Friday, 19 February 2021

People also ask Google: What is Croatia Famous For?

February 19, 2021 – What is Croatia Famous For?

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

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

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

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

What is Croatia known for?

1) Holidays


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

a) Islands


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What is Croatia famous for? Islands © Mljet National Park

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

b) Beaches


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

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

c) Dubrovnik


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What is Croatia famous for? Dubrovnik © Ivan Ivanković

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

d) Heritage


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

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

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

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

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

e) Music Festivals


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What is Croatia famous for? Music festivals © Khris Cowley

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

f) Plitvice Lakes and natural heritage


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

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

2) Football


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

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

Sports in general are what is Croatia known for

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

3) Zagreb


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

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

4) Olive oil


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What is Croatia famous for? Olive oil

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

5) There was a war here


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

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

6) Wine


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

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

7) Croatian produce


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

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

Truffles


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What is Croatia known for? Truffles © Donatella Paukovic

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

Vegeta


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What is Croatia known for? Vegeta

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

Chocolate


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

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

Beer


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

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

8) Innovation


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

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

9) Being poor


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What is Croatia famous for? Being poor. Yikes!

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

10) People want to live in Croatia


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

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

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

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

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

Gastronomy


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

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

Coffee


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

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

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

Handball, music

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Saturday, 2 January 2021

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

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

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

klisfortress7.jpegThe view from Klis Fortress

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

Klisfortress2.jpegKlis Fortress

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

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

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


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Ivan Limić, co-author of 'Plants of Klis Fortress', relaxing in a Black Pine

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

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

Geraniumpurpureum_LittleRobin.jpegGeranium purpureum, the little-robin

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

Agave_americana_Limic_14.jpegAgave americana

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

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

Salvia officinalis_Sage.jpgSalvia officinalis (sage)

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

Fibigiatriquetra_AdriaticFibigia.jpegFibigia triquetra

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

Polypodium_cambricum_Limic_4.jpegPolypodium cambricum

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

Klis-Tordylium1.jpgTordylium

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

latin_Inulaverbascifolia_eng_Inulaverbascifolia.jpegInula Verbascifolia

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

Ephedra_major_Limic_3.jpegEphedra major

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

Agaveamericana_CenturyPlantMaguey.jpegAgave americana

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

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All images © Ivan Limić / The Plants of Klis Fortress

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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Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Hidden Dalmatia: Unique in Croatia - the Fantastic Food of the Cetina River

Wednesday, 9 September 2020 – The cuisine of Omiš and its surroundings is unique in Croatia. This rich, varied and distinct menu is gifted by the wild food of the Cetina river

Fresh fish and scallops, octopus and squid, washed down with beautiful wines made within 50 kilometres of your shaded seat. Lunch and dinner on the Adriatic coast can be one of the most enjoyable aspects of a visit to the Croatian sea. But, truth be told, these feasts are much the same in any decent restaurant on the Mediterranean.

There's nothing uniquely Croatian about this food – even the side of blitva that usually accompanies is served in Italy, Herzegovina, Bosnia and southern Serbia. The menu is so uniform because the land is so uniform, and so is the sea.

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Diners flick through menus filled with food of the Cetina river or wait for meals beneath the stars in the Old Town, a typical summertime scene in the Dalmatian town of Omiš © Marc Rowlands

But, the Dalmatian town of Omiš and its surrounding settlements are different. The traditional diet here is not reliant solely on that same sea. Because here, the largest Croatian river that flows into the Adriatic emerges. And the food of the Cetina river region is unique and varied as a result, a gift of both freshwater and salt.

Here we take a look at the singular food of the Cetina river and its surroundings.

Prawn

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Kocka, freshly caught from the estuary of the Cetina river in Omiš © Ivan Puljiz

Known around Omiš as kocka, this prawn only really likes to live in the estuaries of rivers. They thrive better at the mouth of the Cetina river than anywhere else in Croatia and can be found only 20 or 30 metres deep, feeding where the fresh water mixes with the sea. The conditions around the Cetina river are so perfect that they can reach 15 to 20 centimetres in length, but they are still quite rare. And they are delicious. As they attain such a size, it's best to cook them whole, creating a spectacular theatre when served.

