Croatia is a country located in South-East of the Europe. By virtue of her unique geographical position on Balkan peninsula and Mediterranean sea Croatia is a country of natural diversity. But aside from natural diversity the country was under many influences in the past which is reflect on todays culture and heritage. Each part of this small country with population of 4 million, was under the rule of different Monarchy, Empire, Republics.
Today, Croatia is one of the most popular touristic destinations for Europeans who mostly come to the coats because of the beautiful clear, blue sea and many islands. Croatia is a country of 1000 Island, which is a big amount considering the size of the country. The value of Croatian coast is on the rise and the prices are getting higher and higher, which makes it inaccessible destination for many.
Beside the coast there is a an undiscovered and unpopular beauty in this country. In this article, we will present you 5 main regions of Croatia and what each of them has to offer.
The 5 main regions are: Istria, Dalmatia, Slavonia, Gorski Kotar and Lika and Continental (North) Part of Croatia.
Istria is the biggest peninsula in Croatia and it is located in the northern part of Adriatic sea. The name Istria comes from the tribe of Histri who first inhabited this area. They were defeated by Roman Empire and after the fall of Roman Empire, the Istria was ruled by Byzantine and Holy Roman Empire. From 15th Century the majority of peninsula is under Venetian Republic and small part in the inside of Istria was under Austrian Empire.
Today, the most visible influence was left by the Roman and Venetian Republic in the form of ancient nesactium, Temples dedicated to Roman gods and Empires, Roman amphitheater. The biggest minority in Istria are Italians and it is common for people to learn Italian language in schools. Istria also has its own special dialect: čakavski, which is quite different from official language.
Istria is a region famous for good quality wine and food, mostly consisted of fish: like black risotto (the black because of the color cuttlefish drops), shark, squids, sea bream, and food like fuži and pljukanci (special type of pasta), which are usually eaten with venison stew; prosciutto, truffles. Istria is famous for having this unique type of mushrooms which grow under the soil and they are very expensive because to find them you need a special trained dog that can smell them.
The folklore of Istria is sad and slow due to the fact that the soil was not very fertile because it mostly consisted of rockery and not many products could be grown there. But the ones that are produced today are olives, citrus fruits and grapes.
Live stock breeding is also common in Istria: goats and special type of bull called boškarin. On the coat of arms of this region is the picture of the goat (Capricorn).
The most popular cities in Istria are Pula, Rovinj, Pazin, Poreč and Umag.
Dalmatia is the oldest region in Croatia, it is located on the south of the country on the Adriatic sea. Same as Istria, it was under influence of Venetian Republic. Today the most famous buildings there are Diocletian Palace in the city of Split, built in 300.ad. by the emperor Diocletian. The palace today is under UNESCO World Heritage Protection. Another famous legacy are the city walls of Dubrovnik, which were built from 13th to 17th century as a way of defense against the Venetians. This city has become worldwide famous after the tv show Game of Thrones was filmed there, the location of the city was used as Kings Landing.
The name Dalmatia comes from the Illyrian tribe called the Dalmatae. There is even a type of dog, called the “dalmatinac” (dalmatian), white dog with black spots, which originates from Croatia.
Most of the land area is covered with Dinaric Alps, the soil is also not fertile because of the rockery and karst. Next to the sea there is evergreen vegetation and the climate is Mediterranean. The climate allows citrus fruits to grow, as well as watermelons.
It is also a famous summer touristic destination for mostly people from central Europe like Austrians, Germans, Czech, Polish people, but also there is a lot of Hungarians, Italians, Americans, Russians and Britain’s.
There are 4 national parks in this region: Paklenica karst river, Kornati archipelago, Krka river rapids, and Mljet island.
The most popular food is: pašticada (beef filled with carrots, bacon and poured with wine). peka (this is a unique stile of roasting in special metal container with the lit on which the fire ember is put, in this way the lamb and octopus with potatoes are made), paški sir (goat chesse) from the island of Pag, soparnik (two layers of pastry filled with mangel, parsley and garlic), brodet (fish stew).
The most popular cities are: Šibenik, Zadar, Vodice, Split and Dubrovnik.
located on the east of the Country on Pannonian plain, this part is famous for its golden lowlands, plains and fertile ground due to the three large rivers Danube, Drava and Sava.
