Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Croatian Drive-In Vaccination Point Begins Work in Virovitica-Podravina!

May the 4th, 2021 - The very first Croatian drive-in vaccination point has been put into function in Virovitica-Podravina County as issues surrounding the vaccination process continue nationwide.

The Croatian vaccination rollout has been plagued by inadequate amounts of vaccine doses, problems at the European Union level involving contracts with the industry and of course, the latest in a series of unfortunate events being the failure of the online vaccine registration platform - Cijepi se.

You'd think that the very first Croatian drive-in vaccination point would be in the City of Zagreb, but it seems that a much smaller part of the country has come up with the idea first. Virovitica-Podravina county has decided that this is the best and quickest way of vaccinating the population against the novel coronavirus and hopefully bringing an end to the pandemic.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Miroslav Venus, the president of the Croatian Epidemiological Society, described to N1 how the brand new Croatian drive-in vaccination point functions.

“Drive-in vaccination is much more safe epidemiologically, because when people come on foot, they can end up spending a lot of time right next to each other. This is also more pleasant for people as an experience,'' explained Venus, adding that the vaccination rollout in Virovitica is being carried out at three points and that in addition to the drive-in at two points, the classic way of handling the vaccination process is also being performed, where people can still come on foot to receive their dose.

"By the end of June, we could have 50-60 percent of the population vaccinated against the novel coronavirus at the county level," Venus said.

Venus has also assessed the situation in the country when it comes to vaccinations as good, regardless of the problems that have arisen on both a national and at the European Union level.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, including travel, border and quarantine rules, as well as the locations of vaccination points and testing centres across the country, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section.

Saturday, 13 February 2021

Slatina Sparkling Wine Find Makes Slavonia Champagne Among Croatia's Oldest

February 13, 2021 – A newly discovered, fully preserved bottle of 'Slavonia champagne' is unique evidence that Slatina sparkling wine is among the oldest in Croatia. Its fascinating history stretches back over 150 years

A completely preserved Slatina sparkling wine bottle from the period from 1864 to 1912 has been discovered during building works of Slatina's new visitor's centre. Found at a depth of two metres, the bottle is physical proof of what was previously known only from records – this 'Slavonia champagne' is among the oldest sparkling wine to have been made in Croatia.

boca74758.jpeg© Robert Turkalj

The discovery of the Slatina sparkling wine bottle is important to the city and its history. Other regions in Croatia have become extremely well regarded over recent years for their production of quality sparkling wines. The production of Slatina sparkling wine briefly disappeared during a period. But, this bottle is evidence that Slatina sparkling wine was among the first to be made in the country. It is the only fully preserved bottle of the 'Slavonia champagne' to exist in the region.

DJI_0127slatintreefinal.jpgSlatina's nationally protected Giant Sequoia tree (Mamutovac) © Tourist Board of Slatina

Of course, we can't really call it champagne – that title is reserved for a type of sparkling wine made in a distinct geographical region in France. But, there are great similarities between Slatina sparkling wine and champagne - similarities that do not exist exactly in other Croatian sparkling wines. Champagne is largely made from the Pinot Noir grape. The found bottle of Slatina sparkling wine was made from the Kadarka grape variety, which has been compared to Pinot Noir.

Both grape varieties are thin-skinned, delicate, easily susceptible to impairment and require a low yield to produce quality wines. Both are tricky to cultivate. For this reason, the Kadarka grape variety is now grown very rarely in Croatia, its place in vineyards taken by more hardy and some imported varietals. But, that wasn't always the case.

History of Slatina sparkling wine

In 1841, the German prince Georg Wilhelm Schaumburg-Lippe bought a property of land in the Slatina area from the Pejačević family. The land contained vineyards, orchards, agricultural fields and large forest areas, including the site of the new Slatina visitor centre where the bottle was discovered. Indeed, trees still line the road of Ulica kralj Zvonimir in the centre of Slatina – the cellar and restaurant of the town's famous Stari Podrum is just a few metres from Slatina's nationally protected Giant Sequoia tree (Mamutovac).

Screenshot155staripodsy.jpgThe Stari Podrum cellar, the site of the first-ever production of Croatian sparkling wine, at the beginning of the 20th century © Virovitica State Archives / Slatina Homeland Museum

Slatina sparkling wine production started in 1864 at the Stari Podrum cellar, using the Kadarka grape variety. Perhaps it was the notorious difficulties of the growing the grape which resulted in slow initial progress for the production, but the enterprise got a massive boost in 1866 with the arrival of a new manager, Otto Rockhror. He rearranged the cellar and production, brought in new equipment and invested in marketing their Slatina sparkling wine. It worked.

