warmest months.

Nacionalni_park_Plitvička_jezera_Plitvice_Lakes_National_Park2.jpgNational Parks For Autumn 2021 © Plitvice Lakes National Park

If you want to read more about Plitvice Lakes National Park, then look here

Where to stay: There are many different kinds of rural accommodation options in the vicinity of Plitvice Lakes National Park. But, if you want to combine your stay with a city break, there's nowhere better than Karlovac. The city on four rivers has its own incredible nature to explore, plus amazing culture, heritage and excellent food options. Actually, the city is famous throughout Croatia for its recipes with autumnal chestnuts. And, it's only an hour by car to Plitvice Lakes. If you want to learn more about Karlovac, then look here.

Both the author and Total Croatia News would like to sincerely thank Ivan Čorić, Silvija Butković, Mario Romulić and Goran Šafarek for the kind permission to use their photography here.

Friday, 30 April 2021

Krka National Park Ticket Discount: Walk for a 20% Cheaper Visit in May

April 30, 2021 - Throughout the month of May, a Krka National Park ticket discount is going to be offered in the Park's "Go and Walk" action, which provides a 20% cheaper ticket to any visitor ready to enter and exit the premises on foot.

Krka National Park, as stated on their website, is going to be inviting visitors to enter the Park on foot and get a 20 percent discount on their individual ticket price for doing so. This offer is part of the ''Go and Walk'' action, which starts on Saturday, May the 1st, and is set to continue throughout the whole month. 

''The ''Go and Walk'' promotional action implies that people must enter and exit the park on foot in order to get the Krka National Park ticket discount of 20%. All of the park's other services, as well as tickets for visitors who will enter the park by boat or a bus, will be charged by as normal,'' according to Krka National Park's official website. 

The discount varies pending on where you intend to go. If you decide to go to the main spectacle of the park, The Skradinski Buk waterfall by taking the hitchhiker trail, either from Lozovac or Skradinski Bridge, the promotional price is 80 kuna. Apart from Skradinski Buk, all other land localities in the park are set to be included in that price. Kids aged 7-18 accompanied by parents or guardians will have to pay only 64 kuna for their ticket, while for kids up to the age of 7, entrance to the park is free of charge. 

If you decide to walk only until Roski Slap, an adult ticket will cost 40 kunas and for kids (7-18-year-olds), only 32 kuna. 

The third option is also the Krka Monastary and Burnum archaeological site. An adult ticket price for that path is 32 kuna, while the children's ticket costs a mere 24 kuna. 

''With the ''Go and Walk'' action, the Public Institute of Krka National Park wants to encourage the active visiting of the park, and the usage of educational-hitchhiking trails too, by reducing the usage of public transport by bus and boats and having a direct impact on lowering CO2 emissions,'' said Nella Slavica of the Public Institute of Krka National Park.

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© Krka National Park

Krka National Park is also a holder of the ''Stay Safe in Croatia'' badge, and the park is being very careful in ensuring epidemical measures are respected by both the visitors and employees while informing the public about the benefits of being out in the open air during these challenging times. 

Back in the former Yugoslavia, on January the 24th, 1985, the Parliament of the Socialist Republic of Croatia declared Krka a National Park, and it has enjoyed an enormous amount of popularity ever since. This gorgeous park remains a place of natural and cultural heritage, a place to learn, a place to rest, and a place to enjoy a lovely escape from the stress of modern life. 

Learn more about Krka National Park on our TC page.

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

Friday, 5 March 2021

VIDEO: Drone Reveals Super Close Encounter Beneath Zadar Whale Chasers

March 5, 2021 – Two locals look fragile and exposed against the gigantic secrets of the sea beneath them as newly revealed drone footage shows a super close encounter for Zadar whale chasers

Upon hearing a whale had strayed in the Karin Sea, Igor Goić and Sandra Župan, decided to set off to try and get a closer look. They became Zadar whale chasers for the day. On 4 March 2021, Croatian media Vecernji List described the pair as great lovers of travel and exploration of natural beauty.

A couple of months ago, the Zadar whale chasers travelled to the bay, some 30 kilometres from the city, to try and catch a glimpse of the sizeable mammal. Two days ago, they published a drone video from the day which made them realise only now that the whale was much closer to them than they thought.


Zadar whale chasers spoke to the media

“Last year, on October 10th we followed a fin whale that got sidetracked in Karin bay. We thought that the closest he got near us was around 5-6m. Today, by checking some footage from the drone we found this,” they wrote on Instagram.

The Zadar whale chasers' drone footage was transferred to processing software, which sharpens the contrast and "fixed" the colours a bit. This allowed the pair to find out they were much closer to the whale than they previously thought. In fact, he passes directly beneath the Zadar whale chasers boat.

“When you are in a kayak, low above the (water) surface, you do not see anything from the empty glare,” said Zadar whale chasers cameraman and director Igor Goić to Morski.hr “and as we tested with the paddle, the visibility was maybe up to 2 meters (when you dip the whole paddle you can't see the other end).

Goić explained to the media that not only had the fixed footage revealed the surprise and previously unknown passage of the animal beneath them. There is also another shot where it comes alongside the Zadar whale chasers kayak and then turns on its side for a minute so it can watch them. Getting up close to nature is one thing, but when your kayak is dwarfed by such an amazing creature of the sea, perhaps some nearness is too close for comfort.

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Friday, 19 February 2021

People also ask Google: What is Croatia Famous For?

February 19, 2021 – What is Croatia Famous For?

People outside of the country really want to know more about Croatia. They search for answers online.

Here, we'll try to answer the popular search terms “What is Croatia famous for?” and “What is Croatia known for?”

Most of the people looking for answers to these questions have never been to Croatia. They may have been prompted to ask because they're planning to visit Croatia, they want to come to Croatia, or because they heard about Croatia on the news or from a friend.

