The Plitvice lakes National Park, was founded in 1949 and is the oldest in south east Europe and the largest in Croatia. The National park was added to the UNESCO World Heritage register, among the first natural sites worldwide. The park receives around 1,200,000 visitors every year, which is a great contribution to the economy of the wider region. The Park is well known for its lakes arranged in cascades.
Since time immemorial, humans have inhabited the areas around the Plitvice lakes. After the Croats eventually took over the area in the 6th century, they decided to permanently settle down in the area. The lakes that now exist formed a minor part of the Medieval Kingdom of Croatia. Under the Croat rule the region prospered economically.
The lakes which are visible from the surface are a result of a junction of several small rivers and Karst Rivers. These lakes are interconnected and follow the flow of the water. The national park is a home to flora and fauna that is exclusive to the area and that have existed since even before the emergence of the early man.
Earlier famers and natives of the region, failing to realize the ecological value of the lakes, would fill the small lakes with mud to use them for their individual benefits. As times changed, people started becoming conscious about the harm being caused to the park and the lakes. They decided to preserve the park, build pathways and upgrade the tracks.
After the end of the Second World War, the true value of this park was finally acknowledged and numerous nature protection measures were given a green signal. Also the Plitvice lakes were declared as a national park area. Roads were constructed and hotels came up. The Plitvice lakes are presently one of the most frequently visited tourist attractions in Croatia. Due to their high natural, cultural and tourist significance, they have been a motor for the local economy.
There is a slight confusion as to how the park was named. One opinion states that the park was named after the phenomenon that created the lakes. The word ‘Plitvak’ in croatian literally means shallow. The height of the dams in the national park keeps changing.
While a second opinion stated by the scientists says that the river Plitvica is the reason behind the name of the national park, as its been there since the park’s origin. The park has its own set of admirerers, who happen to be ace photographers, film makers and novelists.
The national Park extends, across two political sub divisions; the area is divided between, Lika-Senj County and Karlovac County. Hence, the national park authority is under national jurisdiction.
The whole water body spreads across 2km sq.. Proscanko Jerezo and Kozjak, are the two largest water bodies in the park and cover about 80 percent of the park. Low noise and ecologically friendly electric boats are being used to commute. There are something like 19 settlements in the vicinity of the national park. They are collectively known as the Plitvice lakes municipality.
Since time immemorial, humans have inhabited the areas around the Plitvice lakes. After the Croats eventually took over the area in the 6th century, they decided to permanently settle down in the area. The lakes that now exist formed a minor part of the Medieval Kingdom of Croatia. Under the Croat rule the region prospered economically. A monastery was constructed at the lake on what remains of the ancient settlement. The foundation of the monastery was made of travertine rock and today only the walls of the ancient construction exist.
The local population has preserved their old customs, and tried to keep their traditions intact. These significant customs, cultures and traditions play a vital role in luring tourists to the Plitvice lakes. Even now certain regions have houses with roofs made of straw and shingles. The costumes adorned by the natives tell us a lot about the social standing or regional affiliations of the people wearing the costumes.
Up until the 20th century, social gatherings called the ‘Prelo’, during the winter season was a typical tradition of the region. The evenings were planned with drinks and dances and the local cuisines included soft cheese, lamb and sausages. These gatherings served for the joint production of textiles, or butter or for the further processing of harvest products.
The fastest north south road connection within Croatia is the A1 Zagreb-split, which is about 50km away, towards the west of the plitvice Lake National Park. The nearest airports are the Zadar, Zagreb and Rijeka. The nearest railway stations are the Josipdol and Plaski. As far as the bus routes are concerned, although there are no direct bus connections from these railway stations, but if one wants to use public transport, they can do so by taking the direct buses from Zagreb, Zadar or split (highway).
The national park has been used as a set for many Hollywood ventures, one of them being, The Treasures Of The Silver Lake.
If there’s is a place called paradise and if it exists on earth, then I won’t be surprised if it’s the Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia.