Croatia – A Country of mixed emotions

Zagreb Buildings

A Country Torn Apart by War

While Italy is one of the most popular tourist countries in the world, its neighbour, Croatia, is relatively unknown in comparison because it is still seen as a war torn country.

When we recently travelled through Croatia, we were struck by the devastation of the war: many inland small villages are totally desolated and abandoned by its inhabitants during the recent war.

After the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, the Croats, as well as many other Europeans, rejected communism in the multi-party elections in 1990.

The Serbian aggression to Croatia in 1991 and then Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992 was the most dreadful event in Europe after the World War II.

A two-day visit of Pope Paul II to Zagreb on September 10, 1994, was rather symbolical. The whole Croatia together with the Holy Father prayed for peace in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

By the end of 1995, the Croats brilliantly performed military actions in order to liberate the largest part of its territory ensuring the repossession of the occupied part of the Eastern Slovenia. The Dayton treaty of 1995 stopped the war in Croatia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Croatian people speak a south Slovak language. The tourist industry main language is German but because of Croatia’s location Italian is widely spoken along the coast. English is spoken by most of the young people.

The best time to travel is April – September, when temperature is around the high 20’s. The coastline is renown for averaging over 7 hours of sunlight per day. In winter temperatures drop to below freezing, and the country tourism network basically comes to a halt.

Instead of flying into the capital, Zagreb, one should rather combine the Veneto region of Italy with your visit to Croatia.

Zagreb is a typical east European city where time stopped some decades ago. The contrast between the very poor and middle class is distinct.

A good tram service provides excellent public transport to most of the tourist attractions of the city.

Surrounded by woods and parks, the city lies between the snow covered slopes of mount Medvednica to the north and the Sava river to the south. The old town, Gornji Grad, played a significant part in the history of both the city and Croatia.

The works of art, mostly sculptures, of the great Croatian sculptor, Ivan Mestrovic, can be enjoyed in his home gallery, near the church of St Mark. The coloured tiles on the roof of this fine Gothic Church, form the coats of arms of Croatia, Dalmatia, Slavonia and Zagreb.

The Zicara is a cable car which connects Zagreb with Sljeme, the highest peak from where impressive panoramic views of the city can be enjoyed.

– Johann Beukes

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