Otto3847875.pngLeft to right - Ljudevit Konstantinović, his wife Marija Konstantinović (the daughter of Otto Rockrohr), Otto Rockrohr and his wife Josefina Rockrohr © Virovitica State Archives / Slatina Homeland Museum

The quality of Slatina sparkling wine was recognized at the great Economic and Forestry Jubilee Exhibition in Zagreb in 1881 when Georg Wilhelm Schaumburg-Lippe received an honorary diploma and a large medal for domestic sparkling wine and fine wine. The credit perhaps lay elsewhere, considering it was the efforts of Otto Rockhror that were no doubt the cause, but, such were the times. However, Otto Rockhror's achievements with Slatina sparkling wine certainly did not go unnoticed.

At the Science and Industry Fair in Brussels, Belgium, in 1888, Otto Rockhror was awarded a bronze medal featuring the image of Leopold I. He received a further bronze medal with the image of Francis Joseph I in 1890 at the Agricultural and Forestry Exhibition in Vienna and was awarded a silver medal with the image of Franz Ferdinand in 1894 in Vienna by the Association for the Promotion of Agricultural Knowledge. These medals are on display in the Slatina Homeland Museum, donated by Otto Rockhror's great-granddaughter Jasna Nosso. They sit alongside a wooden barrel used in the production of Slatina sparkling wine from 1885 and, now, the latest testament to the history of Croatia's oldest sparkling wine production, the newly discovered bottle, which has been transferred to the museum for preservation, safekeeping and dating.

MedalsofOtto.pngOn the left, the bronze medal won by Otto Rockhror at the Science and Industry Fair in Brussels, Belgium, in 1888. On the right, the silver medal with the image of Franz Ferdinand he was awarded in 1894 in Vienna  © Virovitica State Archives / Slatina Homeland Museum

The production of Slatina sparkling wine from the Kadarka grape did not survive the loss of Stari Podrum cellar manager Otto Rockhror, who died in 1909. Thereafter, ownership of the enterprise was taken over by Count Drašković but, by 1912, production of Slatina sparkling wine had ceased completely and all the production equipment was moved to Hungary. Though the growing of the Kadarka grape variety almost completely died out in Croatia after this, it remains an important part of wine production in Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia, where it is grown in Vojvodina, a landscape near-identical to that of Slavonia (indeed, though the heritage of the Kadarka grape is mysterious, the latest opinion is that it is a cross between the Turkish variety Papazkarasi and the Serbian variety Skadarsko and travelled to Pannonia with Serbs who fled north from the Ottomans).

However, the story of Slatina sparkling wine has not only been revived with the discovery of this old bottle. The Stari Podrum cellar still stands in the centre of Slatina today and vineyards still surround the town. The cellar and its wine production were bought by winemaker Ivan Halas over recent years and he has returned the production of Slatina sparkling wine to the historic birthplace of 'Slavonia champagne'. He has since received several awards for his efforts.

Slatinski-biser-2Zagreb.jpgSlatina sparkling wine, revived by Ivan Halas at Stari Podrum, being presented at the 2nd Sparkling Wine Salon at the Hotel Dubrovnik in Zagreb © Tourist Board of Slatina

“As the Stari Podrum winery does not have adequate conditions for storing the found bottle, we took it to the Homeland Museum in Slatina where it will be stored,” Mr Halas told local news, upon the discovery of the bottle. “Only one bottle was found (so far), although there may be more. It is currently the only fully preserved one in the Slatina area. For now, we assume that it is from the period between 1864 and 1912 - we have no knowledge of the exact year, but the age of the bottle will be determined by experts.”

24463544staripodrumnew.jpgA more contemporary photo of the Stari Podrum enterprise in Slatina © Virovitica State Archives / Slatina Homeland Museum

Friday, 22 January 2021

22 January: Vincekovo - St Vincent's Day in Croatia

January 22, 2021 – January 22 is Vincekovo - St Vincent's Day in Croatia. Marked significantly in continental winemaking regions, its folk traditions pre-date Christianity and are celebrated with food, wine, music and merriment

Nearing the end of January, it's not uncommon to see snow on the fields of Croatia. The ground can be hard, brittle, frozen. There's little to be done in them right now. And yet, on 22 January in Croatia, winemakers traditionally head to their vineyards. They do this not to undertake a day's work – for today is a day of rest. Instead, they go there to mark the tradition of Vincekovo - St Vincent's Day in Croatia.

Croatia_Baranja_Belje_Vineyard_0184_1.jpgSt. Vincent's Day in Baranja © Romulić & Stojčić

Vinceška, Vincekovo, Vinkovo, Vincelovo, Vinceće - St. Vincent's Day

As a name, Vincent has many variants, Vinko being one popular in Croatia. Similarly, Vincekovo is also known by several different names. For example, St. Vincents Day in Baranja is called Vinceška, in Erdut it's Vincekovo, in Ilok it's Vinkovo, but you can also hear it called Vincelovo and even Vinceće.

