Archive for the ‘Croatia’ Category

Samobor

Samobor is a small croatian city located 20km west of Zagreb. It is situated along the Slovenian border between Pannonian Plain, Dinaric Mountain Range and Alpine Mountain Massif. This medieval city with baroque architecture and scenic surrounding has a long tradition in tourism – first facilities for tourists appeared here in 1810. While walking through the city you can understand why it is so popular. Covered bridges, streams and two-storey houses with red roofs make the city look beautiful. If you like sacral architecture, there are some churches in the city: the church of St. Anastasia from the 17th century and the church of St. Michael located on Stari Grad – one of the most popular places in Samobor. Also, you have to check the Samobor Museum. In addition to these attractions, just near the city there is a place worth visiting- Grgosova Spilja, a small beautiful cave consisting of two chambers.
What is more, in Samobor there is a local carnival called Samoborski fasnik. It is organized every year since 1827. People dance on the streets, wear weird costumes and say goodbye to winter. During this event for sure you will have an opportunity to try good, traditional cuisine. One of the most famous dishes there is Rudorska Groblica – cheesecake which recipe has not changed for ages. Another thing to taste is Samborskie Kremsnite – cake with custard and flaky pastry. Afterwards, do not hesitate to drink some rakija – popular alcohol produced by distillation of fermented fruits.

Hvar

Hvar is the longest croatian island located on the Adriatic Sea, between island of Vis, Brac and Korcula. It attracts visitors by its nature and the weather – Hvar enjoys the highest insolation in Croatia. It makes the island attractive even during the winter. The landscapes around Hvar are spectacular. From the south-western part of the island you can see an archipelago of small uninhabited islets. These are Pakleni Islands – well-known for beaches for nudists located there.
Hvar is rich in flora. Exotic and sweet-smelling cypress tress, plantations of figs and vineyards are located across the whole island. During the summer the area is covered by pink lavende and rosemary. The main cities of the island are as charming as another places there. The first one, situated on the south of the island is called Hvar. It was established in the 13th century by the Venetians. The city was considered as important trade center on the Adriatic Sea. Now, we can admire remains after Venetian Empire such as the town walls or fortress known as Tvrdava Spanjola which attracts visitors by the opportunity to admire the city from the top of the building. In the centre of Hvar you will find the Cathedral of St. Stephen maintained in a renaissance-baroque style and the Bishop’s Palace. There is also Arsenal – and inside it – Hvar Theatre. These are only few of numerous monuments which city can offer you. Another place worth to see is Stari Grad plain – a cultural landscape, now UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is considered as one of the oldest towns in Europe. It was first colonized by ancient Greeks in the 4th century BC.

Vis

The farthest island in Croatia – Vis – is an area of 90,3km2 with beautiful beaches, charming cities and three mountain ranges located across the whole island. The place has a turbulent history. In the past, the island was under control of Venetians, Austria, France and England. Moreover, until 1989 Vis was a military-nave base of Yugoslavia and it was closed for foreigners. But this isolation eventually turned out to be helpful for the island – the nature is not destroyed and the architecture is superbly preserved. If you search for peace and breathtaking views, this island will be perfect for you. The sea around Vis is rich in numerous types of animals such as turtles or bottlenose dolphins. There are also plenty of plants to admire – almost 300 types of herbs, olive trees and grapes which are used to make high-quality wines. The main city of the island is called Vis. It boasts of monuments from ancient times such as amphitheatre and Hellenistic cemetery or town walls which in the past were surrounding the city. There are also few fortresses – in one of them named Batarija, you will find the Museum of Vis with interesting antique art. On the western part of the island, below the mountain Hum there is another place worth seeing. It is called Komiza. This small charming village will attract you with its beaches and nice harbour with lots of old fishing boats. There is also the Fisherman’s museum located in the old Venetian tower. If you appreciate sacral architecture, you definitely have to see the church of Our Lady of Pirates and St. Nicholas Monastery from the 13th century located around the vineyards.

