Friday, 24 September 2021

International Drava River Day Marked

ZAGREB, 24 Sept 2021- International Drava River Day was marked in Varaždin on Thursday after UNESCO last week declared the Mura-Drava-Danube Transboundary Biosphere Reserve, which spreads across five states.

Two-hundred bird species live along the Drava in Varaždin County and the most diverse fish in Croatia live in the river, it was said at a conference organised on the occasion of International Drava River Day, observed on 23 September.

The Mura-Drava-Danube Biosphere Reserve has officially become the largest protected river region in Europe and the conference was organised to additionally draw attention to the richness of the Drava and its value, organisers said.

"UNESCO's decision obliges us to long-term care for and protection of the Drava region. The Varaždin County Nature Public Institution is actively and continuously working on its protection and preservation," said county head Anđelko Stričak.

The Drava is 749 km long and connects Italy, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia and Hungary.

For more news, CLICK HERE.

Saturday, 10 July 2021

UNESCO Beech Trees Can Be Adopted At Paklenica National Park

July 10, 2021 - Paklenica National Park has launched a competition on its Facebook page in which all participants can become adopters of one of the UNESCO beech trees that are part of their World Heritage List by July 14.

Untouched beech forests of the Paklenica National Park are under the strictest protection and are part of the UNESCO property "Beech rainforests and original beech forests of the Carpathians and other regions of Europe". Furthermore, as reported by the Paklenica National Park, healthy and preserved old forests are extremely important in mitigating the effects of climate change.

The lifespan of a beech tree is more than 300 years, and a 100-year-old beech tree, for example, "eats" 2.5 kilograms of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and releases about 1.7 kilograms of oxygen in one hour. This is the amount of oxygen that 50 people need on average for an hour of breathing. Just imagine how much oxygen one beech produces in your life! In addition, such forest ecosystems represent the habitat of many other living organisms and contribute to the conservation of overall biodiversity.

To support the importance of preserving old beech forests, which are key to mitigating the effects of climate change, and great biodiversity, you have the opportunity to become the “adopter” of beech trees in one of the most valuable and best-preserved beech forests in Europe. In the comments below the post on the Facebook profile of the Paklenica National Park, in short, in five to six sentences, you should write why you should be the adopter of one of the UNESCO beech trees that is on their World Heritage List.

Participants whose most original reasons for the "adoption" of the letter are decided by the jury, become adopters of a tree and get the coordinates of the location where the tree is located so that they can personally visit their tree. In addition, adopters receive an annual pass for free entry to the National Park, a diploma "My beech lives in the UNESCO World Heritage Forest!", a card the name and surname of the adopter with a picture of his/her adopted beech, and to know what happens to the tree, the adopter will be occasionally informed of its condition.

The competition lasts until July 14, 2021, until 14:30, and the selected "adopters" will be published on the Facebook page of the Paklenica National Park, July 16, 2021.

Source: Turističke priče

Visit our 2021 guide on all Croatian National and Natural Parks HERE. Now in your language!

For more, follow our lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Friends of Croatia: Japanese Embassy - Friendly Relations between Croatia and Japan

June 17, 2021 -The eighth article in the series, "Friends of Croatia: Japanese Embassy", saw TCN reporter Ivor Kruljac sit down with Japanese Ambassador Misako Kaji and discuss all things regarding diplomatic relations between Japan and Croatia. Overall, Croatia and Japan are friendly countries with many shared values. With Croats and their expertise in improvisation and the excellent crisis response of the Japanese, the two countries can benefit greatly by learning from each other.

Croatia and Japan officially established diplomatic relations on March the 5th, 1993.

I was nervous while the taxi drove me to the Ambassador's residence. Japan is known for punctuality, and I worried whether or not I'd manage to make it on time as my cab was trying to break through Zagreb's midday rush. But in the end, I managed to arrive ahead of schedule. It was great that I wasn't late, but that's still clearly a very far cry from the punctuality of a country where a train conductor apologised when the train left the station 25 seconds ahead of schedule.

As I was rewinding the questions I had prepared in my head, I thought about greeting my interlocutor-to-be. Handshakes are a bit of a risky thing due to the coronavirus pandemic, but even if that annoying virus was somehow erased from existence, in Japanese culture, people would still greet each other by bowing. Do I need to bow, or does the Ambassador need to follow the Croatian culture of handshaking (or perhaps bumping fists in these pandemic-dominated times)?

Cultural Attache, Yutaro Nishida welcomed me to the premises, and at last, introduced me to the Japanese Ambassador Misako Kaji, who welcomed me with a smile, respect, and kindness. The debate on whether to bow or fist-bump was resolved by doing both, with both sides respecting and accepting each-others cultural background. For safety, I kept my mask on while the Ambassador removed hers so that her voice could be more clear as the interview was recorded. I moved my mask only occasionally to drink the amazing traditional green tea that was served during the interview, which was paired well with a warm and friendly atmosphere from the official representative of Japan in Croatia.

Misako Kaji graduated with a BA in the economy at the University of Tokyo, followed by an MA in philosophy, politics, and economy at no less than Oxford University. Inside the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, she served in the Japanese Embassies in the UK and Vietnam, but also in Japanese EU and UN missions. As an Ambassador and deputy of the main representative, Kaji also served in Japan's Delegation to international organisations in Geneva. In Japan, she was the deputy spokesperson for the Japanese Prime Minister and was a professor at the Tokyo and Hitotsubashi Universities. Ambassador Kaji also has quite some experience with the United Nations (UN). She was a special advisor of the high committee of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) as well as a member of the UN Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions and a member of the advisory committee of the UN Peacebuilding Fund. She has represented Japan in Croatia since May 2019. Two years and twenty days, as she stated on the day of the interview that occurred last Friday.

Japanese culture is beloved in Croatia

''If you'd asked me a year ago, I would've said the Adriatic sea, the scenery, and the colour blue, all of these wonderful UNESCO heritage sites and nice people ready to help when you're travelling,'' started Ambassador Kaji, explaining what she had found most interesting and impressive in Croatia.

''But, after two years, I have something more to say, and what I like about Croatia is the 'Japan' I encounter in Croatia, and that is a very positive discovery. I didn't realise Japanese culture was so widely embodied in a variety of Croatian minds,'' noted ambassador Kaji.

The most recent instance was last week's handover ceremony of the Foreign Minister's Commendation to the Croatian Origami Society, which took place at the Ambassador's residence. Some of the members have been engaged with this artistic papercraft (taught in Japanese kindergarten) for over 20 years now.

''They are very much interested and dedicated without being imposed or forced to be, and its members included chemistry students, medical doctors, and even an 11-year-old boy. There were so many different categories of profession, and some even folded Origami while on probation, and that is where they'd encountered the art of origami,'' continued the Ambassador, fascinated with such love for one of the essentials of Japanese culture, keeping hold of plenty of works donated by participants of the ceremony.

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The handover ceremony of the Foreign Minister's Commendation to the Croatian Origami Society, June 2021 © Japanese Embassy Croatia

She is also particularly delighted with Biograd na Moru, a Croatian city in the Zadar area that not only commemorates the Atom Bomb falling on Hiroshima and Nagasaki but also has a metal crane bird as a monument to this dreadful tragedy that occurred on August the 6th, 1945.

''There is a legend that cranes live for a thousand years, so they are often used as presents for somebody who has been met with disasters or illness. In Hiroshima, they have a thousand cranes (made in the origami technique) folded and presented for the wish of peace,'' explained the Ambassador. Such a ceremony was also seen in Biograd na Moru, initiated by mayor Ivan Knez with a large metal crane made to outlast paper for generations to come.

