Knights and legends
Travel through time into the era of knights and legends
Croatia is most often referred to as the country with a thousand islands, but in this small country for a big vacation, there are over a thousand castles, palaces and forts as well. Some are home to museums, some to hotels, and in some people still live, be they in private hands or just happen to have towns grown around them.
In the very south of Croatia, where the country borders with Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina, in a little place called Dunave stands the Sokol (Falcon) Tower. The newly restored fort has been opened to tourists only recently. In the first half of the 15th century it was owned by Dubrovnik; before that the Bosnian noblemen ruled there. The use of the site itself, however, is very old – the tower was built on the remains a Roman fort which was erected upon an even older Illiryan edifice. People have been living here 4 thousand years ago. Despite the fact that during the Dubrovnik reign up to 20 people lived in the fort, when Dubrovnik abandoned Sokoltown at the end of the 17th century, Sokol Tower was forgotten. Neighboring villages used its stone to build their homes. In 2013 the Tower was saved from oblivion and turned into a medieval tourist attraction which will take your breath away.
The Osijek Tvrđa (Citadel)
Should you go out on the town in Osijek, you will not be able to miss the famous citadel with the almost unpronounceable nickname of Tvrđa. Whether you choose to see it awash in starlight and music or in sunny daylight, this ensemble of Baroque buildings within a star fort from the 18th century will impress you. Tvrđa used to have massive walls and four main gates: the Water Gate, the New Gate, The Valpovo Gate and the Imperial Gate. Only the north one, the Water gate, with a water tower, has survived to this day.
Caves and castles do not go hand in hand in movies alone – some you can find in the Guinness World Records Books! And in Slovenia, of course, where the largest cave town is situated: Predjama Castle, only 9 kilometers from the famous Slovenian Postojna Cave. It was built in the middle of a cave mouth, on rocks that are more than 100 meters high. The only preserved cave castle in Europe is strange, mysterious and has remained impenetrable to this day. There are many legends about Predjama Castle which may or may not be true, but one thing is – once you see it, you will continue to do so in your dreams.
The view is no less stunning from the Bled Castle, the fairytale-like fortress built on steep cliffs above the Slovenian Bled lake. It’s hard to imagine that the beautiful castle which today houses a restaurant and a museum started only as a tower with a protective wall in 1004. In late Middle Ages, the tower was turned into a keep. The dreamy castle is nowadays known as a favorite spot for weddings in Slovenia.
Old Town Varazdin
Speaking of towns, the Varaždin Old Town, situated in the north-western section of contemporary Varaždin's centre, is a perfect example of war-time building. Mentioned for the first time in the 12th century as a keep, two hundred years later the counts Celjski had it redone in the Gothic style. In the 16th century, after another redecoration, it became the wasserburg we know and love today. Croatians tend to think it familiar because they used to see it all the time on the now defunct five kuna bill.
The most famous chateau in Croatia is a only hundred years younger than the Varaždin Old Town. It became, under nobleman Juraj Drašković, a residential palace with beautiful parks, romantic gardens and a lake. Visiting the inside of the castle will teach you a lot about the daily lives of people in the 19th century and, with a bit of luck, you might get away with glimpsing the dungeons as well. When looking for romance, there is no better destination in Croatia!
Many know it as the stunning monument that has been on the tentative list for the World Heritage List since 2005, but this medieval castle, perching on top of a 333 meters high hill in western Zagorje, is best known to locals because of the legend about Veronika Desinićka and her tragic love which ended in her being buried in castle walls of Veliki Tabor. Legend or not, during the recent restoration efforts a female skull has been recovered!
The Uskoks of Senj – irregular soldiers of Habsburg Croatia - were legendary defenders from the Turks and as such hold a special place in the history of the country, as well as in its folk stories. Nehaj Tower, or to use another name, Nehajtown, is the place from which they defended the city of Senj from Turkish invasion. Today, in addition to a picturesque history lesson, the Nehaj Fortress also offers a fantastic view of the islands of Rab, Goli otok, Prvić, Cres, Krk and the mountains of Velebit and Učka.
Spend your dream vacation in Croatia. Start your tour by exploring Zagreb, the charming capital of the country. Admire the magical beauty of the Plitvice Lakes and then sail the crystal clear waters of the blue Adriatic and discover the magnificent scenery of Dalmatian Islands.
Experience the beautiful and historic city of Budapest - Queen of the Danube, on our private day trip from Zagreb
Experience the timeless allure of Dalmatia with our "Timeless Dalmatia: A Historical and Culinary Voyage" tour. Discover the region's historical gems, savor its renowned gastronomy, and immerse yourself in its stunning landscapes.
The diversity of Croatia has always delighted visitors and the same can be said of its tourist offers. Still, some of her jewels remain hidden even today, quite undeservedly so. Scattered all over the country, they are worth every minute and every effort spent in discovering them.
One thing rarely crosses our minds when picking a vacation destination and yet we do think of it quite often while decorating our homes – the importance and influence of colors. Blue does not do for the living room or study, calming though it is, since it induces depression and exudes cold. On the other hand, green is the current queen of interior design: it relaxes the body, diminishes stress and improves vision. However important our living environment may be, the best way to get exposed to colors is in nature. Because nothing calms the soul like a body in movement surrounded by the beautiful shades nature creates
Every coast is charming in its own way, but once you experience the beautiful blue Adriatic, you will never want to leave! Small islands, interesting peninsulas, uninhabited isles and heart shaped islets, hidden coves and even more hidden vineyards in stunning bays will thrill you almost as much as the fantastic people who have chosen to build their lives in this at times cruel but always breathtaking beauty, far away from the mainland.
Croatia is a small country extremely rich in history. Since the seventh century, when Croats are supposed to have arrived to this territory, countless armies have marched through it, antique empires built their strongholds in it, but we stubbornly kept claiming what we considered ours. The cultural diversity of all these centuries has become an integral part of our identity.
Wherever you might find yourself in Croatia, you are likely to stumble upon fragments of history: Zagorje and Slavonija are full of burgs, forts, castles, but also prehistoric archaeological sites, while Dalmatia and Istria are brimming with traces of antiquity, Byzantium, medieval times and the Renaissance carved into stone. Tribes, nations and rulers have succeeded each other with a higher frequency than anywhere else, as can be seen in the recent turbulent history of the region.
The "small country for a big vacation" is filled with picturesque and unusual little towns in which big things happen! Each one has its own story and personality that makes it worth taking the time to both find it and find out all about it.
Every country has its charms, but some places are truly special; whether they are the result of natural processes, remains of ancient civilizations, or cities with ancient histories that still overflow with life. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, better known as UNESCO, has formed a World Heritage List of sites that serves to protect these magnificent localities, whether they belong to natural or cultural heritage, or sometimes both. In Croatia, seven sites have been inscribed on the List in the last 36 years, while 15 more have been nominated.
When in Rome, do as the Romans do, goes the ancient proverb. It is the best advice any traveler ever got. Go local and do everything locals do in order to live the country you are visiting!