Croatia extends from the foothills of the Julian Alps in the north-west and the Pannonian Plain in the east, over the Dinara mountain range in its central region, to the Adriatic coast in the south.
Area: 56,542 km2, with an additional 31,067 km2 of territorial waters.
Capital Zagreb: 779.145 inhabitants - the administrative, cultural, academic and communication centre of the country.
Length of coast: 5,835 km - including 4,058 km of island, islet and reef coastline.
Number of islands, islets and reefs: 1,185. The largest islands are those of Krk and Cres. There are 67 inhabited islands.
Northern Croatia has a continental climate; Central Croatia has a semi-highland and highland climate, while the Croatian coast has a Mediterranean climate. Winter temperatures range from -1 to 30°C in the continental region, -5 to 0°C in the mountain region and 5 to 10°C in the coastal region. Summer temperatures range from 22 to 26°C in the continental region, 15 to 20°C in the mountain region and 26 to 30°C in the coastal region.
Population: The majority of the population are Croats. National minorities include Serbs, Moslems, Slovenes, Italians, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks, and others.
Official language and alphabet: Croatian language and Latin alphabet.
Religions: The majority of the population are Roman Catholics, and in addition there are a number of those of Orthodox faith, as well as Muslims, and Christians of other denominations.
The Adriatic sea got its name from an ancient port of the same name. The Adriatic spans from the Balkan to the Apennine peninsula. The part belonging to the Republic of Croatia is the east coast which extends all the way from Prevlaka in the south to cape Savudrija in the west, including all islands, islets and cliffs along the coast, and the archipelago of Palagruza (the number of islands, islets and cliffs is more than 1700). This is a unique area in Europe for cruising with motor boats, speedboats, or sailboats, but also for enjoying the underwater world.
The shallowest part of our sea is in Istria, where the depth does not exceed 50 metres. From Pula, the seabed mildly drops, making a long, narrow valley which extends from Zirje towards Italy which is called Jabucka kotlina. The biggest depth there is about 240 metres. From Jabucka kotlina, the bottom rises to Palagruza reef where the biggest depth is 130 metres. Towards the south, the bottom drops steeply towards the Juznojadranska dolina, where the biggest measured depth is about 1,300 metres.
Seabed: The appearance of the underwater relief is the consequence of tectonic movements, abrasion or erosion which were active several million years ago, in times when certain parts of the seabed were land or the coastal area. Uneven areas on the bottom are constantly reduced by sedimentation of detritus from the land. That process is slow, but constant.
Tides: In the Adriatic, the high and low tides have relatively small amplitudes. In the southern part, the difference is rarely above some forty centimetres, while in the northern part it is somewhat bigger, so that it comes to 1 metre in Istria and the Gulf of Trieste. In some narrow channels and bays, the high tide can grow considerably during a strong sirocco. That phenomenon is characteristic for big and deep bays of the southern Adriatic. The tides are of a mixed type, which means that their rhythm is semidiurnal during the new and full moon, and of a daily type during the first and the last quarter. Their amplitudes are very irregular.
Sea Currents: Sea currents occur under the influence of winds, the difference in pressure, temperature, and the differences in salinity. With respect to the direction, they can be horizontal or vertical. There are also bottom currents which appear as the consequence of moving of water from warmer areas to colder ones, during which the surface layer gets cold and descends towards the seabed. Currents are weakly observable in the Adriatic.The speed of currents changes in particular areas, but it also depends on time periods. The average speed of currents is about 0.5 knots, but they can also reach the speed of 4 knots.
Salinity of Sea: The total quantity of salt dissolved in one kilogram of sea water is called salinity, which is usually expressed in grams and as the permillage. The salinity of the Adriatic Sea is 38.30 per mill averagely, i.e. there is 38.30 g of salt dissolved in 1 kg of water. In the northern part, the salinity is somewhat lower than in the middle and southern part because of the influence of the Po River.
Sea Temperature: The Adriatic Sea has a very marked annual change of the surface temperature. The average annual temperature is 11°C. During the winter, the sea is the coldest and the surface temperature is about 7°C; very seldom, it can drop below that too. In the spring, the sea becomes warmer, and the surface temperature rises to 18°C. In the summer the surface of the sea reaches a very high temperature, of up to 22 to 25°C, and in the southern Adriatic and Istria up to 27°C. In the Adriatic, thermoclines, i.e. parts of the water column of the same temperature, are very well distinguished. The thermocline is most evident during the summer, and, in the winter, the isothermal process arises, i.e. equaling of the temperature throughout the water column. In the summer, we can notice the first thermocline at the depth of 3 to 5 metres, the next one is at about 12 metres, and yet another one at 18 metres, while below 30 metres the temperature is mostly constant throughout the year.
Waves in the Adriatic: Waves occur primarily as the consequence of the blowing of winds. The bigger the reach, i.e. the surface across which the wind blows, the higher the waves will be. Their strength depends on the configuration and the exposure of the coast. In that way, mixing of the surface layer with water from the deep is enabled, and the interaction between the atmosphere and the sea. We distinguish the crest and the trough of a wave. The length of the wave is the distance between two troughs. Most often, heights of waves in the Adriatic are between 0.5 and 1.5 metres, and they very rarely exceed 5 metres.
