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Lika and Gorski kotar
Lika and Gorski kotar are areas of picturesque village landscapes drowned in the greenery of forests and clear lakes. Lika plays a big strategic and transport role because it links the continental and the coastal parts of Croatia and that is why it is also known as the “backbone of Croatia”.

By the number of various protected natural sites and locations, the Lika-Senj County is the leader among the counties of Croatia.

Among them, the central place is taken by the national parks Plitvice lakes, Paklenica, North Velebit and the Nature park and world biosphere reserve Velebit. Gorski Kotar and Lika are full of attractions and interesting sites. In the following paragraphs we will introduce some of the most important and most famous ones:

1. National park Plitvice lakes
The area of Plitvice lakes was declared a national park in 1949, and it is included among the most beautiful natural sites in Europe. The national park stretches across an area of almost 30 000 acres, of which the largest part is made up of forests. The Plitvice lakes are divided into Upper and Lower lakes. Because of the height range from around 400 to 1200 m, this area is the habitat to 11 forest units. In 1979, the Plitvice lakes were granted UNESCO World Heritage status.

While falling across a 78 m high rock and creating an amphitheatre of the Great Waterfall, the highest waterfall in Croatia, the water of the Plitvice stream, together with the water from the lake, creates the waterfall of Sastavka, where the river Korana begins.

Few places in the world can say that all the animals inhabiting them are completely indigenous to the area as can be said of Plitvice Lakes. Among the various fauna the most interesting regular inhabitants are: the bear, the wolf and the otter. The brown bear can be seen on the park`s symbols. Also living here are wild boars, skunks, squirrels, rabbits, foxes… There are 126 species of birds registered from which around 70 nest here on a regular basis.

2. National park North Velebit
North Velebit was granted a national park status in 1999. This mountain region was declared a national park because of its various karst phenomena, rich wildlife and exceptional natural beauties on a relatively small area. The surface of the park is around 109 square kilometres and located inside the park is the protected reserve Hajdučki and Rožanski kukovi which represents specific geomorphologic phenomena on which more than 150 pits have been discovered. The most famous one is Luka`s pit, one of the deepest in the world, discovered in 1999. The park has many mountain trails.

3. Vražji prolaz and Zeleni vir
Vražji prolaz (The devils passage) is an 800 meter long canyon that many consider to be one of the most beautiful canyons in Croatia. Through a narrow, two meter wide gorge, pushing through is the mountain stream Jasle. Water has eaten away the stone in order to make way through this passage which astounds with the strength of the water`s elementary power and the wildness of the rugged rocks.

The area of Zeleni vir (Green whirlpool) was proclaimed a natural reserve in 1962. This is a powerful source at the bottom of a shallow, spacious cave. Above its entrance are vertical 70 m high rocks, with a lively waterfall colliding across it, creating a radiant water curtain. It was named after the green water of the little lake in the cave.

4. Kutarevo
A shelter for young bears was created in the village of Kutarevo on North Velebit in 2002. Seeking refuge in the shelter are bear cubs that have remained unprotected for a number of reasons. This one of a kind refuge is the only one in the world which houses orphaned bear cubs. It has a ‘baby centre’ for 2-6 month old cubs as well as a section for older bears.

5. Bjelolasica
This oasis of sports and recreation is located 27 kilometers from Ogulin, in a spacious valley 620 meters above sea level, where the mountain and the Mediterranean climates connect. Although this is a favourite winter skiing destination, also available to lovers of sport and recreation are the summer activities - athletic tracks, football, tennis, basketball, volleyball, handball…

6. National park Risnjak
The national park Risnjak covers the central part of the massifs Risnjak and Snježnik with its surface of 63.5 square klometres, as well as the upper flow of the Kupa River. The massifs Risnjak and Snježnik represent a large climate and vegetation partition between the coastal and inland parts of Croatia.

This is one of the most significant natural phenomena on Kvarner which attracts the attention of scientists and lovers of mountain beauties with its uniqueness.

