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.

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.

re20210720_015107.jpg

“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.”

re20210720_015608.jpg

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.

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
3LHD_264_Urania_photo_detalji_by_Jure_Zivkovic_0026.jpg

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
Grand_Park_Hotel_Rovinj222.jpg

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
kolaIvanjaReka46787565474.jpg

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
a1f2ab_Wine-and-Heritage-Hotel-Roxanich---Motovun15.jpeg

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
1dammy.jpg

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
CRC_1190-HDRFranic.jpg

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
ervin.jpeg

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
6_2bercy.jpg

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
b92b8c69e4bd548262dd2d29bfaeb386b7fb8becsquare.jpeg

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

Monday, 30 November 2020

PHOTOS: The Seven Fantastic Fortresses of FORTITUDE

November 30, 2020 - Fortress of Culture Šibenik has this year begun leading a cross-border heritage project involving seven of the most incredible historic forts on the Balkan peninsula. FORTITUDE joins together three Šibenik strongholds with fortresses in Karlovac (Croatia), Bar and Herceg Novi (Montenegro) and Banja Luka (Bosnia and Herzegovina). Here, we take a look at the adventurous project and each of its seven fortresses

Last week in Šibenik, a meeting was held to discuss how seven historic forts should be linked thematically in the EU-sponsored FORTITUDE project. Over 1.6 Million Euros is being put into the project, of which 85 percent is co-financed by the EU's Interreg IPA CBC Croatia - Bosnia and Herzegovina - Montenegro.

FORTITUDE is being led by Fortress of Culture Šibenik, under which the city's St. Michael's Fortress, Barone Fortress and St. John's Fortress will be run. They join with Old Town of Dubovac in Karlovac (Croatia), Forte Mare, Herceg Novi and the Old City of Bar (Montenegro) and Kastel Fortress, Banja Luka (Bosnia and Herzegovina) in the FORTITUDE project, which aims to strengthen and diversify the cross-border culture and tourist offer, as well as develop high quality and sustainable management of these cultural assets.

Though running from 1st March 2020 - 28th February 2022, FORTITUDE will leave permanent links between these incredible, historic places, not least the annual Fortress Night and the sharing of cultural programmes such as exhibitions, festivals or even entertainers.

As Total Croatia News has just shone the spotlight on The 21 Most Incredible Croatia Castles To See Year-Round, we thought it only fair to pay attention to the seven fantastic forts of FORTITUDE

St. Michael's Fortress, Šibenik (Croatia)
Kaštel_s_TanajeDobarSkroz.jpg© Dobar Skroz

The oldest of the three fortresses in Šibenik's contribution to the FORTIFICATION project, St. Michael's is also the most famous, not least for its historical importance, its prominence in the city skyline and its beloved standing as a cultural event space of international repute. Medieval Croatian kings Petar Krešimir IV (in 1066), Zvonimir (in 1078), and Stjepan II (in 1080) all made official and lasting visits here. They probably enjoyed seeing the incredible building upon approach to the city, and the incredible views offered from its walls, in much the same way we do today. Several islands of the Šibenik archipelago and the medieval town form the vista from the top.

tvrdava-sv-mihovila-sibenik-2fortressofculture.jpg© Fortress of Culture Šibenik

Most of St. Michael's preserved ramparts and fortress bastions date from the late Middle Ages and Early Modern Age, but this original settlement can be dated back to the Iron Age. Named after St Michael's church which once lay within its walls, some estimate the church to date as far back as the 8th century (its first official mention is the 12th/13th century). Sadly, the church, along with a large part of St. Michael's Fort, was destroyed in 1663 when lightning hit the store of gunpowder necessarily kept there for its defence. St. Michael's Fortress has been rebuilt many times since it was first founded and a great multimedia museum inside will guide you through its history. Afterward, take advantage of the sun-sheltered bar.

