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Croatia

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All those who have come to Croatia down the ages left behind a little of themselves in their passing. That said, they eventually departed with a tiny piece of her within themselves; something present day holiday makers will doubtless testify.

croatiaCroatia is a geographical region which has attracted people from time immemorial. On its soil, various cultures have come into contact, intertwined and even merged: Illyrians, Celts, Ancient Greeks and Romans. When they departed, this land became an intersection between the Eastern and Western Roman Empires. Then the Franks arrived, followed by the Byzantines. Here, ancient Slavic deities met face to face with those of the Illyrians, as did the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, as did Christianity and Islam. If we continue this story down to the present, we realise that Croatia has always been a world where other worlds meet. The Roman, Hellenic, Germanic, Hungarian, Ottoman and Slavic worlds came and went, and all throughout this time the Croats have always been, and remained, what they are: Croats. The contact with other cultures only resulted in an enrichment of their own culture. This is why the history book of Croatia exudes a different aroma on every page. If a blend of differences and diversities serves to enrich, then Croatia is a treasure trove of inestimable wealth. It would seem that Croatia’s fate was predestined by her geographical characteristics. Within its small area, Croatia encompasses the sunny Mediterranean, pre- Alpine mountains and the Pannonian Plains and that is by no means all. Hidden within each of those larger regions are several quite distinct areas. Did you know, for instance, that the Croatian word krš became a term accepted worldwide for a region dominated by stone? Or that Croatia is called the “land of a thousand islands”? Did you know that Croatia is one of the European countries richest in water? This scale of diversity is best reflected in a natural heritage which comprises eight distinct national parks: the Plitvice Lakes (designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO), Krka, Kornati, Brijuni, Mljet, Northern Velebit, Paklenica and Risnjak. There are also the Nature Parks of Kopački Rit (wetlands), Medvednica Mountain, Lonjsko Polje, Mount Velebit, the Biokovo Mountain, Telašćica, the Učka Mountain, Papuk, Vransko Jezero (the Vrana Lake), the Žumberak – Samobor mountains and Lastovo archipelago.

Many have experienced Croatia’s wealth of diversity through their palate, at the table, savouring dishes the names of which are geographically defined: Pag cheese, Drniš prosciutto, Istrian soup, Cres lamb, Gorski kotar tripe, Kvarner scampi, Zagorje štrukli, Komiža sweet bread, Ston oysters, Međimurje pie... The tastes of all these dishes differ completely from each other, but their common link lies in their excellence and in the fact that they are purely Croatian. Wine connoisseurs may continue to add to this list by themselves. The powerful, creative impulse issuing from the diversified interweave of the land is shown by the masterpieces created by the hand of man. The UNESCO World Heritage List confirms the unique and universal values of the old city of Dubrovnik, Diocletian’s Palace in Split, St. James’ Cathedral in Šibenik, the medieval core of the city of Trogir, the complex of the Euphrasian Basilica in Poreč and the Stari Grad plain on Hvar. On the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity are the Festivity of Saint Blaise, lace-making in Lepoglava, Hvar and Pag, the annual Carnival bell ringers' pageant from the Kastav region, Procession "Za Križen", ('following the Cross') on the Island of Hvar, two-part singing and playing (music) in the Istrian scale, in Istria and Hrvatsko Primorje, the annual spring procession of 'Kraljice/Ljelje' (queens) from Gorjani, the traditional manufacture of wooden toys in the Hrvatsko zagorje region, the Sinjska alka - a knights' tournament in Sinj, the gingerbread craft from northern Croatia and Croatian traditional music including the “Bećarac” from Slavonia, Baranja and Sriem and the traditional dance “Nijemo kolo” from Dalmatinska zagora. Croatia is among the countries with the most protected intangible cultural heritage elements recorded on the UNESCO list.

Croatia, a world that is a meeting place of worlds, welcomes all goodhearted people with open arms.

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