Culture of Croatia

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Croatian Culture


The culture of Croatia has roots in a long history: the Croatian people have been inhabiting the area for thirteen centuries, but there are important remnants of the earlier periods still preserved in the country.

Ancient Heritage

Ancient monuments from Paleolithic are very poor and it consists out of simple stone and bone objects. Some of the earliest remaining historical features include 100,000 year old bones of a Neandertal man near Krapina (Krapina-Zagorje county).

The most interesting Copper Age or Eneolithic finds are from Vučedol culture. Out of that culture sprung out Bronze Age Vinkovci culture (named after city of Vinkovci) that is recognizable by bronze fibulas that were replacing objects like needles and buttons. Bronze Age culture of Illyrians, ethnic group with distinct culture and art form started to organize itself in 7th century BC. Numerous monumental sculptures are preserved, as well as walls of citadel Nezakcij near Pula, one of numerous Istrian cities from Iron Age.

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Restitution of Emperor Diocletian Palace in Split, c. 300 AD
Greeks from Syracuse in Sicily in 390 BC came to islands of Vis (Issa), Hvar (Pharos) and Korčula (Corcyra Nigra) and there have founded city-states in which they lived quite isolated. While the Greek colonies were flourishing on the island, on the continent the Illyrians were organizing their centers. Their art was greatly influenced by Greek art, and they have even copied some. Illyrians even conquered Greek colonies on Dalmatian islands. Famous was the queen Teuta of Issa (today island of Vis) which waged wars with the Romans. But finally, Rome subdued the Illyrians in first century BC, and after that the history of these parts is a history of Illyrian provinces of Rome and Byzantium.

The Romans[1] organized the entire coastal territory by transforming citadels to urban cities. There have been at least thirty urban cities in Istria, Liburnia and Dalmatia with Roman citizenship (civitas). The best-preserved nets of Roman streets (decumanus/cardo) are those in Epetion (Poreč) and Jader (Zadar). The most entirely preserved Roman monuments are in Pola (Pula) including Amphitheater (so called – Arena) from 2nd century. In 3rd century AD the city of Salona was the largest (it had 40 000 inhabitants) and most important city of Dalmatia. Near the city emperor Diocletian, born in Salona, build the Diocletian's Palace (around year 300 AD), which is largest and most important monument of late antique architecture in the World. In the 4th century Salona have became the center of Christianity for entire western Balkans. It hade numerous basilicas and necropolises, and even two saints: Domnius (Duje) and Anastasius (Staš).

One of few preserved basilicas in western Europe (beside ones in Ravenna) from the time of early Byzantium is Euphrasian Basilica in Poreč from 6th century.

The early Middle Ages brought the great migration of the Slavs and this period was perhaps a Dark Age in the cultural sense until the successful formation of the Slavic states which coexisted with Italic cities that remained on the coast, each of them were modelled like Venice.

Croatian Art

Main article: Art of Croatia
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Portal of Trogir chatedral by sculptor Radovan, c. 1240
In the 7th century the Croats, with other Slavs and Avars, came from Northern Europe to the region where they live today[2]. The Croats were open to roman art and culture, and first of all to Christianity. First churches[3] were build as royal sanctuaries, and influences of Roman art was strongest in Dalmatia where urbanization was thickest, and there was largest number of monuments. Gradually that influence was neglected and certain simplification, alteration of inherited forms and even creation of original buildings appeared. The largest and most complicated central based church from 9th century is St Donatus in Zadar. From those times, with its size and beauty we can only compare the chapel of Charlemagne in Aachen. Altar enclosure and windows of those churches were highly decorated with transparent shallow string-like ornament that is called Croatian pleter (meaning to weed) because the strings were threaded and rethreaded through itself. Sometimes the engravings in early Croatian script – Glagolitic appeared. Soon, the glagolic writings were replaced with Latin on altar boundaries and architraves of old-Croatian churches.

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The Walls of Dubrovnik, UNESCO Heritage
By joining the Hungarian state in the twelfth century, Croatia lost its independence, but it didn't lose its ties with the south and the west, and instead this ensured the beginning of a new era of Central European cultural influence. Early Romanesque art appeared in Croatia at the beginning of 11th century with strong development of monasteries and reform of the church. In that period many valuable monuments and artefacts alongside Croatian coast were made, like Cathedral of St. Anastasia, Zadar (natively - St. Stošija) in Zadar (13th century). In Croatian Romanesque sculpture we have a transformation of decorative interlace relief (Croatian pleter) to figurative. The best examples of Romanesque sculpture are: wooden doors of Split cathedral done by Andrija Buvina (c.1220) and Stone portal of Trogir cathedral done by artisan Radovan (c. 1240). Early frescoes are numerous and best preserved in Istria. On them we can evidence the mixing of influences of Eastern and Western Europe. The oldest miniatures are from 13th century – Evangelical book from Split and Trogir.