Although it is only around 15 air miles away from the sea the climate in this area differs greatly to the climate on the coast. Wonderful natural beauty can be found on Risnjak - Dinara karst of specific hydrography and shape, ancient forest parts and untouched mountain tops. Along with the climate, the main factor in the development of various flora is its complex geological shape, thanks to which this area is very rich in plant species; even endemic ones such as the edelweiss.

It is also unique by the 51 species of birds that nest here. Wild animals such as the bear, the almost extinct wolf and the lynx can still be found here. From the top of Risnjak (1528 meters) a beautiful view stretches across the Alps, Medvednica, Plješivica, Velebit, Kapela, all the way to the Adriatic coast making it a favourite destination for mountaineers and nature lovers.

7. The Kamačnik canyon
The Kamačnik canyon is a special 3 km long attraction. Parts of its path lead across the edge of a rock, and others across wooden bridges built above forest streams, down to the beautiful green valley. After about a kilometre’s walk among the forested slopes one will discover a deep, dark lake.

8. The source of Kupa
The source of Kupa is a turquoise, lake shaped, karst source, which is also called the Lake of Kupa. It is 200 meters long and, on average, 30 meters wide. The source of Kupa is one of the many still unsolved mysteries of the karst and one of the strongest, widest and deepest Croatian water sources.

9. The three Barać caves
In the area of the Rakovica borough there are more than a hundred caves among which some are longer than a kilometre, while one of them is longer than 10 kilometres.
Waters which flow through the channels of these caves create a widespread water network of the Rakovica underground.

10. Bijele i Samarske stijene (White and Samar Rocks)
This is the area of exquisite aesthetic qualities and unique geomorphologic phenomena of karst set within a forest containing a variety of interesting flora and fauna. In the area of Bijele Stijene (1335 m) the most beautiful shapes found are the ones of ‘hips’, little towers, doors, arches, vertical cracks and hollows which preserve the snow throughout the whole year. Samarske stijene (1302 m) are even harder to reach with an even more abundant fauna.

11. ‘Hajdova hiža’ and ‘Pilarova ledenica’
‘Hajdova hiža’ is the largest cave in Gorski Kotar. Because it is hard to reach it is only available to speleologists. The entrance hall, which is 85 m long, 27 m wide and around 16 m high, belongs to the largest underground karst spaces. There are 900 m of interlaced canals and still undiscovered fissures. From the many ice-pits in Gorski Kotar, certainly the most famous one is Pilar`s ice-pit in Mrzla Draga, which is about 150 m long.

12. Caves Lokvarka and Vrelo
A visit to the cave Lokvarka is possible by taking the adjusted paths and steps into a number of hall spaces abundant in stone decorations. It is also possible to reach an underground lake. The researched length of the cave is 1200m, while 900 m are open for visitors. The cave Vrelo is located 3 km from the centre of Fužine. The total length of the entire cave canal is 300 m and tourists can see around 250 m of it.

13. Krasno
Krasno is the larges settlement on Velebit located 714 m above the sea level. This is the centre of the National park North Velebit. Every year around 10 000 mountaineers pass through here and the holy shrine in this place is visited by up to 100 000 people every year.

14. Platak
Platak is a small, family run, skiing resort in the velocity of Rijeka, with numerous possibilities for recreation during winter as well as summer.

A view of the sea can be enjoyed from the top of the ski slopes. Located nearby are Snježnik and Risnjak with beautiful view points which can be reached by adjusted trails.


THE TOWNS OF LIKA

1. Gospić
Gospić is located on the edge of one of the largest karst fields in Croatia, the Lika field, under the largest Croatian mountain Velebit, on the crossroads from the north to the south and on the banks of three rivers: Lika, Novčica and Bogdanica. Gospić is the economic, administrative, religious and cultural centre of the Lika-Senj County.

The name Gospić was first written in the historical sources from 1604. The foundations of today`s town are represented by two Turkish towers and an old bridge. Gospić is a town surrounded by an oasis of nature which offers numerous possibilities to active holiday lovers, from trekking, paintball, jeep safaris, horseback riding, archery, carriage rides, walking, adventure trips to Velebit, canoe safaris and cruises along the canyon of Lika and the Kruščica Lake. Lovers of hunting, fishing and hiking will certainly experience true pleasure in this area represented in the preserved richness of flora and fauna. One of the world`s most famous scientists, Nikola Tesla, was born in the vicinity of Gospić and there is a museum in his birth home in the village of Smiljani.