What Croatia is known for depends on your perspective. People who live in the country sometimes have a very different view of what Croatia is famous for than the rest of the world. And, after visiting Croatia, people very often leave with a very different opinion of what Croatia is known for than before they came. That's because Croatia is a wonderful country, full of surprises and secrets to discover. And, it's because internet searches don't reveal everything. Luckily, you have Total Croatia News to do that for you.

What is Croatia known for?

1) Holidays


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Croatia is best known globally as a tourist destination. Catching sight of pictures of the country online is enough to make almost anyone want to come. If you've heard about it from a friend, seen the country used in a TV show like Game of Thrones or Succession, or watched a travel show, your mind will be made up. Following such prompts, it's common for Croatia to move to first place on your bucket list. If it's not already, it should be, There are lots of reasons why Croatia is best known for holidays (vacations).

a) Islands


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What is Croatia famous for? Islands © Mljet National Park

Within Croatia's tourist offer, its most famous aspect is its islands. Croatia has over a thousand islands - 1246 when you include islets. 48 Croatian islands are inhabited year-round, but many more come to life over the warmer months. Sailing in Croatia is one of the best ways to see the islands, and if you're looking for a place for sailing in the Mediterranean, Croatia is the best choice because of its wealth of islands. These days, existing images of Croatia's islands have been joined by a lot more aerial photography and, when people see these, they instantly fall in love.

b) Beaches


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What is Croatia famous for? Its holidays are famous for their beaches © Szabolcs Emich

Croatia has 5835 kilometres of coastline on the Adriatic Sea - 1,777.3 kilometres of coast on the mainland, and a further 4,058 kilometres of coast around its islands and islets. The Croatian coast is the most indented of the entire Mediterranean. This repeated advance and retreat into the Adriatic forms a landscape littered with exciting, spectacular peninsulas, quiet, hidden bays, and some of the best beaches in the world. There are so many beaches in Croatia, you can find a spot to suit everyone. On the island of Pag and in the Zadar region, you'll find beaches full of young people where the party never stops. Elsewhere, romantic and elegant seafood restaurants hug the shoreline. Beach bars can range from ultra-luxurious to basic and cheap. The beaches themselves can be popular and full of people, facilities, excitement and water sports, or they can be remote, idyllic, and near-deserted, accessible only by boat. Sand, pebble, and stone all line the perfectly crystal-clear seas which are the common feature shared by all.

c) Dubrovnik


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What is Croatia famous for? Dubrovnik © Ivan Ivanković

As a backdrop to Game Of Thrones and movies from franchises like Star Wars and James Bond, Dubrovnik is known all over the world. Everybody wants to see it in person, and that's why it's an essential stop-off for so many huge cruise ships in warmer months. But, Dubrovnik's fame did not begin with the invention of film and television. The city was an autonomous city-state for long periods of time in history, and Dubrovnik was known all over Europe – the famous walls which surround the city of Dubrovnik are a testament to a desire to maintain its independent standing for centuries while living in the shadow of expanding, ambitious empires.

d) Heritage


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What is Croatia famous for? Heritage. Pula amphitheatre is one of the best-preserved Roman amphitheatres in the world

The walled city of Dubrovnik is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Croatia's rich architectural and ancient heritage. Diocletian's Palace in Split is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and still the living, breathing centre of life in the city (that people still live within it and it is not preserved in aspic is one of its most charming features and no small reason for its excellent preservation).

Having existed on the line of European defence against the Ottoman empire, Croatia also has many incredible fortresses and castles. The fortresses of Sibenik are well worth seeing if you're visiting Sibenik-Knin County and its excellent coast. A small number of Croatia's best castles exist on the coast, Rijeka's Trsat and Nova Kraljevica Castle is nearby Bakar being two of them. Most of Croatia's best and prettiest castles are actually located in its continental regions which, compared to the coast, remain largely undiscovered by most international tourists.

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Many spectacular castles in the country's continental regions are, for these parts, what is Croatia famous for

Pula amphitheatre (sometimes referred to as Pula Arena) is one of the largest and best-preserved Roman amphitheatres in the world. A spectacular sight year-round, like Diocletian's Palace, it remains a living part of the city's life, famously hosting an international film festival, concerts by orchestras, opera stars, and famous rock and pop musicians. Over recent years, it has also played a part in the city's music festivals.

e) Music Festivals


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What is Croatia famous for? Music festivals © Khris Cowley

There is a very good reason why the city of Pula leapt massively up the list of most-researched online Croatian destinations over the last decade. It played host to two of the country's most famous international music festivals. Though the music at some of these can be quite niche, the global attention they have brought to the country is simply massive. Clever modern branding and marketing by the experienced international operators who host their festivals in Croatia mean that millions of young people all over the world have seen videos, photos and reviews of Croatia music festivals, each of them set within a spectacular backdrop of seaside Croatia.

f) Plitvice Lakes and natural heritage


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What is Croatia Famous For? Plitvice Lakes, national parks and natural heritage

Known for its chain of 16 terraced lakes and gushing waterfalls, Plitvice Lakes is the oldest, biggest and most famous National Park in Croatia. Everybody wants to see it. And many do. But that's not the be-all and end-all of Croatia's stunning natural beauty. Within the country's diverse topography, you'll find 7 further National Parks and 12 Nature Parks which can be mountain terrain, an archipelago of islands, or vibrant wetlands.

2) Football


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What is Croatia famous for? Football. Seen here, Luka Modric at the 2018 World Cup © Светлана Бекетова

The glittering international careers of Croatian footballers Luka Modrić, Ivan Rakitić, Ivan Perišić, Mario Mandžukić, and others have in recent years advertised Croatia as a factory of top-flight footballing talent. They helped put Croatia football on the map with fans of European football. Football fans in Croatia have a very different perception of just how famous Croatian football is to everyone else in the world. If you talk to a Croatian fan about football, it's almost guaranteed that they will remind you of a time (perhaps before either of you were born) when their local or national team beat your local or national team in football. 99% of people will have no idea what they are talking about. The past occasions which prompt this parochial pride pale into insignificance against the Croatian National Football Team's achievement in reaching the World Cup Final of 2018. This monumental occasion brought the eyes of the world on Croatia, extending way beyond the vision of regular football fans. Subsequently, the internet exploded with people asking “Where is Croatia?”