Climate: The climate at the Adriatic is typically a Mediterranean one, with mild rainy winters, and hot and dry summers. The air temperature changes depending on the area. Thus, summer temperatures in July will be about 34°C in the northern part, while in the southern part they will rise even to 38°C. In the winter, the coldest temperatures are noticed in the northern Adriatic (up to -16°C), while they will not have exceeded 6°C in the southern part.
Winds: At the Adriatic Sea, the bora, sirocco and north-western wind blow most often.
Bora: Bora (Cro.: bura) is a dry, cold downward wind blowing in bursts from the north-northeast to the east-northeast direction. The direction in which the wind blows is mostly influenced by the configuration of the shore. The strength of bora is explained by the existence of warm air over the surface of the sea, and a cold layer of air above mountain ranges in the littoral, which cause a strong streaming due to equating of the pressure. Cold air tends to fill the void which occurs due to the rising of the warm (lighter) air from the sea surface. Bora blows mostly in the winter. In the summer, it usually lasts for a day or several hours, while, in the winter, it can blow as long as 14 days.
Sirocco: Sirocco (Cro.: jugo, siroko or silok) is a warm and moist wind which blows from the direction east-southeast to south-southwest. Its consequences are high waves and rain. Sirocco is a characteristic wind for the southern Adriatic, where it blows longer and stronger than in the northern part. In the summer, it usually blows as long as 3 days, and in the winter even as long as 3 weeks. The signs of the oncoming sirocco are the calm at the sea, weak changeable winds, dimness of the horizon, the increase of the temperature and moisture, and the gradual decrease of the pressure. Waves from the direction of the southeast become bigger.
Landward Breeze: The landward breeze (Cro.: maestral, maestral, smorac) is a daily, thermic wind blowing from the direction of the northwest, and it occurs as the consequence of the difference in the speed of warming up of the land and the sea. It is present from the spring to the autumn, and, during the day, it often changes the direction of blowing. The landward breeze is more present in the southern Adriatic than in the northern Adriatic, and it starts to blow earlier there.
Stiff Breeze: The stiff breeze (Cro.: burin) is a wind blowing contrary to the landward breeze. It blows during the night from the direction of the north, north-east in the northern Adriatic, and in the southern Adriatic, from the east or south-east. It is the strongest before the dawn, and after that it stops soon.
Data About Weather: Weather forecasts are made by the State Hydrometeorological Institute, and they can be heard on VHF frequencies of coastal radio stations and harbor master's offices. They are also broadcast on FM stations or at the end of the news or within broadcasts for seamen. Harbor master's offices constantly send weather reports and warnings on their VHF operating channels, in four languages. It is possible to get forecasts with the presentation of the synoptical situation in all the marinas and harbor offices.
Nautical Radio Service and Communications Service
The whole of the Croatian coast is covered by radio communications rather well. The radio service for protection of human lives and safety of navigation is provided by Plovput from Split, through radio stations Split and Dubrovnik, which cover the southern Adriatic, and Rijeka, which covers the northern part of our sea.
According to the standards of the GMDSS system (Global Maritime Distress and Safety System), the channel for automated receipt of digitalized distress calls is the channel 70, after which the communication is transferred to the operating channel of the coastal station, i.e. a harbor master's office (16 or 10). GMDSS system has been in use since 1 st February 1999, and on the present VHF channel for distress calls, the channel 16, constant listening will be possible still for some more time.
For a direct call to a harbor master's office, the channel 10 is used.
In Croatia, there are three commercial systems of wireless telephony.
For help dial 112 from your mobile phone.
Preservation of the Adriatic
Aside from the rich cultural heritage, diverse natural resources and attractions characterize the Adriatic. Nature is specially protected according to the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia. The state body with the special task of preserving nature is the Government Board for the preservation of nature.
The coastal region holds a special place, and therefore, there is a systematic policy of the preservation of nature through urban planning and managing of the sustainable development.
The institutes for research of the sea in Rovinj, Split and Dubrovnik carry out continuos biological, ecological and chemical research of the Adriatic. The project for the development of islands was recently introduced and should be an incentive for the development of our islands.
Except for the governmental bodies, there is also a whole range of associations which, through their programs and activities, help to preserve natural resources. Croatian biological and Croatian ecological society carry out and support research projects of the Adriatic and its underwater area.
There is also the project of the Good dolphin research in cooperation with the Tethy Institute from Milan and An Association Mediterranean Monk Seal which examines research of the areas which used to be inhabited by this sea mammal, Group of the friends of nature 'Our Lovely' who also work on the Blue flag project, Green flag and Eco School with the primary task of educating younger generations about ecological matters.
Life in the sea
Various animals and plants live in the Adriatic. We can distinguish two types of habitats: the plegic area or the area of the open sea where two big groups of organisms live plankton, that is to say, all organisms floating in the sea, and nektons or real swimmers, all organisms which can actively move around. The group of benthos, or life at the bottom of the sea, includes all organisms, which are constantly or occasionally connected to the sea bottom.