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Kocka in Omiš. Its size allows spectacular theatre when this food of the Cetina river is served © Marc Rowlands

To eat, remove the head, then crush the body sideways so the shell breaks - this makes it easier to remove the meat. Save the head til last – squeeze and suck the insides, it's the best-tasting part by far. If you're a little too squeamish to do that, you should probably order something else. You can also find these prawn near the mouth of the Neretva river, near Dubrovnik. Those from there are usually reserved for the finest dining tables around the city and are sold at a hefty price, often under the name gambor or škamp. You can sample this delicacy at a much more reasonable price in Omiš. Translation of some seafood names from Croatian into English is persistently problematic. In English, these are often known as Langoustines (which is actually a French word, although a similar word is also used in Spanish, the root being Latin).

Shrimp

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Shrimp served in Omiš alongside a fantastic white wine of the kujundžuša variety, from nearby Imotski© Marc Rowlands

This is the more typical shrimp and in Croatia is called kozica. Compared to the kocka, this one likes to live very deep - closer to 100 metres down. They are found in such waters all through the Adriatic. Being much more common and smaller in size, they can be prepared in many different ways. It is common to see them impaled on a wooden stick and grilled atop a barbeque. Their meat is a popular ingredient in risottos, where extra flavour is added by using a stock made from their shells. When this meal is made, it's usual for it to be served with several whole shrimp served on top as a beautiful, tell-tale decoration. Other common serving methods are pasta dishes and soups or stews. Rare on restaurant menus, but in some Croatian homes their meat is minced and used to make balls or dumplings which are deep-fried. If the home cook knows what they are doing – and, in Croatia, they usually do – these are a real treat.

Sea bass

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Wild sea bass from Omiš, perhaps the greatest food of the Cetina river © Ivan Puljiz

Alongside sea bream (orada), sea bass is one of the most common premium fish to appear on the menus of restaurants by the Croatian shore. One good reason for this is that these fish are successfully farmed in Croatia, in huge cages dotted along the coast. Farmed Croatian sea bass is delicious when fresh, although it loses much of its appeal when cooked from frozen. But, wild sea bass is really something else entirely. Known as brancin in Croatia but referred to as lubin in Omiš, these fish are super predators and the wild versions can have a rich and varied diet. You can taste the difference in the meat. Wild brancin can also grow considerably bigger than the farmed version – monster-sized brancin are a huge prize for hunting divers, shot by speargun. They are very fast and quite the challenge to bag. The abundance of rich food gifted by the Cetina river makes the sea around Omiš the perfect place for wild brancin. Although, they don't just stay in the sea here. Sea bass love to hunt swimming against the tide and even the mighty force of the Cetina's flow is no obstacle to them - brancin here have been known to travel as far as 8 kilometres inland while hunting and can comfortably stay in the river for several months.

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Brancin, the tastiest food of the Cetina river, is best served grilled and in Dalmatia usually comes with a side of blitva and potato © Croatian National tourist Board

Strong in flavour, sea bass can take the addition of spices well - Asian spices such as ginger, garlic, lemongrass and coriander work well. But, if you're lucky enough to come across wild brancin from around Omiš, you really shouldn't mess around with it too much. You'll only detract from the flavour of what might be the best-tasting fish in the Mediterranean. Innovation is all well and good, but there's a reason why some recipes and serving methods are long-held traditions – because they are the best. In Dalmatia, brancin is usually seasoned only with olive oil, salt and with finely chopped garlic inserted in the emptied stomach cavity. It is then cooked in the oven.

Meagre

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A meagre, not dissimilar to sea bass, is known by many names in English. In Croatia it's widely known as hama, in Omiš it's called krb  © 지훈 정

In English, the meagre has many names including croaker, shade-fish, kir, salmon-bass and stone bass. Though the latter two are quite fitting - the fish sometimes looks not unlike a sea bass – so rare is this fish around any English-speaking nations, all but the keenest fishermen will have not heard any of them. The name corvina is also used in Spain.