The Japanese martial art of Karate is also popular in Croatia with some quite good successes achieved by Croatian athletes. Last month, the European Karate Championships were held in Poreč, where Ambassador Kaji was invited and was again fascinated with the use of the Japanese language and overall traditions despite there not having been a single Japanese athlete present there.

With so much of Japanese culture being present here in Croatia, it's difficult to say what the most beloved aspect of Japanese culture is for the Croats.

Before the pandemic struck, Ambassador Kaji remembered the Japan Day event in Zagreb's popular Mimara Museum, which saw huge attendance and a presentation on Japanese food, sake (Japanese rice schnapps) degustation, Ikebana (flower art), a tea ceremony, bonsai (aesthetical horticultural shaping of small trees), martial arts such as Karate, Judo, Kendo, haiku poetry workshops, calligraphy, Igo chess and much more.

2019 was also a big year for a Japanese promotion with the 2020 Olympic Games, which saw Croatian athletes from the 1964 Olympics attend the promotion for 2020. Additionally, for Japan, as Ambassador Kaji pointed out, the Paralympic Games are an important measure for the general success of the Olympics, which was evident in the ParaBOX installation (where visitors were challenged to find a ball in complete darkness), and the presentation of the Japanese car company Toyota's car which is designed to be able to be driven by people with disabilities.

However, when it comes to younger people, particularly students of Japanology (which Croats can study at either Zagreb or Pula University), one cultural trend emerged.

''The Japanese language is very tricky to learn, so I asked one graduate student how she first encountered Japan and heard the language, and it was anime,'' Ambassador Kaji recalled. She added that the Japanese cartoon art of anime became pretty universal and is no longer limited only to Japan. (The same goes for Japanese comics such as manga, with both of these pieces of pop culture being incredibly diverse in genres and having something for everyone, covering all social groups and even not avoiding vivid graphic images of violence and/or sex).

''At the Foreign Ministry of Japan, we have an award from a world competition because of the promotion of manga, but without trying to focus or push deliberate energy into that promotion,'' stated Ambassador Kaji.

As Japanese pop culture, anime and manga are indeed very popular here in Croatia, which is visible at the Pandakon conference that is held annually at Zagreb's Močvara club. Fans often dress up as their favourite characters, and there are often rewards for the best cosplay.

However, there are also heated debates between fans and people in the manga/anime industry that also affect Croats. On the one hand, representatives of the anime and manga industry are unhappy with cosplay, viewing it as a copyright infringement and believing that fans should be paying for cosplaying these characters. On the other hand, fans say they are just trying to show love and appreciation for their work, and they are also promoting and attract new audiences. It's indeed true that someone might not know what is ''Deadman Wonderland'', but upon seeing a brilliantly crafted cosplay of Shiro, they may ask the cosplayer about the character and then watch anime or read manga.

Ambassador Kaji says the Japanese Government is aware of the problem.

''Earlier in January, the Minister for the "Cool Japan“ Strategy (with Cool Japan being a brand strategy, aiming to disseminate Japan's attractiveness and as a unique culture throughout the world), Shinji Inoue said that he was aware of an opinion among the cosplay community rising, and this could be a real legal problem. It was important to secure an environment in which people can enjoy cosplay at ease, without worrying about possibly breaching laws. So, the Minister declared that he would come up with ways to deal with it but has not yet specified what those ways will be,'' explained the Ambassador. 

Friendly Nations: sharing values, but trade could be better...

The cosplay question is one of the political issues in Japan, but when it comes to politics, what exactly is going on between Croatia and Japan?

''We're friendly countries; we share the same values. Unfortunately, you can't speak your own mind in every country, but Croatia and Japan belong to those countries where you're free to have as many children as you want, free to say what you like, free to travel where you want, free to choose your own vocation. In other words, we're both free countries that share the same values, democracy, human rights, and rule of law,'' said Ambassador Kaji, adding there are occasional disagreements, but that is normal and nothing to worry about.

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The Emperor and Empress of Japan grant an audience to the Speaker of the Croatian Parliament Gordan Jandroković and Mrs Jandroković during their visit to Japan upon the invitation of Speaker Oshima of the Japanese House of Representatives, June 2019 © The Imperial Household Agency

Kaji also pointed out that Croatia is pretty prevalent in Japan thanks to its sporting heroes. ''Everybody knows who Modrić and Čilić are; Croats are disproportionately present in world sport,'' she said.

Ambassador Kaji also rates Croatian EU membership as a great advantage.

''Through the EU, you're very well represented. When Croatia held the European Council Presidency during the first half of 2020, one of the most important parts of Croatian foreign policy concerned the Western Balkans and you advocated the EU's perspective for them as we don't want to roll back into a conflict or the changing of the borders after such a great sacrifice,'' Ambassador Kaji stated, referring to the war back in the '90s.

An important instance of that is the Zagreb Declaration from June the 22nd, 2020.

''We're part of the group that supports the European idea, and through that, the Croatian idea, as we share the same values,'' confirmed the Ambassador.

She added that while it may seem far away, the issues of the Balkans are relevant to such ideas like the Free and Open Indo-Pacific, and advocating the peace and freedom of nagivation, for example, is required on both locations, and Japan sees Croatia as a partner in that regard.  

Ambassador Kaji also regularly contacts the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs (MVEP), the Government, Parliament, the President's office, various cultural institutions, sports institutions such as the Croatian Judo Federation, the Croatian Karate Union, and the Croatian Olympic and Paralympic Committees, educational institutions, local government units and more. She also works on maintaining friendly ties with other ambassadors and diplomats in Croatia.

''My diplomatic colleagues know that only those who are blessed get to be stationed in Croatia,'' revealed Ambassador Kaji, not hiding her happiness for representing Japan in this Southeastern European country.

She is also particularly excited about going to Virovitica this week since she has never been. The visit is to attend the exhibition on Japanese pottery titled ''Yakishime: Earth Metamorphosis'' which is coming to Virovitica after already having been held in Vukovar and Pula.

Commenting on the most frequent contact she keeps in Croatia, she said that it's very hard to say, but statistically, maybe the Japanese Embassy communicates the most with MVEP. ''We're only two minutes away from the Ministry,'' said Ambassador Kaji.

Of course, not everything can be equally balanced and trade is unfortunately currently sitting on pretty low branches of the overall tree.

''When it comes to trade, we made up only 0.28% of Croatia's exports with tuna being a major portion - which is nice. In addition, when it comes to investments in Croatia, only 0.5% of all investments come from Japan. So there's room for improvement there,'' stated Ambassador Kaji with optimism.

Some of the instances of trading and business between the two countries can be seen in the Japan-based company Nipro taking over Piramida, a Croatian pharmaceutical packaging producer from Sesvete near the City of Zagreb last month.

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A visit to Nipro PharmaPackaging Croatia, June 2021 © Japanese Embassy Croatia

Knowledge – the way forward while not forgetting culture or tradition

As mentioned, Japanese culture is widely popular and much loved among Croats, the Japanese love Croatian athletes, and the two countries share friendly relations. Both Croatia and Japan have their traditions and cultural heritage. With ever-present technological development, some people in Croatia do fear that progress will lead to Croats forgetting their traditions, ways, and cultural heritage. On the other hand, Japan has seen huge technological development evident in very fast internet, modern trains, robotics, and more. Yet, their tradition and culture remain well preserved. What's the secret, and how can technological advancement be balanced with keeping a focus on tradition?