In the water mass between the mentioned areas we can distinguish different belts or steps with different characteristics:
Supralythoral, which is the part, exposed to the spraying of the sea,Mediolythoral which is the area of the high and the low tide. Then comes infralitoral or the area of photophilic algae and, which in the Adriatic expands from the border of the low tide to 30-50 meters, Abyssal which reaches 50 to 200 meters, Hadal or the deep sea area, which extends more than 200 meters in depth.
Abyssal exists only in the southern part of the Adriatic, and in the area of the Jabuka basin, and hadal does not exist in our sea Crabs inhabit the supralythoral area of the Adriatic. Endemic algae, the Adriatic bladder wrack and sea anemone inhabit the mediolythoral area. In the infralythoral area, which is the largest one, many species of algae, corals, and different sorts of fish like sheepshead bream, the predatory yellow fish, ugly frog-fish, gilthead, goby, bamboofish and many others.
The Adriatic eco-destination
The quality of the water in the Adriatic is very well preserved. The results reached through the constant measuring of the quality of water on more than 800 beaches are in accordance with the strictest criteria. Except for the cleanliness of the sea, another important quality of the coastal area is its biological and geographical particular quality, which can be seen in the number of species of plants and animals, and in the high number of endemic species (for example human fish).
In order to protect and preserve such natural wealth, a list of rare and endangered species, the so called Red Book, has been made.
Various projects are carried out in Croatia by government institutions or associations of citizens with the goal of preserving natural and cultural heritage, and its evaluation. One of these projects is The Blue Flag Project, and from the year 2001, the project Green Key also starts with the goal of improving the quality of surroundings in hotels, motels, camps and other facilities.
Another project is Eco habitat Green Laguna in Porec, where the environment is especially taken care of. Green Laguna has its olive groves, orchards, horse stables etc. where tourists can take active part in preserving the environment.
Through the year several days are especially marked in Croatia such as:
• International day for water preservation
• World meteorological day
• Day of the planet earth
• Day of the dolphins
• World day of preserving the environment
• Day of the Sun
Except for the natural, great significance lies on the preservation of cultural heritage, as well. National costumes and customs are preserved. During the summer, in most coastal towns special celebrations are organized in order to show tourists our local traditions, for example, traditional donkey race which is held each year in Tribunje, Moreska - knights, dance on Korcula.
Croatia is also, except for its ecological cleanliness of air and water, an exceptionally safe place where everybody feels pleasant and welcome.
Croatia is truly a land of islands because it has more than a thousand of them and each one is different. Many of them are inhabited but each and every one is exceptional, with its own story and destiny.
To have a weak spot is human and the connoisseurs of Croatian islands have thousands of them. To be more precise 1185 of them. That's how many islands, islets and cliffs are located in front of 1777 kilometers of the Adriatic coast.
The first trip to the Adriatic coast and its islands is a journey into the unknown. Every other trip will be a journey to the already familiar beauty of this country, always different but equally breathtaking.
We will begin the story about the islands with the Brijuni islands. These fourteen islands are situated along seven kilometers between Pula and Rovinj.With a little help, nature has created a small paradise here, true harmony of flora and fauna, historical monuments and modern hotels. Brijuni offer shade in the rich evergreen vegetation, pheasants, deer and doe that roam freely all over the island and the peace and quiet of the holm oak and hundred- year old olive groves.
The golden or green Krk is and isn't an island. It is one, if we look at the idyllic nature and peaceful oasis far away from the everyday world but as far as traffic connections are concerned, it isn't. Krk, which also has a small airport, is divided from the mainland by the sea but is connected to it by a bridge.
If you are looking for your own special island, you'll find it on Krk because the islands Plavnik, Kormat, Galun, Prvicand Zec are special tourist destinations offering nature untouched by Man. If you are interested in exciting town bustle and great hospitality, then the island towns Baska, Malinska, Omisalj, Njivice, Krk and Punat, which has the largest marina on the Croatian Adriatic, are the places you need to visit.
Cres and Losinj. One island or two?
They were once connected by a channel, which was dug up by the Romans, but are now apart. The northern part of Cres is hidden away in the Rijeka bay and is exposed to strong gusts of gale, so that sometimes its peaks are white from the foam of the sea. The southern part is protected from the gale so its climate is extremely Mediterranean. In the town of Cres, is the center of the island. You can enter its nucleus through three doors and history rears its head at every corner. There are many monuments that testify to this. What testifies about the people, their statuses and professions are the family crests on the house portals or the engraved tools: the blacksmith's or carpenter's on the houses of craftsmen and a fish on the houses of fishermen.The climate of Losinj is pleasant, what's more it has lots of woods, so it is both a holiday and health resort.
Of the 1185 islands and cliffs scattered along the Adriatic coast, consisting of hard, sharp rocks and a fist full of soil, Susak is one of the rare islands that nature created from sand. There are 20 million meters of sand, which gives a specific flavor to the wine produced on Susak.
The next island of The Kvarner is Rab . In 1889, the local council proclaimed it a bathing-place and health resort. The British King, Edward VIII especially encouraged tourism on Rab when he stayed there with his great love, the American Wallis Simpson. They say that he was the first to go swimming without any clothes. This is how nudism was founded on Rab.
