Friday, 25 June 2021

Ending Segregated Education in Vukovar? Mayor Ivan Penava Announced an Idea

June 25, 2021 - Is there any possibility of ending segregated education in Vukovar? Mayor Ivan Penava announced Serbian and Croatian education could merge in school and kindergarten levels, but more details are yet to be revealed.

The start of the week saw interesting news that surprised many. As reported by N1, Ivan Penava, the mayor of Vukovar, announced Croatian and Serbian classes and kindergartens could merge together.

Vukovar, often referred to in Croatia as the „Hero City“ for the heavy blow it suffered in the 90s war Croatians refer to as Homeland War, still has a lot of ruins as memories of that ugly past. In the light of national tensions among Serbs and Croats, the segregation of kindergartens and different shifts in schools for Serbian and Croatian classes seem to be a solution to keep the peace.

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screenshot/ N1

Good idea but more talks needed?

„In Vukovar, parents do not choose the model of education that is imposed by politics, it is nowhere written in public“, said mayor Penava, as reported by N1.

Penava, a former member of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), despite earning a new term in the recent local elections as an independent candidate, enjoyed support from Miroslav Škoro, runner-up candidate for Zagreb mayor elections, and the leader of the Homeland Movement (DP) supports Penava's idea.

„I lived in America for a number of years, in Hungary, I traveled the world... what is the difference between Serbian and Croatian mathematics? Is Argentina in Serbian in the northern hemisphere, and southern in Croatian? I don't get it“, said Škoro adding that segregation was done in malice with a tendency to divide children from the start.

„In Vukovar, the symbol of defense had priorities. Reconstruction of the water tower, and certain moves Penava did well in his last term (he wouldn't win elections if he hasn't), thinks that city needs to move on. I support him 100%“, concluded Škoro.

On the other hand, criticism is erected on national-level politics.

„I don't think that local officials are the ones who need to determine a way in which minority education will be conducted. Political trade is clear here, and I'm glad there is no longer just Serbian-Croatian trading coalition, but also another one“, said Dragana Jecov, a Croatian parliament member from the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) referring to the accusations of the right-wing that current coalition of HDZ and SDSS and is vile political trade.

Interior Minister Davo Božinović also said that while we need to work on erasing national, social, and political tensions, but this is a question that needs to be discussed more seriously.

Additionally, as N1 reported, the Ministry of Education pointed out that different models of education for Vukovar schools exist, and parents can choose which they find most suitable.

Accepting national differences or nationalistic uniformity?

Some improvements have indeed been seen in the city infrastructure, but Vukovar still remains a challenging place to live. Partly due to the tough economic situation, but also because of discrepancies among Serbian and Croatian residents. Earlier in June, there was even a violent incident when a 30-year-old Serbian member of the Grobari football fan group physically attacked a Croatian 13-year-old boy in front of a bakery for having a medicine mask with Croatian symbols.

„Sadly, this kind of thing happened too long in Vukovar, where people attack each other because of national disputes. Media aren't even introduced to some of these events. It is spread a lot, as evident by the constant police patrols around Vukovar high-schools where there are always police cars around“, said Vukovar police to Večernji List daily newspaper.

Such incidents, a misfortunate loose ends of the war, also come from the Croatian side. Earlier in May, a group of young men chanted anti-Serb slogans in Borovo Selo (close to Vukovar), a scene of heinous war crimes in the '90s), sparking condemnation from both president Milanović and the Croatian Government.

In that light, integrated schools might finally bring positive changes in regards to tolerance and peaceful life for Vukovar citizens. But again, not everyone sees the glass as half full.
Index.hr columnist Gordan Duhaček agreed in his column that Serbs and Croats don't need to go to separate shifts but warns how Penava isn't the guy that should unite them.

„Penava doesn't want to integrate Vukovar schools and end the troubling segregation in a way to ensure a better future for the whole city, but instead to impose his nationalistic, often anti-Serbian narrative as the official one. Penava wants that Vukovar Serbs bow down to his view of the Croatian state“, wrote Duhaček.

Duhaček also reminded the readership of the attempt and fail of the Danube International school that supposed to integrate pupils of both nations, an idea that spawned 16 years ago. But, the project failed, and Duhaček sees both Penava and SDSS leader Milorad Pupovac not feeling too sad about it.

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Iconic Vukovar water tower, pixabay

Questions on details

At the end of the week, the situation seems more confusing than clear. Is class integration a good idea? Could it save money for the city financially? What are some actual details of merging Croats and Serbians into one class? Obviously, Škoro is right that 2+2=4 in any math class around the world. But, troubling questions appear in subjects such as language and history. Croats and Serbs sadly have their own, different interpretations of historical facts, particularly when it comes to the last war, and while the speakers of two languages perfectly understand each other, some words do differ, and there is a different accent and spelling in the two formal languages. So, how can these issues be resolved? Would those two subjects remain in different shifts while universal subjects such as biology, math, or physics will listen in one merged classroom? Or will there be a different curriculum that would present both Serbian and Croatian history, Serbian and Croatian literature in that way, making Vukovar pupils more knowledgable in those areas than other pupils in the country?

Or some curriculum consensus on history could be reached, one that would satisfy both the Croatian and Serbian sides and thus truly open a doorway to the better understandings of the two nations in the future in perhaps the most nationally torn city in Croatia?