Sports in general are what is Croatia known for

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Croatians are enthusiastic about sports and engage in a wide number of them. The difference in perception between how Croats view the fame this gets them and the reality within the rest of the world is simply huge. Rowing, basketball, wrestling, mixed martial arts, tennis, handball, boxing, waterpolo, ice hockey, skiing and volleyball are just some of the sports in which Croatia has enthusiastically supported individuals and local and national teams. Some of these are regarded as minority sports even in other countries that also pursue them. Croatians don't understand this part. If you say to a Croatian “What is handball? I never heard of that,” they will look at you like you are crazy or of below-average intelligence.

3) Zagreb


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What is Croatia famous for? Its capital city Zagreb is becoming increasingly better known

Over relatively recent years, the Croatian capital has skyrocketed in terms of fame and visitor numbers. Tens of thousands of people from all over the world now come to visit Zagreb each year. Its massive new success can be partly attributed to the rising popularity of international tourism in some areas of Asia (and Zagreb being used as a setting for some television programmes made in some Asian countries) and the massive success of Zagreb's Advent which, after consecutively attaining the title of Best European Christmas Market three times in a row, has become famous throughout the continent and further still. Zagreb's fame is not however restricted to tourism. Zagreb is known for its incredible Austro-Hungarian architecture, its Upper Town (Gornji Grad) and the buildings there, an array of museums and city centre parks and as home to world-famous education and scientific institutions, like to Ruder Boskovic Institute and the Faculty of Economics, University of Zagreb.

4) Olive oil


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What is Croatia famous for? Olive oil

Croatian olive oil is the best in the world. Don't just take out word for it! Even the experts say so. In 2020, leading guide Flos Olei voted Istria in northwest Croatia as the world's best olive oil growing region for a sixth consecutive year. Olive oil production is an ancient endeavour in Croatia, and over hundreds of years, the trees have matured, and the growers learned everything there is to know. Olive oil is made throughout a much wider area of Croatia than just Istria, and local differences in climate, variety, and soil all impact the flavour of the oils produced. Croatian has no less than five different olive oils protected at a European level under the designation of their place of origin. These and many other Croatian olive oils are distinct and are among the best you're ever likely to try.

5) There was a war here


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What is Croatia famous for? A relatively recent war left its mark on the country © Modzzak

Under rights granted to the republics of the former Yugoslavia and with a strong mandate from the Croatian people, gained across two national referendums, Croatia declared its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. Yugoslavia was a multi-ethnic country, with each republic containing a mixture of different ethnicities and indeed many families which themselves were the product of mixed ethnicities. Ethnic tensions and the rise of strong nationalist political voices in each of the former republics and within certain regions of these countries lead to a situation where war became inevitable. The worst of the fighting was suffered within Croatia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina and the part of southern Serbia which is now Kosovo. The Croatian War of Independence (known locally as the Homeland War) lasted from 1991 – 1995. The Yugoslav wars of which it was a major part is regarded as the deadliest conflict in Europe since World War II. In many cases, this war pitted neighbouring houses or neighbouring villages against each other and sometimes members of the same family could be found on opposing sides. The war left huge damage on the country and its infrastructure, some of which is still visible. Worse still, it had a much greater physical and psychological impact on the population. Some people in Croatia today would rather not talk about the war and would prefer to instead talk about the country's present and future. For other people in Croatia, the war remains something of an obsession. If you are curious about the Croatian War of Independence, it is not advisable to bring it up in conversation when you visit the country unless you know the person you are speaking with extremely well. It is a sensitive subject for many and can unnecessarily provoke strong emotions and painful memories. There are many resources online where you can instead read all about the war, there are good documentary series about it on Youtube and there are several museums in Croatia where you can go and learn more, in Vukovar, Karlovac and in Zagreb.

6) Wine


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What is Croatia famous for? Its wine is some of the best you'll ever try © Plenković

Croatia is not really that famous for wine. Well, not as famous as it should be because Croatia makes some of the greatest wine on the planet. Croatian wine is only really famous to those who have tried it after visiting – you'll never forget it! A growing cabal of Croatian wine enthusiasts are trying their best internationally to spread the word about Croatian wine. However, there isn't really that much space in Croatia to make all the wine it needs to supply its homegrown demands and a greatly increased export market. Therefore, export prices of Croatian wine are quite high and even when it does reach foreign shores, these prices ensure its appreciation only by a select few. There's a popular saying locally that goes something like this “We have enough for ourselves and our guests”. Nevertheless, Croatian wine is frequently awarded at the most prestigious international competitions and expos. White wine, red wine, sparkling wine, cuvee (mixed) and rose wine are all made here and Croatia truly excels at making each. You can find different kinds of grape grown and wine produced in the different regions of Croatia. The best way to learn about Croatian wine is to ask someone who really knows about wine or simply come to Croatia to try it. Or, perhaps better still, don't do that and then there will be more for those of us who live here. Cheers!

