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11 Unexpected Facts About Croatia That Will Make You Fall in Love With This Country

When hearing the word “Croatia” we instantly imagine luxury beaches with golden sand, the azure sea, and the sound of the surf. However, that’s not the full list of things that this country could surprise us with. A closer look at it reveals details that may not be written in the guidebook.

Having gotten to know Croatia a bit closer, we at Bright Side made many new discoveries for ourselves and decided to tell you about the facts that impressed us the most.

1. There is an island on an island in Croatia.

There are more than 1,000 islands and islets in Croatia, but only a smaller number, around 47, have people living there. Mljet stands apart among them because it has its own islet. Mljet has changed owners many times. Moreover, the Romans used this picturesque corner as a place of exile for quite a long time. There is a national park in the western part of the island, in the middle of which there are 2 lakes with salt water. In one of these lakes, called Big Lake, there is an antique monastery from the 12th century. It was built on a tiny piece of land, the Island of Saint Mary, which is called “an island on an island.”

2. It has one of the smallest cities in the world.

There’s a Croatian legend that says that Hum was built by giants, by simply piling boulders on top of each other. The city really looks like a stone block that is located at an altitude of 1,150 ft, on the very top of the hill between the cities of Roč and Buzet. The population of Hum is 72 people, which makes it one of the smallest cities in the world. It belonged to Rome, Venice, Austria, France, and Italy in different time periods. It’s been conquered, burned down, built up again. Despite all this, Hum managed to retain its atmosphere.

  • There are only 3 rows of houses and 2 streets in Hum. The oldest buildings are located in the center and the new ones are located on the northern side. You can walk around the whole city within 30 minutes. However, I’d stay here for a couple of days: where else, if not in this marvelous place hidden in the heart of emerald Istria, can you take rest from the city’s hectic life and enjoy silence and nature! © alliry / Livejournal

3. Some episodes of Game of Thrones were shot here.

Several scenes for the Game of Thrones TV series were filmed in Croatia. The King’s Landing and the famous Iron Throne were located in Dubrovnik. Also, the Battle of the Blackwater was shot not far from the western walls of the city. The Trsteno Arboretum housed the Red Keep belonging to the Tyrells, and the conspirators from Meereen were punished by the Mother of Dragons in the Klis fortress in Split.

4. A Croatian truffle got into the Guinness Book of World Records.

Croatian people know everything about truffles. It’s not surprising because there are many of them growing in Croatian forests. White truffles are considered to be the most expensive and elite ones. A white truffle that weighed 28.66 pounds was found in Istria in 1999. The find was included in the Guinness Book of World Records right away as the biggest truffle in the world. Today, this record has already been broken.

  • Unlike other mushrooms, truffles are eaten mainly as a seasoning. Anyone who has tried a real white truffle is familiar with its complex aroma, which includes the smell of rotten cheese, acetylene, socks, garlic, and much more. It’s not surprising that no one was eating these mushrooms until the 1930s. They were considered to be a big “yikes”. If someone found a truffle, they would kick it with their feet and run away from the place with their nose closed. © p-syutkin / Livejournal

5. Kids study for 12 years in Croatia.

The Croatian educational system consists of 8 years of mandatory education that has 2 stages. For the first 4 years kids study with one teacher, the next 4 years they get other teachers on more narrowed subjects. After graduation, kids can continue their studies with secondary education, where they will continue to learn for 4 more years.

  • They teach basic education in elementary school. Grades obtained in an 8-year school are taken into account for admission to the next level of school. Unfortunately, the so-called “inflation of A-graders” has taken place within the last 15 years. In small village schools, for example, all kids get “A” grades — this is done by teachers in order to not upset the kids. © zagrebchanka / Livejournal
  • Young people study for free for their first year in college. You will pay for the next year depending on your achievements and the number of exams you pass. The higher the result, the less money you’ll pay. If you are the best student or if you pass all of your exams, you’ll only pay for tuition. © Maja Burazin / Quora

6. The world’s largest tie was made here.

Croatia is the motherland of the tie and they announced that the 18th of October was International Tie Day several years ago. The Croatian military wore scarves tied in a special way, which during the time of Louis XIV captivated the French and became an item of luxury and style for a long time. In 2003, Croatia demonstrated its reverent attitude to its traditional accessory, having decorated 50 monuments in the center of the city of Pula with red neck kerchiefs and having tied a huge tie around the amphitheater.