Obviously, Vukovar city authorities have some tensions with SDSS, but the city also has an expert associate for the development of civil society and national minorities, Siniša Mitrović in one of the City's departments. Did Mitrović manage to gain input from the Serbian minority in Vukovar about this merge? And how fast could the whole thing be realized? This autumn or maybe a bit later?
These are important and interesting questions that can only be answered either by mayor Penava himself or perhaps Josip Paloš, the director of the Vukovar City Education Department.

„Mayor Penava is in a lot of meetings and on fields, and his schedule is full. We will sadly not be able to answer you by your Friday deadline, but we will contact you at the earliest convenience“, said the lady at the Vukovar City PR service when I called them (and E-mailed) with a wish to arrange and conduct a brief phone interview.

While this article may present the current issues surrounding segregated education in Vukovar, this TCN reporter hopes mayor Penava will share more details about his plan on ending segregation in Vukovar schools and kindergarten with joint classes. If done right, this move can indeed be the way to a better, more peaceful future for Vukovar citizens.

Learn more about Vukovar on our TC page.

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

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Cultural Identity of Vukovar: New Book Presented in Vukovar

June 9, 2021 - The fascinating question of the Cultural Identity of Vukovar is researched in a new book edited by Dr. Mateo Žanić and Petar Elez. However, as the editors stressed in the introduction, further research is needed to encompass all social groups in Vukovar and their contribution to the heritage of Vukovar.

After being published back in April this year, the book „Cultural Identity of Vukovar – Contribution to Investigating Heritage and Successors“, was presented this Wednesday in Vukovar. As Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute writes on its website the book was published in cooperation with the Vukovar State Archive, so it was only suitable that the first book presentation was held in Vukovar at the videoconference hall of College Of Applied Sciences „Lavoslav Ružička“ (named after a famous Croatian chemist whose work is awarded a Nobel Prize). In addition, the event marked International Archive Day.

The book was edited by Dr. Mateo Žanić and Petar Elez, and the presentation, alongside editors, saw scientific experts Dr. Dražen Živić, Mirela Hutinec, and Dr. Domagoj Tomas talks about the book.

„Fast events triggered by globalization process and information revolution which paradoxically lead to today's societies being fiercely occupied with the meaning of past, and preserving its valuable traces. In that context, there is a spreading interest for heritage that holds an important component to understand the relationship between the past and present“, says the editorial introduction of the book.

The editors went on to explain how „the city proved to be futile to interpret the meaning of heritage and its contribution to cultural identity,“ and the editors wanted to present various aspects of Vukovar's cultural heritage.

Apart from editors Žanić (who wrote a chapter „Layers of memories and material heritage in modern-day Vukovar) and Elez (author of the chapter „State archive in Vukovar and development of archive service in Vukovar-Srijem County“), the book features eight more authors. Ivan Rogić (Whose Heritage? Who is the successor?), Dražen Živić (on Vukovar's feudalists), Vlasta Novinc („Danube, food, Corso“), Dragana Drašković (on the cultural life of Borovo Selo), and more by Dragan Damjanović, Toni Roca, Ivana Bendra and Ivan Hubalek.

With these broad presentations of culture and heritage in Vukovar, editors hope this book will encourage further research as they are aware this is certainly not the final word on these interesting questions and issues.

„As editors, we are aware that the book does not deal with topics that concern different social groups that left their trace in Vukovar end enrich the history of the city. We hope that future editions that will deal with this topic expand the reach of issues and help us to realize better what do we inherit from the past and why is that important“, concludes the introduction of the book.

So far, the book is available only in Croatian, and research that will, as editors say, deal with other social groups in Vukovar is yet to come. Keeping in mind the terrible aftermaths of the war in Vukovar in the 90s and inter-ethnic tensions, further findings on joint cultural contribution to Vukovar may indeed be the enlightenment needed for peaceful cohabitation and development of Vukovar as a perspective city in Croatia.

Speaking of heritage, learn more about UNESCO recognized heritage in Croatia on our TC page.

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

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

VukovART 2021 to Return Art, Culture and Joy to the City of Vukovar

April 20, 2021 - With a five-year tradition already in place, VukovART 2021 promises a month of fun and exciting activities for Vukovar with visual eye candy as souvenirs to last.

A unique concept in the culture and art of Vukovar, the VukovART festival will be held from May 15 all the way to June 15, writes HRTurizam.  

With a five-year tradition, the streets and squares of Vukovar will once again host numerous exhibitions and workshops, debates, children's programs, film, and literary programs, panel discussions, colorful lectures, and concerts. This event, organized by the City of Vukovar and Val Kulture association, co-financed by the European Social fund, promotes Vukovar as a Port of Art, changing the visual identity of the city making it a beautiful place to live. In addition to the local community, tourists also enjoy the eye candy of the city's open-air gallery. Artists Boa Mistura (Spain), BustArt (Switzerland), Jana Brike (Latvia), Mr Woodland (Germany), Victor Splash (Russia), Artez (Serbia), Juandres Vera (Mexico), Kerim Musanović (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Marion Ruthardt from (Germany), and Croatia's own Forest are ten artists who will come this year to give their contribution to the growing visual content of the city.

The festival will be opened by a beloved Croatian band Vatra (Fire), with performances of Mia Dimšić, musical composition CLUE, and vocal composition Watercolor in the following days too. During every larger event of the festival, „a superb craft scene and street food“ offers will be offered to visitors too. 

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© VukovArt - Art Harbour

Famous Croatian singer from Psihomodo Pop with a neck in painting as well, Davor Gobac will exhibit his paintings and also host Motivational and Art Workshop for children.