Tvrđava-sv.-Mihovila-Šibenik-(6)_JU_Tvrdava_kultre_Sibenik_2.jpgSt. Michael's Fortress is a host venue to internationally renowned music stars and festivals © Fortress of Culture Šibenik

Barone Fortress, Šibenik (Croatia)
LadyIvyBarone_izgradnja-43.jpegBarone Fortress © Lady Ivy

Named after the defender under whose control it lay upon its 1646 build, Baron Christoph von Degenfeld, modern attempts to more Croatian-ise this fortification as Šubićevac - using the name of a local medieval family - are largely observed only domestically. The fortress was given a more modern rebuild in 1659 – at the time it was so badly needed, its walls had probably been hurriedly built in the same way as those of a shepherd's grazing plot. The northern facade of the fortress was the part used to repel the invaders and is marked by two bastions that extend outwards, allowing returning fire to be issued in multiple directions. These bastions were reinforced with mounds and contained all of the artillery for the fight. The fortress was renovated and reopened in 2016 and today uses multimedia tools to guide visitors through its history and that of the town of Šibenik. There are great views of Šibenik and St. Michael's Fortress from the walls.

View_of_St._Michael_Fortress_from_Barone.jpegView of St. Michael's Fortress from Barone Fortress © Zvone00

St. John's Fortress, Šibenik (Croatia)
AnyConv.com__Tanaja_s_Baronea.jpegSt. John's Fortress © DobarSkroz

The medieval church of St. John the Baptist that stood on a hill, north of Šibenik's historical centre, dates to at least 1444. It is around this church that St. John's Fortress rose up. Naturally, it's also where the name comes from. In early 1646, when it was speedily built, its contemporary construction helped save the entire town. The population vastly outnumbered and the fortress not even complete, between late 1646 and the end of 1647, St. John's Fortress served as the main - and successful – defence against the largest invading army to have been seen in Dalmatia since Roman times. After the Yugoslavian army stopped using it, St. John's Fortress became somewhat neglected – locals enjoying to visit on a wild walk with incredibly rewarding views. It has lagged behind the city's other such assets in its state of repair, but incredible effort to address such neglect has been undertaken in recent years and the revitalised St. John's Fortress is set to open in 2021.

AnyConv.com__Tanaja_sa_sv._Ane.jpegView of St. John's Fortress from St. Michael's © DobarSkroz

Old Town of Dubovac, Karlovac (Croatia)
karlovac-dubovac-optimizirano-za-web-ivo-biocina.jpg© Ivo Biocina / Visit Karlovac

The Old Town of Dubovac is one of the best-preserved and most beautiful monuments of medieval architecture in Croatia. Although the architectural style is a dead giveaway to such dating, you struggle to believe such a pristine building it really so old – not least because, as a defensive fortress, it has been attacked many times. This fortress is the ancestor of the entire city of Karlovac. Nobody is quite sure when construction of the original fortification was begun, but it was certainly standing by the 13th century. Its Renaissance appearance of today comes from a 15th-century reconstruction. The fortress stands 185 metres above sea level on the western side of Karlovac and overlooks the Kupa – one of the city's four rivers.

VisitKarlovacDub.jpg© Visit Karlovac

The fortress has a permanent museum in its main tower, which details the history and fascinating, notable ownerships. One of its best features is a map of the ancient terrain detailing all of the other castles and fortresses that once existing in the region along the same defensive line of which the Old Town of Dubovac was a part. The tower holds incredible views. The ground floor of the fortress has a brilliant restaurant 0 arguably the best standard of food that has ever been served within its walls (and that's saying something, considering the dignitaries who used to live here). The courtyard plays host to art & crafts, gastro and other social events – best of all, perhaps, the music concerts and cinema screenings which take place with the looming, citadel walls gifting an incredibly atmospheric backdrop.

1280px-Stari_grad_Dubovac_-_Karlovac_2Miro.jpg© Miroslav.vajdic

Forte Mare, Herceg Novi (Montenegro)
BigMareH.jpeg© TZ Herceg Novi

Forte Mare, meaning literally Sea Fortress, is appropriately named as it sits impressively on top of a rock which rises directly above the Adriatic. It was once the epicentre of life in the town today known as Herceg Novi, the modern town lying just to its north. Construction of the fortress began in 1382 under the first King of Bosnia, Stefan Tvrtko I Kotromanić, and was originally named Sveti Stefan (Saint Stephen). It acquired the name Herceg Novi some time between 1435–1483 and continued to grow as a town and structure until the 17th century and was restored in 1833.

