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National parks

BRIJUNI

Brijuni are a group of two larger and twelve smaller islets along the West coast of Istria, near Pula, with the total area of only 7 km2. Both archipelago and the surrounding sea are under protection. The Brijuni Archipelago is known for its preserved Mediterranean vegetation, which is partly landscape and partly a safari park. The archipelago is noted for its valuable cultural heritage from the Roman and Byzantine times. Due to its extraordinary beauty, the Brioni Islands have been, for over a hundred years now, a favourite tourist destination of world statesmen and aristocracy.


KRKA

Krka, a river in Dalmatia; springs out at the western foot of Dinara Mountain and flows into the sea near Sibenik; length 72.5 km. In the parts of the course where the Krka flows through marly soils, certain extensions are created (Arandelovac, etc.). In limestone it forms a narrow and deep canyon (up to 200 m), flowing over travertine barriers and creating waterfalls. In the upper course are two 10-m high waterfalls. At the entrance of the Krka into the Knin field is a waterfall called Veliki Buk (20 m). In the lower part of the course are the waterfalls: Bilusic (19.6 m), Prijen (15 m), Manojlovac (three waterfalls; 84.5 m), Roski Slap (25.5 m) and Skradinski Buk (37.5 m), the most beautiful of all. Between Roski Slap and Skradinski Buk is Visovac Lake (13 km long) with an islet (see Visovac). Downstream of Skradinski Buk is the Krka river estuary (about 20 km long), in which freshwater mixes with saltwater. Part of the estuary is also Prukljansko Lake. The waterfalls were used for the production of electric power. The first hydro-electric power plant was constructed in 1898 near Skradinski Buk and the second one in 1906 near the Manojlovac waterfall (hydro-electric power plant Manojlovac I). The course downstream from Knin to the Sibenik bridge, comprising an area of 110 sq km, was set aside as a national park in 1985. The park area received numerous visitors (about 400,000 visitors in 1990). In the period 1991-1995, Krka National Park was severely damaged when the sparse vegetation was partly burned.

Information: Krka National Park Management: Sibenik, Ul. Ivana Pavla II. The National Park may be reached from Skradin, by boat of the National Park, which goes upstream to Skradinski Buk. Another access to the Park is by car, to the entrance in Lozovac. From Lozovac -buses of the National Park take visitors to Skradinski Buk. The waterfall Roski Slap may be reached by car via Miljevci or via Skradin.

The cruise from Skradinski Buk to Roski Slap includes also Visovac Lake, located between these two wonderful waterfalls. The tour includes also the sightseeing of Visovac and the Franciscan monastery on the islet. The monastery may be visited individually. In that case it is necessary to take the monastery ship on the Miljevci side of the coast of Visovac Lake, below the village of Bristane. The Park visitors may see the water mills in which cereals are ground with millstones and taste bread made of such ground cereals. There is also an ethnographical collection. Within the Park are several catering establishments.

MLJET

The Island of MLJET is situated in the far South of Croatia, west from Dubrovnik, Croatia's best known summer resort. A national park of the same name includes a western part of, according to some, the most beautiful island in the Adriatic. The Park is characterised by two deep bays which are called lakes due to their very narrow passages to the open sea (Veliko and Malo jezero/ the Great Lake and the Small Lake), and lush and diversified Mediterranean vegetation.

PAKLENICA

Paklenica includes the most attractive parts of southern Velebit, including its highest peaks. Two impressive canyons of Velika and Mala Paklenica, vertically cut into the mountain from the sea to the peaks are the main attraction of the park. In a relatively small area of the national park, there are several unusual carst forms, several caves, and extremely rich and varied flora and fauna. Among steep rocks, Anića kuk is the most popular destination of Croatian alpinists. In the upper parts of the canyon, a larger forest area has been preserved on the littoral side of Velebit. This, in addition to the existence of several vegetation and climate zones from warm Mediterranean to harsh mountain zones on the top of Velebit, largely contributed to it that this area was among the first in Croatia to be proclaimed a national park, first provisionally in 1928, and then definitely in 1949.

NORTH VELEBIT

Velebit is the longest mountain range in Croatia; its northern part lies between Senjska Draga and a deep ravine called Brusanka. Its landscape is not typical for a mountain range, it consists of several ranges of ridges and crests, separated from each other by deep karst ravines and valleys.
National Park Sjeverni Velebit (lit. Northern Velebit) is the youngest national park in Croatia. It was founded in 1999 and started work in September the same year.