„There will also be an active weekend led by the Vukovar Half Marathon, and for a slightly more relaxing activity, a bicycle race will be organized to tour previous works of art“, says HRTurizam article.

Domagoj Jakopović Ribafish, Dusan Bučan, and Robert Knjaz will host travel lectures and the full program and more details can be found on VukovART official website and on social networks.  

Learn more about Croatia's festivals on our TC page.  

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

 

Saturday, 20 March 2021

Deputy Mayor of Vukovar Comments on Civilian Victims of War Bill

ZAGREB, 20 March 2021 - The leader of the Democratic Alliance of Serbs and deputy mayor of Vukovar, Srđan Milaković, said on Friday that the discussion in the Croatian parliament on the bill on civilian victims of the 1991-1995 Homeland War showed "an uncivilized attitude of right-wing parties towards Serb victims in Croatia."

Under the proposal, civilian victims who could not exercise their rights under the present law would do so under the new law. The law would also cover civilians injured in mine explosions or the use of firearms during the period between 17 August 1990 and 30 June 1996. Civilian victims would be allowed to claim entitlements for family members listed as missing from the war even before they are declared dead. The bill also provides for measures to improve the social and economic status of civilian victims. These rights can be exercised both by citizens of Croatia and by foreign nationals, provided that at the time of the incident, they were residents in Croatia. After the debate, the bill was sent for a second reading.

Commenting on the debate, Milaković said that it showed "an uncivilized attitude of right-wing parties towards Serb victims in Croatia." "No one in the Serb community denies the crimes committed at Ovčara. On the other hand, the deputy mayor of Vukovar and MP, Marijan Pavliček, and many others are unable to accept the killing of Serb civilians by Croatian forces in Vukovar in 1991," he added.

"The experience of the families of Serb civilians killed - including their personal tragedy and pain over the loss of their loved ones and the denial, ignoring, and justification of their killing by the Croatian public and state institutions - cannot be compensated for by any law or entitlement.

"They could not get compensation because final court rulings did not establish the commission of the crimes in which their dearest ones were killed, and judicial authorities never initiated proceedings for those killings. So not even in death are innocent Croats and Serbs equal," Milaković wrote.

He concluded by saying that it remains to be seen whether the new law would "remove the present injustices" in practice.

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

Friday, 19 March 2021

Man Arrested for Murder of Seven Vukovar Civilians during 1990s War

ZAGREB, 19 March, 2021 - A 50-year-old man has been taken into custody following an extensive operation by the police, state attorney and the security-intelligence agency (SOA) on the suspicion of torturing and killing seven Vukovar civilians during the Homeland War in September 1991.

The suspect and members of his paramilitary unit are believed to have punched, kicked and hit with their rifle butts a group of seven civilians, aged between 24 and 55, whom they found in the basement of a house in Vukovar.

The perpetrators then led the captured civilians to the city centre, killing six on the way, while a 55-year-old prisoner was wounded.

After that, the suspect and the other paramilitaries returned to the house and collected the women and children staying there whom they also wanted to take to the city centre but were stopped by an unidentified Serb army officer. The women and children and the wounded 55-year-old man were returned to the basement, however, the next day the 55-year-old was killed by an unidentified Serb paramilitary.

The police reported that after the reintegration of the Danube region an exhumation was conducted and six of the murdered civilians were identified. A 27-year-old man from that group is still unaccounted for.

The suspect was taken into custody while the Osijek County Attorney's office has filed criminal charges against him for war crimes against civilians.

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

Thursday, 4 March 2021

Serb Minority Deputy Mayor Srđan Milaković: "Serbs in Vukovar Under-Represented in Town Administration"

ZAGREB, 4 March, 2021 - The Serbs in Vukovar are under-represented in town administration, the deputy mayor from the Serb minority, Srđan Milaković, told a press conference in Town Hall on Thursday.

The number of Serbs working in town administration should reflect their number in the town, but that is not the case, Milaković said, citing the last census showing that 34.87 percent of the town's residents identified themselves as Serbs.

In 2014, 19 of 60 town administration employees were Serbs, while in 2017, at the end of the first term of mayor Ivan Penava, 16 of 70 employees were Serbs, Milaković said.

At the end of January this year, 80 people were employed in town administration, including 16 Serbs, which is slightly over 12 percent, the deputy mayor said.

He added that it is particularly concerning that none of the heads of town departments are Serbs. They are not in executive positions in the companies majority owned by the town or in the positions of school principals, he noted.

"The law is clear. It guarantees the Serb residents proportionate representation, but we can see that it is just a dead letter in practice," Milaković said. He added that his role as deputy mayor from the Serb minority was reduced to a pro-forma position.

"Like any other position guaranteed to Serbs, mine too is devoid of any substantive responsibility. This position only gives me room to speak in public, nothing more. I am totally invisible and am not included in any of the events covered by the protocol, except when a wreath needs to be laid somewhere," Milaković said.

Friday, 19 February 2021

People also ask Google: What is Croatia Famous For?

February 19, 2021 – What is Croatia Famous For?

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

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

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

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

What is Croatia known for?

