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Still not heard of Croatia? 10 (more) reasons you should visit it!

August 09, 2014 11:43 IST

Still not heard of Croatia? 10 (more) reasons you should visit it!

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Anita Rao Kashi

Last week Anita Rao Kashi wrote about 9 reasons to visit Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. Here are 10 more reasons why you must visit the country.

Just two hours Southwest of Zagreb is the Plitvice Lakes National Park, a national park that is unlike most others.

At nearly 300 sq km, it is also Croatia’s largest national park and is located almost near the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina. But what makes it unique is the fact that the park is home to 16 cascading lakes arranged like terraces, each draining into the next through thousands of tiny, medium and large waterfalls, prompting it to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Suffice to say, it’s an experience that a visitor is unlikely to forget in a hurry.

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Photographs: Anita Rao Kashi

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The lakes are of stunning colour, ranging from deep turquoise to the lightest blue veering almost to the transparent.

Walking paths and boardwalks take visitors through a number of trails, varying in distance and difficulty.

The paths meander along lakes, rise and fall alongside waterfalls, skim the water surface, perch dramatically over lakes and provide stunning platforms to view some of the falls.

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Photographs: Anita Rao Kashi
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Still not heard of Croatia? 10 (more) reasons you should visit it!

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At the edge of the lakes, the still water in some places is ideal breeding grounds for a variety of fish, which swim unabashedly close to visitors.

The national park, made up largely of beech and fir, is also home to a stunning variety of birds and beautiful electric blue dragonflies.

There are also larger animals like brown bears, wolves and lynx, though these are rarely visible.

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Photographs: Anita Rao Kashi
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The falls tumble and fall with a thundering effect, contrasted nicely with the serene and peaceful environs of the lakes. The cascades have been created over millennia by water borne limestone sediment called travertine, picked up by mountain rivers and deposited along the way to form natural dams.

The process is very much on-going; stones and plants inside the water are coated with this silvery grey matter and scientists estimate that these dams grow at the rate of 1 cm a year.

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Photographs: Anita Rao Kashi
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Still not heard of Croatia? 10 (more) reasons you should visit it!

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Plitvice is filled with, literally, thousands of waterfalls, each unique in its own way.

The largest spans 78 metres and the water drops with a thundering roar.

However, there are so many others which are equally impressive and picturesque such as Galovacki buk which falls as a set of parallel falls around a semicircular table.

There are others which fall as a sheet or cascade over a set of boulders, making for a surreal sight.

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Photographs: Anita Rao Kashi

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About 150 km to the West of the Plitvice national park is Zadar, a charming sea side town on the Adriatic Sea.

Under Venetian rule for a long time, followed by France and Austria, Zadar’s façade is a glorious mix of influences from all these countries.

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Photographs: Anita Rao Kashi

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Zadar is home to the unique sea organ, the only one of its kind in the world.

On the waterfront, an organ has been cleverly immersed in water and is played by the waves of the sea.

Sitting on the steps, with the haunting sounds swirling around, makes for a rather unusual and surreal experience.

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Photographs: Anita Rao Kashi

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The Roman Forum sits just a few metres from the sea, comprising a set of ruins and towering Roman column called the Pillar of Shame where wrongdoers were chained and pilloried.

More majestic is the massive structure behind, the famous Church of St Donat dedicated to the local bishop, which is the symbol of Zadar.

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Photographs: Anita Rao Kashi

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Zadar is packed with churches and beautiful buildings depicting Baroque, Renaissance and Gothic styles.

At the Norodni Trg or National Square stands the City Sentinel which served as a military building.

A clock tower, stone barrier and railing with holes for cannons aptly denote the building’s antecedents. It now serves as a museum.

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Wandering around Zadar’s lovely, narrow streets is a lovely experience, since there are lovely surprises tucked around every corner.

Beautiful ancient buildings, wide open squares where people gather, pretty little shops selling lavender, handmade lace, embroidered clothes and Maraschino, locally made cherry liqueur, all souvenirs that are bound to bring the memories rushing back.


Photographs: Anita Rao Kashi

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