Dubovac Castle, Karlovac, Croatia
It’s been a while since my last Discover Croatia post and it’s also been a long time since our last day trip as a family. But it’s completely different to travel with an active toddler than a baby. Needless to say, I found it easier to travel with a baby and now regret not travelling more with my son when he was younger. However, that doesn’t mean that we won’t travel with him anymore. At the moment with him running in all directions and me being pregnant again the most simplest of walks can be difficult. Nevertheless, this day trip was great and our boy was on his best behaviour and really enjoyed exploring Dubovac Castle.
So, let’s write about Dubovac Castle. This castle is situated on a hill overlooking the town of Karlovac which is halfway between the capital of Croatia Zagreb and its biggest seaport Rijeka. Dubovac Castle is a Renaissance castle with Gothic elements whose oldest parts date back to the 13th century. The name of the castle originates from the word for an oak tree in Croatian language since it was surrounded by a large oak trees forest. There’s still a lot of greenery around the castle but not a proper forest.
Veliki Tabor Castle
Once upon a time…..that’s how all fairy-tales begin, don’t they? Croatia is full of fairy-tale castles and legends. You just need to go further inland to discover more of Croatia, not just its stunning coastline.
Veliki Tabor Castle is one of the most beautiful castles in Croatia. It’s been on my to-visit list for a while. When I discussed visiting it with my husband the original idea was to spend a weekend in Zagorje region of Croatia and to visit both the castle and the baroque town Varaždin as well as several other worthy tourist attractions in the area. But we had to let go of that idea this time and we settled on a day trip to Veliki Tabor Castle with our baby boy.
What better way to spend a Valentine’s Day then by visiting a castle? That’s exactly what I did two years ago. How did I choose Ozalj castle? Well, I saw it featured in a magazine in an article about Croatian castles and convinced my husband to visit it with our friends. And it was the perfect day trip!
About Ozalj Castle
Ozalj is a small town roughly 66 km away from Croatian’s capital Zagreb and very near the Slovenian border. Its most famous period in the history was during the rule of the illustrious Croatian noble family Zrinski in the 17th century. Another notable resident of Ozalj was the Croatian deaf-mute painter Slava Raškaj who was born in Ozalj in 1877.
The medieval Old Town of Ozalj perched on the stone cliff above Kupa river was transformed into a beautiful castle in the 18th century. Ozalj castle changed many hands during the turbulent Croatian history. It was owned by the King in the 13th century and then by the noble families of Babonić, Frankopan, Zrinski, Perlas, Batthyany and Thurn and Taxis. Its current owners are the “Brethren of the Croatian Dragon” society who have opened it to the public.
Inside the Ozalj castle you can find a small museum and the library. The entry fee was 20 kuna which is just under 3€ at the time of my visit (Feb 2015).
entrance to Ozalj castle
the view of River Kupa from the castle
Mali Lošinj town
I hope that this post brings some sunshine into your cold November day. I’m taking you to another beautiful Croatian island in this blog series Discover Croatia. I had opportunity to visit Lošinj island this summer when I joined my husband on his semi-business trip. I haven’t been on Lošinj for years so I really enjoyed my day wandering around two charming towns : Mali Lošinj and Veli Lošinj. Despite their names (mali means small and veli means big) these two towns are actually quite the opposite: Veli Lošinj is rather small and picturesque while Mali Lošinj is the biggest town on the island (7 000 ppl) and it’s full of life.
About Lošinj island
In the distant past island Lošinj and island Cres in the northern Adriatic Sea were just one big island but they were separated into two islands by an artificial channel and later connected again by a small bridge. There are several smaller islands and uninhabited isles that belong to Lošinj-Cres archipelago. The Romans called this archipelago Apsirtides because of a legend about Argonauts-the band of heroes in Greek mythology who accompanied Jason in his search for the Golden Fleece. Jason eventually managed to steal the Golden Fleece from the king with the help of the kings’s daughter and sorcerer Medea but the king’s son followed Jason to retrieve his father’s treasured possession. Jason managed to kill the kings’s son Apsyrtus while Apsyrtus’s own sister Medea dismembered him and threw his remains into the sea-thus the islands Apsirtides were made. Interesting legend, right?
Today Lošinj island is famous as the Island of Vitality due to its specific and beneficial climate suitable for treating different respiratory diseases and allergies. The beginnings of the health tourism date back to 19th century. Apart from great wellness programmes in almost all hotels on the island there are also excellent rehabilitation centers that attract many international sportsmen.
Another curiosity about the island Lošinj: there are no poisonous snakes. It can be said that Lošinj island has two animal symbols: dolphins and geckos (small lizards). There’s a big bottlenose dolphin colony in Lošinj-Cres archipelago which is researched and protected by the law.
The newest attraction of the island is the new museum in Mali Lošinj which displays the ancient Greek statute of Apoxyomenos which was found in the sea at the depth of 45 m.