1) Holidays


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

a) Islands


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What is Croatia famous for? Islands © Mljet National Park

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

b) Beaches


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

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

c) Dubrovnik


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What is Croatia famous for? Dubrovnik © Ivan Ivanković

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

d) Heritage


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

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

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

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

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

e) Music Festivals


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What is Croatia famous for? Music festivals © Khris Cowley

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

f) Plitvice Lakes and natural heritage


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

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

2) Football


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

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

Sports in general are what is Croatia known for

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

3) Zagreb


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

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

4) Olive oil


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What is Croatia famous for? Olive oil

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

5) There was a war here


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

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

6) Wine


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

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

7) Croatian produce


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

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

Truffles


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What is Croatia known for? Truffles © Donatella Paukovic

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

Vegeta


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What is Croatia known for? Vegeta

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

Chocolate


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

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

Beer


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

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

8) Innovation


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

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

9) Being poor


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What is Croatia famous for? Being poor. Yikes!

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

10) People want to live in Croatia


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

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

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

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

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

Gastronomy


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

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

Coffee


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

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

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

Handball, music

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Sunday, 31 January 2021

Works Underway on Modern Football Stadium in Vukovar

January 31, 2021 - Works are currently underway for a modern football stadium in Vukovar, a project worth slightly more than 12.3 million kuna.

Vecernji List reports that in the Vukovar area, works are underway on several capital projects, and one of them is the construction of the city stadium. It is a stadium located on the outskirts of the city center, the construction of which will give sports fans and recreationists essential content. According to information from the City, the project envisions building a public building for sports and recreation purposes, which will consist of grandstands with ancillary rooms on the ground floor and an administrative part.

As part of the project, new parking spaces will be built, of which 10 will be indoor parking spaces for cars and two bus parking spaces, and 24 outdoor parking spaces. The basic idea in creating the conceptual design was to combine sports content for professional activity and recreation in a modern and contemporary way. The focus was placed on the building of the sports facility, and it was given the most importance, i.e., the stands with 186 seats as well as an additional auxiliary playground on the west side and the newly renovated football field.

"The city services made an effort to design a modern stadium intended for both professional sports and recreational sports for citizens. Our goal is to create ideal conditions not only for the youngest but also for anyone who wants to come to the stadium for a walk and run, and access will be provided 24 hours a day. During the night, there will be public lighting at the stadium so that people who come at night for physical activities will be able to feel safe," said Mayor Ivan Penava.

The value of the works is slightly more than 12.3 million kuna, including VAT, and the project is co-financed by the European Union.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.  

Friday, 29 January 2021

Vukovar Hospital War Doctor Treats Earthquake-Affected For Free

January 29, 2021 – Dr. Sadika Biluš had the chance to leave the war-era Vukovar Hospital as bombs increasingly rained down on the town. She refused and stayed to treat hundreds of wounded people before the hospital was captured and she was sent to a concentration camp. Today, she offers free treatment to all those from earthquake-affected Sisak-Moslavina at her polyclinic in nearby Velika Gorica

'I went through the war in Vukovar and the (concentration) camps, I know what suffering is,' Dr. Sadika Biluš told journalist Lada Novak Starčević in an interview with Jutarnji List, 'so I treat people from Banija for free.'

'I am not a cook, nor a roofer, but I know how to treat people, wrote Dr. Bilus on social media immediately after the earthquake of 29 December 2020 and opened the doors of her clinic for free to all those from the earthquake-affected area. 'So I offer free internal medicine examinations and therapy to the victims of the earthquake.'

These days Dr. Sadika Biluš owns and runs the Tomi Polyclinic for Internal Medicine and Gynecology in Velika Gorica. Her doctor's surgery may lie some 60 kilometres to the north of the earthquake's epicentre, but many polyclinics in the affected area are still not back up-and-running. The main hospital for the region, in Sisak, was heavily damaged and its gynecology department completely destroyed. Specialist examinations, such as the ones performed by Dr. Biluš, are currently near non-existent in the affected area. Dr. Biluš's own premises received damage during the fierce tremor.

croatia_hrvatska_velika_gorica_0003.jpgVelika Gorica, where Dr. Biluš's Tomi Polyclinic for Internal Medicine and Gynecology is located © Croatian National Tourist Board

It would come as no surprise to learn the earthquake had not put Dr. Biluš off her stride. She has experienced worse. During Croatia's war for independence, she was working in Vukovar hospital. The town was the most heavily damaged place in Croatia by artillery fire. As the number of shells increased and the guns drew nearer, she was offered the opportunity to leave Vukovar hospital. She refused. She stayed behind to look after the injured and the dying. The cost of this action was her freedom. When Vukovar hospital was captured, Dr. Biluš was taken to a concentration camp. She was released at the end of 1991.

'After Vukovar and all the torment we went through, I did not cry,' Dr. Bilus recounted to the journalist. Following the earthquake, she was deeply moved by seeing on TV all of the help offered immediately to those in the earthquake area. 'But now I cried terribly and out of emotion because that accident encouraged people to do so much good.'