Vincekovo_GVT-2019-14a_1.jpgVincekovo marked with wine and meat in traditional folk costume in Varaždinske Toplice © Grad Varaždinske Toplice

Vincekovo is mostly marked in the northern continental area of the country and throughout the entire far east of Croatia - eastern Slavonia, Baranja and the Croatian part of Syrmia, around Ilok. In these places, it is a day inextricably linked with the production of wine. That people seem to associate St Vincent as 'the wine guy' seems reasonable – Vinko and vino (the Croatian word for wine) are almost the same, right? Well, not quite.

The related name Viktor (also used in Croatia) actually gives us the best example of the meaning of the name. Vincent comes from the Latin word 'vincere' (to conquer or to be victorious). But, although it looks similar in Latin, the word for wine is much, much older. And it may have an entirely different root.

Ilok2020.jpgVinkovo in Ilok 2020 © Youtube screenshot

Why we say 'wine'

Nobody is really sure where the word 'wine' comes from. The ancient Greek word 'oinos' certainly pre-dates the Latin but its true origins have been lost in time. This provides an entertaining mystery for today. Fascinatingly, we find a common origin word for wine in several completely different language groups.

You can trace the historic use of the word 'wine' through a vast territory. In ancient times, the name was used in the area of what is today southern Russia and nearby in the Caucasus. Although they belong to a different non-Indo European language group, peoples in what is modern-day Georgia used the same word. In the western Semitic languages of the Levant (Arabic: wain, Hebrew: yayin) it is the same. In Mediterranean languages like Latin and Greek, it is also virtually the same word. Travelling back up to the territory of modern-day Russia, this time through regions where ancient Slavic and Germanic languages were spoken, the word is still the same. It seems that ever since people learned how to cultivate and ferment grapes, they have somehow all referred to the end product using the same word.

Who knows? Perhaps there is a shared origin for the words? As any winemaker will tell you, to make good wine, you do need to conquer the vines. DNA testing proves that the vines from which we grow grapes originally come from varieties that grew historically in the wild in an area that is today Russia and central Europe. Yet, the earliest traces of wine production are found in more southerly regions, where the climate is warmer. This journey itself is a conquering act of cultivation. In early Indo-European languages, the root 'wei' means to turn or to bend. Could the word wine be referring to human manipulation of the wild vines?

The earliest evidence of grapevine cultivation and wine production comes from the South Caucasus, present-day Georgia and dates back at least 8000 years.

1275px-Barry_capitaine._F._25._Grand_vase_pour_la_conservation_du_vin_en_Kacheti_Géorgie._Mission_scientifique_de_Mr_Ernest_Chantre._1881.jpgA Georgian man in traditional dress stands alongside a qvevri, a clay pot used for making Georgian wine in 1881. Once filled, the clay amphora are buried beneath the ground, which helps regulate the temperature of the fermenting wine. Evidence of winemaking in the region is the oldest in the world - it goes back 8000 years  © Public domain

Saint Vincent aka Vincent of Saragossa (Vinko iz Zaragoze)

Vicente_de_Zaragoza_by_Tomás_Giner_14621466_1.jpgVicente de Zaragoza by Tomás Giner

Although several saints share the name Vincent, the Saint Vincent we celebrate on 22 January is Vincent of Saragossa. Born to a well-off family in Saragossa (Zaragoza), north-eastern Spain, Vincent devoted his life to the church and became deacon in the Church of Saragossa. He was tortured under the persecution of Christians demanded by Roman Emperor Diocletian. Vincent was asked to renounce his faith - which he refused to do. Subsequently, he was martyred around the year 304. We mark St Vincent's Day in Croatia and the western Christian world on 22 January as this is presumed to be the actual day of his death. Vincent of Saragossa is not only the patron saint of winemakers but also of vinegar makers. This may come as a comfort to some less able wine producers.

Basilica_del_Pilar-sunset.jpgCathedral-Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar and the Puente de Piedra bridge on the Ebro River in Saragossa, the birthplace of St Vincent © Paulo Brandao

Quite why the midwinter period of 22 January should be significant to winemakers poses some questions. “I have no idea!” one Dalmatian winemaker told TCN when asked to explain the significance of the day to his craft. “But, you know those Slavonians are all crazy, right?” And, on the surface, his unknowing is quite understandable. There is little happening in the frozen fields right now. But, it is possible that this celebration pre-dates not only St Vincent but also Christianity itself.

