Friday, 18 June 2021

New Rijeka Hilton Costabella Resort Opening Doors in Just a Few Weeks

June the 18th, 2021 - The much talked about new Rijeka Hilton Costabella Resort is set to open its doors as the summer season rapidly approaches, with high hopes for their first Croatian tourist season, despite the coronavirus-dominated uncertainties which still reign.

Kvarner Bay has increased in popularity in terms of tourism over recent years, with many preferring the often more temperate climes in comparison to a very hot and humid Dalmatian summer. The close proximity to Istria is also a bonus, particularly for wine lovers. Not to mention its close connections to be able to visit both Italy and Slovenia in normal, non-pandemic years.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, Ryan Gauci of the brand new Rijeka Hilton Costabella Resort has a degree in hotel business from the Faculty of Tourism in Malta and has more than twenty years of international experience under his belt.

The Hilton Rijeka Costabella Beach Resort & Spa will open in just a few weeks and will be run by Ryan Gauci, who has been appointed the new general manager of the resort.

"I'm looking forward to this new opportunity and I'm proud to be able to lead the great team at the Rijeka Hilton Costabella Beach Resort & Spa. My ultimate goal is to make the resort the first choice for guests visiting this area. We're going to try to provide all our guests with an authentic and unforgettable stay. We will provide them with the highest quality services and ensure the hospitality for which Hilton is known around the world, and enable them to experience the unique Adriatic joie de vivre,'' said the new CEO Ryan Gauci on the eve of his appointment.

In addition to his vast experience in the field, Ryan Gauci has worked various jobs at Hilton hotels across Europe, including those in Malta and in the United Kingdom, Poland, France and Italy. Before coming to the much anticipated Rijeka Hilton Costabella Beach Resort & Spa, he was the head of the famous Hilton Prague hotel in the Czech Republic.

Ryan will lead the Rijeka Hilton Costabella Resort's team towards their first summer tourist season in the heart of the beautiful Kvarner Bay, while Jose Luiz Ruiz Arroyo has been responsible for the implementation of the project before the opening of the resort for eighteen months.

For more, follow our dedicated business section.

Wednesday, 27 January 2021

FIRST PHOTOS: New Rijeka Hilton Costabella Beach Resort & Spa Complete

January 27, 2021 – They promised its arrival this spring and, true to their word, these first-look photos show the construction of the beautiful new Rijeka Hilton Costabella Beach Resort & Spa is complete

With an investment of €80 million and the keen co-operation of the city authorities, the arrival date of the new Rijeka Hilton Costabella Beach Resort & Spa was never in doubt. They said it would be ready for spring and due to open its doors in April. As these first look pictures show, they've been true to their word. Construction of the new Rijeka Hilton Costabella Beach Resort & Spa is complete.

Hil1.jpg

Its been at times difficult to fully visualise the completed project from the glossy, computer-generated builders' images of how they predict the finished product will look. Rijeka residents too have had their worries – would the new promenade in front of the complex (paid for with city money) place a section of their beloved coastline off-limits to those not staying at the Rijeka Hilton Costabella Beach Resort & Spa?

Hil2.jpg

They needn't have worried. As these new images show, the major construction work at the Rijeka Hilton Costabella Beach Resort & Spa is complete. It looks as though they could throw open the doors tomorrow. The worried-over promenade snakes between the main complex and the hotel residents' beach area. It allows pedestrians full access to the seafront – they can pass along the entire front facade of the Rijeka Hilton Costabella Beach Resort & Spa and enjoy the view from the shore just as much as hotel residents. When the Rijeka Hilton finally opens its doors, they'll also be able to take advantage of all of its spa facilities too, which will be opened up to local residents via a membership scheme.

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The Rijeka Hilton Costabella Beach Resort & Spa complex has been built across a considerable 18,000 square metres. The main building complex has 10 floors which hold 132 rooms. The site also has 66 villas separate to the main building, six restaurant/bar/food outlets, a private beach, and one of the largest wellness facilities in the region - the two-floored spa area covers more than 3,000 square metres.

Hil4.jpg

The new photos of the complete Rijeka Hilton Costabella Beach Resort & Spa, which are signed as Mr. Fly, were posted publicly to the Facebook group Riječka enciklopedija - Fluminensia by renowned Rijeka photographer Dario Matijević, whose breathtaking images of the nature, landscapes and cityscapes of the Kvarner region are often signed as Baredice Photo and can be enjoyed here. They were subsequently used by RiPortal in their coverage of this story.

Tuesday, 5 January 2021

The Biggest Hit Of Advent 2020? Kvarner Christmas Online

January 5, 2020 – Thanks to the imaginative coverage of local portal Fiuman.hr, more than half a million people visited Kvarner Christmas online over the 2020 holidays. From the spectacular lights of Opatija and Rijeka, to toy bears in Rijeka cafe bars, this is what they saw...

Everyone will remember the Advent of 2020 as unusual. Many were separated from friends and family. Others weren't able to travel nor visit the places or people we wanted to. The difference was noted significantly in Croatia, where family means everything, especially at Christmas.

Over recent years, Croatia has become one of the best-known places in Europe to visit for the Advent season. Zagreb's award-winning Advent celebrations have spurred on efforts elsewhere in the country and many towns and cities in Croatia now pull out all the stops during Advent, gloriously decorating their streets and holding events that draw thrilled visitors.

Under the unusual constraints of 2020, one Advent season in Croatia imaginatively continued to draw the crowds. Although, it wasn't so much the streets that were jammed as it was the internet servers. With the considerable help of local news portal Fiuman.hr, Kvarner Christmas Online welcomed tens of thousands of visitors.

Thanks to the imaginative coverage of Fiuman.hr, Kvarner Christmas Online was visited by well over half a million people in 2020. While many bars in Europe remained closed to human customers, Rijeka cake and ice cream cafe Cacao took the opportunity to fill its empty chairs with toy bears during Kvarner Christmas Online. Fiuman.hr's video of the scene was viewed almost 245,000 times.

