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.

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

PHOTOS: Beautiful Locations of Active Šibenik's Sports and Recreation

September 22, 2021 – From cycling and kayaking to hiking and an epic zip line, see the fantastic natural landscape that holds active Šibenik's thrilling offer.

When temperatures ease off, the Croatian coast welcomes a whole different type of guest. Spring, Autumn and Winter is the favourite time for sports enthusiasts and fitness fans to visit. And, few places on the Mediterranean have an offer complete like active Šibenik.

Outside of the peak season, the stunning nature that surrounds Šibenik is free from the bustle of visitors. Cyclists and runners speed by unobstructed. Maybe they'll pass a couple of hikers enjoying the same trails and spectacular views?

St_Nicholas_Fortress.jpgSt Anthony's channel, St Nicholas Fortress and the cycle and walking path that reaches it via an island © Šibenik Tourist Board

In the evenings, during their rest time, active Šibenik's guests have the city's best hotels, restaurants and charming Old Town almost to themselves. They share the cafe, bar and restaurant terraces only with Šibenik residents, relaxing once more now the city is returned to them.

Key to Šibenik's year-round appeal for fitness and sport fans is the city's unique landscape. No place in Croatia has natural assets like Šibenik. It is surrounded on all sides by a remarkable and startlingly varied topography.

Firstly, between Šibenik city harbour and the open Adriatic is a long waterway – St. Anthony's Channel. It is bordered on either side by two huge stretches of wild nature. Then, at the rear of the town, elevated up from sea level and next to Barone Fortress, the area of Šubićevac. Here, the entrance to the vast Šubićevac Forest Park, much of it an untamed, natural landscape. Thirdly, the vast Krka National Park, which lies just 10 kilometres north-east of Šibenik

Active Šibenik: St Anthony's Channel

SibenikfromAnthony2.JPGSailboats and speed boats sharing St Anthony's channel © Marc Rowlands

An epic 2000 metre long waterway, St Anthony's Channel is both a gateway to the open sea and the entrance to the city for anyone sailing into Šibenik. It is 140 – 220 metres wide and is bordered on each side by near untouched Dalmatian nature. On one side, sheer cliffs for one wall of the channel. At the top, dense pine forests, walking, hiking and cycling trails. Also, the famous recreation site of Martinska.

cyclepathsib.JPGCycle paths of Šibenik © Marc Rowlands

On the opposite side of the channel, a very different layout of the land. Here, the pines are much lower and closer to the channel. Between the two, idyllic beaches - the best in Šibenik – line a pathway designated for running, walking and cycling. Those on bicycles drop down from small hills on the interior. After following the path at the side of the water, their ultimate reward is the spectacular St Nicholas' Fortress. On both sides of St Anthony's Channel you'll see incredible views of Šibenik, its harbour and the side opposite.

_MG_9430rygujtkr45.JPGCycling across a section of St Anthony's channel © Marc Rowlands

For those who prefer recreation on the water, St Anthony's Channel is perfect to explore by kayak. It's also one of the easiest ways to discover all of Šibenik's best beaches. Sticking close to the pine-sheltered coast, beautiful sailboats pass you in the centre of the channel, on their way to or from the city.

Active Šibenik: Šubićevac Forest Park

2019-07-24_1627_1.jpgView over Šibenik, with Šubićevac Forest Park at the rear of the city © Šibenik Tourist Board

To visitors, Šubićevac Forest Park is the least famous of all Šibenik's recreational areas. A huge stretch of forestland, much loved by city residents, it rises above the city near Barone Fortress. The section of forest closest to the Šubićevac is designated as a city park. Within this part, you'll find a children's playground, specially designed to be accessible to all, including children with special needs.

jusosibenik3.jpgEasily accessible section of Šubićevac Forest Park © Javna ustanova Športski objekti Šibenik

Throughout this section, designated paths for cycling and walking. Running to the southeast, a much larger area of near untouched forest. Here, a wilderness ripe for runners or hikers to explore. It's worth seeking out the tiny Church of St Michael here.

jusosibenik2.jpgPaths through forest wilderness © Javna ustanova Športski objekti Šibenik

Residents say the very best views of Šibenik come from Šubićevac Forest Park. Certainly, they are breathtaking.