It covers 109 km² of the northern section of the Velebit mountain, the largest mountain in Croatia, the whole of which is a nature park, a lesser category of nature conservation. Another national park on Velebit is the Paklenica on its southern side. The special reservations Hajducki kukovi and Rozanski kukovi are located in the center of the park. The peak Zavizan (1676 m) is also located within the park, and it carries the meteorological station with the highest altitude in Croatia.

The park reserve is protected and visitors cannot thread thorough except for on designated trails. Only scientific researchers and educational visits are allowed in the protected area. Inside the reserve there are the Visibaba botanical reserve, with a rich founding of the endemic Croatian Sibirrhaea, and the Zavizan-Balinovac-Velika kosa botanical reserve, famous for its outstanding collection of species of the mountain flora. Inside the reserve there is a widely known Velebit Botany Garden, founded by the pharmacology professor Fran Kusan in 1967. The Park is crossed with numerous mountaineering trails. The most famous and widely known is the Premuzic's Trail, named after its constructor, the BSc forestry Ante Premuzic who built it in the late 1933. The path runs through the most beautiful and the most interesting parts of the park. From the numerous peaks in the surroundings you can have a magnificent view on the Adriatic Sea and its islands Pag, Rab, Goli Otok, Prvić and Krk, and on the continental side as well. The Park's cultural value is present in a form of numerous ruins of the so-called "summer lodges", which witness of the ages passed and long forgotten, when Velebit was inhabited by the numerous population of shepherds and cattlers. On its coastal banks you can find many ruined houses, lodges and stonewalls which once marked the specific lifestyle of the local population who scattered all around the globe in the days to come, leaving nothing but traces of their presence on this remarkably beautiful and exquisite land.

RISNJAK

Risnjak is a mountain massif and a national park in the western part of Gorski Kotar, 18 km north-east from Rijeka. The top of Veliki Risnjak is 1,528 m high. The Risnjak massif is formed predominantly of limestone and sandstone. Risnjak National Park (Croatian: Nacionalni park Risnjak) is a national park in Croatia. It is located in Gorski kotar, the most mountainous and heavily forested region of the country, about 15 km inland from the Adriatic Sea. The park covers an area of 63,5 square kilometers including the central part of Risnjak and Snjeznik massif and the source area of the river Kupa. The administration and visitor center of the park are located in Crni Lug, a town on the eastern edge of the park.

The name of the massif probably comes from the Croatian word for the lynx, ris. Another interpretation suggests that it comes from the local word risje, which is a name for a type of grass.

Places of interes

Due to its closeness to major road connections (motorway Zagreb - Rijeka) and vicinity of major tourist centers on the coastline it is most visited National Park in Croatia.
- Veliki Risnjak is the highest peak in the park and the second in Gorski kotar next to Bjelolasica. On its southern slope is located the mountain lodge called Šloserov dom, built by Josip Schlosser. The peak can be reached only on foot, from Crni Lug (3 h) or from an unpaved road beginning in Gornje Jelenje (1h).
- Snjeznik is the second highest peak in the park (1506 m). Its name comes from the word for snow - snijeg. The mountain should not be confused with Sneznik, a peak 20 km to the north-west in Slovenia. On its grassy peak is located a mountain lodge called Albaharijev dom. It is about 1.5 hours' walk from the ski resort of Platak; this has made it the most common place for tour skiing in Croatia.
- Guslica is a peak about an hour's walk from Snježnik, with an altitude of 1490 m. It is the site of an abandoned Yugoslav People's Army complex. Since the army left in 1991 the whole place was left to rot, giving it something of the appearance of a ghost town. There have been proposals to renovate the complex to create a mountain refuge, but these have not come to fruition.
- Educational path Leska - This path was created by the park administration 1993. It is a circular walk 4.5 km long, beginning and ending at the visitor center in Crni Lug. The path passes through areas of different vegetations and through many different karstic features.
- The river Kupa has its source at the park's lowest point, in an oval pond some 50 m wide. The pond has the been target of numerous expeditions to determine its depth. The researches made so far show that the water springs out of two separate channels. The narrower channel is 86 m deep and the wider one 57 m. The source can be reached by half an hour's walk from the village of Razloge.

PLITVICE LAKES

Plitvice Lakes are composed of 16 interlinked lakes between the mountains of Mala Kapela and Plješivica in the region of Lika. The whole area is on certain maps called the Devil's Garden, due to its landscape and history. According to the legend the Plitvice lakes were created after a long period of drought. People, animals and nature were longing for water, even the Black River went dry.