Their video of the Advent lights in the Gradina part of the city fared even better. Always a spectacular highlight of Kvarner Christmas online, Fiuman.hr's video of Gradina got more than 300,000 views.

With its beautiful city centre parks, peaceful walks and promenade, the Advent season of nearby Opatija has become an increasingly popular choice for visitors over the winter holidays. And, in 2020, that was still the case during Kvarner Christmas online. Fiuman.hr 's video from the Opatija park near Šporer generated over 190 thousand views.

It just goes to show that while the Advent of 2020 may have been curtailed in unexpected ways, there's no dampening of the love of Christmas and the festive spirit. Fiuman.hr's video viewers will surely be lining up to visit Kvarner Christmas in person as soon as they can.

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

PHOTOS: The 21 Most Incredible Croatia Castles To See Year-Round

August 06, 2021 – Serving as Christian Europe's defensive front line for centuries, incredible Croatia castles can be found throughout the country. Whether on a summertime day trip, set next to the spectacular backdrop of autumn's colours or postcard-pretty covered in winter's snow, here are 21 of the best to visit year-round

Croatia Castles Mailáth

DM-DvoracZdenko Brkanić.jpg© Zdenko Brkanić

Mailáth Castle is located in Donji Miholjac in Osijek-Baranja County, just next to the Hungarian border in Slavonia. It's well worth making the trip to see this wonderful building, not least because it sits right next door to an earlier grandiose structure. After being gifted lands for services in fighting the Ottomans, in 1818 the Prandau family built its first castle in Miholjac in the Baroque style. But, in 1901 its grandeur was supplanted by Mailáth castle. Built over four floors, its decorative chimneys, spacious terraces with neoclassical balustrades and wrought iron fences identify its debt to the Tudor style. The building has some 50 rooms over around 3500 square meters. Its interior was decorated with hunting trophies from Count Mailáth's travels in Asia and Africa, set above oak panelling which lines every room. In recent times, the building was used to house city authorities, but considerable effort has been made to restore the building and open it up to visitors. Its grand hall now acts as an impressive host to events such as classical music performances, as do the immediate grounds in warmer months. These grounds extend out into a 16-hectare public park which was curated by the family and bequeathed to the town inhabitants. This is now one of the few Croatia castles to have a nationally certified horticultural monument attached. It has been classed as such since 1961.
croatia_slavonija_donji_miholjac_004NTB.jpgDonji Miholjac in Slavonija gives you two adjoined Croatia castles, Mailáth (right) and Castle Prandau (left)  © Croatian National Tourist Board

Maruševec Castle

AnyConv.com__2880px-Dvorac_Marusevec3MaGa.jpeg© MaGa

During its lifetime, the extraordinary Maruševec castle in Varaždin County has passed through a confusingly long series of different owners, many of whom have left a significant mark on the building. The original structure dates back to 1547 and it was privately owned from that time up until 1945 when it was seized by Yugoslavian Communist authorities from the Pongratz family. They fled to Austria, having established with zeal the splendid gardens that surround the building. In the first years after independence, the building was used by a section of the Protestant church in Croatia. However, over the last two decades the government began the process of returning many such Croatia castles to their rightful owners and Maruševec Castle now once again lies in the hands of the Pongratz family. Needless to say, the grounds are once again superb.
slika-dvoracOpćina Maruševec.jpg© Općine Maruševec

Prandau Normann in Valpovo

dvorac-air1greenroom.jpeg© Greenroom Festival Valpovo

The pictures don't do it justice. Prandau Normann in Valpovo is one of the Croatia castles that has to be visited to get a true sense of its size, significance and history. One of the oldest and largest castles in Slavonia, it sits within a small area of greenery upon which the surrounding settlement closely encroaches. Some trees at the edges of these thin grounds partially obstruct the view. However, stretching out from the southern ends of this green island is a glorious public park of 25 hectares. Formerly part of the hunting grounds of the castle inhabitants, it was designed as a grandiose garden in the English style and has been declared a national monument of natural and horticultural architecture. The castle sections now form a three-walled complex with an inner courtyard. The original triangular-shaped fortress and the shorter, round tower date back to the beginning of the 15th century at which time it was surrounded by defensive moats. During the first half of the 18th century, the Prandau family rebuilt one side of the medieval structure with the Baroque palace which now lies at the front. Its tower is 37 metres high. Badly damaged in a fire on New Year's Eve in 1801, it stylings were somewhat altered when reconstructed. A true giant, it has over 60 rooms and, together with the inner courtyard, has an impressive ground space of 4031 m2. The Museum of the Valpovo Region was established here as far back as 1956. Its continuous running was halted by both war and reconstruction work, but it is once again open. Although the building is of significant national importance, it is to the immense credit of its forward-thinking governance that the building and grounds have in recent years been utilised for public events, including very contemporary youth culture happenings such as the Reunited Festival. and Greenroom Festival
Dvorac_Prandau-Normann_dvorac_iz_zrakaRoko Poljak.jpg© Roko Poljak

Ozalj Castle

ozalj-stari-grad-za-web-ivo-biocina_0NTB.jpg© Ivo Biočina / Croatian National Tourist Board

Around 60 kilometres from Zagreb, in Karlovac County, Ozalj is one of the most picturesque Croatia castles. It has simply everything you would want from a visit to a castle – an impressive approach, towers, defensive walls, surrounding waters, incredible views and a fascinating amalgam of different buildings. Sat spectacularly on a cliff above the Kupa river and the surrounding settlement of Ozalj, this castle was once the entire town. First mentioned as a free royal city as far back as 1244, the walled medieval stronghold was gradually built to become a castle in the 18th century. It is a building of great national significance as the site of the Zrinski–Frankopan conspiracy which, although unsuccessful, is an important marker in the country's struggle for autonomy. Between them, the Croatian families of Zrinski and Frankopan owned the castle from 1398 until 1671, when both family lines were severed with the execution of the conspirators by the ruling Habsburgs. The effects were felt throughout the region – some 2000 nobles were also arrested, the Protestant church was suppressed, Habsburg troops attacked commoners in both Croatia and Hungary and the position of Ban of Croatia, formerly held by Nikola Zrinski, would be left completely vacant for the next 60 years. The conspirators were executed on April 30 which became the city day of Ozalj in remembrance.
AnyConv.com__2880px-Zugang_Schloss_Ozalj1BernBartsch.jpeg© Bern Bartsch