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Cathedral of St Stephen in capital of Croatia, Zagreb, interior from 14th century
The Gothic art in 14th century was supported by culture of cities councils, preaching orders (like Franciscans), and knightly culture. It was the golden age of free Dalmatian cities that were trading with Croatian feudal nobility in the continent. Largest urban project of those times was complete building of two new towns – Small and Large Ston, and about a kilometre of wall with guard towers between them (14th century). After Hadrian's wall in Scotland, the longest wall in Europe. Tatars destroyed Romanesque cathedral in Zagreb during their scourge in 1240, but right after their departure Zagreb got the title of a free city from Hungarian king Bela IV. Soon after bishop Timotej began to rebuild the cathedral in new Gothic style.

Zadar was independent Venetian city. The most beautiful examples of gothic humanism in Zadar are reliefs in gilded metal as in Arc of St Simon by artisan from Milan in 1380. Gothic painting is less preserved, and finest works are in Istria as fresco-cycle of Vincent from Kastv in Church of Holy Mary in Škriljinah near Beram, from 1474. From that times are the two of the best and most decorated illuminated liturgies done by monks from Split, – Hvals’ Zbornik (today in Zagreb) and Misal of Bosnian duke Hrvoje Vukčić Hrvatinić (now in Istanbul).

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Cathedral of St Jacob in Šibenik from 1555, UNESCO World Heritage
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An illuminated page from Juraj Klović's Colonna hours, John Rylands Library, Manchester.
In 15th century, Croatia was divided between three states – northern Croatia was a part of Austrian Empire, Dalmatia was under the rule of Venetian Republic (with exception of Dubrovnik) and Slavonia was under Ottoman occupation. Dalmatia was on the periphery of several influences so religious and public architecture with clear influence of Italian renaissance flourished. Three works out of that period are of European importance, and will contribute to further development of Renaissance: Cathedral of St.Jacob in Šibenik, in 1441 by Juraj Dalmatinac; chapel of Blessed John from Trogir in 1468 by Nikola Firentinac; and Sorkočević’s villa in Lapad near Dubrovnik in 1521.

In northwestern Croatia, the beginning of the wars with the Ottoman Empire caused many problems but in the long term it both reinforced the northern influence (by having the Austrians as the rulers). With permanent danger by Ottomans from east, there was modest influence of renaissance, while fortifications thrived, like fortified city of Karlovac in 1579 and fort of Ratkay family in Veliki Tabor from 16th century. Some of the famous Croatian renaissance artists lived and worked in other countries, like brothers Laurana (natively - Vranjanin, Franjo and Luka), miniaturist Juraj Klović (also known as Giulio Clovio) and famous mannerist painter Andrija Medulić (teacher of El Greco).

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The church of St Vlaho (St Blasius) in Dubrovnik by night
In 17th and 18th century Croatia was reunited with the parts of country that were occupied by Venetian Republic and Ottoman Empire. The unity attributed to sudden flourishing of Art in every segment. Large fortifications with radial plan, ditches and numerous towers were built because of constant Ottoman threat. The two largest ones were Osijek and Slavonski Brod. Later they become large cities. Urban planning of Baroque is felt in numerous new towns like Karlovac, Bjelovar, Koprivnica, Virovitica etc. Cities of Dalmatia also got baroque towers and bastions incorporated in their old walls, like the ones in Pula, Šibenik or Hvar. But biggest baroque undertaking happened in Dubrovnik in 17th century after catastrophic earthquake in 1667 when almost entire city was destroyed. Wall painting experienced flourishing in all parts of Croatia, from illusionist frescoes in church of Holy Mary in Samobor, St Catherine in Zagreb to Jesuit church in Dubrovnik. An exchange of artists between Croatia and other parts of Europe happened. The most famous Croatian painter was Federiko Benković who worked almost his entire life in Italy, while an Italian – Francesco Robba, did the best Baroque sculptures in Croatia.

In Austrian countries on the beginning of 19th century Romantic movement in Croatia was sentimental, gentle and subtle. At the end of 19th century architect Herman Bolle undertook one of the largest projects of European historicism – half-kilometer long neo-renaissance arcade with twenty domes on Zagreb cemetery Mirogoj. At the same time the cities in Croatia got important urban makeover. Pseudo building that emphasizes all three visual arts is former building of Ministry of Prayer and Education (so called "Golden Hall") in Zagreb (H. Bolle, 1895). Vlaho Bukovac brought the spirit of impressionism from Paris, and he strongly influenced the young artists (including the authors of “Golden Hall”). On the Millennium Exhibition in Budapest they were able to set aside all other artistic options in Austro-Hungary.