Rab is one of the islands richest in forests with as many as three hundred springs of water. Pag is an island full of mythical olive groves, rich in sea salt, famous for its lace, cheese a world known delicacy, sheep's milk, live oil andÉ what more do you need? Perhaps this: a part of Pag with its specific relief resembles the surface of the moon.
Moving along to the middle-Adriatic islands like: Olib, Silba, Premuda, Vir, Dugi Otok, Lovrada and Pasman, you notice immediately that you have left the every day problems and bounds of society far behind you. In front of you lies untouched nature. These islands will bewitch you, energize you and enrich you. They will become your dream, the kind you dream of with eyes wide open.
Silba is an island of ship owners and captains and old captain's houses as well as a harbor protected from the gushes of wind. Ist is an island of fishermen and navigators and is well known to navigators as a safe haven from the storm.
The island Ugljan is the 'suburban area' and a garden that lies in front of Zadar and it got its name because of its richness in oil. There are in fact more than 100.000 olive trees on this island.
The nearby Pasman island 'grew into' Ugljan . They are actually twins, only Pasman is a bit more peaceful. They are equally beautiful and covered with silvery green olive groves. These two pearls can be seen from the coastal town of Biograd, the geographical center of the Adriatic. Iz is the island situated between Ugljan and Dugi Otok . It is just as famous for what it does and doesn't have. It has rich Mediterranean vegetation. It doesn't have any cars.
Dugi Otok offers rest in preserved nature of an area of 114 square kilometers. There are fishermen there, farmers, beautiful secluded beaches and tourist objects. The town of Telascica is situated there, which is the biggest natural harbor of all the Adriatic islands, a nature park and a habitat for mouflon. Its rich woodsy northwestern coast is full of wide coves and a beautiful beach with a 41-meter high lighthouse. It's interesting that while the lighthouse was being built in 1949,around 100.000 yolks were added to the plaster, which prevented the sun and the sea from ruining its beauty.
According to the legend, Kornati labyrinth of sea passages and islands were created from the many rock cliffs that God had left over after he had finished making the World. He threw them into the sea, turned around and concluded that no other repairs were necessary.
The infamous George Bernard Shaw said of this group of the most indented islands of the Adriatic and the Mediterranean that consist of 140 islands, islets and reefs: 'The Gods wanted to crown their work, so on the last day, from their tears, the stars and their breath they created Kornati .
There are many fisherman's villages which are periodically inhabited on the islands and because they are rich in fish they are often the destination of sport fishermen.
Kornati are especially interesting for navigators and thatvs why there are two nautical enters there: Zut and Piskera . Among the islands another picturesque one is Murter which has an area of 18 square kilometers. It is connected to the mainland by a bridge only 12 meters long. This is an island of fishermen, olive growers and ship builders with the towns: Tisno, Hramina, Betina and Jezera.
The island Prvicis near the tourist pearl Vodice, it's an oasis of Mediterranean flora and fauna. The island Zlarin is southwest of Sibenik. In the 15 th century it was famous for coral and sponge harvesting and there is a museum that exhibits this.
West of Zlarin is the island of Obonjan , known as Otok Mladosti (The island of Youth) . Not far is the island Kaprije , which got its name from the Mediterranean, plant caper (kapar) whose buds serve as spices. Many yachts visit Kaprije because of the many coves and beautiful beaches. Zirje is the farthest away inhabited island of the Sibenik archipelago with great fishing-grounds and many coves for navigators.Krapanj is the smallest and lowest inhabited island of the archipelago of an area of only 0,36 kilometers and only seven meters high but the most inhabited island.
'Across from' Split, a city harmonious in structure with cultural and historical values, with an airport and a harbor lies the island Brac , the highest and by size the third largest island in the Adriatic. It is covered with pine woods, vineyards and olive groves and the world famous stone from Brachas been used in the construction of many important buildings (e.g. The White House in Washington DC).The beautiful beach Zlatni rat is located in Bol , which is the biggest tourist town on the southern part of the island. The beach is located on a cape covered in pebbles which moves, depending on the wind and waves from one side to another.
You'll have to admit that this is the only beach that you've heard of that changes its shape from day to day. There are many bathing-places and resorts on Brac : Postire, Milna, Supetar...
South of Brac is Hvar , the longest island of the Adriatic. This is an island of vineyards, olive groves and lavender. The island is surrounded by crystal cobalt sea, many springs of water and the largest number of sunny hours. The many stone houses along both coasts, which are connected by small bridges, achieve the harmonious unity of Stari Grad on Hvar , the fishermanvs museum is in Vrbovska which is unique on the Adriatic...
Hvar is, no doubt , an exceptional island, a pleasant winter and summer resort, with a mild climate and exuberant subtropical vegetation. Pakleni otoci are an especially interesting group of islands with pebbly, sandyand mostly nudist beaches and a rocky sea bottom, perfect for spearfishing. It is also a well-known place for navigators.
Opposite Split is the island Solta with poor vegetation, a steep and well - indented coast with Maslenica - the main harbor and anchorage for small boats.
Far from the mainland and its worries is the island Vis, rich in palm trees, known for its fishermen, sailors, beautiful nature and diverse tourist offer.