7) Croatian produce


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Drniš prsut
is protected at a European level, one of 32 products currently protected in this way and therefore what is Croatia famous for © Tourist Board of Drniš

To date, 32 agricultural and food products from Croatia have attained protection at a European level. These range from different prosciuttos, olive oils and Dalmatian bacon, to pastries and pastas, honey, cheese, turkeys, lamb, cabbages, mandarins, salt, sausages, potatoes and something called Meso 'z tiblice (which took a friend from the region where it's made three days to fully research so he could explain it to me at the levels necessary to write an informed article about it – so, you can research that one online). While some prosciutto, bacon, sausages, olive oil and wine do make it out of Croatia, much of these are snaffled up by a discerning few of those-in-the-know. The rest, you will only really be able to try if you visit. And, there are many other items of Croatian produce which are known which you can also try while here

Truffles


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What is Croatia known for? Truffles © Donatella Paukovic

By weight, one of the most expensive delicacies in the world, truffles are a famous part of the cuisine within some regions of Croatia. They feature heavily in the menu of Istria, which is well known as a region in which both white and black truffles are found and then added to food, oils or other products. Truth be told, this isn't a black and white issue - there are a great number of different types of truffle and they can be found over many different regions in Croatia, including around Zagreb and in Zagreb County. But, you'll need to see a man about a dog if you want to find them yourself.

Vegeta


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What is Croatia known for? Vegeta

Having celebrated its 60th birthday in 2019, the cooking condiment Vegeta is exported and known in many other countries, particularly Croatia's close neighbours. It is popularly put into soups and stews to give them more flavour. Among its ingredients are small pieces of dehydrated vegetables like carrot, parsnip, onion, celery, plus spices, salt and herbs like parsley.

Chocolate


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What is Croatia known for? Chocolate is a big export© Alexander Stein

Though making chocolate is only around a century old in Croatia, Croatian chocolate has grown to become one of its leading manufactured food exports. Some of the most popular bars may be a little heavy on sugar and low on cocoa for more discerning tastes. But, lots of others really like it.

Beer


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What is Croatia famous for? Its beer is becoming more famous internationally © The Garden Brewery

The exploding growth of the Croatian craft ale scene over the last 10 years is something that is likely to have passed you by, unless you're a regular visitor to the country, a beer buff or both. Most of the producers are quite small and production not great enough to make a big splash on international markets. However, even within a craft-flooded current market, Croatian beer is becoming more widely known – in one poll, the Zagreb-based Garden Brewery was in 2020 voted Europe's Best Brewery for the second consecutive year

8) Innovation


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What is Croatia famous for? Pioneers, inventors and innovation. Nikola Tesla was born here

From the parachute, fingerprinting, the retractable pen and the tungsten filament electric light-bulb to the torpedo, modern seismology, the World Health Oganisation and the cravat (a necktie, and the precursor to the tie worn by many today), Croatia has gifted many innovations to the world. The list of pioneers - scientists, artists, researchers and inventors - who were born here throughout history is long. And, although innovation is not currently regarded as experiencing a golden period in Croatia, there are still some Croatian innovators whose impact is felt globally, such as electric hypercar maker Mate Rimac.

9) Being poor


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What is Croatia famous for? Being poor. Yikes!

The minimum wage in Croatia is among the lowest in Europe. Croatian language media is constantly filled with stories about corruption. There is a huge state apparatus in which key (if not most) positions are regarded to be politically or personally-motivated appointments. This leads to a lack of opportunity for Croatia's highly educated young people. Many emigrate for better pay and better opportunities. This leads to a brain drain and affects the country's demographics considerably (if it usually the best educated, the ablest and the youngest Croatian adults who emigrate). Many of those who stay are influenced by the stories of widespread corruption and lack of opportunity and are therefore lethargic in their work, leading to a lack of productivity. A considerable part of the Croatian economy is based on tourism which remains largely seasonal.

10) People want to live in Croatia


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What is Croatia famous for? People want to come and live here. No, really.

Yes, despite many younger Croatians leaving or dreaming of leaving and despite the low wages, many people who are not from Croatia dream about living here. Of course, it's an all too familiar scenario that you go on holiday somewhere and while sitting at a seafood restaurant in sight of a glorious sunset, having had a few too many glasses of the local wine, you fall in love with Miguel or however the waiter is called who served it and Miguel's homeland. But, with Croatia, this is actually no passing fancy, no idle holiday dream. People do decide to move here. And not just for the sunset and Miguel (nobody in Croatia is called Miguel - Ed).

Croatia may be known for being poor, but it also has one of the best lifestyles in Europe. That it's cafe terraces are usually full to capacity tells you something about the work to living ratio. Croatians are not just spectators of sport, many enjoy a healthy lifestyle. This informs everything from their pastimes to their diet. There are great facilities for exercise and sport, wonderful nature close by whichever part of the country you're in. You can escape into somewhere wonderful and unknown at a moment's notice. The country is well connected internally by brilliant roads and motorways, reliable intercity buses and an international train network. The tourism industry ensures that multiple airports across Croatia can connect you to almost anywhere you want to go, and major international airports in Belgrade and Budapest, just a couple of hours away, fly to some extremely exotic locations. There are a wealth of fascinating neighbour countries on your doorstep to explore on a day trip or weekend and superfast broadband is being rolled out over the entire country. This is perhaps one of the reasons Croatia has been heralded as one of the world's best options for Digital Nomads. In a few years, when we ask what is Croatia famous far, they could be one of the answers.

What is Croatia famous for, but only after you've visited

Some things you experience when you visit Croatia come as a complete surprise. Most would simply never be aware of them until they visit. They are usually top of the list of things you want to do when you come back to Croatia.

Gastronomy


fritaja_sparoge_1-maja-danica-pecanic_1600x900ntbbbbb.jpgGastronomy is only one of the things what is Croatia known for only after you've visited © Maja Danica Pecanic / Croatian National Tourist Board

Despite a few famous TV chefs having visited and filmed in Croatia over the years, Croatian gastronomy remains largely unknown to almost everyone who's never been to Croatia. That's a shame because you can find some fine food here. Croatia has increased its Michelin-starred and Michelin-recommended restaurants tenfold over recent years. But, perhaps the bigger story is the traditional cuisine which varies greatly within the countries different regions. From the gut-busting barbecue grills and the classic Mediterranean fare of Dalmatia to the pasta, asparagus and truffles of Istria to the sausages and paprika-rich stews of Slavonia and the best smoked and preserved meats of the region, there's an untold amount of secret Croatian gastronomy to discover.