History of 22 January as Saint Vincent's Day (Vincekovo)

Vincekovo-slika-Likovna-Republika.jpgA Croatian painting tellingly shows how traditions of St Vincent's Day in Croatia have little changed over the years © Tourist Board Jestrebarsko

Everyone's favourite ancient God at the party, Dionysus had a wide portfolio of fun stuff to look after. He was the Greek God of wine, the grape harvest, fertility, ritual madness, religious ecstasy, festivity and theatre. He was traditionally celebrated in the period from the 11th to the 13th of anthesterion - which in today's calendar corresponds to the period between late January - around now - and the start of February. On the wild feast of Dionysus (who is sometimes called Bacchus or Liber, as in liberty, freedom), barrels of new wine were broken open. The celebration marked the impending arrival of the new season – spring. And, this too is how people mark St Vincent's Day in Croatia.

1775px-Cornelis_de_Vos_-_El_triunfo_de_Baco.jpgThe Triumph of Bacchus, a 17th-century painting by Cornelis de Vos © Public domain

Several saints' days in Croatia and Europe correspond to significant points in the agricultural calendar. This tellingly reveals their pre-Christian roots. Another of those corresponding to winemaking is Martinje – St Martin's Day in Croatia (which you can read about here). However, Martinje is traditionally a more proletarian festivity – it comes at the end of the harvest when there is no more hard work for all the manual labourers to do. Vincekovo is a day more traditionally associated with their boss - the vineyard owner. It is also traditionally a more testosterone-filled affair – a sausage party, perhaps. Well, you could say that, and in more ways than one.

Vinceška-Vina-Belje-2019-21-960x640meats.jpgKulen and other sausages, hung traditionally beside the vines on St Vincent's Day - the company that made these, Belje, is one of the best and most famous in Croatia. They trace their history in the Baranja region back to the year 1697. In Baranja, you'll most likely hear this day called Vinceška © Belje

Music, food, theatre and wine - traditions of Vincekovo, Saint Vincent's Day in Croatia

Around this time of year, vines within the vineyard will be cut back. There are a limited amount of nutrients that can pass down a vine. This cutting back ensures the nutrients are concentrated and helps guarantee a limited but good crop. Whether this cutting back has actually taken place in days prior, on Vincekovo vineyard owners are charged with visiting their vines. Whatever the weather, they will march into the fields and ceremoniously cut back a vine. Usually, it's one with at least three new buds on. Traditionally, this vine is then brought into the home and placed in a watered jar. The progress of the buds supposedly predicts the next season's crops. Many other folk traditions associated with Vincekovo also serve the same purpose of 'predicting the crops'. Melting snow, rain and sunshine on Vincekovo are also regarded as predictors of a fine harvest. Although, some believe that water dripping from the eaves on Vincekovo could mean the year will be wet.

Pavlomir_Novi_Vinodol_Primorsko-Goranska.jpgVincekovo celebrated in Pavlomir, Novi Vinodol, Primorsko-Goranska County © Youtube screenshot

Again following Dionysian traditions, Slavonian people are famously gregarious. They rarely make the trip to the vineyard alone. Neighbours, family, friends and even musicians might make the journey with them and join in the blessing of the vines. In Croatia today, you can still see some people undertaking this ceremony in traditional folk costume.

Vinkovo_in_Ilok_2019.jpgVinkovo in Ilok 2019. Brrrrrr! © Youtube screenshot

The vine that has been pruned is ritually sprinkled with old wine. Song and drinking accompany the ceremony. Both old and new wine may make an appearance. No Slavonia or Baranja party is complete without kulen, their king of sausages. And, on Vincekovo, it is traditional to hang kulen and/or švargla (another monstrous portion of preserved pig product) from a post. Supposedly, this theatre is done in order to encourage the next season's crop to be as fertile and bountiful as these sizeable sausages.

1626px-Sacrificio_a_Baco_Massimo_Stanzione.jpgSacrifice to Bacchus by Massimo Stanzione c. 1634 © Public domain. Some of the folk traditions observed on St Vincent's Day in Croatia probably pre-date Christianity

Hearty snacks usually accompany the celebration in the fields. After the ceremonious part is taken care of, people now think to return indoors. Although, not necessarily to your own home. Because now is the traditional time to march around the locale to visit the wine cellars of your neighbouring growers. If you're a winemaker of a Dionysian bent, you'll probably take along some food with you like kulen, a roasted pig or even the tamburica musicians who came to the fields with you. Croatians rarely arrive at a party with empty hands. If such treats are not taken to the event, probably they'll already be waiting in your neighbour's cellar. Although, you might have to pace yourself. If you live in an area of traditional winemaking, there could be quite a lot of neighbouring wine cellars to visit. Subsequently, celebrations on Vincekovo - St Vincent's Day in Croatia - can extend well into the night.

fishp.jpegFiš paprikaš is a spicy river fish stew, richly red from paprika. It is popular in Slavonia, Baranja and Syrmia. Along with the wild meats stew čobanac and whole šaran (carp), butterflied and cooked outside over an open flame, it is a warming and popular dish to eat in eastern Croatia on St Vincent's Day © Romulić & Stojčić

Friday, 25 September 2020

Virovitica Tourist Board Redirecting Funds from Canceled Events to Renters

September 25, 2020 - The Virovitica Tourist Board has found a creative way to help struggling renters during the corona crisis by redirecting funds meant for canceled events to a Support Plan for renters in the area. 