HercegMare5a78f3015bd19286b33c65657114fc4_2_XL.jpg© TZ Herceg Novi

Rather than ever being forgotten, the fortress is an integral part of the town's tourist offer and cultural life. Visitors love to see the narrow passageways that lie within the fortress, particularly the one which stretches from the upper fortress all the way down to the sea. The views are also fantastic – lying right at the start of the incredible Bay of Kotor, you can see the southernmost part of Croatia from the top. In warmer months, the site hosts fantastic events like open-air cinema.

FortMare95a78f3015bd19286b33c65657114fc4_XL.jpgIn this photo, you can see the screen of the outdoor cinema on the top of Forte Mare © TZ Herceg Novi

Stari Grad Bar (Montenegro)
AnyConv.com__Stari_Bar.jpgThe construction of FORTITUDE stronghold of Stari Grad Bar was probably started in response to attacks by the Pannonian Avars © Bojana Smiljanić

The Old City of Bar and its fortress actually lie several kilometres inland from the modern coastal city called Bar and sits on the Londša hill, at the foot of Mount Rumija. The modern city was constructed on the site of the port which served Stari Grad Bar, the relocation necessitated by the 1979 Montenegro earthquake which destroyed Stari Grad Bar's aqueduct. Parts of the wonderfully-arched aqueduct can still be seen today, as can the old city walls which form the fortress of Stari Grad Bar.

1280px-Aquaduct_in_Stari_Bar.jpgThe aqueduct in Stari Grad Bar © Dudva

The original fortifications are guessed to come from the times that Roaman-Illyrian people sought an urban refuge from the attacks of the Pannonian Avars between 568 to 626. Such people inhabited Bar until at least the 14th century, being joined by Slavic people until the city was a mixture of Catholic and Orthodox peoples at the point the Ottomans arrived. The city had been known for its builders and stonemasons, as well as the agriculture of its surroundings, and the unique architecture of Stari Grad Bar today attests to that. Even some of the singular, modern dwellings that lie in the now repopulated town seem to fit in with the stonework of much earlier centuries perhaps, in some cases, as forgotten parts of the old city were borrowed and put to contemporary use. Medieval streets and palaces still stand in the town. It is a fascinating place to visit.

1620px-Ruins_Stari_Bar2_Montenegrochenyingphoto.jpgSome of the fortifications of the fascinating Stari Grad Bar, the southernmost inclusion in the FORTITUDE project © chenyingphoto

Kastel Fortress, Banja Luka (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
TomasDamjanovicBanjalukaNKD136_Kastel_tvrava_Banjaluka.jpegKastel Fortress in Banja Luka, the only fortification from Bosnia and Herzegovina in the FORTITUDE project © Tomas Damjanovic

Sat on a small hill on the banks of the Vrbas river, at the exact point where the more minor Crkvena river flows into it, Kastel Fortress is one of the oldest inhabited parts of Banja Luka and one of the city's key tourist attractions. The fortress itself is medieval, built by the Ottomans, but is situated on the site of Roman fortifications. Archaeological excavations have proven people lived on this exact tract of land from at least the 13th millennium BC. From the year 1553, Banja Luka served as the seat of the Ottoman ruler of the region. Shortly thereafter (1580), it became the capital of the newly-formed Bosnia Eyalet, the most westerly administrative district of the Ottoman Empire.

Bosanski_pasaluk_1600-_godine.pngThe Bosnia Eyalet, of which Banja Luka and the FORTITUDE Kastel was the capital. The Ottoman territory stretched throughout much of modern-day Croatia © Armin Šupuk

It held this status through the entirety of the Eyalet's strongest period until 1683. During this period, the Eyalet included much of modern-day Croatia including, at its peak, most of Dalmatia, right the way up to Lika. After then following a similar path to today's border with Bosnia, it again encroached into today's Croatia, just east of Sisak, engulfing all of Slavonia.

