Most interesting wonders of Croatia
Below are listed the most amazing natural and man made landmarks of Croatia.
Although recent decades have brought to our attention the incredible karst formations in formerly little known regions of Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Laos, Madagascar and other tropical countries, Croatia still surprises with beautiful, grandiose and very diverse attractions caused by natural limestone solution – karst processes. The word – karst – itself stems from the neighboring Slovenia.
Here below are listed very diverse monuments, this list certainly deserves to be longer.
- Cetina Spring (Izvor Cetine, Glavaš) – Šibenik-Knin. Source of Cetine river. This spring starts with more than 150 m deep, round and visually very impressive deep green-blue sinkhole. Average annual discharge is 10,400 l/s.
- Crveno Jezero (Red Lake) – Split-Dalmatia. One of the most impressive sinkholes in the world: deep shaft with lake at the bottom. Total depth of sinkhole is some 530 m, it contains 280 – 290 m deep lake with endemic fish.
- Djula – Medvedica cave system – Karlovac. The longest known cave in Croatia, 16,396 m long.
- Kolač natural arch – Brač Island, Split-Dalmatia. Impressive natural arch with narrow bow.
- Mala Paklenica Canyon – Zadar. Another very impressive canyon. 9 km long, in narrowest part only 10 m wide, with up to 650 m tall walls.
- Plitvice Lakes – Lika-Senj. Unique, picturesque group of some 20 blue-green lakes arranged in chain over the distance of 8 km, divided by natural dams of tufa. Tufa formation process is active, it forms by joint geological and biological processes. Stream between the lakes has multiple waterfalls, some up to 80 m tall.
- Skradinski Buk – Šibenik-Knin. Group of impressive waterfalls over tufa dams. Over 400 m length there are 17 waterfalls, height difference 47.7 m.
- Suplja Greda – Lika Senj. Beautiful natural arch with a span of 12 m.
- Velebit Caves – Lika-Senj. One of the caves, Velebita contains one of the highest unhindered single drops in the world (513 metres). Patkov Gušt Cave contains 553 meters deep pitch – the second deepest in the world. Enormous colony of endemic subterranean leeches Croatobranchus mestrovi has been found in Lukina jama – the deepest cave in south-east Europe, 1,392 m deep.
- Velika Paklenica Canyon – Zadar. Very impressive limestone canyon, 14 km long, 500 – 800 m wide (even 50 m), with up to 700 m tall walls.
- Vrulja Zečica – Zadar. Powerful submarine spring in 9 m depth. Above the sea level there is seen bulge from this powerful spring. Spring discharges from deep undersea cave which is adorned with stalactites, stalagmites and other dripstone formations at 41.5 m depth. This horizontal cave is not fully explored.
Other natural landmarks
- Galešnjak island – Zadar. This small island is Google Earth "celebrity" due to its heart-shaped form.
- Oriental Planes of Trsteno – Dubrovnik-Neretva. Two giant trees Platanus orientalis L. to the north from Trsteno arboretum, more than 500 years old. Trees are 45 and 60 m tall, trunks have diameter of 5 m.
- Vindija Cave – Varaždin. Cave with impressive, enormous entrance. Contains some of the best preserved remnants of Neanderthal man who lived here 30,000 years ago. Remnants of Neanderthal from this cave used in Neanderthal genome project.
Man made landmarks
Urban planning monuments
Most impressive landmarks of Croatia are the ancient Dalmatian cities – built on small, fortified islands, with street network inherited from Roman and even Greek times and adorned with hundreds of Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance buildings. Some of these ancient cities, like Dubrovnik, certainly belong to most exciting monuments of urban planning in the world.
Further away from the sea the Croatian cities are younger, but also here are located several interesting monuments of urban planning.
- The walled city of Dubrovnik – Dubrovnik-Neretva. One of the most outstanding and beautiful medieval cities worldwide. This Dalmatian city is at least 1,300 years old, developed as important center of international trade. Walled city from three sides is surrounded by sea and is densely built up with numerous historical buildings such as Gothic-Renaissance Sponza Palace, Rectors Palace, the small Renaissance St.Saviours church and many other valuable buildings. The 2 km long fortification walls around the city have been well preserved.
- Historical center of Korčula – Dubrovnik-Neretva. Beautiful walled Dalmatian medieval city covering small sea island divided from the mainland by a row. Street planning in herringbone form. Built mainly in the 16th century. Includes valuable Romanesque-Gothic Cathedral of St. Mark (1301-1806) and beautiful Franciscan monastery from the 15th century and many more valuable buildings.