Southwest is the island Bisevo , of an area of 6 square kilometers. There are many caves in 'chiseled' into the steep coasts,among which 'Modra spilja' stands out with an above-sea level and below-sea level entrance. When the sea is calm the light rays that shine in the cave break in such a way against the cave walls that the objects and people inside it are covered in blue and those in the water a silvery color.
The Vis archipelago includes the islands Svetac (Sveti Andrija), Jabuka, Brusnik and the islands of Palagruza . Although it's formally known as a peninsula, Peljesac is indeed like an island, separated from Korcula by a narrow channel.
Ston and Mali Ston are picturesque towns that were after Dubrovnik in the Dubrovnik republic the most important towns. Oysters and wines: Postup and Dingacfrom the Mali Ston bay are famous all over these parts.
They say that Korcula is an island with the most legends and monuments and along with Lokrum and Mljet the Croatian island most covered with forests. Towards the end of the 13 th century near Korcula there was a naval battle between Venice and Genoa. Marco Polo , the famous traveler and travel book writer who was believed to have been born on Korcula was on the side of the Venetians.
This is an island with many known towns: Korcula, Lumbarda and Vela Luka , the knight dance 'moreska' from the end of the 15 th century,famous stone-cutters, sailors and ship builders. Far away out in the open sea is the island Lastovo of an area of 50 square kilometers, with an indented pebble coast with sandy beaches and a few islands on the west and east coast. The houses on Lastovo are built one above the other one: each one is entitled to its own share in the sun, air and the view.
Alongside Peljesac is the woodsy island of Mljet of an area of 100 square kilometers. Because of its thick alpine and stone pine, Karst caves, two picturesque lakes connected by the sea, many sandy and pebble beaches, many fishing-grounds rich in fish and lobsters, the western part of the island has been proclaimed a national park .
Not many people can determine the color of the Adriatic sea. Sometimes it's dark blue, sometimes greenish-blue. The fact is that the sea, depending on the time of day and the angle of the sun's rays overflows into a thousands nuances. However, it is always beautiful and unique.
Out of the 1185 islands and cliffs,one is definitely your cup of tea. Come and choose it.
The Blue Flag is a project for preserving the sea and coast which has been carried out in Europe for fifteen years now, and includes beaches and marinas, and from the year 2000 has extended throughout world.
This project has also been carried out in Croatia from the year 1997, when the Association of the friends of nature Our Lovely was nominated by the Foudation for Environmental Education in Europe a national coordinator and carrier of this project in the Republic of Croatia.
The Blue Flag symbolizes preserved, safe and pleasant environment for fun, relaxation and recreation, but it also includes an elaborated system of managing the resources, and sustainable development in tourism.
Beaches and marinas, which carry the Blue Flag, offer quality services, have a clean seacoast, and are tidy and adequately equipped. The Blue Flag is not only a symbol of quality and ecological perseverance, but it also represents top quality tourism.
This prestigious symbol is awarded only to those beaches and marinas which meet all the requirements which are set according to individual criteria, but have in common the fact that they always take care of the quality of the sea and the coast, education and inform the public about environmental protection, managing the resources, and the safety and quality of services.
The Blue Flag is awarded for the period of one year, and is raised at the beginning of June. For each year it is necessary to fill the questionnaire about the criteria in order to have the license extended.
In Croatia, this project was started in 1997 and in the very next year only Punat marina met the necessary requirements. During the year 1999 13 beaches and marinas were awarded the Blue Flag, and in the year 2000 22 beaches and marinas had this prestigious proof of cleanness and quality.
Historical facts - Croatia is indeed unique, not only for its crystal clear, clean blue sea, but also for a thousand years of different cultures that have replaced each other and sometimes assimilated in these areas.
The Adriatic Sea is not only a deep gulf in the Mediterranean cut into the Continent of Europe thereby creating most economical trade route between Europe and the East, it is also the cradle of ancient civilizations. There is much material evidence about that which is finally beginning to come to light, from the depths of Adriatic caves and from the deep blue sea. The east coast of the Adriatic Sea was inhabited as early as the beginning of the early Stone Age, and there is proof that most of the accessible islands were also inhabited (archaeological findings in caves near the islands of Hvar and Palagruza, etc.).
Thanks to the favourable geographical characteristics of our coast, with its numerous bays, inlets and coves, the coastal belt has ever been a significant mercantile and nautical route.
Archaeological findings prove that in the 6th century BC the ancient Greeks had commerce with the Illyrians by means of the sea, and that they founded their colonies there (for example&Mac246; Pharos, today’s Starigrad, on the islands of Hvar and Issa – or Vis).
Later on, the Romans arrived, and they not only built palaces and summer residences but they also spent a considerable amount of time on the sea, and there are many underwater findings located between Pula and Cavtat which show this to be true. Such findings are mainly amphorae, which were at the time commonly used for storing everything from wine to wheat, oils and perfumes. Wherever you choose to go diving, you will find the remains of Antique ships and their cargoes. One of the most precious findings from that time are remains of pythos or dolias, large pottery vessels which were built into ships and used to transport bulk cargo (wheat, etc). One such site is near Cavtat, while another is near Murter.