  • For the creation of this piece of art, there were 75 miles (120 km) of thread, almost 1,000 pounds (450 kg) of fabric, and more than 300 hours of sewing used. The most challenging part was to tie a knot, which was tied at almost 70 feet (21 meters) up in the air and was 30 feet (9 meters) deep. However, around a hundred children were there to help stretch the tie all the way to the Pula boardwalk. © Maja Burazin / Quora

7. There is an Egyptian Sphynx in Croatia.

The Sphynx appeared in Croatia during the reign of the Roman emperor Diocletian. The subjects respected the ruler so much that they even thought he was of divine origin, like the pharaohs. In order to outline this resemblance, a sphynx made of black granite brought directly from Egypt was installed in Split.

8. Croatia is the motherland of Dalmatians.

Dalmatians were bred in Croatia. These dogs got their name after the name of an area in the Balkans — Dalmatia. At first, the Dalmatians were actively used by hunters and shepherds, then travelers liked them too and made these dogs their companions. Today, there are few people who can resist these charming spotted beauties. By the way, dogs of this breed are born totally white — it’s only later that they get their spots, which appear all over their body and even in their mouth.

At the same time, it’s not just Dalmatians that Croatians love. They generally treat dogs well here and these 4-legged friends have their own beach.

  • The dogs’ beach is a small bay on the cape. It has 3 stationary tents for the owners in case it’s too hot or raining, and the way down is made of stone stairs. Local dog lovers like this place and go there every evening. We got to know everyone in under 10 days. © sobaka-ru. / Livejournal

9. Everyone finds something for themselves in Croatia.

Some consider Croatia to be a country with the perfect climate, where only happy people live, and then there are some who are captivated by the responsiveness and sincerity of the locals and their ability to agree on everything just by smiling and saying a few words in Croatian.

It might seem from the outside that everything is perfect in the lives of Croatian people and that’s why they are perfect and do everything right: friendly, kind, responsive, and simply happy people.

  • I recently married a Croatian man. He was perfect before proposing to me, but later he started to reveal the features of a possessive and jealous man. We started to fight over little things. But we both are working on our issues to keep the relationship on a good level. He is trying his best to improve everything. Perhaps our issues are not about our different origins, but about our difference in age. Earlier, I considered him to be a man that was too perfect. © Ladchena Vladimirovna / VK
  • Croatia is close to my heart because it’s alive. What do I mean? You can persuade a policeman to not write you a ticket here. No, no bribes, just a smile, an explanation of the situation, and an apology. This would be impossible in Belgium or Sweden. © zagrebchanka. 77 / Livejournal

10. Croatia is the motherland of great inventions.

Croatian inventors have made many world-famous discoveries that have changed the world. At the beginning of the 17th century, the Croatian scientist Faust Vrančić constructed a parachute by using Leonardo da Vinci’s rough sketches. In 1856, Nikola Tesla, the pioneer in the field of electrical and radio engineering, was born here. At the beginning of the 1860s, a Rijeka-born officer of the Austro-Hungarian Navy, Giovanni Luppis, launched the first self-propelled torpedo. Though it didn’t live up to expectations, his invention served as the basis for the creation of modern torpedoes.

11. Croatians say goodbye to winter with a carnival.

Traditionally, Croatians see off winters with merry festivities, concerts, performances, and, of course, carnival processions. The final event of the holiday is burning the Pust — the carnival puppet.

  • The main Croatian holidays are Rijeka and Samobor. The carnival in Samobor has always been satirical. During the festival, participants parody politicians, discuss acute social issues, corruption, etc. The Rijeka Carnival is totally different: there’s the sea and the sun, spring has just arrived, and people just want a celebration. That’s why this carnival is all about bright costumes and a parade of masks. © zagrebchanka / Livejournal

Do you share the Croatians’ attitude toward work?