As Ambassador Kaji explained, the gist is to ''keep your spirit, but introduce technology''. While the Ambassador believes that the path of economic development makes sense in the long term, it wasn't always so easy. In the past, economic development was accompanied by pollution, and Japanese people, apart from developing health issues, entered an atmosphere that wasn't very kind to their traditional ways. But things have improved since then.

''In the 21st century, people and governments are more focused on green technologies and digital technologies which can be friendly towards and resonate with keeping up with traditions. Like when drinking tea, you have a ceremony, but the leaves for the green tea need to be carefully nourished in a kind environment, so that isn't very compatible with mass production or polluted air. But when, for example, you use the wind to produce energy, that's a nice eco-friendly way that co-exists with traditional culture,'' explained Ambassador Kaji.

She added that this way of co-existing then becomes mutually supportive and crafted to be resilient and long-lasting. That being said, new technologies also need to be carefully crafted to keep an eye on traditions, and improvisation is troubling in that regard.

''If you show respect for tradition, and you use academic knowledge or research, then there must be a way of remaining aligned with tradition and pursuing technology to have them both be mutually supportive,'' concluded Ambassador Kaji, and her belief about Croatia's technological development is that it will not be fatal to Croatian tradition.

Speaking of tradition, traditions form habits that then become accepted in various societies. With the already mentioned Japanese love for punctuality and the general perception of the Japanese as organised people that like order and plans, the perception of Croats can be quite the opposite. Many see Croats as laid back and relaxed, not making a fuss if they are a bit late. However, Ambassador Kaji sees a different picture of the Croats from her experience, particularly when it comes to Croatian women.

''A cleaning lady from Slavonia that comes to clean my office every day just starts working and cleans meticulously. She doesn't leave one small thing out and she is very responsible. In Japan, you don't see so many women gardening, and here, the women that watch over my garden are very powerful and professional, and that is very impressive,'' she noted. The work ethic and responsibility are something she sees with all of the Croats working for her.

''When it comes to Japan, we plan for perfection, so the dark side of that characteristics is, for instance, being late with the vaccination rollout. There are all sorts of verifications that take place there, making sure everyone can get them, and yes, they're proven safe abroad, but we had our own evaluations done, and that was the main reason we've been criticised for being too slow. Here in Croatia, you're really good at improvising. We can learn from each other,'' Ambassador Kaji said, sharing her observations on the habits of Croats and people in Japan.

She added that one such thing where Croatia can learn from Japan is crisis response, particularly when it comes to earthquakes.

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At the Civil Protection Headquarters for Dealing with the Aftermath of the Petrinja earthquake in December 2020, March 2021 © Japanese Embassy Croatia

Post-earthquake reconstruction by Japanese experts: Zagreb's buildings can keep their looks and also become safer

Japan is famous (or as Ambassador Kaji rated with a humorous touch, perhaps notorious) for regularly having earthquakes. Tsunamis happen as well. This was even noticed by reporters from the Croatian paper Jutarnji List, who, when following the earthquakes in Zagreb and Petrinja, interviewed Ambassador Kaji in search of advice on living with earthquakes. An equipped backpack with water, food, batteries, and lights ready for evacuation, along with agreeing on a location at which were to meet with your loved ones, are some great bits of advice for planning once you accept that earthquakes can happen at any time, anywhere.

''You can't stop earthquakes, but if you're prepared, you can mitigate the damage they cause and protect lives. People often think earthquakes happen, and that's that, but earthquakes are never over,'' said the Ambassador when recalling that interview.

''I was at my residence when the Zagreb earthquake happened more than one year ago, and the epicentre was just three kilometres away. It was pretty bad but not serious with only small cracks on the wall,'' recalled Ambassador Kaji, not seeming to feel unsafe in a Japanese earthquake-conscious building, while Croatia isn't always so aware that the Earth's plates can move and cause total chaos.

The earthquake that gave Zagreb such a heavy blow in March 2020 is a normal monthly, if not weekly, occurrence in Japan. The country's ultra-modern buildings and skyscrapers were built to sustain such rumbling, but even the traditional signature Japanese style of architecture (such as the signature Pagoda of Horyuji, the oldest wooden high-rise Japanese building built in 680A.D.) sustained numerous earthquakes over centuries, as Japanese builders always had to try to cope with earthquakes. But, with Zagreb being proud of its architecture, particularly in the downtown area, can the Croatian capital possibly preserve its signature look but also become safer for its residents if such magnitudes or higher strike once again?

''I asked some Japanese experts about whether or not it would be possible to preserve the nice, historic architecture of Zagreb and not just totally transform it into a modern but very common city, and they said it was possible. That needs investment, but there are ways to somewhat reinforce the basic structures and preserve their looks,'' assured Ambassador Kaji. She also added that the speed and focus of reconstruction is something Croatia can learn how to be better at from Japan.

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Towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, December 2019 © Japanese Embassy Croatia 

The Adriatic is nice, but UNESCO heritage really excites Japanese people

With data acquired before coronavirus, Ambassador Kaji stated that there were 150 Japanese nationals living in Croatia, and 150,000 Japanese tourists visited the country. What several people noticed was that while many foreigners come to Croatia primarily to enjoy the coast and swim in the Croatian Adriatic, Japanese tourists can rarely be seen on the beach and prefer sightseeing.

''Japan is surrounded by the sea, so the sea isn't something amazing to them, but Japanese people are very interested in cultural heritage, and when something is recognised by UNESCO, people in Japan really rejoice. So, the Japanese are very much interested in historical or artistic values Croatia offers,'' explained Ambassador Kaji, clarifying why so many Japanese tourists can often be seen as frequently in continental Croatian towns and cities and not just on the coast.

Despite some Croats sometimes being a bit xenophobic or looking differently at people of other races, Ambassador Kaji was surprised when asked about whether there were any racial issues that Japanese people experienced and reported in Croatia.

''I don't know if things were different before regarding racial issues, but the story I heard when I came to Croatia was that back in 2011, many Croats gathered in front of the Embassy of Japan with flowers, candles, and cranes to express their grief and support regarding the Fukushima Tsunami and the earthquake,'' said Ambassador Kaji.

Just like those who came with flowers, the Embassy is equal and open, too. The Embassy issues scholarships for people wanting to study in Japan twice a year, and apart from being open to anyone that wants to travel to Japan and get informed about the country and visa requirements, the Embassy also has a library people are welcome to come to and read through Japanese books and literature.

Apart from being in regular contact with other colleagues based in Croatia, Ambassador Kaji also regularly contacts the Croatian Ambassador in Japan, Drazen Hrastic.

''Before I left Tokyo, we had dinner together, and now we talk often, as well,'' said Ambassador Kaji with a smile.

With Japanese culture being so appreciated in Croatia, and Croatian sporting heroes and UNESCO heritage being so beloved in Japan, spiced with common political values and friendly diplomatic relations, Croatia and Japan truly have the chance to learn from each other and continue to work on the further nurturing of their diplomatic ties, and their shared trade.

If you're a Japanese citizen or a Croatian citizen in need of information, here is how you can reach a Japanese diplomatic mission in Croatia:

In Zagreb:

Japanese Embassy

Adress: Boškovićeva 2

Mail:

Consular Section: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Political Section: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Economic Section: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Section of Culture / Public Relations: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Phone number: +385 1 48 70 650

In Split:

Consulate Office

Adress: Marasovićeva 67

Mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Phone number: +385 21 32 35 80

And of course, you can find all the latest news concerning Japanese-Croatian relations on the official website.

To read more from the series "Friends of Croatia", follow TCN's dedicated page.