- Lubenice – Primorje-Gorski Kotar. Visually very impressive, well preserved medieval fortified village located on hilltop 355 m above the sea. Permanently inhabited sine prehistoric times.
- Historical city of Motovun – Istria. Small medieval town on the site of prehistoric hillfort. Town is located on hilltop and overlooks Istrian peninsula. Preserved medieval walls, many valuable Romanesque-Gothic buildings, unusual city planning.
- Historical center of Poreč – Istria. Historical seaside city located on picturesque peninsula, with numerous buildings in Venetian Renaissance style. Street network of the old town has been inherited since Roman times.
- Historical center of Split and Palace of Diocletian – Split-Dalmatia. Approximately 1,700 years old Dalmatian city. The core consists of the best preserved imperial residence of Ancient Rome which was built by retired emperor Diocletian in AD 293-305. This unique urban monument consists of palace, Mausoleum, Temple of Jupiter, gates and other structures. The planning of Split since then has followed this Roman pattern.
- Ston and Mali Ston with fortifications of Pelješac peninsula – Dubrovnik-Neretva. Unique monument of medieval urban planning. Two medieval villages in both sides of Pelješac peninsula, connected with ancient fortification wall. Defensive wall was erected by Ragusa Republic in thirty years time after 1358, mainly for protection of the valuable Ston salt pans. After the completion of wall at both ends of it were built two small fortified towns – Ston and Mali Ston. These villages housed the guards of wall. Length of walls – 5.5 km, they are protected by 40 towers and 5 forts.
- Historical centre of Trogir – Split-Dalmatia. Ancient Greek colony, established in the 3rd c. BC, in Roman times turned into major port. Ancient city was ruined by Saracens in 1123, in medieval times it became important trade port again. Nowadays the old city (located on fortified island) contains one of the richest collections of Romanesque and Gothic architecture in this region. Street network inherited from the times of Greek colony.
- Tvrđa in Osijek – Osijek-Baranja. Large star fortress – citadel enclosing multiple buildings, built in Baroque style in 1712 – 1721. Fortification walls have been largely removed.
- Medieval centre of Varaždin and Varaždin castle – Varaždin. Possibly the most impressive medieval city in continental Croatia. City together with the fortress in the middle of it developed since the early 13th century. Capital of Croatia in the 18th century. Varaždin castle belongs to most impressive ones in Croatia.
- Historical centre of Zadar – Zadar. Ancient seaside city with urban structure and remnants of buildings (impressive Roman forum) from Roman times. Fortified in the times of Venetian republic, built up with beautiful Gothic and Renaissance architecture.
- Blaca monastery – Brač Island, Split-Dalmatia. Monastery in impressive location – ravine in limestone mountains. Besides the buildings of monastery there are numerous cave hermitages around it. Monastery flourished in the 17th – 19th centuries. Contains very valuable library and art values.
- Dubrovnik Synagogue – Dubrovnik-Neretva. Oldest Sefardic synagogue in use in the world, second oldest synagogue in Europe. Established in 1352, still serves for worship.
- Osijek church of St.Peter and Paul – Osijek-Baranja. Exceptional, 90 m tall Neo-Gothic building, extremely ornate and stately. Built in 1898.
- Euphrasian Basilica in Poreč – Istria. The best preserved early Christian cathedral complex in the world, unique example of church architecture from the 5th – 6th century AD. Here have been preserved all the buildings of cathedral complex since these ancient times. Especially valuable are mosaics from the 5th century AD. Bell-tower is built in the 16th century AD.
- Split Cathedral of St. Duje – Split-Dalmatia. Building of unusual history. Initially built as the mausoleum for the retired Roman emperor Diocletian in the late 3nd century AD. Currently this Roman building forms the central part of the church. The high, beautiful Romanesque bell tower was built in 1100 AD, rebuilt in 1908, removing many beautiful details. Other important monuments of Romanesque art.
- Šibenik James Cathedral (Katedrala Sv. Jakova) – Šibenik-Knin, Croatia. Beautiful Renaissance cathedral, built in 1402 – 1555 without mortar, using joints and stocks made in stone.
- Trogir Cathedral of St.Lawrence – Split-Dalmatia. Exceptional building built in Romanesque-Gothic style and later styles in the 1213 – 1600s. Archaic interior. Church has beautiful Romanesque portal made by sculptor Radovan.
