This country is situated in Southeast and Central Europe. To the northeast, Croatia borders Hungary; to the east, Siberia; to the south-east, Herzegovina and Bosnia; to the south, Montenegro; to the south-west, the Adriatic Sea; and to the northwest, Slovenia. Most of the country lies between longitudes 13° and 20° East and latitudes 42° and 47° North. The territory has a total land area of 21,851 square miles (56,594 square kilometers), of which 49 square miles (128 square kilometers) is water and 21,782 square miles (56,414 square kilometers) is land. Croatia is the world’s 127th largest country. For such a small country, Croatia offers visitors an incredible range of landscapes: from the Mediterranean coast with its necklace of 1244 islands to the sunflower-gilded Slovenian plains, via pristine rivers and the wildlife-rich subalpine regions of Gorski kotar and the Velebit Mountains. With seven World Heritage sites, eight National Parks and eleven Nature Parks, there’s a wealth of exploring to do in the great outdoors.
CROATIAN FOOD: Expectations of Croatian cuisine are usually based around the rich diversity of fresh fish, squid, lobster and shellfish supplied by the Adriatic Sea. Unsurprisingly, this maritime bounty forms the backbone of most restaurant menus. However it would be a mistake to assume that this was all that local culinary culture had to offer. Croatia’s coastal regions have preserved a wealth of age-old regional specialties, many of which are coming back into fashion having for decades been looked down on as simple peasant food.
IVAN MESTROVIC: Every country has its national treasures: people or institutions that define that nation; that make it proud or simply make its people a little gladder to be alive than they would have been otherwise. One of Croatia’s national treasures is undoubtedly the sculptor Ivan Mestrovic. In his work you can clearly see the conflicts and passions that made him, like his statues, very much larger than life.
DIOCLETIAN’S PALACE IN SPLIT (DIOKLECIJANOVA PALACA): A quick look at the resplendent view of the palace from the hills surrounding the city will quickly establish why practically any emperor would be more than happy to locate his palace at the site that Diocletian chose for his retirement home.
THE OLD CITY OF DUBROVNIK (STARI GRAD DUBROVNIK): Almost two kilometers in length, Dubrovnik’s city walls are among the best preserved and most attractive on this planet, and a walk along them is an absolute must. The defenses were built between the 8th and the 16th century.
THE PLITVICE LAKES (PLITVICKA JEZERA): A sultry oppression sat over the fields and mountains for months. People and animals, meadows and gardens yearned for refreshing, gentle rain. The Crane Rijeka River, ordinarily a cheerfully babbling stream, dried up. The people’s prayers and pleading were all in vain the skies showed no mercy on them.
THE SIBENIK CATHEDRAL (KATEDRALA U SIBENIKU): With its pale stone dome rising above the city like a gargantuan crocus bulb, Sibenik’s magnificent Cathedral exerts a dominating presence over the huddled buildings of the Old Town. The Shrine of the Mother of God of Bistrica is in the town of Marija Bistrica in the region of Zagorje, some 40km north of Zagreb. The pilgrimage season here lasts from the first Sunday after Easter until the end of October. During this time, about 50 pilgrimages take place. Here, a black wooden statue of the Mother of God that is said to have miraculous powers is venerated.
THE CROATIAN NATIONAL SHRINE – THE PARISH CHURCH OF ST MARY OF BISTRICA: The largest and most important Marian shrine in Croatia is in the town of Marija Bistrica in the region of Zagorje, some 40km north of Zagreb. The shrine has a long history.
GETTING TO CROATIA: Canadian and American tourists will usually be booked with a flight to London and a connecting flight from London to the city of Zagreb will complete the trip . Most flights from Asia will stop over at Doha, Qatar or Istanbul in Turkey before getting a flight to Croatia. If you are travelling to countries adjacent or near Croatia, you can access the country by a direct train coming from Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Italy.