As Seen in…
Places to visit in Croatia and on our Balkan tours
Why visit Croatia?
Always western leaning, Croatia’s modern populace strongly identifies themselves as European, as opposed to ‘Eastern’. The dominance of the Catholic Croat ethnicity following the turbulent 1990s civil war cemented the national identity which has developed determinedly for centuries; today the country is a highly attractive destination with an Adriatic coast over 1800km long and a benign climate, proudly touting itself as “Our beautiful home”.
It has ever been thus: by 229 B.C. the Romans gleefully subdued the Illyrians, leading to a building program in ‘Illyrica’ and ‘Pannonia’ epitomised in the Split’s palace of Diocletian and the magnificent colosseum of Pula both of which rival any Roman archaeological site for beauty, grandeur and completeness. When the Empire divided in 395, the region remained in the Western realm. The 7th century influx of Slavs – in particular the Croatian tribe – established the character of the modern nation and by 925 Duke Tomislav had united the country.
By the age of Ottoman expansion, the geography of Croatia which naturally divides it into two distinct regions came into play: the coastal strip sought protection from the Venetians, a power which they had long rivalled; behind the huge forested mountainous range, Slavonia and Croatia turned to the Austro-Hungarian superpower and the region speaks hugely of Haspburg influence in its culture, and buildings in such as the grand capital of Zagreb. Resistance to the Ottomans assured, Croatia began to strain under the yoke of the Austrian and Hungarian lordships. 1940s Nazi occupation saw a period of horrendous ethnic violence and it was not until Tito’s rise to power in 1945 that the Croatian republic’s boundaries were drawn.
Following the 1990s’ costly independence, peace allowed for visitors to once more head in order to experience its myriad of attractions. Whilst George Bernard Shaw’s assertion that “those who seek paradise on Earth should come to Dubrovnik” still resonates today, the city is an excellent springboard for travel beyond: Rovinj and Split offer magnificent old centres and the islands of Dalmatia such as Korcula and Hvar are proud medieval centres of sea-trade set in sapphire waters, where ancient artisanal crafts such as lace making still flourish.
With exquisite dining, elaborate and diverse architectural gems and a landscape that still holds some of Europe’s last wild bears, wolves and lynx, Croatia has boundless reasons to tempt any visitors to this simply delightful region.