We did a road trip through Croatia last Spring and the first place we stopped at was Pula, the seventh largest city in the country which sits on the coast on the tip of the Istrian peninsula. It is known for its multitude of ancient Roman buildings, the most famous of which is the Pula Arena, one of the best preserved Roman amphitheatres, which was constructed between 27 BC and 68 AD. The unique feature of the arena, compared to other colosseums, is that it has four rectangular towers. It had four floors and could accommodate 20,000 spectators.
Pula Arena by day and by night.
This photo shows the Triumphal Arch of the Sergii. One of the greatest naval engagements in ancient history was the Battle of Actium. Octavian faced the forces of Cleopatra and Antony in their bid for the power of Rome. Octavian’s ships destroyed his enemies’ formations. The arch commemorates three members of the Sergii family, specifically Lucius Sergius Lepidus, a tribune serving in the 29th Legion that participated in the Battle Of Actium and disbanded in 27 BC. This suggests the approximate date of construction was 29-27 BC. The arch stood behind the original naval gate of the early Roman colony. The Sergii were a powerful family of officials in the colony and retained their power for centuries.
Another great please to visit is Pag, a Croatian Island in the Adriatic Sea. It is known for its barren, moonlike landscape, lace production and Pag cheese which we can vouch is very yummy! It also produces Pag salt and the salt marshes of Pag cover an area of over 3 kilometres. For centuries, salt, known as “white gold”, was a strategic resource. Historians estimate the start of its production in Pag to be around 2,000 years old. Even today, Pag salt is recognised for its quality, rich in minerals. So much so that the “Paska sol” won an AOP. This protected designation of origin covers fine sea salt and flour de sel, both produced in the waters of the bay of Pag. This fleur de sel is characterised by a slightly sweet taste, a flavour which is less salty than kitchen salt. In the mouth it presents a crunchy texture.
Whilst staying at our Airbnb on Pag we were invited to join our hosts and another couple from Germany who were also staying with them for a dinner of steamed mussels, taken from the sea by our hosts that morning, together with locally baked bread and copious amounts of local wine. A great evening was had by all despite the language barrier and we made new friends as often happens whilst we are travelling, which I’m sure @Amparo would agree with me on this!
The Olive Gardens of Lun are located in the north of the Pag island. These oldest olive trees in the Olive Gardens of Lun are 2000 and 1600 years old. That number of years classifies their olive trees as amongst the top 5 oldest olive trees in the world, along with the olive trees from Montenegro, Greece and Israel.
Next stop, Plitvice Lakes National Park. Plitvice Lakes is simply one of the most unique places to visit in Croatia as well as being its oldest and largest national park. Plitvice Lakes is made up of a system of 16 named lakes which are split between the Upper and Lower Lakes together with over 90 waterfalls. The stunning turquoise lakes are surrounded by lush green forest and waterfalls rush in to the clear waters. Visitors navigate the park via a network of wooden boardwalks which meander through the stunning ecosystem. Plitvice Lakes is also a great location to view wildlife, the largest and most spectacular predator that lives in the park is undoubtedly the Eurasian brown bear which can reach up to 650 pounds in weight.
The Veliki Slap (Great Waterfall), the highest waterfall in Croatia
What a beautiful city this is! Dubrovnik Old Town in southern Croatia fronting the Adriatic Sea. It’s known for its distinctive Old Town as shown behind me in the photo and this is encircled with massive stone walls known as The City Walls.
The Walls are the main reason why Dubrovnik is well known as the Pearl of the Adriatic. The City of Dubrovnik is completely surrounded with defensive walls and forts, including the Old Port. The walls run uninterrupted for 1940 metres (6365 feet) in length, encircling most of the City, and reach a maximum height of about 25 metres (83 feet). Like Rome is well known by the Rome Colosseum, the Walls of Dubrovnik are pretty much the same for Dubrovnik. They were built through the history in times when there was a danger of foreign attacks over the City and the Dubrovnik Republic.
Walls of Dubrovnik were built in the 13th century. During the 15th century were built 15 towers as a part of the city walls, some of them are preserved until today.