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

PHOTOS: The 21 Most Incredible Croatia Castles To See Year-Round

November 25, 2020 – Serving as Christian Europe's defensive front line for centuries, incredible Croatia castles can be found throughout the country. Whether on a summertime day trip, set next to the spectacular backdrop of autumn's colours or postcard-pretty covered in winter's snow, here are 21 of the best to visit year-round

Castle Mailáth
DM-DvoracZdenko Brkanić.jpg© Zdenko Brkanić

Mailáth Castle is located in Donji Miholjac in Osijek-Baranja County, just next to the Hungarian border in Slavonia. It's well worth making the trip to see this wonderful building, not least because it sits right next door to an earlier grandiose structure. After being gifted lands for services in fighting the Ottomans, in 1818 the Prandau family built its first castle in Miholjac in the Baroque style. But, in 1901 its grandeur was supplanted by Mailáth castle. Built over four floors, its decorative chimneys, spacious terraces with neoclassical balustrades and wrought iron fences identify its debt to the Tudor style. The building has some 50 rooms over around 3500 square meters. Its interior was decorated with hunting trophies from Count Mailáth's travels in Asia and Africa, set above oak panelling which lines every room. In recent times, the building was used to house city authorities, but considerable effort has been made to restore the building and open it up to visitors. Its grand hall now acts as an impressive host to events such as classical music performances, as do the immediate grounds in warmer months. These grounds extend out into a 16-hectare public park which was curated by the family and bequeathed to the town inhabitants. This is now one of the few Croatia castles to have a nationally certified horticultural monument attached. It has been classed as such since 1961.
croatia_slavonija_donji_miholjac_004NTB.jpgDonji Miholjac in Slavonija gives you two adjoined Croatia castles, Mailáth (right) and Castle Prandau (left)  © Croatian National Tourist Board

Maruševec Castle
AnyConv.com__2880px-Dvorac_Marusevec3MaGa.jpeg© MaGa

During its lifetime, the extraordinary Maruševec castle in Varaždin County has passed through a confusingly long series of different owners, many of whom have left a significant mark on the building. The original structure dates back to 1547 and it was privately owned from that time up until 1945 when it was seized by Yugoslavian Communist authorities from the Pongratz family. They fled to Austria, having established with zeal the splendid gardens that surround the building. In the first years after independence, the building was used by a section of the Protestant church in Croatia. However, over the last two decades the government began the process of returning many such Croatia castles to their rightful owners and Maruševec Castle now once again lies in the hands of the Pongratz family. Needless to say, the grounds are once again superb.
slika-dvoracOpćina Maruševec.jpg© Općine Maruševec

Prandau Normann in Valpovo
dvorac-air1greenroom.jpeg© Greenroom Festival Valpovo

The pictures don't do it justice. Prandau Normann in Valpovo is one of the Croatia castles that has to be visited to get a true sense of its size, significance and history. One of the oldest and largest castles in Slavonia, it sits within a small area of greenery upon which the surrounding settlement closely encroaches. Some trees at the edges of these thin grounds partially obstruct the view. However, stretching out from the southern ends of this green island is a glorious public park of 25 hectares. Formerly part of the hunting grounds of the castle inhabitants, it was designed as a grandiose garden in the English style and has been declared a national monument of natural and horticultural architecture. The castle sections now form a three-walled complex with an inner courtyard. The original triangular-shaped fortress and the shorter, round tower date back to the beginning of the 15th century at which time it was surrounded by defensive moats. During the first half of the 18th century, the Prandau family rebuilt one side of the medieval structure with the Baroque palace which now lies at the front. Its tower is 37 metres high. Badly damaged in a fire on New Year's Eve in 1801, it stylings were somewhat altered when reconstructed. A true giant, it has over 60 rooms and, together with the inner courtyard, has an impressive ground space of 4031 m2. The Museum of the Valpovo Region was established here as far back as 1956. Its continuous running was halted by both war and reconstruction work, but it is once again open. Although the building is of significant national importance, it is to the immense credit of its forward-thinking governance that the building and grounds have in recent years been utilised for public events, including very contemporary youth culture happenings such as the Reunited Festival. and Greenroom Festival
Dvorac_Prandau-Normann_dvorac_iz_zrakaRoko Poljak.jpg© Roko Poljak

Ozalj Castle
ozalj-stari-grad-za-web-ivo-biocina_0NTB.jpg© Ivo Biočina / Croatian National Tourist Board

Around 60 kilometres from Zagreb, in Karlovac County, Ozalj is one of the most picturesque Croatia castles. It has simply everything you would want from a visit to a castle – an impressive approach, towers, defensive walls, surrounding waters, incredible views and a fascinating amalgam of different buildings. Sat spectacularly on a cliff above the Kupa river and the surrounding settlement of Ozalj, this castle was once the entire town. First mentioned as a free royal city as far back as 1244, the walled medieval stronghold was gradually built to become a castle in the 18th century. It is a building of great national significance as the site of the Zrinski–Frankopan conspiracy which, although unsuccessful, is an important marker in the country's struggle for autonomy. Between them, the Croatian families of Zrinski and Frankopan owned the castle from 1398 until 1671, when both family lines were severed with the execution of the conspirators by the ruling Habsburgs. The effects were felt throughout the region – some 2000 nobles were also arrested, the Protestant church was suppressed, Habsburg troops attacked commoners in both Croatia and Hungary and the position of Ban of Croatia, formerly held by Nikola Zrinski, would be left completely vacant for the next 60 years. The conspirators were executed on April 30 which became the city day of Ozalj in remembrance.
AnyConv.com__2880px-Zugang_Schloss_Ozalj1BernBartsch.jpeg© Bern Bartsch

Trakošćan Castle
TURISTIČKA ZAJEDNICA OPCINA BEDNJA.jpg© Turistička zajednica Trakošćan - Općina Bednja

