Photo by Zoran Jelača

The Most Unusual Attractions that just Need to be Discovered

Croatia is known internationally for its natural beauty and historical and cultural heritage. There isn’t a tourist who has not heard of Dubrovnik and its walls, or Kornati or the Plitvice Lakes. But what would you do if we told you that there are places and things in Croatia that are “the most, the best” according to some criteria, but only a few have ever heard of them? Would you visit them, check them out, photograph or touch them? If you are interested, here is a quick overview.

Hum – the Smallest City in the World

When someone says “city”, the first thing that comes to mind is a big and noisy place full of numerous small and large buildings, streets with thousands of cars crawling along them, where a large number of people live. So it is no surprise to see the wonder of all the curious people who find themselves at the foot of the Istrian hill, when the guide tells them that the city of Hum is located on top of it. There is no usual city bustle in it, no traffic jams, no big buildings, no shopping centres. Inside the preserved city walls there are only two streets, two churches and a tavern where you can drink the biska brandy made according to a centuries-old recipe. If you have had enough of the city bustle, but you cannot do without cities, stop in Hum, the smallest city in the world, which is visited by around 300,000 people every year.

Church of the Holy Cross in Nin – the Smallest Cathedral in the World

The Church of the Holy Cross was built in the 9th century and is the most valuable preserved monument of ancient Croatian architecture. If you take a closer look, you will see construction faults that were not caused by poorly executed work, but were planned ahead. Because of the position of the windows and the corners, the church at that time functioned as a calendar of sorts, because it was possible to determine the exact date of the solstice and the equinox by the sun’s rays. There is an inscription on the lintel, which is believed to be the oldest known Croatian inscription. At the time of the Croatian rulers, the church was used as a court chapel for the nearby prince’s court. The American magazine The Huffington Post has included it among the 50 most unusual churches in the world.

Susak – the Shortest Folk Costume (the First Croatian Mini-Skirt)

Although geographically small and demographically even smaller, the island of Susak is actually an extremely interesting island. Its geological structure is rather well known, as is its unusual dialect, but one of the most unusual surprises which is not that well known is the Susak folk costume, also considered the shortest folk costume in Croatia. The first Croatian mini-skirt, or rather a skirt called the kamizoti, consists of five or six white skirts, the lowest of which is the shortest, while all the others are one centimetre longer than the previous one. Hand-made lace known as kamufi is sewn along the edges of each skirt. Apart from kamizoti, the costume consists of a kosula (shirt), mudonde (underpants with legs), suknica (underskirt), kalcete (socks), bust (waistcoat), traviersla (apron), bravaruol (scarf) and carape (dress shoes). Dolls dressed in folk costumes can be bought as a souvenir on the island.

Krapanj – the Lowest Island on the Adriatic (Croatian Venice)

Krapanj is an island in the Šibenik archipelago, 300 metres away from the mainland. The more courageous ones, who are in better shape, could swim that distance, but swimming on that route is strictly prohibited. In the 1960s, this island, less than half a kilometre square in size, was the most densely populated island in the Adriatic, but poor economic conditions forced the population to emigrate, so Krapanj lost the title of the most heavily inhabited island but retained the title of the lowest island in the Adriatic Sea.

The highest spot on the island is merely 1.25 metres above sea level and is therefore threatened by a similar destiny as Venice. Don’t worry, it will not sink that fast, so you have enough time to visit it and see all its beauty and sights.

Vela Palagruža – the Farthest Adriatic Lighthouse

Somewhere on the open sea, even further away than Vis and Lastovo, is the farthest Croatian island of Palagruža, with the most remote Adriatic lighthouse built at the centre of the island at a height of 90 metres. Lighthouse keepers are also the only inhabitants of this beautiful island, specific for its high cliffs, mild climate and endemic plants. Sometimes they are joined by fishermen from Komiža, who have fished in this area since the 14th century. One of the interesting things to be seen on the island are archaeological sites that reveal that Palagruža was inhabited nine thousand years ago, and the ruins of a medieval monastery. Maybe Palagruža seems to be far away to us, but it is obvious that in the past it was a very popular place to live.

Vrbnik – the Narrowest Street in the World

Vrbnik is a small town on Croatia’s largest island of Krk. Because of the way they used to build, cars and motorbikes cannot pass through some streets, and some are so narrow that people cannot pass through them either. One of these streets is the Klančić Street, whose narrowest part is a little over forty centimetres wide-or perhaps more aptly said-narrow, which is why it has unofficially been proclaimed the narrowest street in the world. If an even narrower street appears somewhere in the meantime, the Klančić Street will still keep the title of the narrowest street in Croatia. If you wonder whether you are among those who could pass through or among those who will have to take an alternate route, you will have to find the answer in Vrbnik. And surely you will not be the only one.

The Cathedral of St. Domnius – the Oldest Cathedral in the World

The Split Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, known locally as the Cathedral of St. Domnius, is located in Diocletian’s Palace. It was built at the beginning of the 4th century as the mausoleum of Emperor Diocletian. Sometime in the 7th century, the Avars and Slavs destroyed Salona. The residents who survived came back later to the city and transformed the mausoleum into the cathedral, making it the oldest cathedral in the world. It is best known for its well-preserved wooden doors, which were made in the 13th century by a well-known local master. The most striking detail of the Split Cathedral is its Romanesque-Gothic bell tower, whose construction lasted from the 13th to the 16th century.

Zagreb – the Shortest Funicular in the World

You can also walk to the Upper Town, but if there are 28 of you or less, why not take the funicular! The funicular heading to the Upper Town is the oldest means of organized public passenger transport in Zagreb. In comparison with other funicular railways of this type and its 66m long track, the Zagreb funicular is considered the shortest in the world. Since it has completely retained its original appearance and most of its technical properties, the Zagreb funicular was declared a protected monument of culture. The funicular ride takes 64 seconds, which is just enough for one good selfie.

Vinkovci – the Oldest Croatian and European City

Located along the Bosut River, the city of Vinkovci has been continuously inhabited for more than 8300 years, making it the oldest city in Europe. Archaeological explorations in the Vinkovci area, led by archaeologist Durman, have shown, and ultimately proved, the existence of an older phase of the Starčevo culture from the 7th century BC. Among other things, the oldest ceramic baking furnace in Europe was also found there. The fact that two Roman emperors, the brothers Valentinian and Valens, were born in Cibalia, which is the Roman name for Vinkovci, attests to how popular Vinkovci was throughout history. Nowadays, Vinkovci is best known for its cultural, economic and tourist event “Vinkovci Autumn”, which has been held in this town for more than three decades.

Ombla – the Shortest River in Croatia

When you are a river passing by the world-famous Dubrovnik, you do not have too great a chance of being remembered. However, the Ombla River has managed to become famous next to the most famous Croatian city. How is that? Ombla or Rijeka Dubrovačka is a true karst phenomenon. Its spring supplied the Dubrovnik water supply with drinking water. But that is not what makes it special. The Ombla was made special by its 30-meter long watercourse, which was proclaimed the shortest river in the world and found its place in the famous Guinness Book of Records. We would like to add that the biotope of the giant water bug (Belostoma niloticum), one of the biggest insects in Europe is located near the spring. Another proof that Ombla deserves to be on the “top” list.

When you visit Croatia, always be prepared for pleasant surprises because, just when you think you’ve seen it all, it will come up with several new and unbelievable discoveries you’ll simply have to see!