For more about Japan - Croatia relations, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 12 April 2021

Meet Jana+Matt, On an Expedition to Become 1st to Visit All UNESCO World Heritage Sites

April 12, 2021 - TCN meets Jana and Matt, a travel couple on a challenge to become the 1st to visit all 1121 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Their Croatian part of the adventure begins today in Zagreb.

We are Jana+Matt, an international travel couple on an absolutely Epic Expedition and unofficial Guinness World Records attempt!

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6 years ago we started a travel challenge to become the 1st to visit all UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Now, in April, this challenge is taking us back to beautiful Croatia. For about 3 weeks starting on the 12th of April, we plan to visit all 10 Croatian sites. We'll also travel to a few of the 15 sites that Croatia has nominated to become World Heritage sometime in the future. Possibly we'll throw in a few of the fantastic Croatian National Treasures outside of the list as well. 

There are currently 1121 sites spread across 167 countries. We have so far visited an amazing 128 sites located in 35 counties across 4 continents. Do you know what a UNESCO World Heritage Site is? Do you know which the Croatian ones are? 

Join us on our epic Croatian Road Trip here on Total Croatia News in a series that will show you! We will show you just how amazing Croatia looks through our eyes.

Who are we? Well, we are Jana+Matt, from the Czech Republic and Sweden respectively, but living in and working as tour guides in Barcelona, Spain. We think that our experiences from our Epic Expedition and our background as guides give us a unique perspective. During our travels, we have mixed with cultures and religions and met with fantastic people of all colours and backgrounds. 

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We have both quit our "normal" 9-5 jobs to follow our passion. Now we are avid travellers with a passion for culture, history, architecture and the outdoors. We have a lot of insight, and many stories to tell. As professional tour guides, we also know how to tell them.

We are coming back we said. This because we went to Zadar 2 years ago. That time it was for another passion of ours, sailing. Jana is an avid sailor and hosts sailing tours in Barcelona. Matt was also in Istria when he was a child, and when Croatia still was part of Yugoslavia.

What we know about Croatia is perhaps a little more than most visitors since we know a bit about history than the average person. We also very recently spent a month in Albania on our project. Obviously, quite a bit of Balkan history is connected. We absolutely loved the hospitality of the way less famous Albania, so we are quite excited to find out how their northern, bigger brother is! We both have different interests and tastes when it comes to the UNESCO Sites. Jana normally likes the natural ones like parks and landscapes (and the animals in them) and Matt is the one fascinated by architecture, history and religion. On this Road Trip, we are actually both most excited about the same place, visiting the Plitvice Lakes. This can also have to do with us having been in Prague for a few months, so getting outside is very appealing!

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The feedback we have gotten about going to Croatia has been overwhelmingly positive. Everyone seems to have only great memories from their visit. It's all looking very positive and we are super excited, to say the least.

Would you be interested in finding out how we're doing on our trip? See what we think about Croatia and the people? We will share our experience here on Total Croatia News and on our Instagram @GuideVenturous.

Follow the latest travel updates and COVID-19 news from Croatia HERE.

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

Wednesday, 9 December 2020

Geological Park Biokovo Imotski Lakes In UNESCO Network In Two Years

December 9, 2020 – After Papuk Nature Park and Vis Archipelago, Croatia will soon get another geopark under UNESCO protection. If everything goes according to plan, Geological Park Biokovo Imotski Lakes' proclamation is expected in the next two years.

As Lokalni.hr reports, the National Commission for UNESCO Geoparks of the Republic of Croatia sent the UNESCO Council of World Geoparks based in Paris documentation for registration and accession of the Biokovo-Imotski Lakes Geopark area to the network of UNESCO World Geoparks.

A unique area of Dinaric karst

"This completes a significant chapter on our path to the ultimate goal of becoming a Geopark under UNESCO protection," said Luka Kolovrat, director of the Imotski Tourist Board Imota.

The arrival of UNESCO evaluators is expected in the summer, and if everything goes according to plan, the Biokovo-Imotski Lakes Geopark's proclamation will be in the next two years.

"The initiative was launched in 2018 when we reported the Imotski Lakes Geopark project to the National Commission, and at the same time, the Biokovo Nature Park had a similar initiative. The position of the Commission was to unite the initiatives and to approach this project together," says Kolovrat.

There are many reasons for this. One of them is that the area of Imotski Krajina (Imotski region) with the Biokovo Nature Park is a geologically, geomorphologically, and unique landscape area of the Dinaric karst. Thus a joint application would use the potential of both areas for the benefit of the local community.

"At the end of 2018 and in 2019, the City of Imotski carried out a very complex and comprehensive geological research of the area of Imotski Krajina. It was the basis for future applications. The Geological Institute prepared the geological brochure of Imotski Krajina. At the same time, we conducted intensive negotiations with representatives of PP Biokovo on a joint application, defining names, headquarters, borders, coverage, management of Geopark, etc. At the end of 2019, the geological brochure was presented to the public, and the association Geopark Imotski Lakes was founded, which took over the management, operational affairs, and coordination from the Imotski Tourist Board," Kolovrat states the chronology.

In May this year, they sent a letter of intent to the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development. In July, they presented the project, after which they received a letter of support from them.

A piece of the planet of inestimable wealth

The next step is the arrival of UNESCO evaluators in the summer, and until then, they have a lot of work to do.

"In the next period, we need to implement the activities from the management plan: mark about a hundred sites that we have identified as geological, natural, and cultural sites, mark geological trails, do training for agencies, renters, family farms who should become partners of Geopark, create a bilingual website, promotional video, print brochures and various promotional materials," announces Kolovrat.

UNESCO Geoparks are unique geographical areas of international importance governed by a holistic concept of protection, education, and sustainable development.

"The UNESCO brand will lead to the recognition of our area at the global level. The creation of innovative crafts and new jobs encourages new sources of income as part of geotourism, strengthening the local community. At the same time, the geological, natural, and cultural heritage of the area remains protected. We believe that this piece of a planet of inestimable wealth on which we have the privilege to live, and we are its heirs, deserves to become part of the UNESCO family to the pride of us and the generations to come," says Kolovrat.

Geological treasury of Croatia

Due to its geological diversity and numerous fossil finds of organisms from the Pannonian Sea, the Papuk Nature Park was the first Croatian Geopark under UNESCO protection. Papuk is also in a nature park category since 1999, and the first geological natural monument in the Republic of Croatia is located in the Park.

Last year, UNESCO added three European sites to its geological parks, including the Vis Archipelago. In the geological past 220 million years ago, a magmatic breach formed the present islands of Jabuka, Brusnik, Biševo, and Palagruža. Palagruža is also geologically the oldest island in the Adriatic, which, like the island of Brusnik, is continuously growing under the influence of tectonic activity.

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Tuesday, 20 October 2020

See Together Challenge: Diocletian's Palace to be Live-Streamed to Viewers Around the World

October 20, 2020 - UNESCO World Heritage Site Diocletian's Palace will be live-streamed to viewers around the world on Thursday, October 22, as part of the 'See Together Challenge' by Seoul company Magenta. 

Magenta, a documentary production company based in Seoul, South Korea, is launching a new project titled ‘See Together Challenge’. 

The project is co-hosted by SK Telecom, the National Korean Committee for UNESCO, and Magenta, and is funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT, and supported by the Korea Radio Promotion Association.

‘See Together Challenge’ was envisioned to lift spirits during the COVID-19 pandemic and to raise awareness of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and the importance of their preservation.

Namely, project participants will film and live stream UNESCO World Heritage Site(s) to global viewers for 1 hour and then pass on the live stream to the next participant, who will film for an hour at their location, and so forth. The videos will be live-streamed on Youtube and will run 24 hours a day, for one week, beginning on October 21, 2020.  