Trakošćan Castle

TURISTIČKA ZAJEDNICA OPCINA BEDNJA.jpg© Turistička zajednica Trakošćan - Općina Bednja

One of the most-recognisable Croatia castles, from its surroundings Trakošćan looks like something out of a fairytale. Its position on a hill near Krapina, Varaždin County, not far from the Slovenia border, was obviously made for defensive reasons. But, today, it serves to bolster this romantic vista. Trakošćan dates back to the 13th century, although local legend says that it stands on the site of an even earlier fortress. Nobody really knows who commissioned it nor who originally lived there. In 1556 the castle came under state control, but just 18 years later it was gifted to the Drašković family. In the second half of the 18th century, the castle was abandoned. The Drašković family resumed interest in the building in the middle of the 19th century, renovating the house and constructing the surrounding gardens which are such a highlight to visit today. The family lived there until 1944 when the Drašković's were forced to emigrate to Austria and the state assumed ownership. It is today owned by the Republic of Croatia, has been renovated considerably and holds a permanent museum.
TrakoscanCroatiaTZ.jpg© Croatian National Tourist Board

Trsat Castle

Domagoj BlaževićTrsatKvarner.jpg© Domagoj Blažević / Primorje-Gorski Kotar County (Kvarner)

The city of Rijeka rises sharply from sea level into nearby heights, the cause of its above-average rainfall. The cityscape vista is superb from some balconies of the residential tower blocks located in these overlooking neighbourhoods. But, the best view of Rijeka is from Trsat. The Rječina valley separates you from these competing high rises, the river itself immediately below you, scoring a path through an industrial landscape, to it right the old city and beyond, Kvarner Bay. Sitting 150 metres above Rijeka, it's thought that the castle lies on top of an earlier Illyrian and Roman fortress. Today, Trsat is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Rijeka, the grounds containing a restaurant and its courtyard serving as a wonderful backdrop for cultural events like theatre and music concerts.
5.-TRSAT_gradina-trsat01-pogled-domagoj-blazevic-19.07-724x500.jpg© Domagoj Blažević / Primorje-Gorski Kotar County (Kvarner)

Stara Sušica Castle

DomagojBlaeviStaraKvarner.jpeg© Domagoj Blažević / Primorje-Gorski Kotar County (Kvarner)

One of the most bewildering Croatia castles, the fantastical architecture of Stara Sušica comes from a series of restorations and additions that have taken place over many generations. It's far from being the biggest of Croatia castles, but it's certainly one of the most intriguing. By prior arrangement, you can actually stay in this castle. It has previously hosted organised groups of fantasy role-playing games, the mysterious-looking building acting as the perfect backdrop to wild imagination. This architectural gem of a castle is located 60 kilometres to the east of the city of Rijeka. It sits in the shadows of tall coniferous trees, just outside of the town of Stara Sušica, near Ravna Gora.
Stara_Susica_0004Domagoj BlaževićKvarner.jpg© Domagoj Blažević / Primorje-Gorski Kotar County (Kvarner)

Veliki Tabor

veliki-tabor-optimizirano-za-web-ivo-biocina_1600x900_0Croatia.jpeg© Ivo Biočina / Croatian National Tourist Board

The sizeable Veliki Tabor is another of the Croatia castles that sits atop a hill for defensive purposes. It dominates a beautiful rural landscape of agricultural land, gently rising hills and vineyards near Desinić in Zagorje, less than an hour's drive from Zagreb. Dating from the middle of 15th century, most of the castle was built by the Ráttkay family from Hungary, in whose ownership it remained until 1793. The castle is said to be haunted. Legend says a local woman was murdered upon false accusations of witchcraft and entombed within the actual castle walls, the ulterior motive being that the castle's then-owner did not wish his son to marry her. Her voice is said to still inhabit the building. Today, owned by the state, it holds a permanent museum and is a popular tourist attraction. It plays host to events of significance to the local culture, such as food festivals and also nationally recognised happenings, such as its famous short film festival.
veliki-tabor-web-ivo-biocina-1CROATIA.jpg© Ivo Biočina / Croatian National Tourist Board

Lužnica Castle

Luznica2ZCTY.png© Zagreb County Tourist Board

Set back from the main road and obscured by ancient trees, the immediate approach to Lužnica is impressive. Surrounded by neatly trimmed lawns, you can reach the castle from several different directions, the pathways leading to the building bordered by low-lying hedges. At the end of these sits a baroque castle that shares its name with the nearby settlement, just a few miles to the west of Zaprešić in Zagreb County. The castle was built in 1791 as a residence for a noble family but, since 1925, the building has been owned by the Convent of St. Vincent de Paul, with nuns thereafter using the building as a residential and care home for elderly members of the sisterhood. From 1935 the building was used for the care of poor children, and then for educational classes organised by the nuns. In 2005, a purpose-built modern property was constructed to assume the residential care of retired nuns, allowing greater public access to the castle. The nuns still hold spiritual and educational programs there and the castle also hosts secular conferences and seminars.
LuznicZaagrebCounty.jpg© Zagreb County Tourist Board

