By Iva Ralica
Dubrovnik’s stone walls, Diocletian’s Palace in Split, the island of Hvar, the Pula Arena, Zagreb’s Upper Town and Plitvice Lakes National Park are some of Croatia’s main attractions tourists flock to every year.
But Croatia is full of hundreds of gems around the country and there are many attractions tourists aren’t sometimes familiar with. Below are just 10 interesting spots to check out away from the main attractions.
Klis Fortress is located just northeast of the Dalmatian city of Split. When the Ottoman wars were raging through Europe the ancient Illyrian stronghold was expanded into Klis Fortress. The 2,000-year-old medieval fortress served as a defense spot in Dalmatia.
It was also the seat of many Croatian kings and dukes, from the 9th century Duke Mislav, under the reign of Duke Trpimir to the first Croatian king, Tomislav. It was later ruled by the famous Šubić family. The fortress is best known because of the 16th-century defense against the Turkish invasion that lasted for more than 20 years. At one point in history, Klis was under the control of the Templar knights.
Because of the great historical value, today the fortress is a museum. The beautiful fortress follows the natural structure of the hill and is of great value as an example of defensive architecture. Its spectacular position, overlooking the surrounding area, the town of Split and the sea, was used as a part of Meereen in the filming of the HBO series Game of Thrones.
Solin is a small Croatian town with a wealth of cultural heritage. It is located just outside of Split on the Jadro river. First known as Salona, is an archeologists and archeology enthusiast’s paradise.
Solin developed on the location of the ancient city of Salona which was the capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia and the birthplace of Emperor Diocletian. The town is home to the largest archaeological site in Croatia, surrounded by gorgeous gates, temples, and an amphitheater. Many other historical locations can be found in Solin.
SUNKEN WWII SHIP – ZAVRATNICA
The remains of a sunken German WWII ship is hidden in a clear water in Zavratnica bay near Jablanac port, beneath the Velebit mountain.
TESLA MUSEUM – LIKA
Tesla’s Birthplace Museum is located in the city of Smiljan in Lika. The museum is made of two halves of Tesla’s life – his country upbringing and his science-oriented life. The multimedia center demonstrates rotating magnetic field principles using an iron egg and spins it in different directions.
WALLS OF STON – STON
Known as the “European Wall of China”, the Walls of Ston in southern Croatia are the longest preserved fortification system in the world after the Great Wall of China.
The Walls of Ston protected the city from Ottomans for more than 500 years. Settled on the hillside, the walls and forty defensive towers look over the beautiful Adriatic sea.
HOUSE IN A HOUSE – BRAČ
The house in a house and its legend is located on the island of Brač. Walls of a bigger house were built around the small house that belonged to a man, Marko, who did not want to sell his home and make way for a mansion. After a crazy dispute, the wealthy family Vuković decided to build a house on their land – around Marko’s house.
BLACA MONASTERY – BRAČ
Also on Brač, an interesting walking tour around this historical and magical monastery settled around the cliffs in the desert of Brač, a few kilometers from the bay will take you back to the early 16th century.
Today this is a museum filled with around 10 000 books, paintings, rich armour collection, a piano and a telescope that were allegedly acquired through the exchange of monastery’s farm products such as olive oil, wine and honey.
PAPUK NATURE PARK – SLAVONIA
Papuk is the largest mountain in Slavonia, near the city of Požega. It is a protected area and Croatian Geopark. It is perfect for recreation – mountaineering, hiking or horse riding because its highest peak is 953 meters high. Visit Ružica grad which is the biggest Medieval fort in Slavonia and one of the biggest in Croatia.
TRSAT CASTLE – RIJEKA
A lookout on a hill 138 meters above the sea level, the Trsat Castle guarded the city of Rijeka since 1288. Even before, this site was a Liburnian observation which had also served to the Romans as their defense system. The early medieval town also offers the magnificent view over the city, sea and the ruins on the opposite hills.
BEAR SANCTUARY – KUTEREVO
Orphaned brown bears, eight of them, that live in this sanctuary in Kuterevo, weren’t able to survive in the wildness. Here, in the middle of the wild nature, they are protected and are given another home. Volunteers take care of them and every year new travellers come to spend few days and enjoy the company of bear and human company.