Culture of Croatia
Croatia is a country with a history of more than a millennia. The territory of Croatia has been a melting pot for cultures following and replacing and assimilating each other through history. It has been a traditional route of trade and commerce, a meeting point of the East and the Europe as well. The many monuments and historical cities, six World Heritage sites and eight national parks are awaiting all visitors of the country. The palace of Diocletian in Split, later transformed into a church, is one of the largest remain of Roman culture in Eastern Europe, and probably the most ancient cathedral in the world. Even more ancient civilizations left their marks, especially interesting is the Vucedol Culture (Early Bronze Age, 3000-2200 B.C.), discovered in the region near Vukovar, contemporary to the Ancient Egypt (the Old Kingdom), the Sumerian civilization, the Old Troy.
The country gave birth to three Nobel Prize winner scientists. The fountain pen was invented by a man of Croat nationality, Eduard Penkala, even the name of "pen" is derived from his family name, and the name of "penkala" is also in use today for the chemical pen. The name of Nikola Tesla is well known for a great number of invention and discovery in the field of electricity and magnetism. Even the necktie (cravat) was given to the world of fashion by a Croat cavalry division serving in the French Army during the reign of Louis XIII, wearing characteristic scarves around their necks.
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.
Croatia has some great red wines. Some of the best ones are Kastelet (especially 1996 and 1997), Plavac and Babic. All of these are from Dalmatia and are especially good with fish and meat dishes, best served at room temp.
One might also wish to try Istrian Merlot, but if you're travelling to Croatia, you'll be able to taste some great locally produced wines in konobas, guest houses and bars which are generally not available in shops. For a sweeter, liqueur like dessert wine try Prosek, very smooth, light wine drank after dinner or sometimes as an aperitif.
Some of the better known white wines are Posip, Kastelet and Pljesivica (often drunk in the north mixed with sparkling water, called gemisht) and Daruvarski Rizling, a reizling white wine.
Besides the country has a long tradition of arts, literature, music and cuisine. Traditional dishes to taste are the turkey, goose or duck with "mlinci" (a kind of pasta) or "strukli" (cottage cheese strudel), cottage cheese with cream, traditional nut-cake. Close to the sea restaurants offer fresh seafood.
Old City of Dubrovnik
The "Pearl of the Adriatic", situated on the Dalmatian coast, became an important Mediterranean sea power from the 13th century onwards. Although severely damaged by an earthquake in 1667, Dubrovnik managed to preserve its beautiful Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque churches, monasteries, palaces and fountains. Damaged again in the 1990s by armed conflict, it is now the focus of a major restoration programme co-ordinated by UNESCO. Dubrovnik was founded in the 7th century and it is encompassed with 2 km long walls considered to be among the most massif defence fortifications in Europe. The city walls are 25 m high and 6 m thick and include 36 forts, towers and fortresses. They are encircled with beautiful streets consisting of houses and palaces from all periods of the famous Dubrovnik Republic.
Historical Complex of Split with the Palace of Diocletian
The ruins of Diocletian's Palace, built between the late 3rd and the early 4th centuries A.D., can be found throughout the city. The cathedral was built in the Middle Ages, reusing materials from the ancient mausoleum. Twelfth- and 13th-century Romanesque churches, medieval fortifications, 15th-century Gothic palaces and other palaces in Renaissance and Baroque style make up the rest of the protected area. The Roman Emperor Diocletian spent his final years here , in an huge palace that he had built near his birthplace, Aspalthos, today called Split (Spalato).
Plitvice lakes: The Plitvice Lakes National Park and Natural World Heritage Site
The waters flowing over the limestone and chalk have, over thousands of years, deposited travertine barriers, creating natural dams which in turn have created a series of beautiful lakes, caves and waterfalls. These geological processes continue today. The forests in the park are home to bears, wolves and many rare bird species. River Korana creates a chain of about twenty limpid, green lakes and pools, arranged stepwise and punctuated by dolomite barriers formed by travertine sedimentation. The water flows down from one lake to the next over waterfalls, creating a majestic architectural phenomenon of nature in motion. The lakes are surrounded by luxuriant forests of beech, fir and spruce in which there are bears, wolves and rare birds, such as grouse and long-eared owl.
Episcopal Complex of the Euphrasian Basilica in the Historic Centre of Porec
The group of religious monuments in Porec, where Christianity was established as early as the 4th century, constitutes the most complete surviving complex of its type. The basilica, atrium, baptistery and episcopal palace are outstanding examples of religious architecture, while the basilica itself combines classical and Byzantine elements in an exceptional manner. The Episcopal complex of the Euphrasian Basilica in the historic centre of Porec is an outstanding example of an early Christian episcopal ensemble that is exceptional by virtue of its completeness and its unique Basilican cathedral.
Historic City of Trogir
Trogir is a remarkable example of urban continuity. The orthogonal street plan of this island settlement dates back to the Hellenistic period and it was embellished by successive rulers with many fine public and domestic buildings and fortifications. Its beautiful Romanesque churches are complemented by the outstanding Renaissance and Baroque buildings from the Venetian period. Trogir is an excellent example of a medieval town built on and conforming with the layout of a Hellenistic and Roman city that has conserved its urban fabric to an exceptional degree and with the minimum of modern interventions, in which the trajectory of social and cultural development is clearly visible in every aspect of the townscape. Trogir was founded by Greek colonists from the Island of Vis in the 3rd century BC. On this Antique matrix lies the historical core of Trogir, which is the best-preserved Romanesque-Gothic complex not only in the Adriatic but in all of Central Europe. Trogir's medieval core, surrounded by walls, comprises a preserved castle and tower and a series of dwellings and palaces from the Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque periods. Trogir's grandest building is the church of St. Lawrence, whose main west portal is a masterpiece by Radovan, and the most significant work of the Romanesque-Gothic style in the country.
The Cathedral of St. James in Sibenik
The Cathedral of St James (Katedrala SVetog Jakova) in Sibenik (1431-1535), on the Dalmatian coast, bears witness to the considerable exchanges in the field of monumental arts between Northern Italy, Dalmatia and Tuscany in the 15th and 16th centuries. The three architects who succeeded one another in the construction of the Cathedral - Francesco di Giacomo, Georgius Mathei Dalmaticus and Niccoln di Giovanni Fiorentino - developed a structure built entirely from stone and using unique construction techniques for the vaulting and the dome of the Cathedral. The form and the decorative elements of the Cathedral, such as a remarkable frieze decorated with 71 sculptured faces of men, women, and children, also illustrate the successful fusion of Gothic and Renaissance art. The structural characteristics of the Cathedral of St James in Sibenik make it a unique and outstanding building in which Gothic and Renaissance forms have been successfully blended. The Cathedral of St James is the fruitful outcome of considerable interchanges of influences between the three culturally different regions of Northern Italy, Dalmatia, and Tuscany in the 15th and 16th centuries. These interchanges created the conditions for unique and outstanding solutions to the technical and structural problems of constructing the cathedral vaulting and dome. The Cathedral of St James in Sibenik is a unique testimony to the transition from the Gothic to the Renaissance period in church architecture. Sibenik Cathedral was awarded Unesco's World Heritage Status in 2000.