Krašić

KrasicZgC.jpg© Zagreb County Tourist Board

So well suited to its contemporary purpose as a church does Krašić look that it's difficult to imagine that it was ever anything other. But, this complex of buildings originally dates back much further than the hundred or so years it has served as such. It was first built in the Gothic style of the late 14th century and later reconstructed in the Baroque style, only beginning its current role after reconstructions that took place between 1911 to 1913. It is now the Parish church of the Holy Trinity, serving the population of Krašić, which is located near Jastrebarsko, about 50 km southwest of Zagreb. Enthusiastic hunters of Croatia castles who are visiting Zagreb and Zagreb County will also not want to miss the nearby Pribić, which is located just three kilometres east of Krašić. It is the site of an incredible triumvirate of spectacular neighbouring buildings, two castles and one Greek Catholic church.
krasic08RegionalDevelopment agencyZagrebCounty.jpg© Regional Development Agency Zagreb County

Pejačević Castle

Dvorac_Pejačević._NašiceSamir Budimčić.jpg© Samir Budimčić

Though they were natives of Slavonia, eastern Croatia, the name of the Pejačević family extends significantly further than the borders of Pannonia or modern-day Croatia. Their name dates back to at least the 14th century, during which time some of them settled in north-west Bulgaria. Alongside Bosnians and Germans attracted to that region by mining, these immigrants were responsible for bringing Catholicism to the area around Chiprovtsi, the site of a famous 1688 uprising of Catholics and Orthodox Christians against the ruling Ottomans. For their services in the defence of Christian Europe, the Pejačević family were rewarded with significant lands in their native Slavonia and for centuries were very influential in the region's political, social, economic and cultural life. Pejačević Castle, Našice was the main family seat, although they have another castle in Virovitica, some 80 kilometres to the northwest, which is also called, rather confusingly, Pejačević Castle.
dvorac-velikaTZnasice.jpg© Našice Tourist Board

Stari Grad Varaždin

VarazdinZup.jpg© Turistička Zajednica Varaždinske Županije

The city of Varaždin once served as the capital of Croatia and, as its focal point, Stari Grad fortress is therefore of significant national importance. In acknowledgment, an image of the fortress used to appear on the back of the old 5 kuna bank notes, although presumably due to some printer's error, the image appeared in reverse to how it sits naturally. The building is mentioned as far back as the 12th century but was reconstructed as a Renaissance fortification in the 16th century. At the end of that century, it came into the hands of the Hungarian-Croatian family Erdödy. Today, Stari Grad holds a permanent museum and is one of the most-famous tourist attractions in a city not short of reasons to visit.
varazdin-ivo-biocina-NTZ.jpg© Ivo Biočina / Croatian National Tourist Board

Bosiljevo Castle

Dvorac,_Bosiljevo_-_panoramioKrittinskiy.jpg© Krittinskiy

Something of a bratić (cousin) to Ozalj Castle, Bosiljevo again lies in Karlovac County and was also owned by the Frankopan family. It is a sprawling structure, impressively situated on a hillside within forest land. The nature of the building and its remote location perhaps contribute to the fact that it is unrestored. However, it is still one of the Croatia castles worth visiting year-round, not least because the surrounding trees grant a spectacular backdrop that changes throughout the year's seasons. Although access is limited, you can get up close to the fascinating buildings, intricately decorated defensive walls and the towers of the complex. The earliest sections date back to at least 1344. Following its seizure by the Austrians in 1671, it passed through the hands of a series of private owners, including the Irish-born Laval Nugent von Westmeath, who started his career as a loyal soldier to Austria but finished his life in Bosiljevo as something closer to a Croatian patriot. The property was seized by Communist authorities after the Second World War, its decline beginning with its ill-purposing as a retirement home, restaurant and cheap motel between the 1960s and the 1980s when it was finally abandoned.
bosiljevoopcinacas.jpg© Općina Bosiljevo

Čakovec Castle

stari_gradcakovectz.jpg© Čakovec City Tourist Board

Situated within a sizeable park, right in the town centre of Čakovec, Međimurje, Čakovec Castle is a beast of a building. Like several Croatia castles, it is actually several buildings. Access to the park is great from all sides of the site and, this being the case, the grounds are a section of greenery much-enjoyed by residents and visitors, as are the spectacular buildings which lie at the centre. The original 13th-century fortress was built by Count Dmitri Čak, hence the town's name. Its walls form the basis of the complex's front section, behind which the 16th Century Zrinski Castle sits detached. The Zrinski castle houses Croatia's biggest museum, the Međimurje County Museum, and its courtyard plays host to cultural happenings like music concerts, theatre and gastro events. Although we call this independent structure the Zrinski Castle, they were not in fact responsible for the building's original construction, but rather rebuilt it. Also, the modern-day appearance of this palace cannot be wholly attributed to the Zrinski family, as it was severely damaged in an earthquake and rebuilt by later owners. However, this is one of the most significant of Croatia castles because it was the family seat of the Zrinski during a time in which several family members served as Ban of Croatia. As the most important man in the land, the building naturally held a similar stature.
MuseumMedimurjeCak.jpg© Museum of Međimurje, Čakovec

Feštetić Castle, Pribislavec

dvorac_festetic_01visit medimurje.jpg© Visit Međimurje

One of the most singular-looking of all Croatia castles, not least because of its unforgettable neogothic tower, Feštetić Castle in Međimurje actually pre-dates the Feštetić family who lends it their name. The original building dated back to at least the beginning of the 18th Century. Throughout its life, the structure that lay here was ravaged by war, fire and natural disasters, but we can attribute its striking neogothic stylings to the Feštetić family, whose work on the castle began in 1870. The building has been in continuous use ever since, serving at times as a retirement home and a school. It is therefore in great condition and sits in grounds that are also enjoyable upon any visit.
Feštetićvisitnorthcroatia.jpgGosh! The occasional darkened skies above Međimurje seem to suit the neogothic Feštetić Castle almost as much as do the clear blue! © Visit North Croatia

Nova Kraljevica Castle

Domagoj BlaževićKraljevicaKvarner.jpg© Domagoj Blažević / Primorje-Gorski Kotar County (Kvarner)