In my second installment of blog series Discover Croatia I’m taking you to Pag town on Pag island. I haven’t been to Pag island until this summer. Strange, I know. I’ve been 11 times to London but I still haven’t visited all the islands in Croatia. Pag island is actually quite known to young party-animals because of Zrče beach (Novalja) and its clubs and music festivals such as Hideout festival. But I don’t think that many of those who party hard at Zrče have actually seen much of Pag island. If you’re not into that kind of entertainment anymore, let me tell you more about a small but beautiful Pag town on Pag island.
I holidayed for a couple of days with my husband in a small Dalmatian village this summer like we usually do. But I finally managed to convince him to go to Pag island which is less than an hour away from our accommodation. Our friends joined us for a day trip of exploring Pag town. We walked around Pag town, had excellent lunch and spent some time at the nearby beach before the storm came. When we drove back we stopped again just before the bridge and visited the ruinous fortress.
First photo opportunity arose just before we crossed the Pag bridge (it’s free). We stopped and took some photos like the other tourists. The view of the mainland across the sea and the view of barren Pag island is very special. In my opinion Pag has a very Moon-like landscape and it could be a perfect location for some SF movie. Actually Pag has a nickname Lunar Island. Pag is the fifth largest Croatian island but it’s the only one which belongs administratively to two counties. Pag island is famous for its delicious Pag cheese, exquisite lacework and the salt extraction since the ancient times.
at Pag bridge this summer
I’m starting a new blog series called Discover Croatia. I’ll show you that there’s more to see in Croatia than just Dubrovnik or Plitvice Lakes which are of course rather stunning :).
Recently I spent a few hours wandering around Rab town. I haven’t been on Rab island since my school trip when I was 14 which is a shame. It’s a wonderful island that deserves to be more known to travel bloggers and visitors alike.
Rab island is situated in the northern Adriatic Sea and it is known as the ˝Island of Love˝. Why? Because the first nudist beach was opened in 1934 and since then Rab has been a world famous destination for all who enjoy to be stark naked on the beach. The most infamous guest of Rab was none other than the English king Edward VIII who also enjoyed some skinny dipping with his partner Wallis Simpson in 1936. There are many beautiful sandy and pebble beaches on island Rab which are frequented by swimsuit-wearing tourists as well. Besides its wonderful beaches Rab island also has one of the last remaining oak forests in the whole Mediterranean. A Geo-Park with interesting hiking trails has been founded too because of the island’s natural diversity. There are several small towns and villages on the island: the biggest is Rab town.
According to a legend the founder of the micro-state San Marino was born in Rab. Today there are still very friendly relations between the small Italian country and the Croatian island Rab. Rab is known as Arbe in Italian language and that name comes from the oldest inhabitants of Rab-the Liburnians. During the history Rab like the large part of the Croatian coast was under the Venetian rule for a period of time. A lot of people speak Italian in Rab but English is also widespread.
Rab town is easily recognized by its 4 church towers. A small historical center is full of old stone houses, churches, palm trees, cafes and restaurants. The biggest event in Rab’s calendar is the yearly Rab Medieval festival-Rapska Fjera. There’s also a renown music festival every summer Rapske glazbene večeri (Rab nights). Foodies should visit Rab during the Eco Week festival (Eko Šetimana ). A very special souvenir from Rab is Rab Cake. Its main ingredients are almonds and Maraschino liqueur and it was first served in the twelfth century to Pope Alexander III.
What should you do in Rab? Wander its streets, have cocktails and dinner in the evening, take a speed-boat trip and find a secluded beach somewhere on the island, watch a movie in an open-air cinema, do some sports like cycling and just enjoy this rather beautiful small island town. If you’re into history and culture you can visit its numerous churches and climb the towers to see magnificent views of the town and the island.
Let me show you Rab town:
one of the many old houses-entrance to the Middle Street
the main square-entrance to the old town
a small fortress
climbing the stairs to the Upper street
Istria is probably the most developed tourist region in Croatia with towns such as Rovinj and Poreč that attract a serious number of tourists. Besides the beautiful coastline the peninsula of Istria boasts excellent cuisine and medieval hilltop towns much like the region of Tuscany in Italy. However, there are still many off the beaten track places in Istria and in Croatia in general that you can visit.
There is a significant number of fortresses in different stages of disrepair and ruin around Croatia that can be visited for free. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit one of such forgotten and abandoned fortresses. But there are many well-preserved castles and fortresses too that attract tourists.
Since my husband and I both love medieval festivals we recently visited a small medieval festival at Dvigrad Ruins in Istria (only 25mins from Rovinj inland). I found out about it by coincidence, an ad popped on my Facebook news feed. So, we took our 20 months old boy to see some medieval knights. It was a hot Saturday afternoon which might explain the lack of visitors (admission was free, the ruins can be visited any time for free too). I think there were more of performers than visitors at this festival. Firstly, we walked all over the Dvigrad Ruins. Dvigrad was a prosperous town with a fortress and a church until the plague and the malaria depopulated it in the 16th century. The last surviving families moved out at the beginning of the 18th century and since then this town has been abandoned.