HRTurizam reports that the coronavirus pandemic has caused numerous cancellations in Croatia and around the world. This has resulted in a reduced number of visits, i.e., tourist arrivals and overnight stays in several Croatian destinations, especially in the continental area. One example is Virovitica, whose tourist board has decided to redirect the funds provided for events that have been canceled by the Headquarters so far, to the implementation of a support plan for Virovitica renters.

With the amendments to the Work Program and the rebalance of the Virovitica Tourist Board financial plan, adopted at the Assembly's first session, the plan includes several segments.

Guest safety

The first is guest safety, which means the safety of tourists, which is especially important for choosing to visit a destination. The year marked by the corona crisis is precisely the most important segment. The Virovitica Tourist Board financed the purchase of cotton masks with the sign of the Pejacevic Castle and the inscription "Greetings from Virovitica." The masks are intended for employees of accommodation facilities and guests who will not only use them during their stay, but they also serve as a souvenir to take home and thus further promote Virovitica. Also, disinfectants and medical masks were distributed to all Virovitica renters.

Visibility

This year has shown the importance of visibility, especially on the Internet. It has also shown how a large number of renters have neglected this particular segment of their business. Namely, some accommodation facilities do not have their own websites, nor are they present on internet platforms. To help Virovitica renters increase their visibility to potential guests, the Virovitica Tourist Board will finance the development of websites of all accommodation facilities in the City. These websites will also be available in English. In addition to the website, Facebook and Instagram profiles of each accommodation facility will be activated. The Virovitica Tourist Board will finance the purchase of photographs and the lease of copyrights and provide the texts needed for the new website's content.

Tourist maps of the city of Virovitica with marked sights, service information, catering and accommodation facilities were also printed and distributed. Considering the numerous new contents in the city of Virovitica, the plan is to make a new study of signalization, install all missing signs, and replace the old and worn-out signs. As part of this project, preference will be given to renters, i.e., to adequately mark all accommodation facilities in Virovitica.

Free tickets for Pejacevic Castle and Virovitica City Museum

COVID-19 has left a mark on the number of arrivals and overnight stays. Therefore, the Virovitica Tourist Board has prepared a promotion by which visitors, for each night in a registered commercial accommodation in Virovitica, until October 15, 2020, will receive a free ticket to Pejacevic Castle and Virovitica City Museum. For this action, the Tourist Board is also financing a promotional campaign called "Experience the city of Pejacevic" on social networks, portals, and press.

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

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Thursday, 9 July 2020

Tourism in the Corona Age: 10 Virtual Ways to Discover Virovitica

July 9, 2020 - Tourism was on hold when we started this series of articles, but most of us still have plenty of time. So let's look at the virtual resources available to explore Croatia virtually. We continue our new Virtual Croatia series with the tools to discover Virovitica, the center of the amazing region of Podravina.

A few weeks ago I wrote that being a tourism blogger in the corona era was about as useful as being a cocktail barman in Saudi Arabia. I feel less useless now, a few weeks later, and I am encouraged by the number of Croatian tourism businesses who are contacting us wanting to start thinking of promoting post-corona tourism. 

One of the challenges of writing about tourism at the moment is that there is nothing positive to write about. With people confined to their homes and tourism in Croatia currently not possible, many have decided to go into hibernation until it is all over. 

I think that this is a mistake, and I have greatly enjoyed the TCN series by Zoran Pejovic of Paradox Hospitality on thinking ahead to tourism in a post-corona world.  You can find Zoran's articles here.

Way back on March 14 - several lifetimes ago - I published an article called Tourism in the Corona Age: 10 Virtual Ways to Discover Zagreb. The way I saw things, now was an OUTSTANDING opportunity for tourism promotion. People have time, they yearn for their freedom and former lives, so give them the tools to thoroughly research and enjoy your destinations, and you will have then longing to be there. And when they do come, they will have a deeper understanding of the destination due to their research. 

South Africa and Portugal were the first to do their post-corona tourism promotion videos several weeks ago (Post-Corona Tourism Planning: Lessons from South Africa and Portugal), a trick which has been followed by other tourism countries, the latest being Croatia with the national tourist board campaign, #CroatiaLongDistanceLove, going live yesterday.

But while these campaigns create longing and market presence, they don't really educate. People now have time to really get into destinations. And dreams of escape to somewhere more exotic are high on the list of priorities of many. 