Located atop the start of a peninsula at the entrance to the Bay of Bakar, less than 20 kilometres east of Rijeka, Petar Zrinski started to build Nova Kraljevica in 1651. The castle has large towers at the corners of each of its four walls. They surround an inner courtyard decorated with archways on both floors. Petar's wife, Katarina Frankopan, is said to have paid close attention to its interior design and the couple spent much time within what is one of the few Croatia castles to sit upon the mainland's shoreline. The castle's main salon was decorated with gilded leather wallpaper, had marble fireplaces, floors paved with a marble mosaic and doors made of black and white marble. This spectacular and well-preserved castle also once held one of Croatia's very first museums. It is not only great to visit on foot but a spectacular sight when approached from the Adriatic by boat.
dvorac-nova-kraljevica07-atrij-domagoj-blazevic-11.07-1200x800.jpgThe ornate inner courtyard of Kraljevica Castle © Domagoj Blažević / Primorje-Gorski Kotar County (Kvarner)

Miljana Castle, near Kumrovec

DSC_0248-visitZagorje.jpg© Visit Zagorje

Though not open to spontaneous visit by the public like many of the Croatia castles on this list, you can go to the Baroque castle of Miljana near Kumrovec, Zagorje. You just have to arrange to do so in advance, as this picturesque building is undergoing gradual restoration. Miljana is impossibly pretty, as are its grounds. Three wings surround a central courtyard and striking black plaster covers the walls, periodically interspersed with white plaster ornamentation. Its construction began in the late 16th century under the Rattkay family although it was expanded and adapted several times before its last substantial remodeling in the 18th century. Its first floor has eight salons, seven of which hold frescos on the walls. These form much of the current restoration work and it promises to be incredible once the painstaking work is complete.
Miljana Castle, near KumroveKrapina Zagorje County Tourism Board.jpg© Zagreb County Tourist Board

Kutjevo Castle

dvorac-kutjevoTZK.jpeg© Tourism Board of Kutjevo

Built on the site of a much earlier monastery, Kutjevo castle still holds a wine cellar belonging to its predecessor. It dates back to the year 1232. The original buildings were destroyed by the Ottomans. After they left, the land was gifted to Zagreb canon Ivan Josip Babić in 1689 and he invited Jesuits to make a home for themselves there. They cleared the land and built the castle between 1704 till 1735. One side of the castle is a church, the other three wings have a less overtly religious feel to their architecture. They surround an inner courtyard and, beyond them stretches a large park area. It has a circular motif located centrally, around which pathways wind through the grounds and the large trees which live there. Perhaps the most striking feature of the building is its polygonal tower on which sits a bulb-shaped roof. The building is privately owned and its interior not open to spontaneous visits from the public.
Kutjevo-ParkCROATIA.jpg© Croatian National Tourist Board

Eltz Castle, Vukovar

Vukovar_Dvorac_Eltz_SKStjepkoKrehula.jpeg© Stjepko Krehula

One of the most famous, spectacular and oldest castles in Germany is called Eltz Castle. This one, located in Vukovar, eastern Croatia, is clearly something other. However, the two are connected by the same Eltz family, the descendants of which still inhabit the German castle, just as their ancestors did in the 12th Century. The family owned huge tracts of land around this section of the Danube, by far their most significant territory outside Germany, and Eltz Castle in Vukovar was their main residence until 1945, when they were expelled by the Yugoslav communist regime. The front facade is a sea of ornate baroque windows, painstakingly (but speedily) reconstructed following the building's near-complete destruction by bombing during the 1990s. Since 1968, the castle has housed the Vukovar City Museum, one of the most significant in Pannonia. It charts the history of all the peoples who have inhabited this area of the Danube and contains valuable exhibits returned to it from Zagreb, Novi Sad and Belgrade.
GradskiMuzejVuko.jpg© Gradski muzej Vukovar

Lukavec Castle, Turopolje

LukavecTZZC1.jpg© Zagreb County Tourist Board

Built on the site of a wooden fort first mentioned in 1256, could some of the wooden bridge that gives access to this castle be made of remnants of its ancestor? Maybe not, but it's nice to imagine the lineage being so palpable. This replacement structure dates from 1752 and is marked by golden plastered outer walls which contrast beautifully against white borders, the red-tiled roof and the darkened top of the main tower. In the building's courtyard sits an old cannon, this remnant of its military past perhaps surprising when you see just how well preserved and unblemished this building is. It is an integral part of the local community's cultural and social life and hosts many events.
The_Old_Town_of_Lukavec_6Zeljko.filipin.jpeg© Zeljko Filipin

Kerestinec Castle

kerestinec2-10svetaned.jpg© Grad Sveta Nedelja

The Renaissance-Baroque building in Kerestinec, Sveta Nedelja, is one of the Croatia castles that has seen much better days. Its interior remains unrestored. Its construction was started in 1565 by Petar Erdödy, then Ban of Croatia, so it would have been made to high standards and specifications. The castle was remodelled several times over the centuries and is today notable for circular towers that sit at two corners of its four wings. The central courtyard has in recent memory served as the host site to events such as a dance music festival. This may be far from its original purpose, but such events continue to breathe life into a spectacular building that perhaps otherwise would be completely abandoned.
dvorac_helikoptersvetanedelja.jpg© Grad Sveta Nedelja

All of the photos of castles in Primorje-Gorski Kotar County (Kvarner) were taken by Domagoj Blažević for the Route Of The Frankopans website, which allows visitors to trace a path through all of the former Frankopan properties in the county and is recommended reading for castle hunters

Saturday, 3 October 2020

Continental Croatia Trains: Inland Opens Up With Green Travel

October 3, 2020 - With charter airlines in a state of flux and Croatia Railways beginning a renewal of their fleet in Slavonia, are continental Croatia trains the eco-friendly and best way to unlock the inland's amazing potential?