A resident of all the eastern Atlantic, the fish live in river estuaries and don't like motor engines. In Croatia it's widely known as hama, in Omiš it's called krb. They range in size from 50 centimetres to two metres in length and upwards of 50 kilograms. It is delicious and in-the-know fishermen determined to catch them, sneak up on the fish using only oars or sails. The fish can be grilled or served in brudet, buzara or in another white stew known locally as gregada.

Eels

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Fried eels, a food of the Cetina river © mogens petersen

The Cetina river is not the only place in Croatia from which eels are taken for food. Further south in Dalmatia, several villages around the Neretva Delta are more famous for using eels and frogs in their cuisine. But, the eels of the Cetina are different. They are traditionally hunted using a fork, although these days some catch them using tube nets. They hide under rocks and in the shadows at the bottom of the river. Experienced hunters who still use the fork know the likely places to look and which stones to move to check for eels. Although they have been part of the European diet for a long time, many mysteries about the creature remain.

For instance, it is not exactly known for how long they live in the wild – captive eels have been known to live for up to 80 years, one was even recorded to have reached 155 years. It is widely held that all European eels spawn in the Sargasso Sea, a section of the western Atlantic ocean. From the Cetina river, that's a distance of over 6000 kilometres. After spawning, the adult simply dies and their larvae drift back towards Europe over the course of 300 days. They metamorphosize in order to enter their new freshwater homes, swim upstream to become elvers and grow into eels. With no parent to guide them, nobody really knows how they reach the rivers they inhabit.

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Brudet made with jegulja (the Croatian word for eel). Eels are a distinct food of the Cetina river and are here served with the river itself as a backdrop © Kaštil Slanica

The big challenge when preparing eel is to remove the smell and the taste of the earth, which comes from the mud in which they like to live. Unlike the Neretva river, the Cetina maintains a single course into the sea. It simply moves too fast for any amount of mud to accumulate. The eels of the Cetina, therefore, do not live in mud, but on rocks. This gives them an unusually pure and clean taste and enables them to be cooked in several different ways. Cetina is the only place in Croatia - perhaps even the only place in Europe - where you can eat eels prepared on the grill. When they are cooked in this way, the flavour is unadulterated. It tastes not unlike sea bass. Connoisseurs suggest you discard the skin – it's edible, but is not easily digested. You can find Cetin eels speared and then roasted on a stick, like a mini version of the classic razanj of lamb or pig. Otherwise, they are common in stews. Cetina eels are so free of the taste of earth they can be made into buzara which, in Omiš, is a white stew, usually containing white wine. They are classically found in a heartier, more spiced stew, brudet, which is always red in colour from the tomato used.

Frogs

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Deep-fried frogs legs, a popular food of the Cetina river. Frog is known as žaba in Croatian © Kaštil Slanica

The frogs who live in the area of the Cetina river have been here for longer than the Croats. Or the Illyrians, for that matter. In fact, frogs have inhabited the earth for a minimum of 250 million years. They have probably been eaten by humans since the dawn of man. British people are a bit squeamish about eating frogs. They like to laugh at the French because their southerly neighbours snack on these amphibians. Indeed, so popular are frogs with the French that, alongside neighbouring Belgium, they import no less than 5000 tonnes of farmed frog meat each year from Indonesia, where they are also popular. Frogs are enjoyed as part of the diet in America, China, Vietnam and Thailand. And Croatia. But, the ones you see on restaurant menus around Omiš are not farmed. They are just another wild food of the Cetina river.