jusosibenik1.jpgThe best views over the city? It's a tough one to call - Šibenik has many contenders © Javna ustanova Športski objekti Šibenik

Active Šibenik: Krka National Park

otok-visovac.jpgIsland in Krka National Park © Šibenik Tourist Board

A series of wide pools, fed by cascading waterfalls, Krka is one of Croatia’s best known and most spectacular National Parks. Famous water features like the unforgettable Skradinski Buk dominate the park's postcard images. You'll find it near the park's most southerly entrance, very close to Šibenik. But, beyond this eye-catching introduction lies a further 109 square kilometers of spectacular National Park to discover. The best way to experience it is by walking, hiking or cycling.

vidikovacgoris02jpg.jpgCountless captivating viewpoints © Krka National Park

Hiking and walking trails of Krka National Park

lozovac01jpg.jpgWalking and hiking trails © Krka National Park

The park's hiking and walking trails give you the most thrilling views of this epic landscape and its wealth of flora and fauna. At the side of the trails, educational panels detailing the plants and animals you pass.

kljucica05jpg.jpgEpic landscape © Krka National Park

There are three circular trails: Skradinski buk (1900 m), Roški Slap (1360 m) and Krka Monastery (2100 m). A walking/cycling trail also leads to Skradinski buk from the Skradin bridge (3400 m), while from Lozovac, it is possible to take a forest trail (875 m) down to the park's longest waterfall.

roskislap10jpg.jpgWalking over waterfalls © Krka National Park

The shortest trail is 300 m long and leads to Bilušića buk, while the longest trail is Stinice-Roški slap-Oziđana pećina and covers 8.5 kilometres. In total, there are 7 spectacular waterfalls to find as the river Krka descends through the park.

Cycling routes of Krka National Park

vidikovac.jpegBreathtaking views on the cycling and walking routes © Krka National Park

Bicycling through Krka National Park is a journey of endless enjoyment. If your perfect cycling route offers stunning landscapes, then this is the place for you. But, if you're curious to learn about the park's cultural and historical heritage, then cycling also helps you unlock these park secrets.

mostrokislap.jpgCycling © Krka National Park

No less than fourteen cycling routes crisscross the park. They are divided into three types:

Road route - perfect for racing bikes and dedicated cyclists

Trekking & family route - a mixture of paved roads and gravel paths, perfect for city bikes, mountain bikes, families with children and cyclists of any age and ability.

Mountain biking route – a mixture of gravel paths and unarranged forest paths, with sharp ascents and descents, designed for mountain bike enthusiasts in good physical condition and with advanced cycling skills.

tonkaijaskradin.jpegCycling above Skradin © Krka National Park

Šibenik zipline

On the northeast corner of the park, stretching across an epic canyon, one of Croatia's most thrilling ziplines. Flying from cliffs hundreds of metres above, so vast is the canyon that you can barely see the thrillseekers at the end of the first line. And, after that, there are still another two to go!

For more information and/or booking any of these activities, visit/contact Šibenik Tourist Board here

For more on great things to do in Šibenik, be sure to check Total Croatia News's dedicated pages here

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Spectacular Start to 10th Anniversary Šibenik Dance Festival

July 20, 2021 – The streets of Šibenik are overflowing with life this July. On town squares, streets and in parks, different events appeal to every generation and demographic. On Monday 19th, the opening of the Supertoon animation festival sees families gather to watch feature-length cartoons in the Old Town streets. Above their heads, in St. Michael's Fortress, a much more startling evening's entertainment is taking place. It's the opening of the 10th anniversary Šibenik Dance Festival.

'Burning Water' by renowned Greek choreographer Andonis Foniadakis is not always easy to watch. Commissioned specifically for the ballet company of Croatian National Theatre Ivan pl. Zajc in Rijeka, the dancers have had a year to perfect it since its Capital of Culture premiere.

REreIMG_9266.jpgA spectacular backdrop of Šibenik, the Adriatic and sunset greet attendees at the opening of the 10th annual Šibenik Dance Festival © Marc Rowlands.

The audience takes their seats at sunset. But, as the performance begins, everything is enveloped in black. Minimally lit, androgynous dancers arrive on stage in a most unorthodox manner, their bodies twisted and contorted beyond regular, recognisable movement.

