Croatia Vacations

Croatia stretches up along the Adriatic Coast with over 1,000 islands spread out against the backdrop of the Dinaric Alps, the portion of the European Alps that stretches through Croatia and other Adriatic countries. Several of the cities in Croatia are listed on Unesco's World Heritage list. Trogir has history that extends back to the Romans and early Greeks. While Split has the Palace of Diocletian which was built in 3rd century AD. And then there is the city of Dubrovnik which is considered the "Pearl of the Adriatic" and was a powerful 13th century maritime power. All of this combines with the beauty of their rugged coastline and makes Croatia a charming destination.

Croatia Vacation Rentals and Boutique Hotels

Croatia Vacations: Things to see while on vacation in Croatia

Croatia Geography

The region of Croatia is an interesting shaped country with 2 main-landmass; one section stretches down the coast to the south and the other one extends into the Adriatic and is known as the Istra Peninsula. The Istra Peninsula is only linked by a narrow strip of land that is less than 30 miles wide. The neighboring countries are Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Croatia is best explained as the Pannonian-Adriatic country because it is located on the southeast section of Europe and faces the Adriatic Sea and the eastern coast of Italy. The overall surface of Croatia is total 87.667 sq. km. and of this 56.538 sq. km. is mainland (or 65%), also there is a coastline (both territorial seas and internal), with 31.139 sq. km. or 35%.

Most of the mountains in Croatia are belonging to the Dinaric Alps and they extend from the Slovenia border all the way to Montenegro. The Croatian Dinaric mountain range has world fame since it is the best classical example of a deep karst. Of course, there are mountains in Croatia, but this one is the only unique of the southeast of Europe with no peak above 2000 m.

The coast of Croatia is situated between Dinaric Alps of Europe on the eastern border and on the west, Adriatic Sea. The coastline is 1.100 miles long. One of the most unique characteristics of Croatian is that it’s coastline is dotted with over 1.244 islands, rocks, islets and reefs.

Croatia Proper is the one and only, center part of this country. It shows diversity, a massive agricultural plain, a wide range of karstified (irregular limestone) tall mountains and a tiny short stretch of the Adriatic coast itself. There are also large forests with lush greenery, and the Plitvice Lakeland seen among the highlights. Croatia Proper is the economic and historical heartland center of this country since it contains the glorious and bijou city, the capital Zagreb that has 80.000 inhabitants

The Dalmatia region is amazing with its beauty and history richness. Dalmatia has a mostly narrow and long stretch from the mainland along the Adriatic Coast’s greatest part, as well as the adjacent islands. Those islands are highly attractive, coastal cities have a unique Mediterranean charm and looks, the style is rather ‘Italianate’ and in the inland areas (separated from the shore with steep slope mountains) there is more continental charm and culture, resembling Bosnia and Herzegovina. The biggest cities are Split, Dubrovnik and Zadar, each rich with history and historic monuments.

The Istria part is a small region on the northwest of the peninsula, and is adjacent to the Slovenian border; it has strong historic links to Italy. As of recent centuries, Istria has changed hands; it was owned by Venice, then France, then Austro-Hungarian Empire and lastly Italy. This region has some of the most popular resorts of Croatia and attracts visitors all the time, ever since the Roman Era! Here we note no major cities, but the largest is Pula city.

The last major part is Slavonia. This is the least-visited part, but not the least beautiful. Slavonia is situated completely in the Pannonian basin. Most of the area has fertile river valleys and some floodplains that are separated with a hill country. This area is a mainstay for the agriculture of Croatia. Due to this position and its location, it bears historical links with Hungary, Serbia and Austria. The main city is Osijek.

Croatia History and Culture

This area was inhabited since Paleolithic Age as Krapina excavations show. These proofs are in the Croatian National History Museum in Zagreb, but you can have a glimpse of the Neanderthal life of Krapina. Eastern Slavonia was known as Vucedol and this reached all the way to Slovakia, Austria, Slovenia, Hungary, Germany and Czech Republic.