The videos will also be edited into a two-part documentary on social distancing, which will be aired on KBS, a national broadcaster in South Korea.

Since Croatia boasts some of the world’s most spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Sites, it comes as no surprise that the country will be featured in this admirable project. 

Thus, among the various Croatian UNESCO heritage sites is the breathtaking Diocletian's Palace. Famous Split tour guide Ivica Profaca will lead viewers through its ancient stone walls and unveil its history to future travelers around the world on October 22 at 10 am.

To find out more about our project, you can visit the official website and watch the official promo video HERE.

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Friday, 18 September 2020

VIDEOS: Amazing New Google Project Shows Croatian Culture to the World

September 18, 2020 - Incredible new video series explore Croatian culture, its natural assets, and the country's rich traditions, a collaboration with Google

Steeped in history and tradition, Croatian culture is incredibly diverse. Recognised as being of high value to the country's appeal and its understanding of itself, many items from this rich heritage appear on the protected UNESCO list.

The Croatian National Tourist Board has teamed up with Google Arts & Culture and partners The Museum of Arts and the Museum of the Sinjska alka to produce an incredible series of videos that explore this cultural heritage.

From arts & crafts to music and dance, natural assets and architecture, the new videos show off the rich menu of traditions assets that make Croatia such an incredible country. With so many items included on the protected UNESCO list, there's always something more you can learn about Croatia, no matter how many times you visit.

Lace-making, costumes of folklore, ancient instruments, time-honoured recipes, beloved festivities and distinct, regional styles of music are just some of the facets of Croatian culture explored in the videos. Now, people from all over the world can explore Croatian culture and heritage before they even arrive. The menu of videos and accompanying media is presented in both English and Croatian.

Some of the videos in the series are not new, but they have been selected by the Croatian National Tourist Board for inclusion as they are the best at showcasing their particular aspect of Croatian culture. Alongside the video presentations, there are a wealth of photographs and informative texts. You can view the whole new collaboration with Google Arts & Culture here

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Thursday, 7 May 2020

UNESCO Heritage of Croatia: Historical Complex of Split with Palace of Diocletian

May 7, 2020 - After her extensive coverage elsewhere in Croatia, TCN UNESCO correspondent Filipa Marusic returns home for her latest installment - the Historical Complex of Split with Palace of Diocletian.

After all my UNESCO articles, I’m finally writing a piece about the heritage of my hometown Split. The article will take a look into a still standing culture with the history dating back to the 3rd century AD, which makes Split a city which is more than 1700 years old. The article will present all the heritage located in the old town in the centre of Split.

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The foundation of the second-largest city in Croatia was a Roman palace built by Emperor Diocletian who decided to spend the last years of his life in Split. Now Split is a big mixture of different architectural, historical, and cultural heritage, a combination of art styles and city with traditions inherited throughout centuries. The Palace of Diocletian and the historical complex of Split have been part of the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1979. The main reason for UNESCO protection is the excellent preservation level of the Palace of Diocletian, as well as the fact that different parts of history are visible in the city structure and were used and reused in the past as well as today. The relatively small old town centre has a different heritage ranging from Roman Palace to Medieval Romanesque churches, Gothic and Renaissance palaces and portals, baroque facades, and modern-day buildings. The historical complex includes the ruins of Diocletian’s Palace built between 295 to 305 as well as Medieval buildings such as the Cathedral tower, 12th and 13th-century Romanesque churches, medieval fortifications, 15th-century Gothic palaces and other palaces in Renaissance and Baroque style. A lot of material from ancient times was reused in building newer structures in the middle ages. Diocletian’s Palace is one of the best-preserved examples of Roman architecture in the world. Along with the historical heritage, Split city centre still has locals living there, as well as tourists who visit seasonally.

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Archaeological findings show that there were even older Illyrian and Greek settlements and even some traces from prehistory before the Palace. Urbanistic development started in the 7th century, after the fall of Salona when local people moved to Diocletian’s Palace and the surrounding area. Split changed different authorities throughout the centuries. It started with Croatian kings in the 10th century, then during Medieval times Split became an autonomous commune. From 1420 to 1797 the city was under direct Venetian rule, while in the 16th and 17th centuries, this area was under attack by the Ottomans. From the end of the 18th century, Split is under Austrian rule and then short French rule during Napoleon times, and then after under the Austro-Hungarian empire where it is part till 1918. From 1918, Split was part of the Kingdom Yugoslavia (SHS). During the Second World War, it was under Italian and German occupation and became one of the centres of antifascist resistance. After the war, it became part of Socialist Yugoslavia and then from the 1991 part of the Republic of Croatia.

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To understand Diocletian’s Palace in Split, we will take a look into the life story of Diocletian. Emperor Diocletian was born in nearby ancient Salona in 243. He became a soldier and rose to military commander and commander of the emperor’s guard. According to legend, one prophet once told Diocletian he would become emperor when he killed a wild boar. When the city perfect called Flavius Aper (aper meaning wild boar) killed emperor Numerian, Diocletian killed him and became emperor in 284. During his 20 year rule, he introduced order, secured the borders, and created a new territorial division of the empire, separated military and local municipality, reorganised the army, finances, and taxes. In 285, he introduced Maximilian as his co-emperor, and in 293, he introduced a new model of a ruling called tetrarchy. He ruled the east part of the empire and had its base in Nicomedia, while Maximillian ruled the west part of the empire – both were Augusts, and each had its substitute Caesars. There were two Caesars, Galerius and Constantius Chlorus – the idea was the Caesars inherit Augusts' place. In 303, he introduced several rules for persecuting Christians and is considered as one of the biggest persecutors of Christians. He abdicated in 305 and moved to Split, and he is remembered as the only Roman emperor who voluntarily abdicated. He did gardening as a hobby and told people of Rome, “If you only knew how good is cabbage here, you would never call me back to Rome.” There is a theory Diocletian had rheumatism, and Split was the perfect place to choose as his residential home as it has several sulphur water springs. He died in 316 and was buried in the mausoleum. The mausoleum is now in use as the Split Cathedral dedicated to St Domnius, one of the victims of its rules against Christians.

Diocletian’s Palace is a combination of a Roman military camp called Castrum, and a luxury villa. The builders were Greeks called Zotikos and Filokos, and it represents a masterpiece of late antique architecture. The Palace of Diocletian is divided into four parts and has two main streets. The size of the Palace is 180 x 215 m. The stone used for the palace building was from the quarry in Seget, from Brač and different parts of the Roman Empire, even from Egypt. Three sides of the Palace were built-in military styles with forts, high walls, and double gates, while the south side was the place for emperors’ apartment decorated with columns and arcades. The emperor’s residence had 68 rooms – the same as the number of the rooms in palace basements. The scheme of both palace levels is the same, and based on well-preserved palace basements, and one can tell what is what in the emperors’ apartment. The lobby of the flat was the Vestibule circular area, and in front of it is Peristyle – the main central place for emperors’ ceremonies and now one of the main squares in central Split. Peristyle square is surrounded by temples – to the east, there is the mausoleum now in use as a cathedral, and to the west, three temples – Cybele temple, Venus temple, and in the middle, Jupiter temple. Peristyle is the intersection of two main streets – Cardo (going south-north) and Decumanus (going east-west). Cardo street leads to Peristyle from the main entrance or North gate. Decumanus divided the Palace in the north path for the staff, military, and stables while the south part for the emperor’s family. These streets were much broader than now and were 12 m wide.