__7SaaKnei.jpegFORTITUDE inclusion Kastel lies on the Vrbas river © Saša Knežić

The Ottomans used this site as an arsenal, its development as a fortress taking place between 1595-1603. It was reconstructed to become the fortress we see today between 1712 –1714 and it is said that around 1785 the fortress held some 50 cannons. It was used as a military site up to after World War II. The Kastel covers an area of 26,610 m2 inside the fortress walls and about 21,390 m2 outside the ramparts and it is dedicated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

SaaKnei__2.jpeg Kastel Fortress in Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina © Saša Knežić

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

For the latest travel info, bookmark our main travel info article, which is updated daily

Read the Croatian Travel Update in your language - now available in 24 languages

Join the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community.

Saturday, 27 July 2019

VIDEOS: Fire Near Šibenik Forces Motorway Closure, More than 120 Firefighters at Scene

Just after 1:30 pm on Saturday, a fire broke out in the Dubrava area near Šibenik which forced 38 firefighters to the ground assisted by the Air Force, said the Fire Department of the Šibenik-Knin County. Shortly after, a second fire broke out which spread to the motorway, reports Index.hr and T.portal.hr on July 27, 2019.

The fire brigade commanded Croatian Roads (HAC) close the motorway, which happened just after 4 pm. The highway was first closed in both directions between the junctions of Šibenik and Vrpolje, and around 5 pm, a larger part of the motorway was closed, from Skradin to Vrpolje.

According to the latest information from Šibenik, more than 120 firefighters, six Canadairs and three air tractors are at the scene. Around 6 pm, the fire reached the toll booths and approached homes. The strong southern wind (jugo) is giving firefighters difficulty containing the fire. 

As you can imagine, there is plenty of traffic. Along the entire Adriatic highway in Šibenik area, a kilometer-long column of cars has formed thanks to the motorway closure. 

Around 6:45 pm, the border forces of the Croatian Army arrived at the scene, and the entire Civil Protection System is on its feet.

According to Šibenski.portal, the fire reached Mihaljević and is over one hundred meters long, maybe a kilometer, and cannot be controlled at this time.

“The situation is such that we have 85 firefighters on the ground, 25 soldiers, we have raised the State Intervention Unit Split, and the police are very helpful in the traffic situation since the Šibenik-Drniš road is closed and since 6:27 pm the highway opened. The situation is such that the houses are not endangered, that is, at one point, some fifty houses were endangered north of the Garden Center in Dubrava. The fire is not under control, but the state of the houses is under control. Three Canadians, three air tractors, 35 vehicles. The firefighters are the alpha and omega of the fire, and we, from the Civil Protection Council, are involved as needed and in a situation where the fire would threaten the houses and when evacuation would be needed. Then we are legally responsible for logistics in terms of accommodation, transportation, and nutrition. All this is not necessary at present, but we are ready and the situation is changing rapidly,” says Danijel Mileta, the Deputy Mayor of Šibenik and the president of the Civil Protection Director.

2C07420F-8C1D-4932-85ED-37D6CBFB7C29 (1).jpeg

DVD Brodarica-Krapanj Facebook

Šibenski.portal reported at 7:33 pm that the fire near the fast road Šibenik-Drniš broke out again. Namely, the fire brigade had been redirected to fighting the critical points near homes and after that part of the fire was partially under control, they returned to the location where the fire erupted again.

Šibenski.portal reported that the fire in southern Dubrava is the biggest fire this year, where seven firefighting planes from PP NOS OSRH and 26 members of Croatian army have been engaged, and in addition to strength in the air, the fire will also be fought by an unmanned Orbiter aircraft.

This is also the first time the Croatian Army's ground forces have been engaged in this year's firefighting season, according to the Ministry of Defense (MORH).

"We are giving it our all, but the fire on the front line is big. It is difficult to approach, and the wind makes its own challenges. There is a lot of smoke, and beside it is a pine forest that is quite dense. We will stay in the dark and hope to stop the fire,” said Colonel Vlahović.

For the latest updates on Croatia's roads, check the HAK website

More soon…

To read more about news in Croatia, follow TCN’s news page

Search