- Visovac Monastery – Šibenik-Knin. Catholic monastery built in island in Visovac lake. Established in the 14th century, new buildings built in the 18th century. Contains many valuable items like incunabuna of Aesop’s fables from 1487.
- Zadar Cathedral of St. Anastasia – Zadar. Enormous Romanesque style cathedral, built mainly in the 12th – 13th century, although the history of this building goes back to the 4th – 5th century.
- Church of St.Donatus in Zadar – Zadar. Largest pre-Romanesque church in Croatia, built mainly in the 9th century. Circular shape.
- Zagreb Cathedral – City of Zagreb. Beautiful, white Gothic cathedral, tallest building in Croatia (108 m). Construction started in 1093, first church destroyed in 1242, rebuilt in Gothic style.
Archaeological and ancient monuments
- Maklavun Tholos – Istrija. Round stone wall from Bronze Age – resembles a cairn with internal room.
- Monkodonja – Istria. Remnants of Bronze Age settlement (1800 – 1200 BC) with impressive stone fortifications. Nearly nothing is known about its inhabitants. Here have been found artifacts which testify contacts with Mycenae.
- Pula Arena – Istria. One of six largest surviving Roman amphitheaters in the world, exceptionally well preserved and located in beautiful setting with the sea in the background. Built in 27 – 68 AD.
- Ruins of Salona – Split-Dalmatia. Ancient Illyrian city from the 1st millenium BC. In Roman times – capital of Dalmatia. Destroyed in 614 AD by Avars and Slavs. Nowadays wast ruins are seen here.
Other man-made attractions
- Jaruga Hydroelectric Power Plant – Šibenik-Knin. Second oldest operating hydroelectric plant in the world after Niagara (United States), operating since 28 August 1895.
- Krk Bridge – Primorje-Gorski Kotar. Beautiful concrete arch bridge consisting of two parts, divided by island. Built in 1980, longest arch is 390 m long.
- Stari Grad Plain – Split-Dalmatia. Hvar island for most part consists of limestone cliffs and Stari Grad Plain here is untypical fertile area. Since the early 4th century BC nearly intact here has been preserved the ancient Greek agricultural landscape with division in parcels (chora) by stone walls and ancient paths. This picturesque agricultural landscape still is used as 2,500 years ago.
- Trakošćan Castle – Varaždin. Beautiful, large castle, initially built in the 13th century, rebuilt in the 19th century in Romantic style.
- Trsteno arboretum – Dubrovnik-Neretva. The oldest European arboretum, developed by the noble family of Gučetić/Gozze in the late 15th century. Park has undergone development as Gothic Renaissance, Baroque Renaissance and Romantic park. Park developed around summer residence, also built in the 15th century. Park has high esthetic value and uses well the natural landscape with the sea in the background.
- Velki Tábor castle (Veliki Tabor) – Krapina-Zagorje. Well preserved, impressive castle from the 12th – 16th century AD. Arcade in inner yard in Renaissance style.
- Zmajeva špilja (Drakonjina špilja) – Brač Island, Split-Dalmatia. Natural cave, hermitage of Glagolitic monks from the 15th century. Cave is adorned with unusual carvings of mythical beings including dragon, as well as ancient cult symbols. Site of legends about werewolves, witches.
Described wonders of Croatia
The natural and cultural heritage of Croatia is diverse and very charming.
Highlights of the Croatian heritage are:
- The ancient, beautiful Dalmatian seaside cities and towns;
- The diverse karst formations – waterfalls with tufa formations, sinkholes, caves, springs, canyons.
Featured: Crveno Jezero
The largest and, as it seems, the most impressive karst formation in Dinaric Alps is Crveno Jezero – one of the largest sinkholes of the world.
The depth of this incredible natural formation reaches 530 m and it contains deep blue lake, which is 280 – 290 m deep. Vertical walls make this lake nearly inaccessible and it is not fully explored yet.
Anyone who has glimpsed the long, mountainous, island-studded Dalmatian coast would surely agree that its beauty is little short of divine. Croatia, quite simply, is blessed with some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet, and its history is equally captivating. A Traveller’s History of Croatia offers tourists and travellers an inside look at how the country’s cultural fusion of Mediterranean, Central European and Balkan influences has given it a tumultuous past.
The Rough Guide to Croatia is the ultimate travel guide to one of Mediterranean Europe’s most beautiful and unspoiled countries. With over a thousand islands, clear blue waters, inland waterfalls, stylish cities, Roman remains and medieval towns, Croatia packs a punch far above its size.