The turbulent twentieth century re-oriented Croatia politically on many occasions and affected it in many other ways, but it couldn't significantly alter its already peculiar position at the crossroads of many different cultures.


Main article: Education in Croatia
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Zagreb University building

People in Croatia enjoy free government-sponsored education at the primary and secondary level, and partially free university education. There are over 800 primary schools and over 400 secondary schools in the country.

The higher education is also government-sponsored, and mostly free for students who enroll with better results. There are thirty two various polytechnic schools, as well as seven universities in seven larger cities: Zagreb, Split, Rijeka, Osijek, Zadar, Dubrovnik, Pula. Each of the universities in Croatia is composed of many independent "faculties" (Croatian fakultet, meaning college or department), which focus on specific areas of learning: Natural Sciences, Philosophy, Law, Engineering, Economy, Architecture, Medicine, and so on.

There are also a number of other educational and scientific institutions, such as institutes (most notably the Ruđer Bošković Institute) or the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, a learned society promoting language, culture, and science from its first conception in 1836.

The Roman Catholic Church was instrumental in the founding of many educational facilities in Croatia. The Church continues to maintain numerous seminaries and theological faculties in the country, as well as the Pontifical Croatian College of St. Jerome for Croatian students in Rome.


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Statue of King Tomislav by Robert Frangeš Mihanović in Zagreb
Some of the people Croatians take special pride in include:
  • founder of the first Croatian kingdom King Tomislav
  • "father of the nation" Ante Starčević
  • statesman and soldier Nikola Šubić Zrinski
  • poet Marko Marulić
  • playwright and prose writer Marin Držić
  • inventor of parachutes Faust Vrančić
  • physicist and diplomat Ruđer Bošković
  • poet Ivan Gundulić
  • army general ban Josip Jelačić
  • sculptor Ivan Meštrović
  • physicist and engineer Nikola Tesla (ethnic Serb)
  • inventor of torpedoes Ivan Lupis-Vukić
  • chemist Lavoslav Ružička
  • inventor of ink pens, bluing detergent (Windex), the rail-car brake, the hot water bottle, and the anode battery, Eduard Slavoljub Penkala
  • parliamentarian Stjepan Radić
  • writer Ivo Andrić
  • writer Miroslav Krleža
  • historian and first president of the Republic of Croatia Dr. Franjo Tuđman
This list is far from inclusive: the list of Croatians includes all the people who influenced the Croatian culture and history.


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Plitvice Lakes, IUCN Category II (National Park)
The UNESCO has marked six places in Croatia as World Heritage: As far as natural beauty goes, Croatia has eight national parks, mostly situated along the Adriatic coast.


Main article: Croatian cuisine
Croatian cuisine is heterogeneous, and is therefore known as "the cuisine of regions". Its modern roots date back to proto-Slavic and ancient periods and the differences in the selection of foodstuffs and forms of cooking are most notable between those on the mainland and those in coastal regions. Mainland cuisine is more characterized by the earlier proto-Slavic and the more recent contacts with the more famous gastronomic orders of today - Hungarian, Viennese and Turkish - while the coastal region bears the influences of the Greek, Roman and Illyrian, as well as of the later Mediterranean cuisine - Italian and French.

A large body of books bears witness to the high level of gastronomic culture in Croatia, which in European terms dealt with food in the distant past, such as the Gazophylacium by Belostenec, a Latin-Kajkavian dictionary dating from 1740 that preceded a similar French dictionary. There is also Beletristic literature by Marulić, Hektorović, Držić and other writers, down to the work written by Ivan Bierling in 1813 containing recipes for the preparation of 554 various dishes (translated from the German original), and which is considered to be the first Croatian cookbook.


Main article: Sport in Croatia



External links

Croatian pleter (meaning to weed) because the strings were threaded and rethreaded through itself. Sometimes the engravings in early Croatian script – Glagolitic appeared.
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Croatian art describes the visual arts in Croatia from medieval times to the present. In Early Middle Ages, Croatia was important centre for art and architecture in Southeastern Europe.
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Medieval period

  • (ca. 800.) Višeslavs baptismal font
  • (ca.11th cent) Kartular of Supetar
  • (ca. 1100) Baška Tablet
  • (ca. 12th cent) Apostol of Mihanović,
  • (ca. 12th cent) Grškovićs fragment
  • (1197.) Povalj Tablet
  • (1275.