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“That is the signature style of Andonis Foniadakis,” says Šibenik Dance Festival director Zorana Mihelčić. “Everybody knows it because he's so well established; very nervous, interrupted movements. I personally love his work and right now he's one of the most frequently requested choreographers in the world.”

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Having helmed Šibenik Dance Festival from its start to this, its 10th anniversary, Mihelčić is more than satisfied with its progress. And, so she should be. In the seats on opening night, German, English, Slovenian, Croatian, and at least one Scandinavian language are heard. On the stage, an international touring ballet troupe and world-renowned choreographer. This is a far cry from the festival's beginnings.

Evolution of Šibenik Dance Festival

“We started Šibenik Dance Festival 10 years ago as a small review of dance studios and awarded dancers. But not, professionals,” says Mihelčić. “At that time, it was held in the square just in front of Šibenik cathedral. It grew steadily each year until 2014 when the first of our fortresses was renovated. Within a month of St. Michael's opening, we secured permission to hold our opening night there. That really put us on the map and we've been there ever since.”

“We now have two programmes running simultaneously; we kept the amateur and student dancers programme, which was our foundation. But, now we have professional, international dance companies as a major part of each event.”

relabby1.jpgIlijana's dancers, part of the student / fringe programme of Šibenik Dance Festival © Mladen Božičković

Continuing throughout this week, Šibenik Dance Festival manages to entertain everyone currently in Šibenik. Committed fans of contemporary dance and art will visit more spectacular venues like Barone Fortress. On Wednesday 21st, a visit there by Zoltán Fodor's Inversedance – an incredibly well-respected dance company from Budapest. They arrive with a new performance 'You and the World'. Its premiere was just one month ago. The next night, Thursday 22 July, jazz and hip hop dancing, again at Fortress Barone and the Association of Ballet Artists of Serbia.

In Arsen Art House, conceptual and contemporary pieces by Rita Gobi from Hungary and regional star Isidora Stanišić on Tuesday 20th. The festival concludes in the same venue on Friday 23 with a conceptual piece called 'Body Shots'. It's a co-production between Germany's CocoonDance Company and Zagreb Dance Center.

Research-BODY-SHOTS-CocoonDance-Zagreb-Dance-Center-ZPC-photo-by-Neven-Petrović_1st_10.jpg Body Shots by CocoonDance / Zagreb Dance Center © Neven Petrović.

Although, for many visitors, the highlight of Šibenik Dance Festival is still the public performance on the city streets by youngsters and amateur dancers.

“This year, it's a really exciting mixture, accessible to everyone,” says Zorana Mihelčić, clearly excited about the performances to come. “20 minutes of great tap dancers from Dubrovnik, then 10 to 15 minutes of very young students from the ballet school in Split. After that, contemporary dancers from Požega, also salsa, hip hop fusion, classical and contemporary ballet. It will be great.”

re20210720_031136.jpgAs shown above, final applause for the 2021 festival opening night. Festival director Zorana Mihelčić can be seen in the bottom right-hand corner. 

The free public performance of youngsters and amateurs at the 10th anniversary of Šibenik Dance Festival takes place at Poljana square, just in front of Šibenik National Theatre on Wednesday 21 and Thursday 22 July between the hours of 19.00 and 22.00.

All photos © Šibenik Dance Festival unless otherwise accredited.

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Ex-Intelligence Officer Whose Body Was Found Near Knin Committed Suicide

ZAGREB, 23 March, 2021 - Toni Matas, whose corpse was found in his car near Knin on Sunday afternoon, committed suicide, the Šibenik-Knin County police department said on Tuesday.

The autopsy confirmed the identity of the victim as Toni Matas, who used to work for the Security and Intelligence Agency (SOA). His body was found near Knin on Sunday afternoon when passers-by informed the Šibenik-Knin County police department that they had seen a corpse in a car.

Matas's last job was as corporate security director at the Croatian Post.

Local media outlets speculate that Matas had private and business problems lately. Some also claim that his name was implicated in the recent wind park graft scandal. Several days before the tragic event, Matas was questioned by the USKOK office for prevention of organised crime and corruption.

Some media allege that Matas left a suicide note in his car and that the note mentioned pressure he had been exposed to due to his role in the said scandal.