One of the most-recognisable Croatia castles, from its surroundings Trakošćan looks like something out of a fairytale. Its position on a hill near Krapina, Varaždin County, not far from the Slovenia border, was obviously made for defensive reasons. But, today, it serves to bolster this romantic vista. Trakošćan dates back to the 13th century, although local legend says that it stands on the site of an even earlier fortress. Nobody really knows who commissioned it nor who originally lived there. In 1556 the castle came under state control, but just 18 years later it was gifted to the Drašković family. In the second half of the 18th century, the castle was abandoned. The Drašković family resumed interest in the building in the middle of the 19th century, renovating the house and constructing the surrounding gardens which are such a highlight to visit today. The family lived there until 1944 when the Drašković's were forced to emigrate to Austria and the state assumed ownership. It is today owned by the Republic of Croatia, has been renovated considerably and holds a permanent museum.
TrakoscanCroatiaTZ.jpg© Croatian National Tourist Board

Trsat Castle
Domagoj BlaževićTrsatKvarner.jpg© Domagoj Blažević / Primorje-Gorski Kotar County (Kvarner)

The city of Rijeka rises sharply from sea-level into nearby heights, the cause of its above-average rainfall. The cityscape vista is superb from some balconies of the residential tower blocks located in these overlooking neighbourhoods. But, the best view of Rijeka is from Trsat. The Rječina valley separates you from these competing high rises, the river itself immediately below you, scoring a path through an industrial landscape, to it right the old city and beyond, Kvarner Bay. Sitting 150 metres above Rijeka, it's thought that the castle lies on top of an earlier Illyrian and Roman fortress. Today, Trsat is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Rijeka, the grounds containing a restaurant and its courtyard serving as a wonderful backdrop for cultural events like theatre and music concerts.
5.-TRSAT_gradina-trsat01-pogled-domagoj-blazevic-19.07-724x500.jpg© Domagoj Blažević / Primorje-Gorski Kotar County (Kvarner)

Stara Sušica Castle
DomagojBlaeviStaraKvarner.jpeg© Domagoj Blažević / Primorje-Gorski Kotar County (Kvarner)

One of the most bewildering Croatia castles, the fantastical architecture of Stara Sušica comes from a series of restorations and additions that have taken place over many generations. It's far from being the biggest of Croatia castles, but it's certainly one of the most intriguing. By prior arrangement, you can actually stay in this castle. It has previously hosted organised groups of fantasy role-playing games, the mysterious-looking building acting as the perfect backdrop to wild imagination. This architectural gem of a castle is located 60 kilometres to the east of the city of Rijeka. It sits in the shadows of tall coniferous trees, just outside of the town of Stara Sušica, near Ravna Gora.
Stara_Susica_0004Domagoj BlaževićKvarner.jpg© Domagoj Blažević / Primorje-Gorski Kotar County (Kvarner)

Veliki Tabor
veliki-tabor-optimizirano-za-web-ivo-biocina_1600x900_0Croatia.jpeg© Ivo Biočina / Croatian National Tourist Board

The sizeable Veliki Tabor is another of the Croatia castles that sits atop a hill for defensive purposes. It dominates a beautiful rural landscape of agricultural land, gently rising hills and vineyards near Desinić in Zagorje, less than an hour's drive from Zagreb. Dating from the middle of 15th century, most of the castle was built by the Ráttkay family from Hungary, in whose ownership it remained until 1793. The castle is said to be haunted. Legend says a local woman was murdered upon false accusations of witchcraft and entombed within the actual castle walls, the ulterior motive being that the castle's then-owner did not wish his son to marry her. Her voice is said to still inhabit the building. Today, owned by the state, it holds a permanent museum and is a popular tourist attraction. It plays host to events of significance to the local culture, such as food festivals and also nationally recognised happenings, such as its famous short film festival.
veliki-tabor-web-ivo-biocina-1CROATIA.jpg© Ivo Biočina / Croatian National Tourist Board

Lužnica Castle
Luznica2ZCTY.png© Zagreb County Tourist Board

Set back from the main road and obscured by ancient trees, the immediate approach to Lužnica is impressive. Surrounded by neatly trimmed lawns, you can reach the castle from several different directions, the pathways leading to the building bordered by low-lying hedges. At the end of these sits a baroque castle that shares its name with the nearby settlement, just a few miles to the west of Zaprešić in Zagreb County. The castle was built in 1791 as a residence for a noble family but, since 1925, the building has been owned by the Convent of St. Vincent de Paul, with nuns thereafter using the building as a residential and care home for elderly members of the sisterhood. From 1935 the building was used for the care of poor children, and then for educational classes organised by the nuns. In 2005, a purpose-built modern property was constructed to assume the residential care of retired nuns, allowing greater public access to the castle. The nuns still hold spiritual and educational programs there and the castle also hosts secular conferences and seminars.
LuznicZaagrebCounty.jpg© Zagreb County Tourist Board

Krašić
KrasicZgC.jpg© Zagreb County Tourist Board

So well suited to its contemporary purpose as a church does Krašić look that it's difficult to imagine that it was ever anything other. But, this complex of buildings originally dates back much further than the hundred or so years it has served as such. It was first built in the Gothic style of the late 14th century and later reconstructed in the Baroque style, only beginning its current role after reconstructions that took place between 1911 to 1913. It is now the Parish church of the Holy Trinity, serving the population of Krašić, which is located near Jastrebarsko, about 50 km southwest of Zagreb. Enthusiastic hunters of Croatia castles who are visiting Zagreb and Zagreb County will also not want to miss the nearby Pribić, which is located just three kilometres east of Krašić. It is the site of an incredible triumvirate of spectacular neighbouring buildings, two castles and one Greek Catholic church.
krasic08RegionalDevelopment agencyZagrebCounty.jpg© Regional Development Agency Zagreb County