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All the outer walls of the Palace are mostly the same apart from the western wall. The south part of the Palace was the only one without towers, and the other palace walls had 16 defence towers, out of which there are just three preserved. The south part of the Palace was more luxurious, and it was elevated with palace substructures to level it up with the north part of the Palace. The front walls of the Palace are large and without any defence towers, while the upper part has large open windows with arches, columns, and wreaths. The emperor’s apartment had a square shape from the outside and circular shape from the inside. The apartment has not really been preserved, but based on the setting of the lower substructure level, one could tell the layout of the rooms. On the west side, there are remains of the hall with a dome, and on the east side, there are the remains of Triclinium - the eight angle dining room with three halls in the shape of a cross. In the southwest are remains of the ancient spa while on the east next to Triclinium is Palace of Emperor's wife and daughter. In this part, there are also two churches built - church of St Andrija de Fenestris – rebuilt ancient sleeping room and St Nicola de Sdoria – rebuilt ancient west hall of the dining room. Today the Ethnographic museum is located right next to the triclinium. The apartment had a long room on the south called cryptoporticus from where there were 42 window openings and three arches with an open view to the sea. In front of the south wall, there was a dock for ships 12 metres wide. This means Split always had some promenade, which is today popularly called Riva.

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The Palace basements or substructures present a range of halls and rooms and cover one-eighth of the total palace surface. The palace substructures are one of the best-preserved parts of the Diocletian’s Palace and one of the best-preserved examples of Roman architecture from Late Antiquity. The common name for this space is basements or “podrumi.” This is the lower storage for food, oils wine and arms. The primary function was to support and elevate the upper floor where the emperor’s apartment was. Each room in the basement is the same shape as the top floor, and that’s why the palace basement was important for reconstructing the upper part of the Palace. In early Medieval times, the part of the basements was used as a residential area, and one of the halls has elements of an ancient oil and wine press. With people moving outside the basements around the palace area, the basements started to be used as first as storage and then used as junkyard and sewer. Most of the walls and arches are preserved except the wall on the east side of the substructures. These parts offered construction material even for the cathedral's bell tower. Most of the substructure walls are made by using opus quadratum, which is an ancient Roman construction technique where squared blocks of stone of the same height were set in parallel courses, often without the use of mortar. The rediscovery of the substructures started in the 19th century, and it continued in the 20th century in the 1950s. There is about 85% of the total surface rediscovered, and among other findings, there were parts older than Diocletian’s Palace itself. There are different findings, which include water wells in the western part and marble table mensa from Diocletian’s dining halls in the eastern part of the basements. The basements opened to the public in 1959 with the west part, and the east part was opened late as 1996. Today it is fully open for visits and often hosts different events and was one of the filming locations for famous worldwide Game of Thrones show. The central hall is the main passage from Riva promenade and Peristyle square and place to do souvenir shopping.

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Peristyle is one of the most remarkable places in Split – this was the ceremonial and central place of the Palace decorated with columns. It was intended for Emperor Diocletian to be celebrated as the living son of Jupiter. The Peristyle space is levelled down with three steps in correlation with surrounding streets. This minimised the difference between the height of the south part of the Palace and the lower part on the north. On the south is the entrance to the emperor's apartment, and on the east is the emperor's mausoleum. On the west side, there are three temples – Cybele's temple, Venus temple, and Jupiter's temple. Jupiter's temple was dedicated to the main god of Roman mythology and the divine father of the emperors. Jupiter's temple is rectangular, and it is placed on an elevated podium with a six-column porch. As emperor abdicated, some parts of the temple weren't finished. During late antique and medieval times, the temple was turned into St John baptistery, and the crypt was consecrated to St Thomas. In the 13th century, there was the baptismal font in cross shape placed and made from altar pluteus from the Cathedral. On one of the marble board, there is the oldest image of Croatian king, probably Krešimir IV or King Zvonimir. In inside, there are two sarcophaguses with Split bishops from the 10th and 11th centuries. There is also an Ivan Meštrović statue of St John the Baptist. Barrel coffered vault influenced the early renaissance art of Dalmatia. In the 11th century, there was an early Romanesque tower, which was removed in the 19th century. In front of the temple is one of the partially preserved sphinxes. Next to the temple is the smallest street in the Palace called Let me pass street or "pusti me proć"

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The south side of Peristyle has four columns with Corinthian capitals are the foundation for three-angle tympanums above the semi-circular arch - this monumental entrance to Diocletian's apartment is called Protiron. Between the central columns of Protiron, there is a fenced imperial lodge where Diocletian would appear on special occasions to receive honors from citizens of the Palace and other visitors. These ceremonies were connected to the cult of the emperor, where the emperor showed himself to citizens as a god, and they would probably greet him by kneeling or laying down on the pavement. On top of the Protiron, there was a monumental sculpture – possibly horses in quadriga. In the 16th and 17th centuries, Protiron got two chapels and a central baroque arch. On the east side of Protiron, there is the chapel of Our Lady of Conception from the 16th century, and on the west side of Protiron, there is the chapel of Our Lady of Health or Our Lady of Pojas built as a token of gratitude for rescue from the plague. Left and right from Protiron, there is colonel of six Corinthian columns made of marble and porphyry, which were brought from Egypt. These columns are decorated with wreaths between the arches. The red color of the porphyry columns symbolised the ceremonial function. The entrance to the mausoleum is in between the columns, opposite of the entrance to the Jupiter's temple. In the east part of Peristyle, there is a renaissance church of St Roko, which one of the churches built as church consecrated to saints protects from the plague. In Dalmatia, St Roko and St Sebastian were especial worshiped. People of Split built the church in the 16th century, and it became storage during the renovation of the tower. Today is the location for the info centre of the Split tourist board. And on the west side, there are late-medieval buildings and places Skočibušuć, Cipci (first Split city hall), and Grisogono.

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Peristyle is the location for the best-preserved sphinx till today, and there is an assumption there were several sphinxes in front of the temples and mausoleum. All sphinxes date back to the time of Pharaoh Tutmosis III, and there were probably 11 or 12 sphinxes. The Peristyle sphinx is old 3500 years, and it made from black granite. Its paws don't end with ion claws but with human hands holding the sacrificial vase. Medieval people called it Gorgona and were superstitious and avoided any eye contact with this pagan symbol. It is 2,46 meters long, 1m high 0.65 m wide. It was probably one of the four sphinxes guarding the entrance to the mausoleum. The beheaded sphinx in front of Jupiter's temple is also from these times, and it got destroyed as other sphinxes during early Christian times as it symbolised the fight against Christianity. There is one smaller sphinx in the palace substructure and City museum Split. There is one sphinx head on the house in Dominis street. Other fragments are in the Archaeological Museum, City museum Split and Diocletian's basements. Some sphinxes are cut in half, and some are without the head or have destroyed paws and faces. The sphinxes represented the divinity of the emperor, who was also the Egyptian pharaoh.

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The Vestibule is the hall that connected the Emperors' apartment and Peristyle. The Vestibule is a lobby area before entering the Diocletian's apartment. In four niches, there were probably sculptures of Tetrarchs while today there aren't any. The outer part of this room has a square shape while from inside it is circular – before it had a dome with a mosaic. As this is an acoustic hall, it's today a spot for local klapa signers to entertain tourists and locals.

