Croatia is a land of natural and architectural beauty!
(Photo by: eGuide Travel)
The Republic of Croatia sits on some of the best landscape the European continent has to offer. Located across the Adriatic Sea east of Italy and north of other European gems such as Serbia, Albania, and Greece, inland portions of the country have snow in the winter, and the coastal regions are warm and subtropical. Croatia is a rich country – literally. It is classified as a “high-income economy,” and tourism is a major source of that income; the Croats love visitors. In fact, Croatia sits at number 18 on the world’s most popular tourist destination list. Let’s see why!
Conquering Croatia’s History
Croatia is a country rich with history; it even invented the necktie! Everybody has had their hand in Croatia. Prehistoric Croatia was inhabited by the Neanderthals, among others. The Greeks and Romans ruled parts of Croatia during their heyday. The Croats themselves arrived in Croatia between the seventh and tenth centuries. The Ottoman Empire defeated Croatia, Hungary took over in 1867, and Yugoslavia stepped in after World War I. Croatia might be a tiny country, but it sure is in demand!
By 1991, Croatia had enough of being ruled by everybody else, and it gained its independence in June. Today’s Croatia has numerous sites representing its colorful past, however, and this is going to be our first step in conquering Croatia. Some things you must see when visiting this beautiful country are:
- Rome: In Croatia? Well, yes; there are remains of the time when the Romans ruled. Split – that’s the name of city – has turned Roman Emperor Diocletian’s palace into a hotel. That’s right: You can rent a room and pretend you’re the Emperor of Rome. You can also visit the town of Trogir and wander its ancient Venetian architecture.
- Dubrovnik: This historic Croat city dates back to the 13th century. Dubrovnik’s protective walls are considered some of the finest preserved fortress walls in the world today. There are also remnants of the Minceta Tower, the Lovrjenac Fort, the Bokar Tower, and Revelin Fort. This seaside city also has glorious views of the Adriatic Sea.
- Trakoscan Castle: Also built in the 13th century, Trakoscan Castle is located in Varazdin County in northern Croatia. Of all of the historic buildings in Croatia, Trakoscan Castle is one of the better-preserved. The castle was built to fortify northwestern Croatia from attack, and it oversaw the road running from Ptuj to the Bednja Valley.
I don’t know about you, but conquering the remnants of Croatia’s history has made me hungry! And I’m sure you can imagine that a country with a history as diverse and rich as Croatia’s has the eateries to match. Traditional cuisine in Croatia depends on where you are in the country. Near the sea, you’re going to pig out on a Mediterranean diet. Inland, the food is influenced by Austria, Hungary, and Turkey. Croatia also has two wine-growing regions, located in the northeast of the country and along the north coast. Do not fear, beer-drinkers – there’s plenty of great brew, too! Of particular note are:
- Croatian Truffles: Istria is a region located on the northern border. It is known for its truffles, and many restaurants and B&Bs serve the unique – and expensive – delicacies. Toklarija, a fine-dining establishment in Sovinjsko Polje, serves them alongside other Istrian foods in a heavenly four-hour, multiple-course meal.
- Mediterranean and Spice: Head on over to the town of Korcula and dine at LD. This is one of the finest Mediterranean eateries in the country, and it offers everything from traditional crostini to a spicy Slavonian sausage stew. Ask for a table above the water, and enjoy the Croatian wine, too.
- Steak and Lamb: Croatia has steakhouses, and the Konoba Bukaleta, located in Loznati, is sure to please. Alongside the tender steaks, Cres lamb is the restaurant’s specialty. You may have your Cres lamb breaded, grilled, or roasted, and for you herbivores, there are plenty of gnocchi and pasta selections.
Let’s take the time to conquer some of the things that make Croatia wonderful and unique. Nestled within the borders of this amazing land are traditions that date back centuries. Sure, you’ve seen the architecture; now, let’s look at some of the things you can do to keep that history alive. I teased you at the beginning of this post by pointing out that the necktie originated in Croatia, but there are a ton of other fun and unique things the Croats love to do. For example:
- Toy-Making… by Hand! The region of Hrvatsko Zagorje sits north of Zagreb and is home to a tradition that’s centuries old: toy-making! The men in this lovely region hand-carve toys out of wood from the region’s trees. The women paint the toys in beautiful reds, yellows, and blues – all eco-friendly paint, of course. You can’t find this at Toys “R” Us!
- Lace-Making… by Hand! The Croatian islands of Hvar and Pag and the town of Lepoglava are home to the tradition of lace-making. Lace-making in Croatia dates back to the Renaissance period, and the Croats are well known for the intricacy of their lace patterns and designs. Hvar offers a truly unique lace made from agave and aloe leaves.
- Listen to the Sea Play the Organ: Yeah, I’m serious! In Zadar, a 35-pipe organ is played by the Adriatic Sea. As the tide ebbs and flows, the movement of the water pushes air through the pipes to produce sound. As you can imagine, the symphony you hear is unpredictable. Add to this architect Nikola Basic’s glass circles and you have a haunting music and light show.
I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted, and guess what? We’ve only conquered a tiny bit of Croatia. I’m sure you understand now why this nation is such a popular tourist destination. Add to the stuff I’ve talked about above an amazing coastline and beautiful natural inland forests and areas, and you have a vacation sure to please everyone in your family. Come on! Book your trip and go conquer Croatia!