Pejačević Castle
Dvorac_Pejačević._NašiceSamir Budimčić.jpg© Samir Budimčić

Though they were natives of Slavonia, eastern Croatia, the name of the Pejačević family extends significantly further than the borders of Pannonia or modern-day Croatia. Their name dates back to at least the 14th century, during which time some of them settled in north-west Bulgaria. Alongside Bosnians and Germans attracted to that region by mining, these immigrants were responsible for bringing Catholicism to the area around Chiprovtsi, the site of a famous 1688 uprising of Catholics and Orthodox Christians against the ruling Ottomans. For their services in the defence of Christian Europe, the Pejačević family were rewarded with significant lands in their native Slavonia and for centuries were very influential in the region's political, social, economic and cultural life. Pejačević Castle, Našice was the main family seat, although they have another castle in Virovitica, some 80 kilometres to the northwest, which is also called, rather confusingly, Pejačević Castle.
dvorac-velikaTZnasice.jpg© Našice Tourist Board

Stari Grad Varaždin
VarazdinZup.jpg© Turistička Zajednica Varaždinske Županije

The city of Varaždin once served as the capital of Croatia and, as its focal point, Stari Grad fortress is therefore of significant national importance. In acknowledgment, an image of the fortress used to appear on the back of the old 5 kuna bank notes, although presumably due to some printer's error, the image appeared in reverse to how it sits naturally. The building is mentioned as far back as the 12th century but was reconstructed as a Renaissance fortification in the 16th century. At the end of that century, it came into the hands of the Hungarian-Croatian family Erdödy. Today, Stari Grad holds a permanent museum and is one of the most-famous tourist attractions in a city not short of reasons to visit.
varazdin-ivo-biocina-NTZ.jpg© Ivo Biočina / Croatian National Tourist Board

Bosiljevo Castle
Dvorac,_Bosiljevo_-_panoramioKrittinskiy.jpg© Krittinskiy

Something of a bratić (cousin) to Ozalj Castle, Bosiljevo again lies in Karlovac County and was also owned by the Frankopan family. It is a sprawling structure, impressively situated on a hillside within forest land. The nature of the building and its remote location perhaps contribute to the fact that it is unrestored. However, it is still one of the Croatia castles worth visiting year-round, not least because the surrounding trees grant a spectacular backdrop that changes throughout the year's seasons. Although access is limited, you can get up close to the fascinating buildings, intricately decorated defensive walls and the towers of the complex. The earliest sections date back to at least 1344. Following its seizure by the Austrians in 1671, it passed through the hands of a series of private owners, including the Irish-born Laval Nugent von Westmeath, who started his career as a loyal soldier to Austria but finished his life in Bosiljevo as something closer to a Croatian patriot. The property was seized by Communist authorities after the Second World War, its decline beginning with its ill-purposing as a retirement home, restaurant and cheap motel between the 1960s and the 1980s when it was finally abandoned.
bosiljevoopcinacas.jpg© Općina Bosiljevo

Čakovec Castle
stari_gradcakovectz.jpg© Čakovec City Tourist Board

Situated within a sizeable park, right in the town centre of Čakovec, Međimurje, Čakovec Castle is a beast of a building. Like several Croatia castles, it is actually several buildings. Access to the park is great from all sides of the site and, this being the case, the grounds are a section of greenery much-enjoyed by residents and visitors, as are the spectacular buildings which lie at the centre. The original 13th-century fortress was built by Count Dmitri Čak, hence the town's name. Its walls form the basis of the complex's front section, behind which the 16th Century Zrinski Castle sits detached. The Zrinski castle houses Croatia's biggest museum, the Međimurje County Museum, and its courtyard plays host to cultural happenings like music concerts, theatre and gastro events. Although we call this independent structure the Zrinski Castle, they were not in fact responsible for the building's original construction, but rather rebuilt it. Also, the modern-day appearance of this palace cannot be wholly attributed to the Zrinski family, as it was severely damaged in an earthquake and rebuilt by later owners. However, this is one of the most significant of Croatia castles because it was the family seat of the Zrinski during a time in which several family members served as Ban of Croatia. As the most important man in the land, the building naturally held a similar stature.
MuseumMedimurjeCak.jpg© Museum of Međimurje, Čakovec

Feštetić Castle, Pribislavec
dvorac_festetic_01visit medimurje.jpg© Visit Međimurje

One of the most singular-looking of all Croatia castles, not least because of its unforgettable neogothic tower, Feštetić Castle in Međimurje actually pre-dates the Feštetić family who lends it their name. The original building dated back to at least the beginning of the 18th Century. Throughout its life, the structure that lay here was ravaged by war, fire and natural disasters, but we can attribute its striking neogothic stylings to the Feštetić family, whose work on the castle began in 1870. The building has been in continuous use ever since, serving at times as a retirement home and a school. It is therefore in great condition and sits in grounds that are also enjoyable upon any visit.
Feštetićvisitnorthcroatia.jpgGosh! The occasional darkened skies above Međimurje seem to suit the neogothic Feštetić Castle almost as much as do the clear blue! © Visit North Croatia

Nova Kraljevica Castle
Domagoj BlaževićKraljevicaKvarner.jpg© Domagoj Blažević / Primorje-Gorski Kotar County (Kvarner)