Just as beautiful by night as by day. Old Town Dubrovnik in Croatia is a must visit location.
Every time we entered the City Walls we were greeted by this gorgeous ginger cat.
If you happen to be in Dubrovnik you must visit Nautika Restaurant, the view, the food and the service are sublime! In 2008 Nautika Restaurant was recognised as the sixth most romantic restaurant in the world by Condé Nast Traveller magazine.
The premises of Nautika Restaurant, also a cultural monument, previously served as a hostel, a maritime vocational school (1881-1954), the headquarters of socio-political organisations, and now an exclusive hospitality establishment. This is the true birthplace of Dubrovnik’s tourism, a historical site which has maintained the virtually untouched spirit of times past, now adapted to the genuine needs of modern society. Nautika was honoured to host Saint John Paul II on June 6th of 2003.
We stayed in the Hotel Excelsior during our time in Dubrovnik, the view from here is spectacular with a seaside setting overlooking both the Adriatic and the ancient Old Town. Interestingly it has welcomed famous guests including Queen Elizabeth II and Elizabeth Taylor amongst others. The sunset here was beautiful.
We also found another fantastic restaurant whilst in Dubrovnik called the Taj Mahal. It is actually, despite its name, a traditional Bosnian restaurant. Bosnian food is just like the country itself, a mix of inter knitted cultures and flavours.
This dish is a traditional Bosnian meatballs dish in tomato sauce with potato mash. Simply delicious.
Whilst on the topic of food there is a traditional Dalmatian speciality called Peka. We visited Konavoski Dvori Restaurant in Ljuta which is an Eco Green Restaurant. It is an oasis of tranquility which is disturbed only by the roaring of the Ljuta stream. When we dined here the river was at its highest level in 5 years. This is a popular restaurant with many VIP guests such as Sir Roger Moore, Michael Jordan and Francis Ford Coppola to name but a few.
The photo below shows the traditional dish of Peka. Lamb and veal are slow cooked under the iron bell with hot embers covering the bell.
We found a very interesting experimental musical instrument when we arrived in Zadar, a quirky seaside city on the Dalmatian coast. The Sea Organ plays music by way of sea waves and tubes located underneath a set of large marble steps. I can only describe the sounds as random and harmonic, it really is lovely place to sit and relax and watch the waves listening to the beautiful sounds.
Split is the second-largest city of Croatia, the largest city in Dalmatia and the and the largest city on the Croatian coast. One of the main attractions of the city of Split is Diocletian’s Palace and considered to be one of the most imposing Roman ruins.
The last photo shows the statue of Gregory of Nin (Grgur Ninski) who was a medieval bishop of Nin who strongly opposed the pope and official circles of the Church and introduced the Croatian language in the religious services after the Great Assembly in 926. This enormous statue is supposed to bring luck to those who rub its toe!
Next on to Krka National Park which lies about 10km inland from Sibenik in this part of Dalmatia. Named after the Krka River, the Park covers an area of just over 142 square km and includes two thirds of the river itself. The top attraction of the Park is its magnificent waterfalls, including the famous Skradinski Buk falls which are one of Croatia’s most famous sights.
We stumbled across the next location of Slunj, a town in the mountainous part of Central Croatia, located along the North-South route to the Adriatic Sea between Karlovac and Plitvice Lakes National Park, on the meeting of the rivers Korana and Slunjčica. That’s what I love about travel when you come across these little gems.
We were fortunate to be there when this lady was tightrope walking across!
Another beautiful discovery was Trogir, a town on the central Adriatic coast of Croatia. This picturesque old town is known for its mix of Renaissance, baroque and Romanesque buildings. It lies on a small island connected to the mainland and the island of Čiovo by bridges the 13th century Cathedral of St. Lawrence houses the Renaissance Chapel of St. John and offers sweeping views from its bell tower.
And of course not forgetting the plentiful fresh fish!
We found the roads in Croatia to be well signposted and well maintained just in case you are now thinking of heading off there and remember the currency is now the Euro from January 1st this year.
Has anyone else visited Croatia and would like to share their photos & favourite places there?