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

Thursday, 11 February 2021

PHOTOS: Outstanding Contemporary Croatian Architecture of the Year

February 10, 2021 – 10 of the most outstanding examples of contemporary Croatian architecture have been selected by the Association of Croatian Architects to compete in the extremely prestigious Mies van der Rohe Awards. Held only once every two years, they are the European equivalent of the Pritzker Prize for Architecture.

The Mies van der Rohe Awards are a really big deal. The greatest works of European architecture compete for recognition in the competition. The greatest success of Croatian architecture in the awards was attained by UP studios' Toma Plejić and Lea Pelivan, who received a special award for upcoming architects and had their high school in Koprivnica named the best building in that category in 2009. The success has had a considerable impact on their careers since.

Being held only once every two years, Croatian architecture projects completed since the closure of entries for the 2019 awards are eligible to be submitted. Here are the outstanding examples of contemporary Croatian architecture that will represent the country in 2022.

Cinema Urania Zagreb
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An old neighbourhood cinema built into the back streets near Kvatric. In their redesign, 3LHD preserved the best features from this early example of concrete engineering in Croatian architecture. They added a glass pavilion at the entrance, atriums and skylights, flooding the former darkness with the natural light needed for its new purpose as an event and work space.

3LHD_264_Urania_photo_by_Jure_Zivkovic_622355555555.jpg© Jure Živković

Grand Park Hotel, Rovinj
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Sprawling widely across six stepped levels, the new luxury Grand Park Hotel and spa could easily have looked a long swipe of concrete. But, by places greenery on each of its staged roofs, architects 3LHD have ensured that no matter where you are in the 500-guest-capacity building, your view places you within a garden, looking out onto Rovinj Old Town and the expanse of the Adriatic. Croatian architecture at its most breathtaking.

Grand_Park_Hotel_Rovinj43333.jpg© Alukoenigstahl hr
Ivanja Reka Elementary School, south Sesvete, east Zagreb
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If every elementary school looked as pretty and was as well equipped as Ivanja Reka Elementary School in the south of Sesvete, eastern Zagreb, you could well believe daily attendance would never drop below 100%. Designed by a team of architectural authors (SUBMAP studios Marija Burmas and Ivo-Lola Petrić, and Jakša Kalajžić from JKA Arhitekti), the multi-level main building sits centrally, surrounded by sports, recreation and other facilities creating an impressive view for both those outside and within.

a3a8dd73fd11ef837e65386313eb8c6529c4b842blaz.jpeg© Ivanja Reka Elementary School / Domagoj Blažević

Roxanich Wine & Heritage Hotel, Motovun, Istria
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The view is unmistakably Istria. Vineyards carpet the land below and - rising above - the picturesque hilltop town of Motovun. Helmed architecturally by consistently bold Rijeka designer Idis Turato, this multi-level, multi-purpose redesign retains the traditional feel of its existing stone building and its purpose – there's a huge wine cellar beneath – but has opened up the space to give stunning views, not least over a sun deck that spectacularly reflects the sunrise and sunset. This is an active winery, with works and equipment all housed within its lower floors, not that you could tell from the 25 person capacity boutique hotel, restaurant and wine shop upstairs.

317b6f_Wine-and-Heritage-Hotel-Roxanich---Motovun5.jpg© Roxanich.hr

Four Houses for Four Brothers, Diklo, Zadar
zadar_diklofour1.jpg

Judging from a theme of project titles used by architects Iva Letilović and Igor Pedišić, we're not sure that Four Houses for Four Brothers was actually commissioned by four brothers or that four live there. But, you could well believe they could. The ultra-modern set of independent houses, located next to a beautiful stretch of coast in a north Zadar neighbourhood, was specifically designed to address a distinctly Croatian reality – how to open up some of your dwelling to seasonal guests while you remain at home. The design separates the buildings clearly into separate quarters which allow privacy, comfort and minimal encroachment for both visitors and residents.

bazencetiri.jpg© Igor Pedišić

Galić Winery, Kutjevo
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Award-winning outfit Zagreb-based studio Dva arhitekta have an existing, jaw-dropping design for a rural winery commissioned by famous makers Galic. However, that project, as yet, remains unrealised. But, their winery for Galic in the centre of Kutjevo town is complete. Melding the traditional and the contemporary, the upper section of the building is a bold and unblemished red brick, adorned with the winemaker's unmistakable logo. Beneath, concrete arches invite your eyes into the actual wine cellar – neat rows of barrels, protected behind glass walls that are set back from the facade. Brilliant!

