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The history of the Croatian national anthem

Luka Modric signing national anthem

Luka Modric signing the Croatian national anthem

The Croatian national anthem being belted out by around 50,000 fans before Croatia took on Spain at Euro 2024 in Berlin was an impressive sight.

Croatia midfielder Lovro Majer said that he got chills during the national anthem, and he was not alone.

The Croatian national anthem, “Lijepa naša domovino” (Our Beautiful Homeland), is more than just a song; it is a symbol of national pride and a testament to Croatia’s storied history.

This anthem resonates deeply with the Croatian people, encapsulating their love for their homeland and their enduring spirit through centuries of change and challenge.

Origins and Early History

The origins of “Lijepa naša domovino” can be traced back to the mid-19th century, a period of burgeoning national consciousness across Europe. The poem, originally titled “Horvatska domovina” (Croatian Homeland), was penned by Antun Mihanović in 1835.

Antun Mihanovic writer of Croatian anthem

Antun MihanoviĆ (Photo: Stjepan Kovačević/Public domain)

Mihanović, a lawyer and a poet, infused his verses with a profound sense of patriotism and an appreciation for the natural beauty of Croatia.

The poem was first published in the cultural magazine “Danica” in 1835, capturing the imagination of the Croatian people. Its evocative imagery and heartfelt sentiment struck a chord with many, setting the stage for its transformation into the national anthem.

Croatian flag

Croatian flag


The music for the anthem was composed by Josip Runjanin, a then officer and composer from Vinkovci, around 1846. Runjanin based the melody on one of the songs from the opera “Lucia di Lammermoor” by Gaetano Donizetti.

Josip Runjanin

Josip Runjanin (Photo: Public domain license)

Lyrics and Meaning

It became the national anthem of the Republic of Croatia in 1991, and it is one of the few peaceful anthems because it glorifies the beauty of the homeland, rather than calling for struggle or resistance.

The lyrics of “Lijepa naša domovino” are a poetic homage to Croatia’s natural splendour and cultural heritage. Here it is translated into English:

Our beautiful homeland,
O so fearless and gracious,
Our fathers’ ancient glory,
May you be blessed forever.
Dear, you are our only glory,
Dear, you are our only one,
Dear, we love your plains,
Dear, we love your mountains.

Drava, Sava, keep on flowing,
Danube, do not lose your vigour,
Deep blue sea, tell the world,
That a Croat loves his homeland.
Whilst his fields are kissed by sunshine,
Whilst his oaks are whipped by wild winds,
Whilst his dear ones go to heaven,
Whilst his live heart beats.

The anthem serves as a unifying force, reminding Croatians of their shared heritage and the beauty of their homeland. Listen below. 

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