Everything changes. Nothing stays the same. Even before 2020 arrived, lifestyles and trends were headed in new directions. Eco-tourism and agro-tourism were two of the fastest-growing areas within the travel sector, this behaviour change a response to concerns about the environment. And nowhere in the country stands better poised to take advantage of this interest than continental Croatia.

ivo-biocinaCNTB.jpgImpossibly pretty Zagorje - the region lies just north of Zagreb and is accessible by continental Croatia trains © Ivo Biocina / Croatia National Tourist Board

From the impossibly pretty hills of Zagorje, the peaceful rivers of Karlovac county and the hidden vineyards that surround the capital Zagreb to the vast Pannonian flatlands that stretch to Slavonia, Baranya, Vukovar-Srijem and beyond, the varied topography of continental Croatia is wild, exciting and - by many - wholly undiscovered.

This is land where agriculture and nature thrive side by side, where the stresses of modern-day existence ebb away as you readjust to a way of life that would look mostly familiar to the people who lived here centuries ago. These are places where you can truly be at one with yourself and with your surroundings. In continental Croatia, you often find yourself in an environment that is both timeless and traditional, yet wholly contemporary in regards to its ecological aspirations. And you're never far away from an exciting city environment that you can dip into on a whim – not just Zagreb, but Osijek, Slavonski Brod, Karlovac, Sisak and Varaždin too.

kalendar04.jpgTo those who really know and love Croatia, Osijek is simply unmissable. It is both the capital of and the doorway to Slavonia and Baranya and should be more accessible by continental Croatia trains. Sadly, international transportation links to the city by air are also quite poor. Improvements in accessibility to Slavonia and Baranya by rail and road are imminent © Romulić & Stojčić

Unlocking the incredible potential of continental Croatia relies on getting the message out there and facilitating travel to these regions

In recent TCN features we have detailed that motorways within Croatia are among the best in Europe - once you're inside Croatia, travelling by car (or bus) between the regions couldn't be easier. We have also seen evidence of the huge interest in travelling here by rail and using continental Croatia trains.

Of all the modern methods of long-distance travel, rail is by far the most eco-friendly. What better way to begin an environmentally friendly holiday than by arriving on continental Croatia trains? When the country wisely decided to prioritise its internal motorway system, a modern and fast inter-regional rail network was put on the back burner. Nowhere suffers greater from this decision than continental Croatia.

Croatian Official Document uploaded to Wikipedia by Epepe.gifThe Croatian rail network © Croatian Official Document uploaded to Wikipedia by Epepe

The only high-speed line that currently exists in Croatia links Rijeka to Budapest, via Zagreb and Koprivnica. Planned improvements hope to cut journey times between Zagreb and its nearest coastal city to an hour. Same as it ever was - Rijeka was the first Croatian city to be connected internationally by rail. That line also ran into the heart of Austro-Hungary and facilitated upper-class travel to places like Opatija. But does it best benefit the country to invest in more links to the coast or in continental Croatia trains? Well, the inland is not being ignored. Upgrades are being made to continental Croatia trains.

IMG_8990.jpgThis impressive beast actually services the country's coast. But would more investment in the continental Croatia trains network better service more people and help unlock the inland to tourists? Around 70% of the country's inhabitants live in continental Croatia © HŽPP

The rail link between Zagreb and Slavonski Brod is so historic that it was once part of the four routes of the Orient Express. It has been maintained to a standard where you can make a relatively quick journey from the capital to Vinkovci via Slavonski Brod. The same cannot be said for rail travel to Osijek, the access point to Baranya and much more. So slow is the connection between Osijek and Zagreb that it has been possible over recent times to reach the Slavonian capital quicker by taking the train to Vinkovci, then the bus to Osijek, rather than travelling direct by rail.

Slavonija_Osijek0191.jpgOsijek train station. A renovation to the building is planned for the near future © Romulić & Stojčić

However, in February this year, Croatian Railways introduced four direct daily lines between Slavonski Brod and Osijek. And there will be a new tilting train line that will run between Zagreb to Osijek on Friday afternoon and from Osijek to Zagreb on Sunday afternoon, facilitating student travel. On October 15, the first low-floor train will run between Osijek and Vinkovci as an additional part of the renewal of their continental Croatia trains fleet in Slavonia. The welcome return of Croatia's second-oldest international rail line - linking Osijek to Pécs in Hungary, via Beli Manastir and Baranya - was introduced in late 2018.

23e1f08a601e02be10403fbc28ced968_XL.jpgA motorway stretch between Metković and Dubrovnik, integrating the Pelješac bridge and the Croatian segment of the European corridor are the final big remaining projects in a three-decade-long undertaking to give Croatia one of the best motorway networks in Europe. Should Croatia's rail network be next? © Hrvatske Autoceste

Access to Slavonia and Baranya will also be massively facilitated upon completion of the European corridor, which will connect North Europe to the Adriatic. Starting in Budapest, it necessitates the building of a bridge near Beli Manastir. Thereafter the motorway will pass by Osijek, connect to the Zagreb-Slavonia motorway near Lipovac, then pass through Bosnia and its capital Sarajevo and on to Ploče.

The removal of budget airline flights to the airport in Osijek remains a hindrance to attracting many international visitors to Slavonia and Baranya. However, with charter airlines facing the greatest uncertainty of all modes of transport at the current time, though their return is a must, it is perhaps now an ambition that should remain more long term. For the immediate future, improvements to rail travel look to be a brilliant way of opening up not only Slavonia, Baranya and Vukovar-Srijem, but also an eco-friendly access point capable of serving the whole of untapped continental Croatia.

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Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Croatia Filming Locations Are Best Again As Succession Bags 7 Emmys

September 23, 2020 – Following incredible success with Game Of Thrones, Mamma Mia and others, Croatia filming locations prove to be the best again as HBO's Succession wins 7 Emmys

Historic Dubrovnik was always pretty enough to attract people from far and wide. But, following its appearance in TV show Game Of Thrones, interest in visiting the walled city went through the roof. Tourists were not the only ones who wanted to come.