So TCN has decided to help with that education with a new series called Virtual Croatia, where we will be helping you discover many of Croatia's destinations with all the best virtual tools available on your self-isolating sofa at home. 

We started with Tourism in the Corona Age: 10 Virtual Tools to Discover Hvar.

After this, we put our a press release (which you can read here in English and Croatian) offering a free article to any local tourist board in Croatia who would like the free promotion in our Virtual Croatia series

The Sinj Tourist Board was the first to respond, and now you can see just how rich the tourism offer is in this proud Alka town - your virtual tools to Discover Sinj. This was followed by Discover OpatijaDiscover Brela, Discover RogoznicaDiscover Stari GradDiscover OmišDiscover LumbardaDiscover Jezera, Discover Šolta, Discover Cavtat and Konavle, Discover KoprivnicaDiscover Pašman, and Discover Gradac.

People from the Virovitica Tourist Board most kindly helped us put together a series of videos promoting their town and region. 

Let's begin! 

Discover Virovitica - a Town with Rich History

The introductory promotional video

History of the town and the Pejačević Castle

The project of the Pejačević Castle restoration

The story of lace traditionally made in Virovitica

Events in Virovitica through the year

December in Virovitica

GoPro postcard

International bee safari tourist route

Virovitica loves trains


Discover Virovitica Websites

The Virovitica Tourist Board website has a lot of information about the town, its history, and what it offers today. You can find out all about the walking routes in Virovitica (the Green, the Sacral, the route of noble families). The Virovitica Town Museum has decided to create a virtual museum during these times when we're not supposed to spend much time indoors with other people.

 

Has this lovely town of remarkable history managed to get under your skin? 

To discover more of virtual Croatia, you can follow this series in our dedicated section, Virtual Croatia

If you are a local tourist board in Croatia and would like your destination featured in this series for free, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Virtual Croatia (and destination name)

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

23 Million Euro Agreement Signed to Reconstruct Virovitica-Pitomača Railway Line

ZAGREB, February 4, 2020 - The state-owned rail company HŽ Infrastruktura and the Austrian company Swietelsky signed an agreement in Virovitica (150 kilometres east of Zagreb) on Monday for the reconstruction of the 21-kilometre-long railway line between Virovitica and Pitomača, a project worth about HRK 170 million (€23 m).

The work is expected to be completed in 18 months. The project will be financed with a commercial loan backed by a state guarantee. The upgraded line will allow trains to run at a speed of 100 kilometres an hour, which, compared with the present 80 km/h, will cut travel time and make travel safer.

The Virovitica-Pitomača section is part of the railway line connecting Varaždin, Koprivnica, Virovitica, Osijek and Dalj and is the first of the total of three sections for which HŽ Infrastruktura has secured 449 million kuna (60 m euro) for the next five year period. The other two sections are Pitomača-Virje (22 km) and Virje-Koprivnica (20 km).

Transport and Infrastructure Minister Oleg Butković said that this project was part of a major railway investment cycle. "Currently we are building railway infrastructure worth a total of 1.5 billion euro. These are mainly the most important transport corridors in Croatia, but we are also taking care of regional lines to ensure that all counties are adequately connected," he said.

Zvonko Dundović of Swietelsky said that this company has been present in the Croatian construction market for more than 20 years and has reconstructed more than 500 kilometres of railway tracks to date.

More news about railways in Croatia can be found in the Travel section.

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Virovitica Official Commits Suicide after Defrauding Town Budget?

ZAGREB, June 19, 2019 - A meeting of the town council of the northeastern town of Virovitica on Tuesday was marked by a heated debate on the latest developments following the suicide of the head of the town's administration department for the financial matters, Siniša Palm, after it was discovered that the town budget was defrauded of several million of kuna.

During the debate Mayor Ivica Kirin explained that the sum embezzled from the budget amounted to 17.5 million kuna (2.37 million euro) and that as soon as he was informed by the bank concerned about irregularities he immediately reacted.

Nevertheless, the opposition insisted on the mayor's resignation, and responding to their criticism, Kirin reiterated that the local budget was managed according to the ISO 9001 certificate and that each year, the local authorities were given the positive opinion from the Office of the State Auditor regarding the public finances.

Explaining that the money had been defrauded in the "so-called" interception of transfers before they were entered into the city's accounting books, and that accounts of a sport club also were involved in these dealings which included the fake documents, Kirin said that he could not divulge any more information about how the money had been defrauded because of the confidentiality of the ongoing investigation in the case.

The mayor said that security checks of commercial banks, tax administration and state authorities had failed.

Kirin said that he felt subjective responsibility for this case as he had allowed the employment of the late Palm after he had submitted his application for the job advertised by the town authorities, however, Kirin said that he had no objective accountability.