The Illyrians (Indo-Europeans) started migrating near 1000BC. Greeks had their trading posts set up on the east of Adriatic coast, in 6th c. BC. There were also invasions by Celts that fought Illyrians to the south in 4th c. BC to what is known now as Albania. After this, the Romans arrived in this region and in 168 BC they controlled Genthius, the last one of the Illyrian Kings.

The first Roman province was named Illyricum and got bigger with time due to all wars on the Dalmatian coast. By 11BC, Rome had pretty much control of most areas with inhabitants like Pannonian tribes, extending to the empire reach, to middle and lower of Danube. This was later named Dalmatia and reorganized too, and the Upper-Lower Pannona were the most part of modern Croatia.

Romans ruled here for 5 centuries and they made Salona the headquarter. They had road networks and they linked the coast to the Aegean and Black Sea, also with Danube. They even helped trade and improved the economy of the region. To add to Salona, other vital Roman towns were Jadera (Zadar), Polensium (Pula), Parentium (Porech) and Spalato (Split). Then this Roman empire started cracking in the late 3rd c. AD. Two important Dalmatian emperors appeared and the Diocletian (born in Salona in 236AD) became emperor in 285AD. He made a division of Dalmatia into Dalmatia and Dalmatia Salonitana with capital Salona. And for Dalmatia this was Praevalitana with capital Scodra (in Albanian – Shkoder). This was the base for the latter division of Eastern and Western Roman Empires.

With the Roman disintegration, Croats and Slavic tribes were working the land in a rather swampy terrain, near the areas of Ukraine, Belarus and Poland. In the 7th century they started moving south across the Danube and joined the Avars (Nomads of Eurasian origins) to attack the Byzantine Dalmatia. Epidaurus and Salona were attacked, their people took refuge in Spalato (Split) and Ragusa (Dubrovnik). Croats and Slavic tribes joined Avars opposing the Byzantium.

Dalmatia was seized by the Charlemagne's army in 800 AD, and this lead to the Christianization of all rulers in Croatia. After Charlemagne died in 814 AD, the Pannonian Croats revolted with no success against the Franks. They did not receive support from the Dalmatian Croats, since their coastal cities were under Byzantine rule until 9th century. Christianity spread and encouraged many culture ties with Rome that had proven to be a uniting factor in creating a national strong identity.

The Islands of Croatia are world famous. Of the thousand islands in Insular Croatia only 48 are permanently inhabited. The largest islands are Cres and Krk, each of them having an area of around 405 square kilometers (156 square miles). The most populous islands are Krk (over 19,000 permanent inhabitants) and Korcula (over 16,000 permanent inhabitants). The largest industry on the islands, of course, is tourism with the great beaches on the Adriatic. All islands are easily accessible from the mainland.

Architecture in Croatia reflects influences of bordering nations. Austrian and Hungarian influence is visible in public spaces and buildings in the north and in the central regions, architecture found along coasts of Dalmatia and Istria exhibits Venetian influence. Large squares named after culture heroes, well-groomed parks, and pedestrian-only zones, are features of these orderly towns and cities. in major urban areas exemplified in works of Giorgio da Sebenico and Niccolò Fiorentino such as the Cathedral of St. James in Šibenik.

Croatia Landmarks

Other landmarks include the walls of Dubrovnik which helped to defend the city since the Middle Ages until the 1991–1992 siege. In addition, there are 444 protected areas of Croatia, encompassing 9% of the country. Those include eight national parks, two strict reserves, and ten nature parks. The most famous protected area and the oldest national park in Croatia is the Plitvice Lakes National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Velebit Nature Park is a part of the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme.

*Palace of the Diocletian
The Split’s historical complex and the Palace of the Diocletian is a rectangular, vast complex of the 6th century, and 3 centuries after it was made it still stands as a grandiose home of the leader of the Imperial Guard Diocletian. In 614AD, refugees fled here from Salona. Today, this is a 2-meter thick wall object with many bars, shops and businesses. To wander here would be an unforgettable experience. There is no ticket at the entry, you just stroll. There are 4 gates: Golden, Iron, Silver, Bronze. The Bronze gives the access via the Diocletian’s Old Central Hall basement (now filled with souvenirs and craft items). In the northeast of this palace there is the Split City Museum that shows 15th century Gothic art, weaponry and paintings.