HBO drama Succession is just the latest hit to take advantage of the spectacular scenery while filming in Croatia. The show has just bagged no less than seven prestigious Emmy awards for the season partially filmed in Croatia. In the drama series category, it picked up Emmys for Best Leading Male Role, Best Guest Role, Best Casting, Best Directing, Best Screenplay and Best Picture Editing.

10_02_succession_s02-sept20-hbo.jpgCast members filmed aboard a yacht with beautiful Croatia and its Adriatic waters as the backdrop © HBO

The shooting took place over 12 days in July 2019, primarily on a yacht on which the show's central characters, the Roy family, were taking a holiday. The Croatia filming locations used were the waters around Cavtat, Korcula, Mljet and Sipan. The series ventured into more urban areas of Croatia and, for those scenes, filming locations in Zagreb and Rijeka were sourced. The German-built Solandge was the yacht used in the filming and costs as much as $1.1million (£850,000) to rent for one week.

19690220-7610097-Finale_The_second_season_of_Succession_came_to_a_close_on_Sunday-a-69_1571931109237.jpgThe Roy family aboard the yacht Solandge in Croatian waters © HBO

Now in its third season, Succession centres on the dysfunctional Roy family, owners of a global media and hospitality empire. It stars British actor Brian Cox as the ailing family patriarch with Kieran Culkin heading up the otherwise all-American cast. A total of 613 people worked on the shooting of Succession in Croatia, of which 595 were Croatian (161 film workers, three trainees and 431 extras).

20139614-7610097-image-a-72_1571931767347.jpgSolandge is currently one of the most luxurious yachts in the world © Moran Yachts

In recent years, major movies such as Star Wars, Robin Hood and one installment in the long-running James Bond series have joined the likes of Game Of Thrones and Mamma Mia in enjoying Croatia filming locations. However, filming in Croatia goes back much further than that. During the 1970s and early 1980s, no less than three Oscar-winning movies used Croatia filming locations - Fiddler on the Roof (1971), The Tin Drum (1979) and Sophie’s Choice (1982).

You can read more about filming in Croatia and Croatian filming locations by reading our dedicated section here

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Friday, 21 August 2020

Closed Doors in Middle of Season for Legendary Rijeka Hotel Bonavia

As Novac writes on the 19th of August, 2020, although many thought that this year's tourist season would look catastrophic, Croatia could end 2020 with about 50 percent of last year's results, which is a result that is better than what was expected by just about everyone with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic firmly in mind. Unfortunately, this is obviously not the case in Rijeka because its most famous hotel, one of the symbols of the city on the river Rjecina, the legendary Bonavia - is closed.

The only available information as to why this was so, came from the most powerful global tour operator, the wildly popular Booking.com, which removed Bonavia from the list of Rijeka's offer with the remark: Additional safety and hygiene measures are currently being implemented at this facility due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

An explanation for the closure of Rijeka's much loved Bonavia, which is obviously of great public interest, was provided by its owner, the Porec-based company Plava laguna.

''Hotel Bonavia Plava Laguna in Rijeka was closed owing to a business decision of Plava Laguna. This hotel, like all of the other facilities we manage, will be opened in accordance with the booking situation and the demand of guests,'' said Eva Novi Zan Prusina, head of the public relations office of one of the strongest Croatian hotel companies, for Novi list.

In other words, it is obvious that Bonavia's booking status was below profitable figures and the company decided to close its doors, even though we're still very much in the Croatian tourist season.

According to the Kvarner Tourist Board, in June and July, the Opatija Riviera and the Rijeka area were the two worst county micro-regions. The Opatija Riviera achieved just 30 percent of last year's results in June, and the Rijeka area achieved 38 percent of the traffic it enjoyed last year, with both realising 55 percent of July 2019's traffic this July.

This is significantly worse than what was seen on nearby Krk and Cres, which both reached more than 70 percent of last year's results in July. If we look at Rijeka's tourism through this prism, the business decision to close Bonavia's doors makes sense.

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Sunday, 8 March 2020

European Capital of Culture Title Brings Record Rijeka Tourism

Rijeka tourism is booming, and this often overlooked Croatian city, known for its industrial past and perhaps what's most interesting of all, the invention of the torpedo, is experiencing a great start to 2020.

Rijeka isn't always that high on the lists of foreign tourists keen to explore Croatia. With central and southern Dalmatian cities like Split and Dubrovnik always firmly placed, sometimes even Zagreb doesn't get a look in. Things appear to be changing, however, now that the city that flows in the Northern Adriatic area of the country has taken the European Capital of Culture Title for 2020.

As Novac writes on the 6th of March, 2020, in February 2020, Rijeka ranked impressively in third place in terms of tourist turnover earned in family accommodation units with 2,650 realised arrivals, and ranked eighth in total tourist turnover in the Republic of Croatia with 20,037 overnight stays achieved.

Novi list reported on the above announcement issued by the Rijeka Tourist Board, who also noted the first two months of 2020, Rijeka tourism was doing more than brilliantly as the city recorded an excellent tourist turnover of 37,943 overnight stays, which marks impressive growth of thirteen percent when compared to the same period in 2019.

The highest number of overnight stays in Rijeka was realised by Italian citizens, and then tourists from the USA, who realised 2,765 overnight stays, which is of significant interest. The average stay of foreign tourists in the period between the 1st of January 2020 to the 2nd of February 2020 is 3.48 days and the average stay of Croatian tourists is 2.21 days.

The excellent Rijeka tourism result is supported by the tourist turnover for February, which recorded 20,052 overnight stays, which is fourteen percent more than back in February 2019, long before Rijeka took the title of European Capital of Culture.