Palm, 37, disappeared on 31 May and he was found dead on 3 June, and the local prosecutorial authorities established that he had committed suicide.

During his address to the press after the council's meeting Kirin recalled the timeline of the events.

Kirin said that on 30 May, he had been informed by the bank of wrongdoing and that he had immediately checked the situation together with his associates. That day, the mayor got informed of the fact that the head of the town financial department had gambling problems.

In the morning of 31 May, Kirin went to the bank and later to the police to present the case, after that he ordered that Palm should be served with a notice stating that he is suspended.

According to media reports, Palm committed suicide after being suspected of embezzling money from the town budget.

More Virovitica news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

EU Funds Turning Old Croatian Castles into Hotels and Museums

EU funds have opened up a wide variety of doors for Croatia, quite literally. As more and more EU funding is accessed, more former Croatian ''glory'' buildings, including old castles and palaces, are having new life breathed into them.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes on the 28th of May, 2019, in July in Suhopolje near Virovitica, a visitor's centre will be opened up at Janković castle, marking the creation of a brand new attraction for Virovitica-Podravina County, in which a total of 39.7 million kuna will be invested, of which 33.4 million kuna is being funded from European Union fund for Regional Development, permitted under the Preparation and implementation of Integrated Development Programs based on the Reconstruction of Cultural Heritage.

This is just one of the projects which directly involves the revitalisation of a series of castles, noble and ex-military buildings in the aforementioned county, and putting them into the function of tourism within the so-called. Plemićka ruta. At the moment, there are projects in their various phases of implementation or completion of a total value of up to 276 million kuna, as was revealed yesterday at the project's presentation in Zagreb by Josip Mikolčić, assistant director of the VPŽ (Virovitica-Podravina) Tourist Board. Last year, 16,033 tourists visited this continental Croatian county, achieving an impressive 40,276 overnight stays.

"Participating in EU projects is a great opportunity to rebuild many of the neglected facilities that we'll then put into the function of tourism. The county still has a bit of hotel accommodation, which we need to modify so that we can make a significant income from tourism," Mikolčić explained.

Namely, as EU funds can't provide non-refundable money for the construction of hotels, a solution has been found by the Croatian county in question to create presentation centre projects that later be turned into hotels. In addition to the multimedia exhibition hall, 5D cinema and creative lab, Janković will also have fifteen guest rooms, which will initially be registered as rooms for rent, and after five years have passed, another fifteen rooms will be added and the facility will be registered as a heritage hotel, at least that's what the current plan is.

Then, Virovitica-Podravina County will be able to sell that hotel to a private investor, as well as all of its other facilities.

As it is already known, an informative-educational centre and a hostel in a restored summer residence from the nineteenth century have been on the market for about two years now. The Heritage Hotel Kurija Janković is on the Plemićka ruta, and the opening of a museum in the renovated Pejačević Castle is expected this October.

The renovated Ružica grad from the fifteenth century will be receive its first guests within the next 1.5 years, while on the island of Križnica on the border with Hungary, former military facilities will be turned into a camp and a visitor's centre.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more.

 

Click here for the original article by Marija Crnjak for Poslovni Dnevnik

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Virovitica Among Best in Terms of EU Fund Withdrawal for Rural Development

''We need to give young people the ability to learn and improve, to be informed about the measures implemented by the EU through EU funds and self-employment,'' stated the mayor of Virovitica.

As PD i VL native tim/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 4th of February, 2019, Virovitica is the fourteenth Croatian city in which the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds organised an informative-educational event entitled Regional Days of EU Funds, with the aim of informing the general public about the possibilities of financing from EU funds and strengthening regional development, as well as the possibilities for overall social and economic growth of Croatia which derive from EU fund availability. The event was held at the Virovitica Cultural Centre, which, ironically with the help of the EU funds, is about to be reconstructed soon.

Since Virovitica is mainly made up of agricultural land, its projects are mostly reported by small and medium-sized entrepreneurs and farmers, and according to the latest statistical data, Virovitica-Podravina County is among the best in Slavonia and Baranja in terms of EU cash withdrawal for rural development funds and for micro and small enterprises - up to 3,400 kuna per capita. "EU funds concern everyone, we're working on public projects in the public sector to set standards, and it's important to utilise them and improve business," said Ivica Kirin, Virovitica's mayor.

National development strategy

Virovitica-Podravina County Prefect Igor Andrović presented some statistical data according to which the VIDRA Development Agency in 2018 carried out 194 projects for small and medium-sized entrepreneurs and farmers, totaling a massive 450 million kuna.

"We've started on projects which concern Slavonia, Baranja and Srijem, such as the renovation of the hospital, the construction of a network of entrepreneurial incubators, the construction of a technological innovation centre, the hall for the Viroexpo fair and the energetic renewal of the cultural centre.