The mausoleum building became the Split Cathedral, and it is the oldest building in use as a cathedral. The cathedral interior has a mixture of ancient pagan, Christian Medieval, and modern heritage. Mausoleum of the Emperor - the persecutor of Christians, became a cathedral in the 7th century and had altars with relics of St Domnius and St Anastasius, martyrs executed in the nearby Solin. The first bishop of Split Ivan Ravenjanin consecrated the Cathedral to Assumption of Virgin Mary and martyrs St Domnius, St Anastasius, St Kuzma, and St Damjan. It is locally known as the Cathedral of St Dominus, who is a patron saint, and it's celebrated every year on May 7th. The Cathedral is in the central part of Diocletian' Palace, and it is the oldest building in the world in use as a cathedral. The building has an octagonal shape and has covered periptery with 24 marble columns with Corinthian capitals. The portal of the Cathedral was also from ancient times. On the baroque stone board, there is the metropolitan and prime status of the church which archdiocese had until papal bull Locum Beati Petri in 1828. On top of the portal, there is a small sarcophagus - this is the burial site for remains of Katarina and Margarita, the daughters of Bela, the IV who died at Klis in the 13th century. The Cathedral is known for its wooden doors made by local master Andrija Buvina in 1214. The doors have 28 images presenting stories from Christ's life. These doors represented a rare example of well-preserved wooden doors.

The outer octagon of the mausoleum has an aisle (periptery) formed of 24 columns. The Cathedral is from the inside a round shape and is vaulted with a dome with a rectangle and semi-circular niches, which were in ancient times for statues of gods and emperors. The central place in the mausoleum was for Diocletian's sarcophagus, which got destroyed. The inside space is decorated with eight granite columns set on a base of white stone with Corinthian capitals. Above the decorated capitals, there is a wreath with the base for the second row of porphyry columns. Above other capitals, there is smaller wreath and frizz with an image of genius, Mercure Psyhopompos. There are medallions with images of emperor Diocletian and his wife, Prisca. After entering the Cathedral, on the left, there is a six-angle pulpit from the 13th century – it is elevated with six marble columns with capitals from local stone. There are four altars in the Cathedral. The right altar is consecrated to St Domnius, the patron saint, bishop of Salona, and martyr– the author of the altar is Bonino da Milano, and it is from the 15th century designed in late Gothic style. It is the oldest altar in the Cathedral. The left altar, consecrated to city co-patron St Anastasius of Aquileia is the work of Juraj Dalmatinac, who made it in the 15th century – it is made in the shape of the sarcophagus and has realistic relief depicting the Flagellation of Christ. There is a newer altar from the 17th century and another one from the 18th century. The new altar is held by two female statues, symbols of faith and persistence. There are images of angels symbolising victory, and above the altar, there are paintings with images from the Virgin Mary's life. The saints' relics lay in this altar.

The Cathedral has baroque wooden chairs carved in the 13th century and has different images of animals, plants, and geometrical shapes. Between the two-story arcades in the upper part of the seatbacks are depictions of the evangelists and apostles, and on the four ends of the seatbacks, the medieval city patrons of St Dujam and St Anastasius and St. Kuzma and Damian. Particularly impressive is the portrayal of the four priests singing from the open-hearted counter on the counter, which could be explained by a medieval method of "conducting": the rhythm was measured by the heartbeat of the chorister who held his wrist.

The east part of the mausoleum was demolished to expand the Cathedral. The choir was rebuilt in the 17th century. The cathedral treasury is the oldest in Croatia. One of the most important heritage of treasury is the Gospel of St Domnius – the oldest manuscript written on parchment paper preserved in Croatia. Additionally – there are other medieval codex's, matriculas, relevant archive documents, gold pieces, manuscripts like the manuscript of Toma archdeacon Historia Salonitana from the 13th century. St Lucy's crypt is below the cathedral level. There is also a water source, and tradition is to take this water on every St Lucy holiday.

The bell tower construction began in the 13th century and lasted till the mid-16th century. The construction material used was found in Salona. Due to the long period of building, it is a combination of Romanesque and Gothic Style. The tower is a unique architectural work, and it's special due to its slenderness and transparency and its incorporation in the ancient architectural environment. With the use of wreaths and capitals, the tower fits in Peristyle square and its arches and columns. In the 19th century, the restoration process started and lasted until the beginning of the 20th century. The top floor with renaissance elements was changed entirely. Numerous antique spoliae and sculptures of griffin, lions, sphinxes, and people were removed. Some fragments of the old bell tower are in City museum Split or are built-in Tusculum building in Salona. Initially, the tower was 53 m high, and today is 57 m high. You can climb the steps to the top of the bell tower and have a spectacular view of the entire Split.

With the construction of a new city square with the town hall (Pjaca) in the 13th/14th century, Peristyle became a religious centre with the Cathedral as the primary place for liturgy with millennium-long tradition. Today it the central area of Split and location where you can enjoy so many different centuries in history and art. As the heart of the Palace, it has two main streets crossing there lead to the palace entrances. The entrances are the Brass gate on the south, Iron gate on the west, Silver gate in the east, Golden gate on the north – the main palace entrance. These names originate from the 16th century and before they were named based on the side of the world. All three land entrances have a double gating system.

The Brass Gate or in Roman Porta Meridionalis is different from all the other entrances – it was modest in size, and it led to palace Substructures from the seaside. They were considered as secure gates as it ensured one could escape the Palace on the shore in case of attack.

Today they are the busiest gate in the place as its often a starting point for numerous tours. There was a small St Anastasius church built in the 9th century, and it was used until the beginning of the 19th-century after it became a residential house.

The Iron Gate or in Roman Porta Occidentalis is the entrance that was always in use throughout the centuries. The entrance was called free doors or Porta Franche in medieval times as they were only doors that didn't close after the city developed to the west. In that time, "inter ambas portas" or in between double gates was the place for the public courthouse, and it was an asylum for outlaws. As the pavement is higher now, these doors lost their original shape. The west gate had eight angle towers, the same as the Golden and Silver gate. The guards' corridors above the palace gates were transformed into a church in the 6th century. The passage above the Iron gates is consecrated to St Theodor church and the later church of Our Lady of Bell tower with the oldest preserved Romanesque bell tower. The Christianisation of the Palace can be seen at the Iron Gate in the relief of Nika, Roman goddess of Victory, which was reshaped in early Christian cross. Right next to the gate, there is a tower with the 24-digit clock. Today here we have several shops.

The Silver gate, or in Roman the Porta Orientalis, were used to enter the Palace from the east. This entrance was more modest in decorations than the Golden Gate, and it was closed in Medieval times till 1952 and then were reconstructed after Baroque church Dušica was demolished. In the 6th century, the church of St Apolinar was built, and it got destroyed beginning of the 17th century – there aren't any material remains found only on sketches from the 17th century. There are visible remains of the octagonal towers, and now is the place for different open door shops and are closest to Splits' famous Green market.

Golden Gate or in Roman Porta Septemtrionalis was built in the shape of a rectangle, with double doors, as part of the defensive military strategy (propugnaculum). The Golden Gate was the main entrance to the Palace with lavish decorations. In the niches, there were probably figure sculptures of the four tetrarchs (Diocletian, Maximian, Galerius, and Constantius Chlorus), and in the middle was eagle as a symbol of god Jupiter. These doors, starting from Peristyle, and then through Cardo street, led directly towards Salona as the capital city of the Roman Province Dalmatia, and could only be used by the emperor and the members of his family. These gates were closed during medieval times. As part of the Golden gate, there is the church of St Martin, probably built in the 6th century. The St Martin church changed several times, and today, it is restored to the original look with pre-Romanesque marble altar partition from the 11th century, which is in the same place. St Martin is the smallest church in Split and an excellent example of preserved church interior and site for the female Dominican monastery. Today the Golden Gate is one of the best-known spots in Split.