A new era dawned with the arrival of the Slavs, a period characterized by constant struggle for supremacy and by defence against diverse enemies. Dubrovnik, eminent in its position as a republic, played a leading role in culture and trade. A 17th-century shipwreck bears witness to those times - a galley which sailed from Venice carrying muran glass, window glass, and other valuable objects, and was fitted with cannons. But during a storm it sank near the island of Olipe, off the coast of Dubrovnik.
In the 18th century, Napoleon ruled for a short period of time, after which he was replaced by the Austrian monarchy. During the next hundred years, Italy and Austria fought each other for supremacy of the east coast, culminating in the battle of Vis in 1866. The Austrian fleet, led by Admiral Tegetthoff, who commanded the battleship Erzherzog Ferdinand Max, was opposed by Admiral Persano, commander of the Italian fleet. In the battle, Persano, on his flag ship the battleship Re d’Italia, was roundly trounced by Tegetthoff, and the Italian fleet withdrew in defeat.
Testimony to those glorious times can be found not only on the mainland, but also under the sea in the shape of shipwrecks and remains of the detritus of great ships. The period of Austro- Hungarian rule commenced thereafter. Ports were built and fortified, trade and shipbuilding flourished. During the two World Wars, the Adriatic was one of the more important areas of battle, and there are many shipwrecks dating from those periods. Near Pula, for example, which at the time was a strategically vital naval harbour, twenty shipwrecks have been located, including a number of submarines, destroyers, and torpedo-boats The Adriatic Sea has always been an important maritime route between East and West, which can still be seen today because of the numerous relics, which remind us that the past should never be forgotten, but rather used as a lesson for the future.
LADO - Folk dance ensemble of Croatia
LADO is an archaic Slavic word, frequently used as a refrain in old ritual songs of the North-West Croatia, and a synonym for the expression meaning "good", "lovable, "dear".
LADO Ensemble of Croatian folk song and dance was founded in Zagreb, in 1949 as a profesional national ensemble.
36 brilliant dancers of the Ensemble, who are also excellent singers, can easily transform the folk dance ensemble into a representative folk choir, while its 15 superb musicians play some forty different instruments.
In its imposing choreographic and musical repertoire, the LADO Ensemble primarily pays homage to original folk art, making it recognizable and well known throughout the world.
With its unique collection of highly valuable authentic national costumes (more than 1000 costumes), each concert of the LADO Ensemble is a kind of fashion show of the original Croatian traditional attire.
When in the review of a LADO's concert one reads that its perfoman- ce tastes of the spring-water, it is perhaps the best description of its character: clear, refreshing and indispensable to life, reflecting on its surface the man and the whole nation and its culture.
Croatian cuisine is heterogeneous, and is therefore known as "the cuisine of regions". Its modern roots date back to Proto-Slavic and ancient periods and the differences in the selection of foodstuffs and forms of cooking are most notable between those on the mainland and those in coastal regions. Mainland cuisine is more characterized by the earlier Proto-Slavic and the more recent contacts with the more famous gastronomic orders of today - Hungarian, Viennese and Turkish - while the coastal region bears the influences of the Greek, Roman and Illyrian, as well as of the later Mediterranean cuisine - Italian and French.
A large body of books bears witness to the high level of gastronomic culture in Croatia, which in European terms dealt with food in the distant past, such as the Gazophylacium by Belostenec, a Latin-Kajkavian dictionary dating from 1740 that preceded a similar French dictionary. There is also Beletristic literature by Marulic, Hektorovic, Drzic and other writers, down to the work written by Ivan Bierling in 1813 containing recipes for the preparation of 554 various dishes (translated from the German original), and which is considered to be the first Croatian cookery book.
Food and traditional festivities
Many Croatian traditional festivities are distinctly linked with food independently of whether they are related to strenuous labour (crop harvesting or threshing, the grape harvest and Christening of wine, the completion of a house), religion (mostly Catholic - Christmas, Easter, pilgrimages, local saints days), or to memorable moments in an individual’s life (baptism, wedding, birthday, name-day, funeral wakes, etc.) Some festivities are typically of a public character, such as the Dionysian St. Martin s Day, celebrated in private farmhouses, wine cellars and restaurants; others are almost exclusively family reunions (weddings, baptism, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, Easter, etc.)
Every holiday has its typical dish. Pork and potato stew is eaten on pilgrimages and at fairs; cod is prepared for Christmas Eve and Good Friday; pork is eaten on New Year s Day; doughnuts are an inseparable part of carnival festivities, and in the south they prepare a similar fried sweet dish known as hrostule. Ham and boiled eggs with green vegetables are served at Easter, while desserts comprise traditional cakes (e.g. pinca). Kulen (hot-pepper flavoured sausage) at harvest time, goose for St. Martin s Day, turkey and other fowl, as well as sarma (meat-stuffed cabbage leaves), are served on Christmas Day. At weddings, a variety of dishes with dozens of cakes and biscuits are served, including breskvice, shortbread bear paws, gingerbread biscuits, fritule - plain fritters, etc.