The area was named after the Slavs who settled there and called themselves *Slověne.
This part contains a lot of remnants Neolithic and Chalcolithic culture, from which the most famous one is Vučedol culture and its significant representative sculpture Vučedolska golubica (dove).
In the middle ages the area was under the influence of Hungarian Empire. In 16th century the area was conquered by Ottomans. After Ottomans it was part of Habsburg Monarchy and Austria-Hungary, which is visible in remains of the architecture style of the buildings.
The 45% of country agricultural products comes from Slavonia, they produce rapeseed and also there are famous for wine.
Slavonia has one of the richest folklore in all the Croatia, due to fertile soil and abundance of food, their songs are cheerfull and traditional costumes are colorful. The traditional instrument tamburica and bećarac, a form of traditional song and dance are recognized as an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO.
The food in Slavonia is mostly consisted of pork meat with a lot of dry and smoked meat products such as sausages, kulen. One of the specific meals is called čvarci, which is pigs fat fried in oil. There is a lot of Hungarian Influence in a form of stew and Ottomans one, like pita and burek.
There is plenty of swamp area that become Natural park due to protection of endemic species, especially birds.
The most popular cities are Osijek, Đakovo, Vinkovci and Vukovar.
4. Gorski Kotar and Lika
This part is part of central Croatia, but it is specific by plenty of woods, hills, mountains with the exit on the sea and biodiversity of animal population.
Gorki Kotar is green area of Croatia, 83% of this area are forest inhabited with animals such as bears, wolf, dears. The main industry in this region is wood industry and forestry. There is one national park in this region, the Risnjak mountain which gained its name by the animal ris (trim).
Lika is located on the south part of central Croatia. It is a mountain region surrounded with mountain chains: Velebit, Velika Kapela and Mala Kapela. Supposedly the name derives from Latin lacus, which means lake.
The biggest and the most famous National Park Plitvička jezera is located here.
The area was inhabited since Paleolithic area. In 15th century the area was under Ottoman attack and there was a 100 year war between Croats and Osman’s.
Nikola Tesla, one of the most famous and important physicist of all time was born in the town Smiljan, next to the city of Gospić.
Although the most famous attraction in this area are Plitvice lake, this region has plenty to offer: from skiing places during the winter, to beautiful river, lakes, forest and a lot of mountains to climb. It is a perfect place to escape the crowd and recharge in one of the huts.
The main dishes of this regions are made of lamb. venison, potatoes, mushrooms, beef, trout, buncek (the lower part of pigs leg eaten with sour cabbage), dumplings made out of bread, ham, onion, eggs, milk, flour and spices, frog legs, cheese škripavac (squeky, it is called like that because it makes squeaky sounds when its eaten) and plenty more.
All the meat and dairy product are high quality because they are produces by the locals.
5. Continental and North part
In this area there is dominance of mountain-hilly areas and hills with lowland-plain areas. Todays Capital Zagreb is in this region and the main dominance from the past comes from Austro-Hungary. There are plenty of buildings remains today in this area from the legacy of Austro-Hungarians.
In this area there is dominance of hills and valley where the grape for the wine is produced. There are also a lot of castles, from which the most famous one is Trakoščan, built in the baroques style, like many other castles and fortresses in this region.
On the north part the most famous areas are Međimurje and Varaždin. Međimurje is famous for the textile industry and the autochthone sort of horse. Varaždin is famous by its baroque style and one of the most beautiful cemeteries in Europe.
The popular dishes of this part are štrukli (soft pastry filled with cheese in salty or sweet version and many others), turkey and mlinci ( thin layer of dough baked on fire which gives it a firm shapes, but after something warm is poured on it like meat gravy, it becomes soft and it soaks the juices), krempita/kremšnita, a cake originated from city of Samobor which is considered a protected good; Zagrebački odrezak (Zagreb steak), which is fried, breaded veal filled with ham and cheese, in general fried breaded meat is common food, whether is it pork, chicken or beef; potato salat, sausages and pasta made with cabbage fried with oil.
The most popular cities are: Zagreb, Varaždin, Čakovec, Samobor.
There is plenty of more to write about every single of this region and parts, but the best thing for you would be to simply come to Croatia and experience its culture by first hand.