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The music of Croatia, like the country itself, has three major influences: the influence of the Mediterranean especially present in the coastal areas, of the Balkans especially in the mountainous, continental parts, and of central Europe in the central and northern parts of the country.
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Official status
Official language of:
Burgenland (Austria)
Caraşova in Caraş-Severin County (Romania)
Molise (Italy)
Vojvodina (Serbia)
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History of Croatia has been divided into a series of separate historical articles navigable through the list to the right. For information on today's Croatia, see Croatia.

Croatian lands before the Croats (until 7th c.

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Croatian cuisine is heterogeneous and is therefore known as the cuisine of regions, since every region has its own distinct culinary traditions. Its modern roots date back to ancient periods and the differences in the selection of foodstuffs and forms of cooking
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cinema of Croatia does not have as long tradition as in some other Central European countries: serious beginning of Croatian cinema starts with rise of communist film industry in 1940-s.
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3rd European Championship
Quarterfinals Champion's League
Quarterfinals Hajduk Split vs Ajax 94/95 UEFA Cup
(Dinamo Zagreb)
Handball World Championship
Champion European Championship
3rd Champion's League
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Culture (from the Latin cultura stemming from colere, meaning "to cultivate,") generally refers to patterns of human activity and the symbolic structures that give such activity significant importance.
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Lijepa naša domovino
Our beautiful homeland

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History of Croatia has been divided into a series of separate historical articles navigable through the list to the right. For information on today's Croatia, see Croatia.

Croatian lands before the Croats (until 7th c.

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Croats (Croatian: Hrvati) are a South Slavic people mostly living in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and nearby countries. There is a notable Croat diaspora in western Europe, the Americas, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
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Paleolithic is a prehistoric era distinguished by the development of stone tools. It covers virtually all of humanity's time on Earth, extending from 2.5 million years ago, with the introduction of stone tools by hominids such as Homo habilis
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H. neanderthalensis

Binomial name
Homo neanderthalensis
King, 1864

Palaeoanthropus neanderthalensis
H. s.
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Krapina is a town in northern Croatia and the administrative centre of Krapina-Zagorje county with a population of 4,647 (2001) and a total municipality population of 12,950 (2001).
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Krapina-Zagorje county - Krapinsko-zagorska županija is a county in northern Croatia. It encompasses most of the historic region called Hrvatsko Zagorje (Croatian Zagorje).
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The Chalcolithic (Greek khalkos + lithos 'copper stone') period or Copper Age period (also known as the Eneolithic (Æneolithic
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The Chalcolithic (Greek khalkos + lithos 'copper stone') period or Copper Age period (also known as the Eneolithic (Æneolithic
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The term Bronze Age refers to a period in human cultural development when the most advanced metalworking (at least in systematic and widespread use) consists of techniques for smelting copper and tin from naturally occurring outcroppings of ore, and then alloying those metals in
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Country  Croatia
County Vukovar-Srijem
 - Mayor Mladen Karlić (HDZ)
Elevation 90 m (0 ft)

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The term Bronze Age refers to a period in human cultural development when the most advanced metalworking (at least in systematic and widespread use) consists of techniques for smelting copper and tin from naturally occurring outcroppings of ore, and then alloying those metals in
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Illyrians has come to refer to a broad, ill-defined "Indo-European"[1] group of peoples who inhabited the western Balkans (Illyria, roughly from the Albanian and Montenegro border to southern Pannonia) and even perhaps parts of Southern Italy in classical times into the
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citadel is a fortress for protecting a town, sometimes incorporating a castle.[1] The term derives from the same Latin root as the word "city", civis, meaning citizen.
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Pula (Latin Colonia Pietas Iulia Pola; Italian Pola (the city has an official Croatian-Italian bilingualism [1]); Istriot Pula, German Polei
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Iron Age was the stage in the development of any people in which tools and weapons whose main ingredient was iron were prominent. The adoption of this material coincided with other changes in some past societies often including differing agricultural practices, religious beliefs
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Country Italy
Region Sicily
Province Siracusa (SR)
Mayor Giambattista Bufardeci (from June 14, 2004)

Area km
 - Total (as of December 31, 2004)
 - Density /km

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Regione Autonoma Siciliana

Map highlighting the location of Sicilia in Italy

Capital Palermo
President Salvatore Cuffaro
Provinces Agrigento
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4th century BC - 3rd century BC
420s BC  410s BC  400s BC - 390s BC - 380s BC  370s BC  360s BC 
393 BC 392 BC 391 BC - 390 BC - 389 BC 388 BC 387 BC

State leaders - Sovereign states

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Vis can refer to:
  • VIS Criminal organisation in Bulgaria
  • Vis, Pistolet Vis wz. 35 a type of Polish handgun, after the Latin for "power", "might", "violence".

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