2. Otočac
Otočac was first mentioned on the Bašćanska plate from the end of the 11th century, a stone monument to Croatian literacy and culture. It owes the survival of its name to a small islet in the middle of the river Gacka on which it was located until the 18th century. The islet was fortified with walls and towers for protection and it could only be reached by a boat, which made it unconquerable and in its long history this town had never been occupied. Otočac began to develop outside of the city walls in the middle of the 18th century when danger from the Turks began to die down. The Empress Marija Terezija made the town a large trading area in 1746.

3. Brinje
Brinje was already an important parish in the Senj diocese in the middle ages. The most significant sacral site is the three storey chapel of the Holy Trinity from the end of the 14th century, with the famous wooden statue of St. Mary with baby Jesus, also called ‘ the statue of the beautiful Madonna’ and Piet known as the ‘stone statue’. The chapel of the Holy Trinity was built from stone and it has a special architectural and cultural-historical value. This is the best preserved chapel in Croatia.

4. Perušić
Perušić was first mentioned in 1487. It was named after the surname of the noble family Perušić, which probably moved to this area after the fall of Bosnia. The brothers Dominik and Gašpar Perušić were also the founders and the first rulers of Perušić. An interesting historical fact connected to Gašpar is that he was one of the signatories of Požun peace, a document signed by numerous great Croats and noblemen, by which they ensured the right to the Hungarian-Croatian throne to the German king Maximillan and his heirs, should they die without any lawful offspring. The Požun peace document is kept in Vienna and it holds Gašpar`s seal with a lion that is holding a feather and stepping to the right. Today, this sign represents the symbol of the Perušic borough.


5. Gračac
Gračac is located in a wide gorge in the south of Lika. It has developed on the crossroads from Gospić towards Knin and Krbava towards Dalmatia. It is separated from Dalmatia by a high massif of Velebit, across whose path Prezid, passes the Gračac-Obrovac road.
There are a number of streams passing through Gračac and one of them grows into the little river Otuča. Interesting sites that should be singled out are the Cerovac cave, the source of the river Zrmanja, the remains of the old Croatian royal fort Zvonigrad above upper Zrmanja and the impressive Franciscan monastery.


THE TOWNS OF GORSKI KOTAR

1. Delnice
With the completion of the motorway Rijeka-Zagreb, Delnice can be reached from Rijeka in around 30 minutes, while it takes about an hour from Zagreb. The former, old Zagreb-Rijeka road rightly became the ‘Lujzinska tourist road’ putting an emphasis on its original name, which reveals a historical story to passers by along the route.
In Delnice, visitors can see the castle Zrinski- a monument of the first category, the parish church of St. John the Baptist, the Rački house-the oldest house in the area and a protected cultural monument and the Popović mill, one of the first facilities in Delnice which had electricity.

2. Fužine
Fužine is a famous place with a very long tourist tradition that dates back to 1874 when the first organized trip in history was recorded and guests arrived by special trains from Sušak, Rijeka and the surrounding coastal villages.

Even before that, on the Karolinska road (1737) on which Fužine developed, there were resting places for caravans, so Fužine is categorized among the oldest tourist resorts of Kvarner, Croatia and even middle Europe.

Located 730 meters above sea level, in the south west part of Gorski kotar, Fužine is surrounded by picturesque mountains, the quiet of the ancient black forest and the beauty of the lakes. In the vicinity of Fužine there is a place called Lič, which is famous for its holy shrine of the Holy Mother of Snow from 1733. The church of St. Anton Padovanski in Fužine is the largest sacral building in Gorski kotar. It was built during a 25 year period, from 1808 to 1833, in the location where a chapel and the first Fužine cemetery used to be. The church is dedicated to the patron saint of Fužine, St. Anton Padovanski and it dominates the whole village.