8dammy.jpg© Damir Fabijanić

Seecel Centre, Zagreb
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Designed as a regional centre for the development of entrepreneurs and its construction costs generously part-funded by European money, the Seecel Centre arrived long overdue and does not house its intended inhabitants. Such matters are best left for different articles as, here, we're concerned with the undeniable finery of this building's architecture and appearance. Holding space for accommodation, offices, communal collaboration, education and presentations, the five-floored building uses ultra-modern building materials and construction methods to make it low-energy, its great blocks of covered concrete, with glass windows set further back, echoing old fortifications. It was designed by Igor Franić who, in Croatia, is perhaps best known for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb and completed by him and his team at SZA / Studio za arhitekturu d.o.o.

endGV7_1096-mindarklav.jpg© Site Project d.o.o.

Trg Poljana, Šibenik
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Not a small amount was asked of project architects Atelier Minerva from Dubrovnik in the task to create Trg Poljana in Šibenik. The site had long been earmarked for a much-needed, official town square – a place for events and public gatherings. But, the town was also woefully short on parking. By burying a multi-level car park beneath the open space, the architects successfully met both demands. Triangular shapes sit at an angle above shaded seating, echoing the inclines on the roof of the Juraj Šižgorić City Library opposite. Clever.

Poljana-Sibenik-Eccos-inzenjering-1-compressed-scaled.jpg© Ervin Husedžinović / Eccos-inzenjering

Homestead on Hartovski vrh, Žumberak, Zagreb County
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A collection of multi-purpose rural buildings, Homestead and Meditation Centre on Hartovski vrh was commissioned and designed for use by the Buddhist Center Zagreb. Their aim was to relocate activities such as chan, yoga, meditation, healthy living and teaching to a peaceful retreat outside of the city. Architects Branimir Rajčić and Mariela Žinić began the project in 2015, with the completed site arriving in 2019. Modern building materials are used, but not so the striking collection seems out of place within a partially agricultural setting. The set of buildings includes a residential dwelling and a larger hall for meetings and activities, both of which use large windows to allow the light and nature to flood in.

6_3BERCFUINAL.jpg© Robert Leš

Square of Traditional Crafts, Varaždin
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A tricky task was given to architects Studio Konntra – how to enliven and modernise a traditional old square in the centre of one of Europe's best-preserved Baroque Old Towns. They did this by constructing transportable kiosks to house small outlets for local artists and craftsmen that cater to visiting tourists who come to the square. When occupied during the day, the plain wooden interiors allows the crafts to take centre stage. But, after closing time, the outsides of the wooden doors are brightly coloured and adorned with paintings, a welcoming environment for residents to use at night.

sqaureee23455.jpeg© Studio Konntra

Friday, 11 December 2020

Sibenik Knin County Tourist Board Wins European Excellence Award for Its Campaign

December 10, 2020 – A joint campaign of the Sibenik Knin County Tourist Board and the agency S.T.A.R. Digital called "Take a walk with us" received the European Excellence Award for the best campaign in Southeast Europe in 2020.

As Hina reports, the Sibenik-Knin Tourist Board said that they won this prestigious European award in a strong competition of finalists: marketing campaigns of Eurobank Bulgaria/BBDO, ING Romania/Zenith, Telenor Bulgaria/Intelday, and Erste Bank Serbia.

"The 'Take a walk with us' campaign promotes privacy, untouched nature, and a safe environment, which have never been more important than now at the time of the pandemic. This is our response to new market demands in the travel industry," said the Sibenik Knin County Tourist Board.

The campaign promotes the destination's natural and cultural beauties with the concept of a "walking" in which the visitor gets to know all its riches through video and "storytelling" formats.

"This year has been extremely challenging, especially in tourism. With a quick response, the communication needed to be designed and adjusted differently to encourage tourists to make quick decisions and visit destinations in times of global crisis," they describe a concept from the S.T.A.R. Digital, adding that the author of the photo and video material is Toma Kezić.