Coffee


restaurant-3815076_1280.jpgWhat is Croatia known for? Well, to locals, it's famous for coffee - not just a drink, it's a ritual

Croatians are passionate about coffee and about going for coffee. It's a beloved ritual here. Going for coffee in Croatia is often about much more than having coffee. It's an integral part of socialising, catching up and sometimes being seen. It doesn't always involve coffee either. Sometimes, you'll be invited for coffee, only to end up ordering beer. It's not about the coffee. Although, the standard of coffee in Croatia, and the places where you drink it, is usually really good.

The misapprehension: What is Croatia known for (if you are a Croatian living in Croatia)

Handball, music

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Monday, 8 February 2021

Dinaric Karst Caves World's Richest In Species, 70% Indigenous To Croatia

February 8, 2021 – The Dinaric karst caves found intermittently down the length of the country's coast are the richest in the world when it comes to species that live within them. Many of them are extremely rare, with 70% of them being indigenous exclusively to Croatia

Dinaric karst caves are one of the best-kept secrets of Dalmatia. While the majestic Dinaric Alps are an ever-present backdrop within holiday photos taken on the Croatian coast, the Dinaric karst caves and cave systems that can be found intermittently running through them remain little known, explored only by a handful of expert speleologists and biologists. And, that is how it should remain, because they are teeming with very rare species.

croatia-4754109_1920_1.jpgA cave in the Dinaric Alps in Dalmatia

Croatia's Dinaric karst caves are the richest in the world when it comes to species that live within them. Many of the creatures that live in Dinaric karst caves are extremely rare, with 70% of them being indigenous exclusively to Croatia.

Having evolved over millenia to life in the darkened environs of Dinaric karst caves, the animals that inhabit this subterranean ground once lived above-ground and were much more common. The tough, lightless conditions of Dinaric karst caves meant that only those who were strong enough to adapt would survive, developing new features or losing others in response to their habitat.

Recently featured in TCN because it is up for 'Mollusc of the Year', the rare Congeria Kusceri is a classic example of how Dinaric karst caves have changed in response to their environment. The mollusc lost its pigmentation and any sense of sight due to having a lifetime bereft of sunlight.

congols.jpgCongeria kusceri © Vedran Jalžić

According to a recent article published by National Park Krka, who themselves have many rare species and Dinaric karst caves, other classic characteristics of the evolutionary process on Dinaric karst caves species include a thinning of the integument (the protective outer layer, shell or skin), lengthening of body parts, slow metabolism, life longevity, low reproduction, accumulation of fat reserves, reduced aggression, cessation of day-night rhythm, cessation of seasonal changes and activities, and changes in brain structure.

186 Dinaric karst caves species have been endangered according to the endangerment criteria of the International Organization for Nature Protection (IUCN). One of the biggest threats is the pollution of their underground habitats. Therefore, some of caves have been recognised at a national and at an EU-level as being natural habitats of special interest and marked as off-limits. About 400 speleological objects are listed under Caves and pits closed to the public (code 8310) and 220 under Overflowing or partially flooded sea caves (code 8330).

But, for those interested in discovering the hidden network of Dinaric karst caves within Croatia, there are many which are accessible and open to the public. Official guides and several speleology associations are available to reveal these secret subterranean lairs. What you see inside might be just as spectacular as how these mountains look in the background of your holiday snaps.

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The Ulysses cave on Mljet island, one of the many caves in Croatia which is accessible to the public © TZ Mljet

Monday, 1 February 2021

VIDEO: Stunning Aerial Footage of Dolphin Family in Zadar Archipelago

February 1, 2021 – The Adriatic might be too cold for us right now, but conditions are perfect for this dolphin family, spectacularly captured gliding through glacial, undisturbed waters by an overhead drone

The Adriatic might be too cold for us right now, but conditions are perfect for this dolphin family, spectacularly captured gliding through glacial, undisturbed waters by an overhead drone

The footage of the dolphin family was captured spectacularly by keen amateur drone photographer Davor Miljkovic. Davor, who is from Zapresic, usually puts his eye for aesthetics into website design – he works as a PHP website developer for Virtus dizajn in Lanište, Zagreb and as a freelance website developer. But, he is currently taking advantage of working remotely and was able to catch footage of the dolphin family during his off time.

“I live in Zapresic but my grandmother is from island Rava, near Zadar,” Davor told TCN on 1st February 2021, two days after he posted the video of the dolphin family to his Youtube channel. “So, we have a house here by the sea. My fiance and I spend part of the winter here and we are here all summer too.”

The Zadar archipelago (in Croatian Zadarski arhipelag) is an incredibly picturesque group of islands off the coast of the city of Zadar. In addition to island Rava, off which Davor saw the dolphin family, the archipelago also consists of the islands Dugi Otok, Galešnjak, Iž, Lavdara, Ošljak, Pašman, Rivanj, Sestrunj, Tun Veli, Ugljan, Vir, Vrgada, Zečevo and Zverinac.

The beautiful stretch of islands is usually very popular with summertime visitors. It would seem that it's also popular in wintertime with visitors who live in the sea. And, of course, people like Davor who are lucky enough to catch sight of them.

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Thursday, 21 January 2021

Karlovac City of Trees: 10, 000 Trees Breathe Life Into City Centre

January 21, 2021 – By fiercely protecting their natural residents, Karlovac city of trees improves the quality of life for all – the trees keep the air clean, reduce the temperature and noise and serve as a habitat for city centre wildlife

The parks we find within cities can often be the very best parts. As a visitor, their memory can rival the grandest architecture you take in. London and Zagreb are two perfect examples. Who couldn't say that the stroll between Glavni kolodvor (main train station) and Ban Jelačić Square via Tomislavac and Zrinjevac isn't year-round one of the most gorgeous parts of the Croatian capital?