The North facade of Diocletian' Palace and its north wall is 170 m long and has Golden gate in the middle and square tower on each end. From all previous eight angle towers, there are remains. The walls here are simpler, and this was the main entrance to the Cathedral. There were several other objects built around the golden gate – like St Euphemia church, the Benedictine monastery of St Mary, later on, military hospital, from which there is St Arnir cathedral, tower, and the remains of floor plan.

The statue of Gregory of Nin is one of the best-known sights in Split. He was a historical figure who fought in the 10th century for liturgy in the local language – Croatian and the use of Glagolitic letters. The pope abolished the Nin diocese, and the official language of the liturgy was Latin, which was supported by the Split archdiocese, but they still served masses in old Slavic language as a lot of priests didn't know Latin. Famous Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović built the statue - the statue was originally in front of the Cathedral. During the second world war, Italian occupiers had it removed and cut in pieces. During the 50ies of the 20th century is restored and places on its current location – this well-known lucky charm of Split – everyone should rub its golden toe for good luck.

On the side of the west wall of the Palace, there is Bosanska street now place for numerous souvenirs shops and shops originally. The top of Bosanska street was the main entrance to the old city. The street got its name after a lot of Bosnian merchants who were there during the 17th and 18th centuries. From there, you can turn to the so-called Jewish passage and go to a Split synagogue built in the 16th century, which makes it the third oldest synagogue in Europe.

Pjaca or Narodni trg is the place you will reach at the end of Bosnian street. This square was previously St Lawrence cemetery, and it became a municipal centre in the 14th and 15th centuries when the communal building was built in the style of Venetian gothic – it included the duke's palace, jail, communal palace, and city loggia which later became the city hall. Old city hall is only preserved building from the late gothic range of building from the 15th century, which was torn down in the 19th century. It has an original appearance on the ground floor. The city hall was connected with Karepić palace and St Lawrence church used by the duke. On the east side of the square is the Iron gate and already mentioned city clock with 24 digits as well as the beautiful Palace Cipriani Benedetti decorated with two six arched windows and statue of St. Anthony the Hermit. On the south side there is the renaissance palace Pavlović and on the west, there is the art deco house Nakić. Pjaca square has always been the centre of city municipality and centre of everyday life, and it still is.

Voćni trg or fruit square is located south from the Pjaca – on the south. There is a Venetian tower from the 15th century built as accommodation for Venetian crew and defence. On the north, there is the baroque palace Milesi from the 18th century and on the square central position is for the statue of Marko Marulić – the father of Croatian literature, again work by Ivan Meštrović. The square was the space for fruit trade till the mid-20th century, and that's why it's called fruit square.

There are numerous small churches and chapels scattered around the city – some are demolished during the time, and for some, we can find remains – the article already mentioned several churches in the old town centre. Also, Split was fortified during the 17th century and had five baroque fortifications called Cornaro, Corner, Priuli, Bernardi, and Contarini connected with walls. Some parts of fortifications were used during French rule for decoration Riva promenade and Marmont street.

The City museum of Split, which keeps a lot of valuable heritage, is located in Papalić palace. This Gothic-Renaissance palace made by Juraj Dalmatinac is the home for ancient stone monuments since the end of the 15th and beginning of the 16th century. The family Papalić had a collection of ancient stone monuments from Salona. Dmine Papalić and Marko Marulić (born in the same street as the Papalić palace) were researching findings in Salona and brought ancient inscriptions to the courtyard of the palace. The city museum opened in 1946, and the first director was Marko Uvodić, who is author of numerous stories and chronicler of life in Split. The museum has several different collections, and it is a good starting point to discover the centuries-long history of Split.

Over the centuries, the palace inhabitants and later the citizens of Split adapted parts of the Palace for their requirements. The interior of the Palace, as well as the exterior walls, changed throughout the centuries. Even with all the changes, the outlines of the Palace are still visible. Split changed a lot with different cultures living there and sharing their ways of living and building. Today we have all this heritage as proof of centuries-long life in the city.

SOURCE (text and photos): UNESCO, Visit Split – Split Tourist Board, City museum Split

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Papuk Nature Park has UNESCO Status Extended for Four Years

March 26, 2020 - Papuk Nature Park, the first UNESCO Geopark in the Republic of Croatia, has retained its status as one of the world’s geoparks.

Namely, HRTurizam reports that part of the regular revalidation process, a two-member UNESCO Geoparks Commission visited in July 2019. During their four-day visit to the Papuk Geopark, they were presented the progress made in the past two years, from infrastructure to new projects, and met with stakeholders and representatives of local government.

The UNESCO World Geoparks Council, based on the report of the revalidation, has decided to extend its status in the UNESCO World Geoparks by four years, with recommendations for future work. 

“We base the entire future of the Park on the signature of UNESCO. And our biggest project, Geostories, bears its name. Therefore, the whole progress of the Park's tourism offer, carried out for the benefit of the local community, is also due in large part to the status of a UNESCO geopark. We are thrilled and proud that our membership in the World Geoparks Community has been extended for another four years,” said Alen Jurenac, the Papuk Nature Park Director.

Thanks to its lowland plains with large cultivated areas, Papuk Nature Park is one of the main features of Slavonia. The Papuk Nature Park is located in the mountain forest areas of Papuk and was declared a nature park on April 23, 1999. Its exceptional natural value encompasses a great diversity of habitats and species of plants and animals, but also geological diversity represented in numerous geological formations created in different periods of Earth's past.

Of particular value are the numerous fossil finds of organisms that lived 16 million years ago in the "Pannonian Sea".

The Papuk Nature Park, near Vocin, houses the first geological nature monument in the Republic of Croatia, protected in 1948 because of its unique morphological occurrence in Croatia - the columnar secretion of volcanic rocks.

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Friday, 10 January 2020

Trogir Flooded Twice in 2019: Seaboard Repairs Not Enough

In ten days, repairs will begin on a damaged section of the Čiovo seaboard in Trogir. Therefore, Čiovo residents will finally have seventy meters of their damaged and destroyed seaboard repaired, but repairs won't be enough, the city's mayor warns.

Trogir is a historic town and harbor on the Adriatic coast in Split-Dalmatia County, Croatia, and has a total municipal population of 13,260. The historic city of Trogir is situated on a small island between the Croatian mainland and the island of Čiovo. It is located 27 kilometers west of the city of Split.

trogir_flooded_seaboard_02.jpg

Trogir | Wikimedia Commons

The historic center of Trogir has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites for its Venetian architecture since 1997.

“This investment is worth around 500,000 HRK (67,100 EUR). We had a problem with a ship which was illegally docked, but we have resolved it and the project should be finished in three months. In addition, we plan to make additional improvements the seaboard, port authority and town square,” said Ante Bilić, the mayor of Trogir.

Both the Čiovo and Trogir shorelines ended up underwater twice last year, in November and December. Many other Dalmatian cities have been experiencing similar fates according to HRT on January 9, 2020. Extreme windstorms (Bora), heavy rainfall and a sudden rise in sea level could be disastrous for coastal areas.

“It has happened in the past, but not as frequently. This can hardly be solved by raising the seaboard level because flooding also occurs from catchment and stormwater. We need to discuss these issues at the state level and with ministry of the environment, because this is everyone’s problem,” explained Mayor Bilić.

Scientists have been warning that sea levels could rise from 40 to 120 centimeters in the next hundred years. Without serious investment into preventative projects, the question is who will end up in the "front row to the sea."

Follow our Lifestyle page for updates on environmental concerns and the effects of climate change in Croatia.

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