The rich programme of the Rijeka Carnival certainly also contributed heavily to the largest number of overnight stays recorded in February in the City of Rijeka.

Last month, the European Capital of Culture shined adorned its vibrant carnival colours and generated tourist turnover of 4,358 overnight stays, seventeen percent more than were realised back in 2019 during the Rijeka Carnival weekend, which ran from February the 21st to the 24th, 2020.

Guests and participants of the International Carnival Parade contributed to the increase of tourist traffic not only in Rijeka, but also in all nearby destinations in the Kvarner region.

According to data from the eVisitor information system, the largest number of overnight stays in February were spent in private accommodation, which accounts for 45.27 percent, followed by hotels, non-commercial accommodation and hostels.

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Saturday, 15 February 2020

JTH Costabella Rijeka: Opening Of Hotel Will Not Be Delayed

As Novac/Dora Koretic writes on the 14th of February, 2020, although the deadline for completing the landscaping works in front of the future Rijeka Hilton was extended yesterday until August the 31st, 2020, for JTH Costabella at a government session, Costabella said the hotel would definitely still be ready to receive its first guests this summer and that the extension would not delay the opening this valuable investment.

Specifically, as evidenced by a document discussed yesterday at the government level, JTH Costabella's landscaping work, for which a concession was granted back in November 2015, was due to be completed by October 2019, having already made use of one extension of the deadline for the submission of the operating permit.

However, in a letter sent to the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure from JTH Costabella, they clarify that they want to extend the works because, by signing a branding agreement with Hilton, which was signed back in April last year, they received additional conditions for the quality and the construction of the resort, and therefore the beaches are also implied.

In addition, JTH Costabella said that the completion of the works, among other things, was made much more difficult for them because of the ban on maritime work in the Rijeka area from June the 15th to September the 15th, as well as the fact that the contractor only submitted an extension request on October the 31st last year.

"The opening of the hotel will not be delayed. We expect to open it during the summer, but unfortunately not sooner. The deadline for August the 31st is defined as the deadline, but we believe that both the beach and the hotel will definitely be completed before that date,'' stated JTH Costabella, they also noted that the beach would be even more luxurious than originally planned due to Hilton's requests.

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Thursday, 5 September 2019

European Capital of Culture in Focus: New York Times, BBC in Rijeka

September 5, 2019 - What’s cooking in Rijeka these days? A New York Times report and a show that will be broadcast primetime on BBC One. But that's just part of it.  

Namely, Alex Crevar, an experienced journalist who regularly collaborates with The New York Times, National Geographic Travel and Lonely Planet, is currently visiting the 2020 European Capital of Culture, reports Novi List.

Crevar is exploring the city before it takes on the title of the European Capital of Culture next year. During his stay, Crevar visited all the major sites and institutions that will host and be part of the Rijeka 2020 program.

Crevar is apparently enjoying his visit so much, he extended his stay by three more days and will carry on in the Croatian city until the opening of the Porto Etno Festival on Friday.

Alex Crevar is hosted by Edi Jurković, chief communications officer for Rijeka 2020, who revealed everything that Rijeka, its residents, and all guests can expect in the year ahead, as well as the hidden and undiscovered charms of the city. The journalist was particularly impressed with the Croatian National Theatre Ivan Zajc where he enjoyed browsing the ceiling paintings and the time capsule.

Crevar also spoke with Idis Turat, a well-known local architect, not only about the specifics of the city's architecture, but also about the program direction of Sweet and Salt Rijeka 2020. Crevar also visited Tito’s ‘Galeb’ ship, whose story he found particularly interesting. The Galeb’s new life as a museum ship should surely be a draw for tourists, especially from America.

During his stay, Crevar will also speak with the city's Mayor Vojko Obersnel, Culture Manager Ivan Šarar, and Rijeka 2020 Director Emina Višnić.

However, the New York Times is not the only foreign media in the city. We must not forget of the five-member British production team led by producer Ewan Chamberlain, who is reporting on Rijeka for one of the UK's most important television channels, BBC One, and the Gateway TV show. 

“The report will be broadcast primetime on BBC One, followed by a replay on BBC Two which is visible in Northern Ireland and Scotland, and will then be available on their web platform. They arrived in Rijeka organized by the Croatian National Tourist Board, and of course, their main focus is Rijeka as the European Capital of Culture 2020,” said Dino Matešić of the Rijeka Tourist Board.

The British TV crew stayed in Rijeka for two days and visited many attractions including the Croatian National Theatre Ivan Zajc, the ‘Galeb’, Korzo, the Trieste fortress, Rijeka cathedral, and the Governor's Palace to see the original Titanic vest. They also visited the unique Peek&Poke computer museum and the Astronomy Center.

“They even visited the future Art Quarter, that is, the ex Benčić complex, and a really special experience was the trip to the fish market and the plaza,” says Matešić , adding that they plan to visit Krk and Opatija.

In mid-August, a major report was published by Die Welt, one of Germany's most circulated dailies, and French Le Monde and Italian Rai also have plans to visit, focusing on the large exhibition 'D'Annunzio’s Martyr', which will open in mid-September in the Maritime and History Museum of the Croatian Littoral, that is, the Governor's Palace, which thematizes D'Annunzio’s occupation of Rijeka, which happened exactly one hundred years ago.

All in all, as the year 2020 approaches, or the takeover of the prestigious title of the European Capital of Culture, numerous foreign journalists, bloggers, and tourism professionals are increasingly visiting Rijeka. This is the result of intensive work on the international promotion of Rijeka 2020, joined by the Croatian National Tourist Board, the Tourist Board of both the City of Rijeka and Kvarner, and the Rijeka 2020 company.

Thus, in the past year, Rijeka has been visited by media teams including Irish Daily Mirror, The Times, National Geographic Traveler UK, Le Télégramme, The Mail on Sunday, Magazin Catholic Digest, Magazin Auto Touring, Giornale Sentire, Daily Telegraph and Sunday Times.

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