The favourite meals of very many people on all occasions include spit-roasted lamb and suckling pig, grilled fish, calamari cooked in various ways, barbecue dishes - raznjici, cevapcici and mixed grill - prosciutto and sheep’s cheese, or smoked ham and cottage cheese with sour cream, fish stew, venison…
Croatia is justifiably proud of its broad palette of high quality wines (up to 700 wines with protected geographic origin) and brandies, fruit juices, beers and mineral water. In the south, people drink bevanda with their food (heavy, richly flavoured red wine mixed with plain water), and in north-western regions, "gemisht" (dry, flavoured wines mixed with mineral water).
Istria and Kvarner region
Selection of cheeses and cold dishes of Istria. The cuisine of Istria and the Kvarner regions represents a special Croatian style of cooking, a blend of inland and coastal. These regions are rich in excellent fish and seafood, most notable among them being found in the northern Adriatic: scampi (prawns), calamari and shellfish from the Limski Kanal (Fiord). After an excellent prosciutto, and cheese and olives, many traditional wine cellars offer fish soup, fish stew, boiled prawns, black and white frutti di mare risotto, as well as other dishes typical of the central part of the Istrian peninsula - traditional wine soup, ragout (jota) similar to Italian minestrone (manistra, menestra, menestra), and also pasta and risotto dishes cooked with the famous truffles of the region - a self-sown precious mushroom species, unearthed by specially trained dogs and pigs; these fungi have the reputation of containing aphrodisiac properties.
The excellent Istrian wines include Malmsey of Buje, Cabernet of Porec, Sauvignon and Merlot, as well as Terrano of Buzet, Zlahtina of Vrbnik, and sparkling wines - Bakarska Vodica, etc.
Fine restaurants abound in Istria, especially on the Opatija, Crikvenica, Rovinj and Porec littorals, both in the interior and on the islands.
Gorski Kotar and Lika
The cuisine of Gorski Kotar and Lika reflects living conditions in the forested highlands and pastures, where summers are short and winters long, which limits the availability of foodstuffs. It is recognized by its simplicity (open-fire cooking and baking), as is the case with regions closer to the sea (Dalmatinska Zagora and central Istria), but everyday meals include predominantly continental products - pura (or palenta) - boiled maize, boiled potatoes, or potato halves baked in their skin, pickled cabbage, broad-beans and runner beans, cow’s and sheep’s milk and delicious cheeses (fermented cheese known as basa, and dried cheese), meat, fresh and smoked lamb, mutton and pork, as well as venison.
These regions are also rich in mushrooms and self-sown herbs, but there are also delicious, strong plum brandies and brandies made from forest fruits, or mixed with honey. The cuisine of Lika is found in the region of the Plitvice Lakes, and fine homemade cheese can be bought from roadside stalls when driving through Lika.
The cuisine of Dalmatia and the islands follows the trend of modern nutritional norms. The brief thermal preparation of foodstuffs (mainly boiling or grilling) and plenty of fish, olive oil, vegetables and self-sown herbs found near the sea is why this cuisine is considered to be very healthy.
Dalmatian wines, like olive oil and salted olives, have been highly esteemed since ancient times, which the present names of some of the indigenous grape sorts reveal (Grk : Greek, from the island of Korcula; Prc from the island of Hvar). Famous wines include Dingac and Postup from the Peljesac Peninsula; Babic from Primosten; Vugava and Plancic from the island of Hvar... then there are Posip and Grk from Korcula; Marastina from the island of Lastovo; Malmsey from Dubrovnik, etc., and also Prosecco (a sweet dessert wine), the very strong grape (loza) and herbal brandies (travarica, grapes with medicinal herbs) and liqueurs (Maraschino, Vlahov).
Although even today every area has its own way of preparing certain dishes, the cuisine of the islands represents a separate world, their distinguishing features having been discovered only recently, such as the cuisine of the islands of Hvar, Korcula, Brac (vitalac, a dish made from lamb offal wrapped in lamb gut and spike-roasted), Vis (spike-roasted pilchards, as during the Ancient Greek period; flat cake with pilchards from Komiza and Vis, related to the modern-day pizza). Fresh sea fish (dog's tooth, gilthead, sea-bass, grouper, mackerel, pilchards) grilled, boiled or marinated; then there are molluscs (squid, cuttlefish, octopus), crustaceans (shrimps, lobsters) and shellfish (mussels, oysters, date-shells) boiled in a fish stew or as a risotto. Of the meat dishes, prosciutto is unarguably unrivalled - pork leg smoked and dried in the bora (from Drnis), served with dry, mostly sheep’s cheese (famous sorts of cheese are those from Pag and Dubrovnik) and salted green and black olives, capers and pickled onions. Lamb is also very highly valued, especially boiled or baked on an open fire (Franjevacka begovica from Visovac, or lopiz from the island of Iz); also, dried mutton (kastradina), roast beef, Dalmatian stew (pasticada) with gnocchi, offered by many restaurants.
Lightly boiled vegetables are also favourite dishes (Swiss chard with potatoes, tomato sauce) often a mixture of cultivated and self-sown vegetables, spiced with olive oil and wine vinegar, or served with meat (manestra - pasta with minced meat; arambasici - stuffed vine leaves). Regions with an abundance of fresh water are famous for their frog, eel and river crab dishes (the Neretva valley, Trilj and the Cetina basin). Typical Dalmatian desserts win the heart with their simplicity. The most usual ingredients include Mediterranean fruit, dried figs and raisins, almonds, honey, eggs (rafioli, mandulat, smokvenjak, the gingerbread biscuits from the island of Hvar - rozata).
