BY ELENA KOSOLAPOVA
AZERI OBSERVER STAFF WRITER
Do you know who to blame for such a popular male accessory as a tie? It is Croatians, who invented this item of clothing in the 17th century. Are you aware who to thank for the creation of pens? That is again Croatia! More than 100 years ago, Croatian engineer Slavoljub Eduard Penkala invented an automatic mechanical pen, which we still use every day at home, school, or office. Have you ever heard where was one of the biggest TV shows in the world, Game of Thrones, shot? That was Croatia again with the city of Dubrovnik taking center stage, and other filming locations dotted throughout the country.
Azerbaijani journalists and bloggers got to know these and other interesting facts about Croatia at a wonderful presentation of Croatian tourism potential organized by the Croatian National Tourist Board in cooperation with the Croatian Embassy in Baku.
Ambassador of Croatia to Azerbaijan, Branko Zebic, noted that while being a small country with less than 4 million population, this Balkan country receives about 20 million foreign tourists per year. He stressed that there is a big potential for Azerbaijan-Croatia cooperation in the tourist sphere adding that it will contribute to the development of people-to-people contacts, bringing the two nations closer together.
What does attract millions of foreign tourists from all over the world to Croatia and makes them long to come back?
The director of the Croatian tourism representative office Rajko Ruzicka explained that Croatia is a land of rich historic, cultural heritage, and natural beauty. With its long history preserved in hundreds of medieval churches with remarkable frescoes and fascinating stone decorations, Croatia has one of the longest lists of protected cultural heritage in Europe. Traces from the past, are visible in thousand-year-old cities, starting from the magnificent Roman amphitheater in Pula, to Zadar and its Forum Romanum – the largest excavated forum on the eastern side of the Adriatic – and the magnificent palace of the Emperor Diocletian in Split. The towns of Varaždin, Bjelovar, and Vukovar glow with the splendor of the Baroque period, while the heritage of the 19th century can be seen at its best in Rijeka, Osijek, and in downtown Zagreb.
Croatia is also a jewel of pure natural beauty with its eight national parks: Risnjak, Paklenica, the Plitvice Lakes, and Northern Velebit in the mountainous area, and with the Kornati Archipelago, the island of Mljet, the Brijuni Archipelago and the Krka waterfalls in the coastal area. Having untouched green areas, it is one of Europe’s richest countries when it comes to flora and fauna. Preserved nature is an ideal destination for those who love to walk, hike, and camp in truly stunning natural surroundings. Continental Croatia is perfectly suited for mountain biking, climbing, hiking, adventure racing, camping, riding, hunting, fishing, rafting, and cave exploration, while coastal areas have up to 300 sunny days per year, picturesque landscapes, and turquoise sea, what makes them the perfect destination for beach tourism.
In addition, Croatia is home to many cultural and music festivals. One example is an international street festival Špancirfest in Varaždin that lasts for 10 days and hosts over 100,000 tourists.
Finally, the country has an exquisite food and wine offer, which has recently proven to be among the best of the best in international rankings. For example, here you can try the world’s finest truffles, which is one of the most treasured and expensive food products globally, and highly acclaimed Pag cheese, a delicacy from the Croatian island of Pag.
There are no direct flights between Azerbaijan and Croatia yet, but this tourist pearl is easily accessible by plane with a connection in Istanbul. Since the 1st of January 2023, Croatia joined the Schengen area, which means that there are no more border controls while traveling between EU member countries. Holders of Schengen visas issued by other countries are welcome to the country, while those who still do not have visas, can apply for them at the Croatian Embassy or the visa center in Baku.