This is a story about a land of a thousand islands, her magical nature and rich heritage, her great Men whose great deeds have forever etched the name of Croatia in large letters on the map of the world. This is a story about a land whose beauties have been celebrated since ancient times. From Cassiodorus, who wrote of the divine life led by Patricians on her shores, to Dante, who wrote his immortal verses, enthralled by the epic scenes of the blue expanse, and all the way to George Bernard Shaw, who found his paradise on Earth right here. Croatia has always been a place of true inspiration.
A land whose rich cultural heritage is discovered not only from within the walls of numerous museums, galleries and churches, many of which today, as zero category monuments are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, but also in that magical place on the Mediterranean, where even the shortest stroll becomes a journey down a staircase thousands of years old, which takes one through a history that is at the same time turbulent, exciting and glorious.
With as many as seven cultural phenomena – The Festivity of Saint Blaise, lace-making in Lepoglava, Hvar and Pag, the bell ringers from the Kastav region, the Hvar Procession Za Križem, (‘following the Cross’), two-part singing in the Istrian scale, in Istria and Hrvatsko Primorje, the spring procession of ‘Ljelje’ and traditional manufacture of wooden toys in the Hrvatsko zagorje region, Croatia is among the countries with the most protected intangible cultural heritage elements, recorded on the UNESCO List.
Welcome to Croatia! A land whose rich cultural heritage is not discovered only from within the walls of numerous museums, galleries and churches, many of which today, as zero category monuments, are included in a part of the UNESCO World Heritage List, but much more in that magical place on the Mediterranean, where even the shortest stroll becomes a journey down a staircase thousands of years old which takes one through a history that is at the same time turbulent, exciting and glorious. Whether walking the intricate grid of narrow white stone streets and alleys, or revelling in the teeming life of the port towns of Istria, Kvarner or Dalmatia, or climbing the green serpentines of Central Croatia to the fairy-like fortresses and castles, each step is an ever fresh experience, made special by the fact that on her territory as many as four cultural circles meet, intertwine and complement one another – west, east, Central European and the southern spirit of the Mediterranean. Croatia is a land of urban culture which numbers more cities than any other part of the Mediterranean.
If you are interested in the days of antiquity, you should start from the Roman amphitheatre in Pula, through Zadar and its forum – the largest excavated forum on the eastern shores of the Adriatic – and then to the magnificent palace of Emperor Diocletian in Split. Walk through time, from the pre-Romanesque Church of St. Domnius in Zadar dating from the 9th century, to the world of the Romanesque that is the magical monument city of Trogir, or the islands of Krk and Rab. Follow the Gothic period in Zagreb, Pazin, or, for instance, the town of Ston on the Pelješac peninsula. Discover the Renaissance in Osor on the island of Cres, Šibenik cathedral, the islands of Hvar and Korčula, and finally, the one and only Dubrovnik. The towns of Varaždin, Bjelovar and Vukovar glow with the splendour of the Baroque, while the heritage of the 19th century is at its best in Rijeka, Osijek and, of course, in downtown Zagreb.
Croatia is one of the ecologically best preserved parts of Europe. It is a land where the hues of the sunny and warm Mediterranean happily blend with the tranquillity and freshness of mountains and the gentle sway of the golden plains of Pannonia. A land of truly divine inspiration that has delighted many of the world’s prominent men of letters. A rare European landscape which boasts as many as eight national parks in so small an area!
With Risnjak, Paklenica, the Plitvice Lakes and Northern Velebit in the mountainous area, and with the Kornati Archipelago, the island of Mljet, the Brijuni Archipelago and the Krka waterfalls in the coastal area, Croatia is indeed a jewel of the primeval beauty of nature. Adding to that two arboretums, one in Trsteno, near Dubrovnik, and Opeka, near Vinica, numerous historical parks and protected nature parks, it is indeed a green land, with as many as 4300 plant and as many animal species.
Do not delay: sail the azure blue waters of the Adriatic and discover the island which is one of the last habitats of the griffon vulture in Europe. For dedicated nature lovers in Croatia you can put to sea with an adopted dolphin or, if you are particularly lucky, encounter the mysterious and rare Mediterranean monk seal. Whatever you decide to do, you will find that this is a place where the colours of nature are at their warmest and fullest.
The continental cuisine is typical for its early proto-Slavic roots and more recent contacts with established schools of gastronomy – Hungarian, Viennese, and Turkish. Meat products, freshwater fish and vegetables dominate.
The coastal region is characterized by the influences of the Greeks, Romans, Illyrians and later Mediterranean cuisines – Italian and French. It features many seafood specialties (squid, cuttlefish, octopus, shrimp, lobster…) prepared in various ways, olive oil, prosciutto, various vegetables, Dalmatian wines such as Babić, Malvasia, Prosecco and Vrbnik Žlahtina, and various liqueurs like the famous Maraschino.
In 2008, the national culinary team participated for the first time in the world encounter of chefs and pastry chefs, the Culinary Olympics held in Erfurt, Germany, and won the bronze medal.