Though lying only 50 kilometres to the south-west of Zagreb, in the city of Karlovac they have taken a different approach. Instead of building parks within the city, they've built a city within parks, or so they like to say. And, walking down its tree-lined promenades, shaded by the riverside or through its immaculate rolling parkland, who could disagree? This is a city within a park. Also, it is Karlovac city of trees.

Park_in_city_of_Karlovac11raccoon1.jpgOne of Karlovac's famous city centre parks © 11raccoon1

Karlovac city of trees prizes its green assets more than most. They never cut down their trees unless its health poses a direct risk to property or person. Any new builds or city expansion must happen around the longstanding green residents. Local by-laws state that for any tree removed from within the city centre, another must be planted in its place.

parkovi1TZK.jpg© Visit Karlovac

In addition to the public institution Natura Viva, which takes care of the parks in Karlovac city of trees, and the company Zelenilo, which takes care of public green areas, the Commission for the Protection and Arrangement of Green Areas of the City of Karlovac has been established. The city recognises that its green areas, in particular its trees, are not only there for their beauty – they positively affect air quality, reduce temperature and reduce noise in the city. They are also the habitat of the city's animal residents. The quality of life of residents in Karlovac city of trees is dependant on these natural assets.

Zelena-ruta-istaknutaTZ2.jpg© Visit Karlovac

So seriously do they take the responsibility of looking after its trees, that Zelenilo maintains a map of the city which details every single tree that exists within the city centre. As noted in a news item from yesterday from the lokalni.hr portal, this map, or cadastre, has just been updated. Karlovac city of trees now proudly counts 10, 000 trees as valuable residents within its city centre.

Marmontova_aleja_575GradK.jpg© Grad Karlovac

In order to reach this high figure, Zelenilo detailed that 144 new trees were planted in the city last year and another 147 trees in the Mekušje business zone. In 2019, 242 trees were planted, 95 in the year before, 119 in 2017, 210 in 2016, 162 in 2015, and as many as 200 in 2014.

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Indigenous Croatian Species Congeria Kusceri Up For 'Mollusc of the Year'

January 20, 2021 – Let's be honest, Croatia has a lot more photogenic inhabitants than this. But, from over 120 molluscs registered, the indigenous Croatian species Congeria kusceri have been chosen as one of the top five finalists in this year's Mollusc of the Year competition.

There's actually quite a good reason why Congeria kusceri isn't so photogenic – it lives underground. In fact, Congeria kusceri comes from the Congeria genus, which are the only known freshwater underground shellfish in the world. Most of this genus has sadly become extinct. However, three members of the family survive in this region - Congeria jalzici which can be found in Slovenia, northern Velebit and northwestern Lika, Congeria mualomerovici which lives in the Sana basin in Bosnia, and Congeria kusceri which is endemic to underground cave systems of the Neretva and Trebišnjica basins in Herzegovina and southern Dalmatia. Although, that wasn't always the case.

3.-Congeria-kusceri_1.jpgCongeria kusceri are albino molluscs, having lost their pigmentation while living away from sunlight. They live in southern Dalmatia, whose strongly supported football club, Hajduk Split, are also associated with the colour white © The Croatian Biospeleological Society (CBSS)

The ancestors of these molluscs used to live on the surface of lakes. Some of the molluscs followed the flow of water downstream and ended up inhabiting cave systems underground. Those which were able to adapt to a life of complete darkness survived. Having existed for so long in such a sunless environment, Congeria kusceri have lost their pigmentation - another reason we might consider them unphotogenic.

Congeria kusceri is on the Croatian Red List of Cave Fauna, in the category of critically endangered species, and at the European level, it is protected by the Directive on the Protection of Natural Habitats and Wild Fauna and Flora of the European Union. It is extremely rare. To date, these molluscs have been found in only fifteen underground locations of the Dinaric karst region.

Metkovic.pngThe Predolac hill in Metković © Jure Grm

The largest living colony of Congeria kusceri that we so far know about can be found at the foot of the Predolac hill in Metković. Congeria kusceri is around two centimetres in length. Once part of a flourishing mollusc family, most of the Congeria genus died out around five million years ago. The genus was considered to be entirely extinct until shells of recently deceased individuals were found near Vrgorac in 1934. Congeria kusceri's new cousins - Congeria jalzici and Congeria mualomerovici – were only described and recognised as distinct sub-species as recently as 2013.

The Mollusc of the Year competition is run by the Senckenberg Research Institute and Museum, and the Centre for Translational and Genomic Biodiversity (TBG) in Frankfurt. Congeria Kusceri's success in being chosen as one of the finalists was announced by the Ruđer Bošković Institute in Zagreb.

Voting for Mollusc of the Year is open to the public. Anyone who is not too shellfish with their time and who may wish to support this endangered Croatian underdog in the competition can vote here

Wednesday, 6 January 2021

PHOTOS: Ivanscica – Northern Croatia's First Nature Park?

January 6, 2021 – The spectacular backdrop to photographs taken at some of Zagorje's most famous landmarks, Ivanscica is the highest mountain in the country's north. Richly ringed by castles and fortresses that draw investigating hikers, could it become Northern Croatia's first-ever Nature Park?

Northern Croatia is renowned for many reasons. It has the highest concentration of castles and stately homes in the whole of Croatia, including many of the country's most spectacular. It has fantastic museums, some of which are even situated inside these castles. Rivers, water parks and ancient spa waters dot the landscape and the rustic, classic cuisine is often so great you know exactly why the capital city claims much of it as its own. In regular years, northern Croatia also has a full calendar of exciting events that take in all manner of music, folklore, arts & crafts, film festivals and much more besides.