"How to promote a tourist destination in the summer of 2020 with a limited budget and on short notice? Šibenik Region 'walked' the potential travelers through its highlights, offering a perfect getaway from a pandemic. Campaign with compelling videos and storytelling formats achieved strong results in 5 European markets – in awareness, engagement, and ultimately better than expected tourist arrivals," reads the statement on the European Excellence Awards winner list.

As the coordinator of the project, the Šibenik-Knin County Tourist Board, with the support of the Croatian Tourist Board (CNTB), gathered key stakeholders in the destination – the Šibenik and Vodice Tourist Boards, Krk and Kornati National Parks, Šibenik Fortress and Public institution Nature of Šibenik-Knin County. They campaigned in the markets of Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Poland, and the Czech Republic.

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Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Over 10, 000 Attend Music Festivals in Sibenik In 2020 - Zero Infections

September 22, 2020 - For six consecutive weeks this summer, the Martinska venue alone welcomed over 10, 000 international visitors to its music festivals in Sibenik. Zero cases of Coronavirus occurred.

Over recent years, three things have firmly placed Croatia on the international stage – Game Of Thrones, the World Cup and music festivals. Running for over a decade now, music festivals are the oldest of these. They have elevated places like Pula and Tisno to become among the most-Googled destinations in the country.

So popular now are Croatia music festivals, that many say the summer season of music festivals in Croatia has supplanted the famous hedonistic holidays of Ibiza as the hippest place to go. Incredible disappointment was therefore felt by tens of thousands of expectant party people earlier this year when most of the international Croatia music festivals decided to cancel their 2020 events. They did so in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

One venue stood alone – Martinska, a 20-year-old site for music festivals in Sibenik. Over six consecutive weeks, all of their 2020 festivals took place. They did so under strict adherence to epidemiological guidelines. And, following a wait of two weeks after the final event (to cover any potential Coronavirus incubation period), site organisers Pozitivan Ritam have released their results - zero cases of Coronavirus.

Seasplash foto Ivan Buvinić.jpg

“It's not only the five festivals and one concert event that we did,” Pozitivan Ritam director Vedran Meniga told TCN, “The Fortress of Culture in Sibenik had more than 30 events this summer and Project Vojarna in Sibenik had two parties this year with over 4000 people. On one RTL television show, they described Sibenik as the Croatian Wuhan when 3000 people were in the town for one techno party there. But, at the end of the season, none of these events resulted in a single Coronavirus infection. Not one.”

Following a successful lockdown earlier in the year, cases of Coronavirus were limited in Croatia at the start of the season. Yet, some were understandably hesitant to come. Music festivals in Sibenik still managed to attract visitors from Britain, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany to Martinska. Even after the middle of August when cases began to appear in other regions and international visitor numbers dried up, the festival site was still busy with Croatians and partygoers from near-neighbouring countries. At the end of August, there were no more than five infected persons in Sibenik. None were music festival or music event attendees. Throughout much of the summer, Sibenik recorded zero cases.

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“The music festivals in Sibenik are proof that it's possible to work doing events during the era of Corona,” Meniga tells TCN. “Of course, all of our events were open-air and no doubt that helped.”

"When cases started to reappear elsewhere at the end of July, I went to the civil authorities and epidemiologists immediately, before they came to us,” says Vedran. “The civil authorities and the police grant the license for the events. I presented them with a plan and they were satisfied. They allowed us to continue.”

“It helped that Martinska is across the bay from Sibenik. Festival attendees don't even need to go into the town to come, they drive here straight from the Magistrala (Croatian coastal highway). Also, Martinska's capacity is five times bigger than the numbers we were going to cater for. The site can accommodate six to seven thousand. We expected no more than 1500 daily. That was more than enough space to maintain physical distance. We carefully took all contact details for each attendee at the entrance, in case something appeared and we (or authorities) had to later contact people. We also took everyone's temperature. And in addition to the required epidemiological sanitization, we also installed disinfectant pillars at every single point where money or goods exchanged hands. All our staff wore not only masks but also gloves. Four times the civil authorities made surprise visits to the site for inspection along with epidemiologists and police. Each time they were completely satisfied.”

Current forecasts for the Coronavirus response predict that a vaccine will not be available to cover everyone until the autumn of 2021. This has serious implications for at least one more tourist season. Yet, with the incredible achievements seen this summer at Martinska's music festivals in Sibenik, we can all take hope that events, tourism, and even life itself may continue to be enjoyed in the near future, as long as we're all smart about it.