Located atop the start of a peninsula at the entrance to the Bay of Bakar, less than 20 kilometres east of Rijeka, Petar Zrinski started to build Nova Kraljevica in 1651. The castle has large towers at the corners of each of its four walls. They surround an inner courtyard decorated with archways on both floors. Petar's wife, Katarina Frankopan, is said to have paid close attention to its interior design and the couple spent much time within what is one of the few Croatia castles to sit upon the mainland's shoreline. The castle's main salon was decorated with gilded leather wallpaper, had marble fireplaces, floors paved with a marble mosaic and doors made of black and white marble. This spectacular and well-preserved castle also once held one of Croatia's very first museums. It is not only great to visit on foot but a spectacular sight when approached from the Adriatic by boat.
dvorac-nova-kraljevica07-atrij-domagoj-blazevic-11.07-1200x800.jpgThe ornate inner courtyard of Kraljevica Castle © Domagoj Blažević / Primorje-Gorski Kotar County (Kvarner)

Miljana Castle, near Kumrovec
DSC_0248-visitZagorje.jpg© Visit Zagorje

Though not open to spontaneous visit by the public like many of the Croatia castles on this list, you can go to the Baroque castle of Miljana near Kumrovec, Zagorje. You just have to arrange to do so in advance, as this picturesque building is undergoing gradual restoration. Miljana is impossibly pretty, as are its grounds. Three wings surround a central courtyard and striking black plaster covers the walls, periodically interspersed with white plaster ornamentation. Its construction began in the late 16th century under the Rattkay family although it was expanded and adapted several times before its last substantial remodelling in the 18th century. Its first floor has eight salons, seven of which hold frescos on the walls. These form much of the current restoration work and it promises to be incredible once the painstaking work is complete.
Miljana Castle, near KumroveKrapina Zagorje County Tourism Board.jpg© Zagreb County Tourist Board

Kutjevo Castle
dvorac-kutjevoTZK.jpeg© Tourism Board of Kutjevo

Built on the site of a much earlier monastery, Kutjevo castle still holds a wine cellar belonging to its predecessor. It dates back to the year 1232. The original buildings were destroyed by the Ottomans. After they left, the land was gifted to Zagreb canon Ivan Josip Babić in 1689 and he invited Jesuits to make a home for themselves there. They cleared the land and built the castle between 1704 till 1735. One side of the castle is a church, the other three wings have a less overtly religious feel to their architecture. They surround an inner courtyard and, beyond them stretches a large park area. It has a circular motif located centrally, around which pathways wind through the grounds and the large trees which live there. Perhaps the most striking feature of the building is its polygonal tower on which sits a bulb-shaped roof. The building is privately owned and its interior not open to spontaneous visits from the public.
Kutjevo-ParkCROATIA.jpg© Croatian National Tourist Board

Eltz Castle, Vukovar
Vukovar_Dvorac_Eltz_SKStjepkoKrehula.jpeg© Stjepko Krehula

One of the most famous, spectacular and oldest castles in Germany is called Eltz Castle. This one, located in Vukovar, eastern Croatia, is clearly something other. However, the two are connected by the same Eltz family, the descendants of which still inhabit the German castle, just as their ancestors did in the 12th Century. The family owned huge tracts of land around this section of the Danube, by far their most significant territory outside Germany, and Eltz Castle in Vukovar was their main residence until 1945, when they were expelled by the Yugoslav communist regime. The front facade is a sea of ornate baroque windows, painstakingly (but speedily) reconstructed following the building's near-complete destruction by bombing during the 1990s. Since 1968, the castle has housed the Vukovar City Museum, one of the most significant in Pannonia. It charts the history of all the peoples who have inhabited this area of the Danube and contains valuable exhibits returned to it from Zagreb, Novi Sad and Belgrade.
GradskiMuzejVuko.jpg© Gradski muzej Vukovar

Lukavec Castle, Turopolje
LukavecTZZC1.jpg© Zagreb County Tourist Board

Built on the site of a wooden fort first mentioned in 1256, could some of the wooden bridge that gives access to this castle be made of remnants of its ancestor? Maybe not, but it's nice to imagine the lineage being so palpable. This replacement structure dates from 1752 and is marked by golden plastered outer walls which contrast beautifully against white borders, the red-tiled roof and the darkened top of the main tower. In the building's courtyard sits an old cannon, this remnant of its military past perhaps surprising when you see just how well preserved and unblemished this building is. It is an integral part of the local community's cultural and social life and hosts many events.
The_Old_Town_of_Lukavec_6Zeljko.filipin.jpeg© Zeljko Filipin

Kerestinec Castle
kerestinec2-10svetaned.jpg© Grad Sveta Nedelja

The Renaissance-Baroque building in Kerestinec, Sveta Nedelja, is one of the Croatia castles that has seen much better days. Its interior remains unrestored. Its construction was started in 1565 by Petar Erdödy, then Ban of Croatia, so it would have been made to high standards and specifications. The castle was remodelled several times over the centuries and is today notable for circular towers that sit at two corners of its four wings. The central courtyard has in recent memory served as the host site to events such as a dance music festival. This may be far from its original purpose, but such events continue to breathe life into a spectacular building that perhaps otherwise would be completely abandoned.
dvorac_helikoptersvetanedelja.jpg© Grad Sveta Nedelja

All of the photos of castles in Primorje-Gorski Kotar County (Kvarner) were taken by Domagoj Blažević for the Route Of The Frankopans website, which allows visitors to trace a path through all of the former Frankopan properties in the county and is recommended reading for castle hunters

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