The cuisine of northwest Croatia is characterized by many simple, delicious dishes. Bread is mostly made from maize, barley, or a mixture of the two, and cakes are often similar in texture to bread (kukuruznjaca - made from maize; periaca, zelevanka, buhtli, doughnuts, walnut and poppy-seed loaves). A profusion of pasta dishes, dairy products (made mostly from cow’s) milk, as well as plenty of vegetables (beans, potatoes, cabbage, etc.), often mixed with meat to form a broth (zucchini, cucumbers, runner beans, broad beans, peas in the summer, and beans with pickled cabbage in winter, beans with barley porridge) and salads (fresh cucumbers with sour cream and garlic, lettuce, tomato salad, peppers and onions). This is where food provision for the winter is still made in the traditional manner (pickled cabbage, cucumbers boiled in vinegar, pickled peppers, red beet, as well as sweet dishes - plum jam, rosehip jam, bottled fruit, etc.). In the same way that southern cuisine differs from island to island, so does the cuisine in this part of the country differ from one region to the next.
In the region of Medjimurje one really must sample buckwheat porridge with meat from fat meat or blood-sausages, as well as side dishes of baked beans or potatoes, formed in cones, with rich spices, or smoked or dried cow’s cheese turas, known in the region of Podravina as prge. Turkey with mlinci (a boiled pasta dish), strudels of various kinds, as well as pumpkin cake with poppy seeds, have spread from the region of Zagorje throughout Croatia. It is hard to find more delicious geese and ducks than those from the region of Turopolje, or baked carp (krapec na procep) than those from the regions of Moslavina and Posavina. The region of Banovina became famous for its winter salami (Gavrilovic salami). blood-sausages, garlic-sausages and other special sausages, for baking with pickled cabbage, boiled smoked pork leg with potato or bean salad with onion, are favourite dishes almost everywhere.
Samobor, a small town near Zagreb, is an ideal venue for a gastronomic excursion. Its picturesque restaurants offer Samobor Steak, Samobor custard slices, salami and kotlovina - port and potato stew - hermet (sweet, spicy wine) and mustards which have been prepared here for almost two hundred years.
The cuisine of Varazdin, and in particular of Zagreb, represents urban, metropolitan cuisine, related to the more famous cuisine of Venice. Of course, Zagreb has also its steak (bread-crumbed veal stuffed with cheese), and it also offers a variety of roast dishes (beef, pork and fowl) served with potatoes, vegetables and horseradish, as well as various stews (wine goulash, bacon and tripe, lungs "sour art"), grilled meat, pasta… Delicious sweets continue a tradition hundreds of years old – a tradition of the "baking woman of Gric" and bishops’ pastry-cooks, revealing Croatian dessert cuisine in its entirety (Croatian pancakes, Zagorje strudel, strudel stuffed with cottage cheese, or apple strudel, bucanica, various cakes, ice-creams).
Zagreb’s contemporary cuisine is international, with the finest Italian cuisine widely represented. Restaurants frequently offer better quality fish than those available on the coast, more delicious lamb than in the region of Lika, and better kulen than in Slavonia.
One should savour the following wines from this region: Portugizac from Plesivica and Jastrebarsko, Rhine Riesling, Chardonnay from Strigovan, Muscat Otonel, Turk's sparkling wines, as well as wines from the wine-cellars in Bozjakovina, Pinot Blanc from Sveti Ivan Zelina, Moslovina Skrlet from Voloder, as well as many other wines, but also the traditional drink, gvirc (gvirc, mead) sipped with gingerbread biscuits.
Slavonia and Baranja
Slav Rich and fertile Slavonia and Baranja comprise the bread basket of Croatia, and so white bread, flat cakes and many other cakes filled with walnuts, with poppy seeds or plum jam, have been baked here since ancient times, made from the most representative pastry made from green wheat. Pasta, potato, beans, dairy dishes and fat meat dishes (cottage cheese with sour cream, dried cheese) and fattened fowl and pork dishes are also prepared here. Such types of food were once cooked to provide the energy required for heavy work, although these days their preparation is considered too time consuming, and requiring too much effort. In these regions hot goulash (beef, venison), regos (several meats with pasta), fish paprika-flavoured stew (with various fish: carp, pike, sheat-fish, etc.) are typical. Smoked and dried pork ham, sausages, as well as kulen are also firm favourites, especially when served as a delicacy with cottage cheese, peppers, tomatoes and green onions or pickled vegetables (tursija).
The plum brandy made in this region is very smooth, and wines, such as Kutjevacka Grasevina and Kutjevo Chardonnay, the Rhine Riesling of Enjingi, and also the Grasevinas of Krautheker and Zdjelarevic, Ilok Thaminer, Pinot Blanc from Pajzos and Endent Riesling from Belje are greatly appreciated the world over. Wines from the wine cellars of the Djakovo diocese, famous for the production of wines used in liturgical services, are equally well known.