This year, we expect the realisation of about 150 projects we submitted last year,'' Andrović said, pointing out that with the new division in the four statistical regions, small and medium entrepreneurs in their area as well as in Sisak-Moslavina and Karlovac County will receive up to 75 percent of support from the EU funds, as opposed to the previous 45 percent.

State Secretary at the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds, Velimir Žunac, reminded attendees that by the year 2020, the seven-year financial period during which Croatia learned, made mistakes and matured will end, and more opportunities in the next financial period of 2021-2027 will come.

"EU funds are our reality - this county and this city are a good example of how European Union money can be used, as statistics show. In January 2017, Croatia was [withdrawing] under 9 percent of the contracted funds and by the end of last year, that number was more than 62 percent, or 6.6 billion euros of contractuality, we've made a significant step forward. In Croatia, 80 percent of public investment comes from the EU and it's important to maximise its use," Žunac pointed out.

He announced that the Croatian Government is ready and that the budget is stable for the new cycle and financial period from 2021 to 2027, recalling that the National Development Strategy of the Republic of Croatia is under development up until 2030, with twelve thematic and working groups working intensively.

An interesting panel discussion was then held, entitled "The development of Virovitica through European Union funds", involving representatives of various institutions as well as local entrepreneurs with experience of using money provided by EU funds. At the very beginning, Mayor Ivica Kirin emphasised that in the near future they want to identify the strategies and priorities that Croatia needs to develop which will create faster and better economic growth.

"We need more staff, especially those who will write projects. At the same time, we must give young people the ability to learn and improve, to be informed of the measures that the state is implementing through EU funds and self-employment," Kirin said.

The results were presented by Tihana Harmund, Director of the VTA Development Agency, who works for all institutions in Virovitica, companies, institutions, as well as for entrepreneurs and farmers, to whom she offers advice and assistance in writing up and implementing EU projects.

"We have prepared the documentation for all projects, including Pejačević Castle worth 82 million kuna, the improvement of Virovitica's water and communal infrastructure of 150 million kuna, as well as the renovation of schools, kindergartens and other institutions. For smaller projects, we provided the necessary funds to farmers, entrepreneurs and civil society organisations,'' stated Harmund.

Cooperation between the city and the county

''Services and institutions were networked for the preparation of projects, and the cooperation between the City of Virovitica and Virovitica-Podravina County is excellent,'' said Neda Martić from the VIDRA Development Agency.

"An entrepreneur can now get a valid building permit in two days, and in addition to being a regional coordinator, our agency is working on strategy and writing up infrastructure projects. We currently have 245 projects related to the economy,'' Martić added.

Make sure to stay up to date by following our dedicated politics page for much more.

 

Click here for the original article by PD i VL native tim on Poslovni Dnevnik

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Virovitica's 'Factory' Ranked Among Top 1,000 B2B Companies in World

Did you know that one Virovitica company is among the four best in Croatia in its sector and the top 500 in the world? 

For years they developed native mobile & web applications for startups and successful companies around the world. More than 80 percent of the products are exported, they are regularly employed, and on the Croatian market, they are known as one of the best. 

They are the winners of Virovitica-Podravina County’s annual award for outstanding results and contributions to the development of entrepreneurship and the IT industry. They are Plava Tvornica (Factory), reports Vecernji List on December 8, 2018. 

Better yet, Clutch has included the Virovitica company among the top 1,000 companies in the world for this sector, after they were already declared among the top four in Croatia. 

“B2B research, ratings, and reviews company Clutch announced the top 1000 B2B companies around the world based on their ability to deliver: number, recency, and quality of client reviews; clients served, work portfolio, and brand reputation and visibility in their target market. This is a new and exclusive honor for B2B services firms in 2018. It recognizes the companies that have gone above and beyond for their clients,” writes Clutch on their website

“Clutch.co is a system that ranks agencies around the world. The results are determined via questionnaires where customers rate companies based on different criteria. Factory, according to these results, is among the top 500 in the world, and we are in fourth place in Croatia. There are three Zagreb digital agencies in front of us,” said director Ivica Horvat, who, along with Mateja Sudar, are the “Alfa and Omega" of the Virovitca company. Factory, which is headquartered in the Entrepreneurial Incubator of Virovitica-Podravina County, also has a separate facility in Osijek.

Otherwise, at the beginning of the year, Factory received yet another great acknowledgment. Their applications from the National and University Library of Zagreb, the world's leading presentation of an innovative and original project, won 3rd place. Behind them were renowned companies from Canada, Germany, China, and Australia. You can find the work of Factory here

These are great indicators for a company that is only six years old and started out from the confines of a small Croatian apartment. 

To read more about Croatia's business success, follow TCN's dedicated page here

 

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