Lonjsko Polje Park

Lonjsko Polje Park with a total surface of 50 650 ha is the most flooded area in the basin of Danube River. It is a part of the valley between the river Sava and the Maslovacka mountain. It all had started when the Sava River began to meander and create those wet areas. The Park stands out with an abundance and diversity of flora and fauna. Forests, meadows and ponds of the park are full of rare and endangered plant and animal species such as black stork, gray and white heron, corncrake, white-tailed eagle, whiskered tern. The indigenous livestock are represented by Posavina horse and the Turopolje pig. Due to its unusual values some parts of this area are under strict protection: Krapje Dol, Rakita and Draziblato- the special ornithological reserves. The entire Park is on the List of Wetlands of International Importance (The Ramsar Convention) and on List of Important Bird Areas in Europe.
The park offers visitors the following attractions: cycling, bird watching, hiking, boating, swimming, horseback riding, and limited hunting. The most popular are villages called Krapje i Cigoc, where tourists from all over the world are coming for watching how white storks are making their nests on the rooftops. One of the greatest value in this Park are villages of regional architecture, preserved in excellent conditions. Those wooden houses were built more than two hundred years ago, without using nails. After the rest in breathtaking landscape, tourists can try delicious snacks, like paprikash with fish or venison stew and buy some souvenirs.

Jasenovac

Jasenovac represents a sad part of Croatian history. During World War II it was the largest concentration camp in Independent Croatian State, founded by the fascist Ustashe regime in August 1941.
It consisted of five sub-camps of a total area of almost 240 km². Two of the oldest camps Krapje and Brocica were canceled in November 1941. Three camps worked until the end of the war: Ciglana, Kozara and women’s camp Stara Gradiska. The camp complex also included a vast area on the other side of the Sava River near the town of Donja Gradina and a camp for children called Sisak, where about 19,000 children were killed. Since May 1942, the commander of camp was Miroslav Filipovic-Majstorovic, a former Franciscan friar, commonly known as Satan, who killed people with his bare hands. To save bullets, they also used to slit prisoners’ throats – in a “competition” in the camp at August 28, 1942 former Franciscan Petar Brzica in one day slit 1360 prisoners’ throats with a special knife called srbosjek.
The total number of victims range from tens to hundreds of thousands. The vast majority of the victims were Serbs. In the Jasenovac camp there were also imprisoned and killed Jews, Roma and Croats – Ustasha opponents. Jasenovac due to such cruelty was called the ‚Balkan Auschwitz’. It will always remain a symbol of Croatian genocide.

Marija Bistrica

Marija Bistrica is a small town, 32 kilometers away from Zagreb. But first of all it is the most important Croatian Marian shrine. The Sanctuary is visited annually by about 500 thousand pilgrims. The object of worship is the 15th century wooden statue of Our Lady. Tradition says, that the statue was originally worshiped in the chapel on the hill Vinski Vrh, 3 km from the present temple. In the face of threats of attack by the Turks in 1545 the local priest moved this mysterious figure to the church in Marija Bistrica and hid it under the choir. The search lasted until 1588, when according to legend a bright light from the church choir indicated the figure’s hiding place. Second threat from the Turks caused the need to re-hide it. Again, it was found in 1684 and was put on the altar. From that moment pilgrims began to arrive to the shrine.
The present church was built in the years 1879-1882 in the neo-Renaissance style. During construction, a fire destroyed the church with the exception of the main altar and the statue. Around the church there are cloisters, decorated with paintings of 22 miraculous events associated with the figure. In 1921 the Archbishop of Zagreb announced the figure as Our Lady Queen of Croats. In 1987, the Vatican decided that a formal celebration of the Bistricka Our Lady will be July 13.
On the hill behind the sanctuary in the years 1941-1990 there were built Stations of the Cross. In the center of town, there are numerous stalls selling souvenirs, wooden toys, honey and devotional items.

Varazdin

Varazdin is a small city, situated 80 km away from Zagreb. It lies a little outside from the main tourist routes, but still it has an easy access by major roads. An interesting fact is that here you can find a huge number of bicycles, which are a most popular way of transport for the residents. This city is mostly famous for its baroque architecture. There are held great cultural, artistic and sports events during the year. Therefore, everyone will find there something suitable for him. The area also attracts tourists, because it is famous for its excellent wines, which are produced in the nearby vineyards.
City center is the Tomislavov trg. There is a town hall and the oldest building in the city – the Ritz house, with a wide roof and magnificent arcades. On the opposite side of the Square you can see the 18th century Draskovic palace. This was the office of the Croatian ban at a time when Varazdin was Croatian capital. Going west of Tomislav trg, you can get to the next square – Franjevacki trg. There is the Franciscan Church, with its beautiful stucco. Lovers of architecture will enjoy the most beautiful rococo Patacic palace. Varazdin offers also unusual Entomological Museum, which presents the life of insects. The most interesting is the exposure of insects living underground.
In the north-western part of the city there is Stari Grad fortress, built in the 16th century. Now it is a museum, where you can see the collection of historical, archaeological and ethnographic exhibits of Varazdin and surroundings. One room is dedicated entirely to the art of the Baroque, with spectacular Baroque organ and furniture carved in ivory. Close to the Stari Grad there is a cemetery, protected as a valuable natural monument and a beautiful example of garden architecture. It is a romantic park, planted with different species of trees and flowers, with lots of paths between the graves.
In Varazdin there are held two famous festivals. The Spancirfest last from the end of August to September. It is „the street walking festival”, because the whole city becomes one big stage, on which are presented the Croatian traditions. Many performers, musicians and artists entertain the people. At the stalls you can buy typical craft products, traditional food and souvenirs. Second festival is the Varazdin’s Baroque Evenings. It honors baroque music. Concerts are held in the palaces and churches of the old town.