Yet, anyone who has visited the land 'over the mountain' will tell you that one of its most remarkable attributes is its scenery. Historic settlements, comprised of architecture varying between the grandiose, the modern and the functional, amalgamated over hundreds of years, sat on gently rolling slopes. Away from the houses and other buildings, vineyards and farmland stretch along similarly undulating land, gifting a view that must have looked much the same 100 years ago. You can see this amazing topography when you fly into Zagreb from western Europe – it's the magical-looking land below you that looks like something JRR Tolkien might have imagined for The Lord Of The Rings.

zagorje-vinogradi--ivo-biocina_1.jpgZagorje © Ivo Biočina / Croatian National Tourist Board

Despite its wondrous natural assets, northern Croatia (which is nowadays split into three, vast counties – Medimurje, Krapinska-Zagorje and Varazdin county), is the only region in Croatia that surprisingly does not have a dedicated nature park. That may be changed with the launching of an initiative to make Ivanscica the first nature park in Hrvatsko Zagorje.

Belecgrad.jpgBabin Zub on the south-west slopes of Ivanscica offers incredible views of Zagorje. Mount Medvednica can be seen in the distance © Croatian Mountaineering Association Belecgrad

Ivanscica is the highest mountain in northern Croatia. It is 30 kilometres long and nine kilometres wide, rising to 1060 metres at its highest point. Situated less than 30 kilometres south-west of the city of Varazdin, it runs along the border between Krapinska-Zagorje and Varazdin counties in a long stretch of mountainous ground that starts near the westerly-lying Strahinjčica (near Krapina_. These mountains hug the horizon within photographs taken at many of northern Croatia's most famous landmarks. They are also rich in geodiversity and biodiversity.

ivanscicahpd.jpg© Zoran Stanko / Croatian Mountaineering Association Ivancica

The nature and geological make-up of Ivanscica has long been drawing visitors. A much-loved site for walking, hiking and climbing, its topography varies between bare rock and lower areas covered with trees like beech, oak and hornbeam. Ivanscica is particularly popular as a traditional excursion on May Day. The numbers of walkers and hikers around this time can reach into the thousands and the event extends over several days.

snowy12333.jpg© Croatian Mountaineering Association Belecgrad

At the peak of Ivanscica is a mountain lodge, Pasarić's house and two lookouts with incredible views, the lodge's original construction date of 1929 attesting to the mountain's long popularity as a place for recreation. It was named after Josip Pasarić (1860 - 1937), a teacher, journalist, sometime politician and a former president of the Croatian Mountaineering Association. Nearly a century old, it is far from being the oldest structure to have taken advantage of this raised ground and the views they provide.

kucaIvan.jpgPasarić's house © Croatian Mountaineering Association Ivancica

On the southern slopes of Ivanscica, two particularly impressive ruins invite exploration. Less than two kilometres south of Ivanscica's peak, Belecgrad Fortress, sits on a secluded and steep rocky peak that is 540m high. It can be reached by approaching from the west. Although now a ruin, this strategically important fortress was once a royal estate, over time belonging to a series of owners including Frederick of Celje Peter Gising and the families Celjski, Szekely, Frankopan, Keglević, Erdody and Rattkay.

hpd-belecgrad-dron.jpgBelecgrad Fortress, seen from above © Croatian Mountaineering Association Belecgrad

Three or four kilometres to the east of Belecgrad Fortress, the medieval castle of Milengrad dates back around 775 years and served as a residence and defensive fortress for a good 400 years before succumbing to either the Ottomans or an earthquake (Ivanscica has been the site of several considerable earthquakes – the most recent being a 6.2 level quake in 1983).

MilengradEmaBabić.jpgMilengrad, one of many castles and fortifications that can be found on the slopes of Ivanscica © Ema Babić

These ruins are impressive enough, but they are only two of a series of defensive structures to ring the mountain, others including the castles and fortresses Pokojec, Oštrcgrad, Loborgrad, Židovina (a Jewish fortification), Gradišče, Ivanec, Bela, Gotalovec, Cukovec, Lepoglava and Grebengrad. Some of these (Grebengrad, Bela and Cukovec) were rebuilt on the site of forts that extend further back than the 12th century.

BelecgradonthesouthsideofIvanscica.jpgBelecgrad on the south side of Ivanscica © Branko Barlović / Croatian Mountaineering Association

There are currently eight National Parks within Croatia - Krka, Plitvice Lakes, Mljet, Brijuni Islands, Kornati, Paklenica, Risnjak and Northern Velebit – each closely guarded to protect and preserve their nature and beauty for future generations. In addition, there are a series of eleven Nature Parks - Žumberak / Samoborsko gorje. Biokovo, Kopački rit, Lastovo archipelago, Lonjsko polje, Medvednica, Papuk, Telašćica, Učka, Velebit and Vrana lake, with Dinara well on its way to becoming number twelve. Their status differs from National Parks in that, although they are protected areas, their standing does not impede on recreation and other activities within them that do not damage their distinct assets. As a site rich for exploration, walking, hiking and climbing, the destination of Nature Park status would perfectly suit Ivanscica and it could well become Croatia's thirteenth Nature Park, the first within Northern Croatia.

Ivanscica Croatian Mountaineering Association Belecgrad.jpg

Saturday, 2 January 2021

PHOTOS: Extraordinary Plants of Klis Fortress Show Two Sides of Dalmatia

January 2, 2021 – High on the mountains, overlooking the city of Split, the historic settlement of Klis stands on the border between two distinct climate regions – the Mediterranean and the Dalmatian hinterland. The sometimes rare and extraordinary plants of Klis Fortress are characteristic of both. A new book details the flora you can find on both sides of the Dinaric Alps

The views from Klis are spectacular. The great city of Split lies below you, perched on the edge of the glistening Adriatic, beyond it, the islands of Čiovo, Šolta, Brac, Vis and Hvar. It's a view that has been admired for over 2000 years.

klisfortress7.jpegThe view from Klis Fortress

That's how long a fortress has stood here. Restructured and rebuilt several times over the millennia, within the walls of the impressive Klis Fortress lie much of the recent history of these lands – of the Illyrians and the Romans, the arrival of both Slavic people and of Christianity, the defence of Christian Europe from the Ottomans. So steeped in history are these walls, little wonder the fortress was chosen as a filming location for the popular Game Of Thrones series.