Plitvice Lakes National Park lies in the Plitvice plateau which is surrounded by three mountains part of the Dinaric Alps  Pljesevica  mountain (Gornja Pljesevica peak 1,640 m) and the Mala Kapela  mountain (Seliski Vrh peak at 1,280 m) and Medvedjak (884 m).The national Park is underlain by karstic rock, mainly dolomite and limestone with associated lakes and caves, this has given rise to the most distinctive feature of the lakes. The lakes are separated by natural dams of travertine, which is deposited by the action of moss, algae and bacteria. The encrusted plants and bacteria accumulate on top of each other, forming travertine barriers which grow at the rate of about 1 cm per year. The sixteen lakes are separated into an upper and lower cluster formed by runoff from the mountains, descending from an altitude of 636 m to 503 m over a distance of some eight km, aligned in a south-north direction. The lakes collectively cover an area of about two km², with the water exiting from the lowest lake to form the Korana River. The lakes are renowned for their distinctive colours, ranging from azure to green, grey or blue. The colours change constantly depending on the quantity of minerals or organisms in the water and the angle of sunlight.

The Plitvice Lakes national park is heavily forested, mainly with beech, spruce, and fir trees, and features a mixture of Alpine and Mediterranean vegetation. It has a notably wide variety of plant communities, due to its range of microclimates, differing soils and varying levels of altitude.
The area is also home to an extremely wide variety of animal and bird species. Rare fauna such as the European brown bear, wolf, eagle, owl, lynx, wild cat and capercaillie can be found there, along with many more common species. At least 126 species of birds have been recorded there, of which 70 have been recorded as breeding there.

Humans have inhabited the Plitvice Lakes area for thousands of years. It has been settled in turn by Illyrians, Thracians, Celts, Japods, Romans, Avars, Slavs and Turks. In 1528 the area fell to the Ottomans before being retaken by the Austrian Empire 150 years later. The Austrians subsequently incorporated it into their Military Frontier and, in addition to the native Croats who already inhabited the region, Serbs who had fled Ottoman repression settled there.

The Plitvice Lakes had become a major tourist attraction in the late 19th century. The first hotel was built there in 1896, and as early as 1893 it already had a conservation committee - the predecessor of today's national park authority. In 1949 the communist government of Yugoslavia nationalized the lakes and made them a national park. The park was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979 in recognition of its "outstanding natural beauty, and the undisturbed production of travertine (tuff) through chemical and biological action". The Plitvice Lakes are today one of Croatia's biggest tourist attractions. In 2000, the national park was expanded by a further 102 km².

KORNATI

On the last day of the Creation God desired to crown his work, and thus created the Kornati Islands out of tears, stars and breath» - wrote George Bernard Shaw. According to the legend the islands of Kornati were created out of white rocks which remained after God has completed the Creation. He threw those rocks into the sea and as He saw the result, He decided to leave it that way.n the central part of the Croatian   Adriatic, on the meeting point of Šibenik and Zadar islands, a separate and by many a specific group of islands, called Kornati, is situated. An amazing group of islands named Kornati archipelago is situated in the central part of Croatian Adriatic Sea, about 15 Nm to the west from Sibenik town, 7 Nm to the southwest from Murter, or 15 Nm to the south from Zadar town.

Beauty and singularity of the archipelago moved authorities in 1980 to proclaim a bigger part of that area national park. Since then certain modifications of its borders were made, so that nowadays Kornati National Park occupies the area of about 220 km2 (54.000 acres). There are 89 islands, islets and reefs within the area of Kornati National Park (238 km of the coastline), what makes it the most indented group of islands in the Mediterranean.

The land part of Kornati National Park covers less than 1/4 of its total area, but the values of its landscapes, the "crowns" (cliffs) on the islands facing the open sea, and interesting relief structures, make this part of Kornati National Park unique. Besides, the Kornati submarine area, whose biocenosis are considered to be the richest in the Adriatic Sea, and also the magnificent geomorphology of the sea bed attracts divers from all over Europe to come and enjoy in unforgettable submarine adventures.

In the central part of the Croatian   Adriatic, on the meeting point of Šibenik and Zadar islands, a separate and by many a specific group of islands, called Kornati, is situated.

Because of its exceptional landscape beauty, interesting geomorphology, diversity of the coastline and especially because of the rich biocoenoses of the marine ecosystem, greater part of the Kornati maritime zone has been declared a national park in 1980. Today NP “Kornati” occupies an area of about 220 km2 and it includes 89 islands, islets and cliffs, alltogether with a coastline about 238 km long.  Despite this relatively large number of islands the continental part of the park forms only 1 of the total area, while everything else belongs to the marine ecosystem.