Europe & Britain | Destination Guides

10 Things You Never Knew About Croatia

Recently updated on July 4th, 2023 at 02:22 pm

Croatia is a traveller’s paradise with its ancient, red-roofed towns, long stretches of sun-kissed beaches and azure lakes dotted through verdant forests. If you scratch the surface, however, the country is more intriguing than it might first appear. From world records to stylish soldiers, here are ten things you probably didn’t know about Croatia.

Birthplace of a genius

The tiny Croatian village of Smiljan produced one of history’s greatest ever scientists. Nikola Tesla was born there in 1856, and later moved to New York. It was in the US that he made countless discoveries in the field of electricity that have changed the way we live today.

Kuna: what came first, the creature or the currency?

Study your Croatian coins and you’ll spot a little bushy-tailed animal. These are martens – cute, mink-like mammals – and they give the currency its name, Kuna. Roman Croatia paid their taxes by trading the once precious furs, but it wasn’t until the ’90s that the name finally stuck.

about Croatia Croatia-coins-www.istockphoto.com_gb_photo_coins-of-croatia-gm519808779-49697896-wrangel

Award-winning truffles

Croatia acquired a second Guinness World Record in 1999, when Giancarlo Zigante and his dog Diana discovered a truffle in the Istrian forest weighing 1.31kg. The delicacy is in fact central to local cuisine, just as it is for Europe’s better-known producers, Italy, Spain and France.

On the silver screen

Dubrovnik’s sun-baked cobbled streets are famous for appearing in Game of Thrones. What’s less known is that, over the years, the medieval city has provided the backdrop for various blockbusters – from Ring of Spies in 1964 to the 2017 Star Wars release, The Last Jedi.

The Great Wall of Croatia

The 14th century Walls of Ston come second only to the Great Wall of China as the world’s longest surviving fortification. Fortunately, for today’s visitors, the walls can now be passed without trouble for sampling of some of the world’s best oysters in the city of Ston.

Invention in the capital

The humble pen is in fact a Croatian innovation. In 1900, Slovakia-born Slavoljub Penkala moved to Croatia’s capital, Zagreb. It was here that six years later he crafted the world’s first mechanical pencil and, a few years later, the fountain pen.

On the runway

You have Croatia to thank for that tie you’re wearing. In the 1600s, the red neckties sported by the country’s military became a fashion accessory across Europe. Every 18th October, the Croats celebrate their contribution to international style with Cravat Day.

The tiniest town in the world

The Guinness Book of World Records names Hum, in North-Western Croatia, as the world’s smallest town. A pretty hilltop settlement, it has all the amenities you’d expect –  museum, restaurant, church, post office, central square – but just 21 inhabitants.

Roman Roots

The Roman amphitheatre in Pula is the only one in the world to survive with all its rows and towers preserved. Once the stage for gladiator fights, today the arena is used for concerts and, on summer evenings, re-enacted gladiatorial contests, workshops and Roman-style markets at Spectacvla Antiqva. 

Raise a glass

The Ancient Greeks brought the art of winemaking to Croatia around two and a half thousand years ago. Today, oenophiles can find some of the original vineyards still in use on Hvar’s Stari Grad Plain. The country has four wine regions and more than 800 wineries to explore.

Experience the sun, sea and cities of Croatia for yourself on a captivating Trafalgar trip.

Image credits: Main image © iStock/xbrchx. Coins © iStock/wrangel. Hum © iStock/flocu. Ston © iStock/Donyanedomam.

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