The wondrous cultural heritage of Croatia
The cultural heritage of Croatia is not as famous as are the cultural heritages of some large and mighty countries; it contains no grandiose monuments such as the pyramids of Egypt, Pompeii in Italy, or the Neuschwanstein Castle in the German Alps. Croatia was never the centre of large empires from the past, and many visitors will be surprised by the number of cultural heritage sites under UNESCO protection in relation to the country?s relatively small area. Compared to the size of her population that number is increasing and, additionally, there are many other precious cultural monuments which could also find their place on the UNESCO list.
One of the reasons for this wealth is Croatia?s exceptional position on vital communication routes and that she sits on the crossroads of great civilizations, each of which wanted to leave its own mark. That is why this land boasts such an exceptional diversity of cultural heritage on so small an area, and a range of monuments dating from all periods of civilization: from the prehistoric to most recent times. In other words, we see monuments from ancient Greece and Rome, early medieval monuments, the Mediterranean Renaissance, Central European Baroque and the New Age Secession heritage. Just as there exist testimonies from earliest prehistory, such as one of the most important world localities of Neanderthal man, near the town of Krapina; the Vučedol Neolithic culture near Vukovar; pre-Roman Illyrian hill-forts, and many, many other examples.
Croatia is replete with works testifying to the skills of local people following the current trends of the great neighbouring cultures, but who also created autochthonous forms, such as the tiny medieval churches commissioned by Croatian rulers in Northern Dalmatia, or the palaces and manor houses of the old city of Dubrovnik. No small number of Croatian builders have bequeathed the fruits of their labours to the whole of humanity, one such being Juraj Dalmatinac (Georgius Dalmaticus) who, back in the 15th century, implemented the technique of prefabricated construction, unseen up to that point in time, while building ?ibenik cathedral. Or Ivan Me?trović, whose statues adorn some of the most prominent sites in Chicago, U.S.A.
Croatia has also succeeded in preserving her indigenous rural architecture, which bears witness to her cultural diversity. One can still see old, timber-built houses and small churches in the lowlands of Pannonia; typical long, Slavonian houses with their large courtyards in the Danube basin; the picturesque vineyard huts dotted across the hills of Northern Croatia, and the shingle covered houses in snow-bound mountainous Croatia. Perhaps even more special is the charm of the tiny, stone-built towns and villages perched atop the hilltops of continental Istria, as well as along the shores of the mainland and on the islands.
Such diversity clearly demonstrates that this area was indeed where great European civilizations blended, where the influences of the largest national groups of Europe - Slavic, Romanic and Germanic peoples - came together. An additional factor influencing the wealth of Croatian cultural heritage lies in the fact that her eastern borders were at one time also borders dividing the Western and Eastern forms of Christianity, which translates, of course, into Western and Eastern forms of European culture.And it was here again that the last line of defence against advancing Islamic civilizations was drawn in the late Middle Ages - as can be seen by numerous mighty fortresses and other monuments to a rich military history.
The five world-renowned segments of the cultural heritage of Croatia: the old city of Dubrovnik, the historical complex of Diocletian?s Palace in Split, the ancient city of Trogir, Euphrasius? Basilica in Poreč, and St Jacob?s Cathedral in ?ibenik, all enjoy the protection of UNESCO. In addition to those five, Croatia has 340 other protected entities, and a whole range of individual sites: churches and chapels, fortresses, burgs and castles, palaces and curias, as well as archaeological localities. In Croatia one can visit numerous museums and galleries, attend many festivals and a wide palette of events: music, film, folklore, carnival. In other words, there are cultural events to suit every taste, so come and enjoy them!
Your travel expert’s view:
My name is Stan Medanic and I’ve been working in the luxury travel business here in Croatia for the past 6 years. In that time I’ve seen Croatia go from being a relatively unknown holiday destination to becoming one of the most interesting and sought after holiday hot spots in the world.
Croatia is definately most famous for its beautiful coastline full of islands and fascinating old cities like Dubrovnik, Zadar, Trogir or Split to explore. But there is more to Croatia than just the coastline, there is continental Croatia with the capital Zagreb or the Plitvice Lakes region. There you’ll discover how culturally diverse the country really is with Austrian, Hungarian and Turkish influences dominating while on the coast the Italian influence is very obvious.
No matter what kind of holiday your looking to have e.g. just relaxing on the beach, culturally enriching, active adventure, sailing or gastronomical experiences Croatia truly does have it all to offer.
So let us know what your interests are and we’ll tailor make a holiday especially for you.