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All photos 2020 Martinska © Seasplash / Pozitivan Ritam. 

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Friday, 18 September 2020

Six of the Best! Croatian Protected Produce On Sale in China

September 18, 2020 – Six items of Croatian protected produce are among the 100 European items to go on sale in China

Six items of Croatian protected produce are among the 100 European items to go on sale in China. In a reciprocal deal, 100 Chinese products will also be recognised and recommended on the European market.

34933c5e0f633c5d1e4f45c5b0cd6dc9_XL.jpgDalmatian prosciutto © TZ Vrgorac

Baranja kulen, Dalmatian prosciutto, Drniš prosciutto, Lika potatoes, Dingač wine and Neretva mandarins are the premium six Croatian protected produce chosen to be among the European 100. All of the Croatian protected produce is already recognised at a national and at an EU-level and designated its status based on its unique place of origin.

Dingač.jpgDingač wine © Silverije

339ed3435d099dd0a91c267af376e8f0_XL.jpgNeretva Mandarins

The European products will be specially marked and receive special privileges when they go on sale in China. Alongside the Croatian protected produce, other items on the European list are French champagne, Greek feta cheese, Italian Parma prosciutto, Italian mozzarella, Irish whiskey and Portuguese port. On the Chinese list of products are distinct varieties of rice, bean and vegetable products, some of which will already be popular with Europeans who eat or cook Chinese cuisine.

_DSC5737_DxO.jpgDrniš prosciutto © Tourist Board of Drniš

The full list of Croatian produce protected at an EU-level currently includes Istrian olive oil, Dalmatian prosciutto, Pag cheese, Lika lamb, Poljički Soparnik, Zagorje turkey, Korčula olive oil, Istrian prosciutto, Sour cabbage from Ogulin, Neretva mandarins, Slavonian honey, Drniš prosciutto, Cres olive oil, Pag salt, Baranja kulen, Bjelovarski kvargl, Varaždin cabbage, Pag lamb, Šolta olive oil, Meso 'z tiblice, Zagorje mlinci, Krk prosciutto, Lika potatoes, Slavonian kulen, Krk olive oil.

MK4_5082.jpegBaranja kulen, featured within a traditional Slavonian platter © Romulić & Stojčić

b9def02b6d20f4f0adb6e889f99af491_XL.jpgLika Potatoes

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Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Šibenik-Knin County Financing Film About General Ante Gotovina

Ante Gotovina is much more than just a household name like that of an actor or a singer. This hero of the Homeland War was proclaimed innocent at The Hague and released back in 2012. He returned to Croatia and embarked on a normal life before becoming somewhat of an entrepreneur. Thesedays, Gotovina no longer dons a general's uniform, but instead deals in the raising of tuna through his own company.

As Gotovina enjoys the quiet life now, the stories of his heroic past in the face of war have never faded, and a film about him is set to be filmed with Šibenik-Knin County's very welcome financial support.

As Morski writes on the 28th of May, 2019, Šibenik-Knin County Prefect Goran Pauk has signed a co-financing contract for a feature film and the "General" TV series.

"This contract stipulates that Šibenik-Knin County is obliged to provide financial support in the amount of 100,000 kuna to the project of a feature-length film and drama television series called "General'', by the screenwriter and director Antun Vrdoljak in the production of Kiklop filma d.o.o. and Croatian Television,'' reads a quote from Šibenik-Knin County.

In the explanation, it is argued that the theme of the film and TV series is the Homeland War, to which Croatian cinematography still owes a lot, given the historical achievement of the creation of the democratic and independent Republic of Croatia, the fulfillment of a centuries-old dream of the Croatian people.

The film and TV series covers the the war and the life of General Ante Gotovina and his generation of Croatian defenders, detailing both the good times and the extremely bad ones.

"Most of all, because of those who have given us and all future generations the liberty that we've inherited today, the Croatian Defense Forces," they argue in their clarification of their decision to fund the film on Gotovina's life and deeds.

To briefly recall, filming was completed in Šibenik on January the 30th this year, and Šibenik native Goran Višnjić plays General Ante Gotovina.

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