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Food of the Cetina river: deep-fried frog, served here on a decorative pastry boat called a gajet © Kaštil Slanica

Cetina's frogs are hunted at night. A flashlight is used to find them. These days, it is common for the light to be worn on the head, on a hat, leaving both hands free. The eyes of the frog emerge brightly from the darkness as the light catches them. They sit transfixed by the glare, completely still. The hunter then simply picks them up. Frog hunting season is in the spring and autumn. Springtime is when the frogs reproduce. The hunters leave the pregnant females. In summertime, the young frogs are too small. September and October is the main period in which they're caught. Like eels, frog meat can end up in local versions of brudet and buzara. You can grill or barbecue them and much more than just the legs are eaten when they are prepared in this way. Deep-fried in a light batter, drizzled with fresh lemon juice is probably the favourite method of serving in Croatia, just as it is in France and Belgium.

Snails

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Roasted snail shells found in archaeological excavations prove than man has eaten snails since prehistoric times. The Romans were really big on the and the farming of snails - Heliciculture - is considered a Roman invention. That industry is today a global one It doesn't much affect the traditional consumption in Croatia, though. Here, people go out to collect them immediately after it has rained. They simply walk around and pick them. They are caught in the spring and summer. They are caught in the spring and summer when they're roaming around feeding. They stop to feed around mid-June when their mating season starts. All snails are hermaphrodites – they carry both male and female sex organs. A snail which undertook a male role in one season may very well assume a female role the next. A favourite way of serving this food of the Cetina river area is to fry them with the leaves of wild shallots and with eggs. A more rustic method is simply to throw the snails into the burning embers of a fire. They are soon cooked, retrieved and the snails removed from the hot shells with a cocktail stick.

On these links you can read the other features in our Hidden Dalmatia series:

Drniš - Drniški Pršut and Meštrović Roots

Soparnik - 100% Authentic Croatian Food

Baško Polje - Forgotten Paradise of Yugoslavia Holidays

Incredible and Mysterious 10 Rajcica Wells near Klis

Wild Rides on the Cetina River

To try the foods of the Cetina river, Total Croatia News recommends visiting Konoba Restoran Ćaća (Ul. Josipa Pupačića 1), by the river in the centre of Omiš, Restoran Puljiz (Knezova Kačića 21) in the centre of the Old Town of Omiš, Restaurant Knez, which is part of the Hotel Villa Dvor (Mosorska cesta 13) in the centre of Omiš and Restoran Kaštil Slanica, which is located around three kilometres up the Cetina from Omiš and can be reached by boat. Some of the foods specified are seasonal. We advise anyone wishing to order any of these dishes to book at least one day in advance

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Restaurant Puljiz in Omiš © Marc Rowlands

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Thursday, 10 March 2016

The Split-Dalmatian County Prefect: New Tourist Information Centre in Dugopolje Will Open Next Year

(photo: Dalmatinski Portal)
 
The Split-Dalmatian County Prefect Zlatko Ževrnja spent a day touring the Dalmatian Hinterland with electric vehicles in order to promote eco-driving and successful economic and tourist potential of the county, informs Dalmatinski Portal.

"Electric vehicles are the pinnacle of technology, they are the most environmentally friendly vehicles and the driving experience was excellent. We received a grant in amount of 1,3 million kuna for a project related to electric vehicles. We used the money to install five electric filling stations, created and app for e-licensing issuance for our line carriers, created an app for cell phone signal tracking, aimed primarily to tourists, so that our employes get information about their habits and heavy traffic occurrence..", said Ževrnja.

His first stop was in Dugopolje. A new project was presented - The Tourist Information Centre, which will be located at the commercial zone Podi, near the largest hub on the highway - Dugopolje.

"Analyses have shown, that this is the most optimal location and it is the nearest to all tourist, who use the highway. We made a conceptual design, obtained the location permit and now the obtaining of a building permit is in progress. We expect to get it by May 1, when we will be publishing the construction tender. I hope, that we will start with the works during the summer and have everything done by the next tourist season - announced Ževrnja.

The project is worth about 7,5 million kuna and this is what should be all available at the centre..

"All information with all textual and visual data from all tourism destinations of our county will be available at the centre. Browsing of several locations will be possible and there will be a space for tasting of local food and wine, as well as the possibility of buying souvenirs on spot," said Ževrnja.

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