Klisfortress2.jpegKlis Fortress

With its view so irresistibly inviting the eye, you could be forgiven for missing the plants of Klis Fortress. That's unfortunate. The fort straddles the top of the Dinaric Alps – one half existing within the sub-Mediterranean climate of the Dalmatian hinterland, the other on the distinctly warmer side of the Adriatic. This creates a unique environment for a wealth of flora. Not used as a fortress since the threat of Ottoman invasion subsided, these days the structure usually welcomes only tourists. The plants of Klis Fortress have reached into the grounds of the buildings, indeed into its very walls.

Cymbalariamuralis_Ivy-LeavedToadflax.jpegCymbalaria muralis - Ivy Leaved Toadflax within the walls of Klis Fortress

One person for who the plants of Klis Fortress did not go unnoticed is Ivan Limić. He lived in Klis all of his life, before leaving to get his degree, then a masters, at the Forestry department of the University of Zagreb. Today, he works for the Institute for Adriatic Crops and Karst Reclamation (IAC) on a PhD student's position. Having a specific interest in botany, he knows the plants of Klis Fortress better than most and after he met botanist Vedran Šegota of Herbarium Croaticum while in Zagreb, they decided they should work on a project together. After several years of work, that project - a book, 'Biljke Tvrdave Klis (Plants of Klis Fortress)' – has finally been released. Although helmed by co-authors Vedran and Ivan, it has actually been a project that involved a much greater group of contributors, not least the community of Klis and some of the best botanists in Croatia.


Ivan Limic, in Black pine tree(Pinus nigra) in Pakline place.jpg
Ivan Limić, co-author of 'Plants of Klis Fortress', relaxing in a Black Pine

TCN talked with Ivan Limić to find out more about the book and about the plants of Klis Fortress

I first met Vedran when I started volunteering at Herbarium Croaticum Zagreb. I was in the city doing my degree. My main interests are forest silviculture and soil erosion, karst melioration, assessment of atmospheric deposition, study of flora, plant determination in Mediterranean region forest ecosystems and the effects of forest fires in those areas. We talked about doing a joint project because we shared similar interests. Vedran came to visit me in Klis and I wanted to show him around the fortress, but looking specifically at the flora. That's when we decided we should do a book about the plants of Klis Fortress.

Geraniumpurpureum_LittleRobin.jpegGeranium purpureum, the little-robin

I walked around Klis Fortress all my life. When you live in a place, you not only acquire so much information about that place over the years, you also have an emotional connection to it. That's not something you can read in every book. Hopefully, with our book, we managed to get a sense of that emotional attachment across, so that you can really feel the place.

Agave_americana_Limic_14.jpegAgave americana

In a way, the special thing about the plants of Klis Fortress is that they are not so special at all – they are extremely characteristic. But, they are characteristic of two completely different climate regions.

On the south side of Klis Fortress, it is very warm and sunny – the Mediterranean climate. You can find species like Aleppo pine. On the northern side of Klis Fortress, it is colder – the sub-Mediterranean climate. Here, you can even get snow in winter and the most common species is Black pine. Two completely different climate regions in just a 50 metre stretch diagonally along the ground. That's what makes it extraordinary.

Salvia officinalis_Sage.jpgSalvia officinalis (sage)

The plants of Klis Fortress include more than 300 species. We have around 100 of them listed in the book. Of those, 16 are species endemic to this area. Some of those are extremely rare - you can find them in very few places in Croatia - such as Fibigia triquetra. That plant is actually one of the reasons why this book exists. When I was a child, people used to tell me that some of the plants of Klis Fortress were very unusual and very rare. I used to walk around the fortress, looking at all the plants, trying to guess which ones were the unusual and rare species.

Fibigiatriquetra_AdriaticFibigia.jpegFibigia triquetra

The man who first identified this as a unique, endemic species actually discovered his first specimen inside Klis Fortress. All of the studies and writings he made about the plant were done here. That plant is now the symbol of Klis Fortress.

Polypodium_cambricum_Limic_4.jpegPolypodium cambricum

You can find our book in Klis library. Anyone can borrow it. It's also available at the entrance to Klis Fortress, where you buy the tickets. We wanted to give the opportunity to anyone who comes here to learn about the plants of this region – that's why we made such an effort to have the book in five languages. It was designed as a guide to the plant species of the whole Mediterranean mountain region in Croatia, so it's not just for the plants of Klis Fortress or the people who come to Klis Fortress itself.

Klis-Tordylium1.jpgTordylium

Most of the photography in the book was done by ourselves. It was important to take the photographs across four different seasons. That's one of the reasons it took almost two years to write this book.

latin_Inulaverbascifolia_eng_Inulaverbascifolia.jpegInula Verbascifolia

As we were making progress on the book, people in Klis began to find out what we were doing. It ended up becoming a project of the wider community. The mayor of Klis supported the project financially so that we were able to publish the book professionally and the library of Klis edited and published the book.

Ephedra_major_Limic_3.jpegEphedra major

Others contributed to the design of the book and the translations, of course. Almost all of them donated their time and work to the project for free. It is quite difficult to translate some of this specific text correctly and we wanted to get it absolutely right.

Agaveamericana_CenturyPlantMaguey.jpegAgave americana

In the end, we ended up getting contributions from Italy and France, we had one colleague from the French embassy who helped and some of the best botanists we have in Croatia contributed to the book to make sure everything was absolutely correct. For that reason, the book was approved and recommended by the Botanical Society of Croatia and can be found in the Botanical library.

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All images © Ivan Limić / The Plants of Klis Fortress

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