3. Čabar
The town of Čabar takes up almost a fourth of the Gorski kotar area with its surface and it is the third largest town in the Primorsko-Goranska County. Čabar is rich in natural beauties, has relatively good climate conditions and numerous cultural and historical sites. The town was first mentioned in 1642. Its founder was Peter Zrinski, the most significant Croatian ban (count). The castle that Zrinski built still exists to this day in a changed and adjusted form.

4. Begovo Razdolje
Begovo Razdolje is a small town located in the heart of Goski kotar on the western slopes of Bjelolasica Mountain. It is the highest settlement in Croatia, situated 1078 meters above sea level. Traditionally, the people of this town were orientated towards forestry because of the position and microclimate conditions of the area.
The fact that this is the highest settlement in Croatia, with the most snow and completely preserved natural surroundings is a great starting point for the development of a contemporary tourist offer.

The well connected roads, excellent infrastructure and the vicinity of Rijeka and Zagreb, especially since the motorway has been completed, are all huge advantages of Bregovo Razdolje.

5. Vrbovsko
Vrbovsko is located in the eastern part of Gorski kotar, half way between Rijeka and Zagreb. In the north, the valley of Kupa represents its border with Slovenia. It is one of the oldest inhabited places in Gorski kotar. In the 16th century it entered the system of Vojna krajina (military district) and together with the people of Sušice, Ravna gora and Mrkpolje fought against theTurkish invasion. The waterfalls and mill on the rivers Kupa and Dobra, Čagrljevo lake in Moravice, Litorić and the belvedere Orlova stijena are all recognizable landmarks of this area. Especially beautiful is the protected landscape Kamačnik

6. Lokve
The cave Lokvarka, the park forest Golubinjak and the Lokvar Lake are the most significant natural attractions of Lokve, one of the oldest places in Gorski kotar. For more than three decades Lokve has been famous for a manifestation called Žabarska noć (Frog night), where a very entertaining frog race takes place. Owners encourage their trained pets to reach the finish line as fast as possible with long jumps and at the same time are greatly entertained together with the other visitors. This area is netted with walking and cycling trails. Hirčev`s cave is also interesting because it is the only archaeological site in karst Croatia.

7. Skrad
The main attractions of Skrad, built half way between Rijeka and Zagreb are Zeleni vir and Vražji prolaz. They can be reached by road from the town and are located around 5 kilometres away. Zeleni vir is a water source in the cave whose entry is covered with a waterfall that descends from a 70 meter high rock in which the cave is located. Vražji prolaz is an 800m long canyon with a path running through it which is in some places only 2 meters wide.

8. Ravna Gora
The development of this town is connected to the building of the Karolinska road in the 18th century, although there is evidence that there was a settlement here even before that. Back in the 18th century the Frankopans built a castle in the nearby Stara Sušica. Nowadays, having been refurbished, it is used as a resort of the City of Rijeka. In the area of Ravna Gora there are 150 km of walking and cycling trails. An hour`s walk away is the resort Javorova kosa where the natural well Božji studenac (God`s well) is located. Traditional tales claim that its waters have medicinal benefits for the eyes. Also here, is a mountaineering hut and a point where the view stretches all the way to Zagreb, which is a hundred km away but whose lights can be seen on the horizon during clear nights.

9. Mrkopalj
Mrkopalj is located in the middle of Gorski kotar, perched on a high plain at 824 meters above sea level and surrounded by Velika Kapela and Bitoraj. It is located around 50 km from Rijeka. The nature reserve Bijele i Samarske stijene (rocks) and Bjelolasica are a natural attraction. Mrkopalj is the cradle of Nordic skiing in Croatia. The Olympians Nada Birko Kustec, Jakov Fak and Franjo Jakovac originate from here. Here we can find the ski slopes Čelimbaša and Begovo Razdolje and the Croatian biathlon centre.


The Tourist Board of the Lika-Senj County
www.lickosenjska.com

The Tourist Board of the Primorsko-goranska County
www.kvarner.hr
 
 

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