Zagreb

Zagreb is the capital city of the Republic of Croatia, situated along the Sava river. With over 800 thousands inhabitants it is the largest city in country. Currently it is the heart of Croatian culture, art, sport and science, which makes it an ideal place for tourist exploration.
Zagreb has developed from a combination of two ancient settlements: Kaptol and Gradec. Nowadays, Kaptol and Gradec represent the oldest medieval city. They are situated on the hill of Gornji Grad (Upper Town). Lower, south of the Gornji Grad, there is Donji Grad (Lower Town). This is the center of modern architecture and the location of the major business or financial institutions in the country. It was built in the late 19th and early 20th century. It is a very modern district, with wide streets, squares and buildings in a style reminiscent of the past. In a minute you can get from the Gornji to the Donji Grad by one of the shortest funicular. An alternative way to reach Gornji Grad are wooden stairs, located next to it. You can clearly see the difference between the old town and the industrial part of the city, which has become the actual center of Zagreb.
In the Gornji Grad the most popular is St. Mark’s Square with a St. Mark’s church from the 13th century. The most interesting part of the church is its magnificent roof, covered on the outside with the symbols of Zagreb and former Triune Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia. In Gradec it is worth to see Lotrscak Tower. This is a five-storey city tower with an additional dome, where there is a popular observation deck. The symbol of the Kaptol is the Roman Catholic Zagreb Cathedral with two neo-Gothic bell towers. It can be seen from many points in the city.
Donji Grad is best known for Josip Jelacic Square with a statue of Josip Jelacic on a horse. It is a popular meeting place. You can also visit Zagreb’s longest street – Ilica, the Archaeological Museum, the Ethnographic Museum and many art galleries. On the Marshal Tito Square there is thr representative, neo-baroque building of Croatian National Theater, built in 1895. The best ending for a walk through Donji Grad will be a visit to the Botanical Garden. Currently, there are almost 10 thousands plant species.
Zagreb is also famous for its lake Jarun, commonly called the ‚Zagreb Sea’. It offers a variety of sports, like swimming, skating or cycling on paths leading along the lake. On the north of Zagreb there are Medvednica mountains. There tourists can admire the ruins of a Medvedgrad castle with dungeons and a chapel, and also soldiers monument, where Croats worship their national heroes.

Brac

Brac is the largest Croatian island located west of Makarska, south-east of Split. It is separated from the mainland by the Brac Canal.
Brac is one of the most picturesque islands in the Adriatic. It is famous of their mountain range landscape, crystal clear water and beautiful beaches – including Zlatni Rat which is a perfect place for both sunbathing and windsurfing fans. The main city of the Brac island is Supetar, an administrative, economic, cultural and tourist center. It is the entrance gate to the island.
Another attraction is Vidova Gora – the highest peak with numerous caves scattered among the rocks. The interesting detail is that the famous marble which was used in the construction of Diocletian’s Palace in Split and the White House in Washington, comes from Brac Island.

Biokovo National Park

Biokovo National Park is one of the most beautiful spots on the Adriatic coast.
Mountain Biokovo above Makarska, rising to over 1400 meters high (the highest peak Sv Jure 1762m) and makes an unforgettable impression for the multitude of tourists visiting this region of Dalmatia.
Biokovo has some unique geomorphological forms, plants, animal species and natural beauty.
At different altitudes and in different conditions various forms of vegetation have developed, from the high-altitude typically Mediterranean. In the Biokovo National Park tourists can see the unique landscapes and rocky formations. Biokowo NP offers a variety of educational and geotouristic paths for adults and children.