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History and culture
History | Culture
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We can say that during the centuries Croatia's "melting pot" of different cultures resulted in something very much unique.


Our history timeline looked something like this:

around 400 BC

Greek colonies were founded on Adriatic islands

around 100 BC

Romans rule over the east coast of the Adriatic


Roman emperor Diocletian builts a palace in present day Split

around 620

Immigration of Croats from the north

until 925

Under Byzantine and Franconian sovereignty


Independent kingdom under King Tomislav


Beginning of Hungarian, later Austro-Hungarian sovereignty; until 1918 the whole of Croatia belongs to the Habsburg monarchy.


The beginning of the defence against the Turks, who through time occupy the larger part of Croatian territory


Continental Croatia - under the rule of Habsburg
Adriatic coast and islands - under Venice
Dubrovnik Republic - remains completely independent


Bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer founds the Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences, the first in southeast Europe


Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes
Istria and Zadar under Italian rule


Kingdom of Yugoslavia


German troops invade Yugoslavia


Independent State of Croatia


Istria and some coastal areas annexed by Italy


Federative Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia


"The Croatian Spring": a national democratic mass movement suppressed by the Yugoslav Government


Dr Franjo Tudjman becomes President of the Croat Republic.


HDZ gains an absolute majority in the first free parliamentary elections


Croatian Serbs in Knin start the armed conflict


The Serbian Republic of Krajina declares itself independent


Croatia declares its independence


War in Croatia


Fall of Vukovar


Recognition most EU states 15 January 1992,
Serbs occupy and bombard Dubrovnik


Operation Lightning - retaking Serbian-controlled Western Slavonia  Missile bombardment of Zagreb by Serbs


Operation Storm - retaking Serbian-controlled Krajina


Agreement on normalizing relations between Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia


Admission of Croatia to the Council of Europe


Complete reintegration of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja into Croatia


Parliamentary elections Social Democratic leadership (six-party coalition)


Signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EU


Croatia presents its application for membership of the European Union

Did you know?

  • Footprints of dinosaurs were discovered in Bale, near Rovinj, and on the Brijuni archipelago, while their bones have been found on the sea bed at a considerable depth.
  • The earliest (5000 years old) European calendar known by now is the calendar discovered on a ceramic vessel from the Vučedol culture (north of Croatia).
  • The first quarantine in Europe was established in Dubrovnik in the 14th century. Also, in Dubrovnik, there is one of the tree oldest European pharmacies (since 1317).
  • Around the year 1800 Dubrovnik maintained Consular offices in over 80 countries around the world. Dubrovnik also had a fleet of 673 ships, 250 of which sailed the seven seas?
  • Croats have their own, glagolitic script that was used in 18th century and still taught in some schools in Istria.
  • The first naval museum in the world was founded in Pula in 1870.
  • The only national costume in Europe, showing women's legs above the knees is worn by women on the island of Susak.

Further reading:
An Overview of the Croatian History, Culture and Science
Travel expedition Faros-Paros-Faros


"For Croatia, the protection and preservation of its cultural heritage is an important element which helps forge a sense of identity."


In the territory of Croatia, many layers of prehistoric cultures are present, the formation and disappearance of which is tied to the migration of unidentified ethnic groups. The prehistoric Mediterranean groups in the coastal regions and the Pannonian groups in the continental areas developed Neolithic and Eneolithic cultures (Danilo, Hvar, Vucedol) and quite likely the first phases of culture of the Metal Age. They were connected to the Illyrians, the ethnic group with a clearly defined cultural and artistic physiognomy. In the period of their development, the first serious conflicts appeared with the ancient Greek world (the colonies of Issa, Faros, Tragurion) and later with the penetration to Rome, which ended with the inclusion of the entire region into the Roman Empire, despite the long resistance by the Illyrians. Dalmatia was made a special province, with its capital Salon. The Romans left lasting traces in the social and culture life of this region; they built roads and fortified centers and erected many towns with a numerous monumental structures. These towns, particularly in the coastal regions, remained the foundation for later urbanization in the Middle Ages (Porec, Pula, Zadar, Salon-Split). The fall of the Roman Empire brought the cultural sphere of Byzantium to the southern regions of Croatia, and this new cultural influence was expressed with a series of monuments from Porec (the Euphrasian Basilica) to Dubrovnik.

Many different cultural areas are brought together in Croatia - for example Istria and Dalmatia have been shaped by northern Italy, Zagreb and northern Croatia by Double Monarchy, Slavonia by Central and Eastern European countries and north-east by Hungarians. This cultural diversity is often nurtered by the various cultural traditions. 

Important cultural and monumental heritage include:
World Monumental Heritage Sites (UNESCO) - Trogir, Split, Šibenik, and Dubrovnik;
monumental wholes-Solin (ancient and early Christian complex), Korčula, Hvar, Ston, Diocletian’s Palace;
cathedrals in Zadar, Šibenik, Trogir, Split, Hvar, Korčula, and Dubrovnik;
archaeological sites - Bribir, Biskupija, the surroundings of Zadar, early Croatian churches from Nin to Dubrovnik.

Did you know?

  • Founder of San Marino, the first republic in Europe - Marin (4th century) was born on the island of Rab.
  • Famous world traveller and explorer Marco Polo, was most probably born in 1254 on the island of Korčula. Even today there are people on the island who bear the same family name.
  • Mathematician, Marin Ghetaldus Getaldić (1566 - 1606) is known for the application of algebra in geometry and also as a pioneer in the making of conic lenses.
  • Physicist, mathematician and astronomer Ruđer Bošković (1711 - 1787) was one of the most educated people of his time, predecessor of modern physics, founder of dynamic atomistic.
  • Inventor of the torpedo was Ivan Lupis (1813 - 1875), nautical officer from Rijeka.
    Inventor of dactyloscopy (identification through fingerprints) Ivan Vučetić (1858 - 1925), was born on the island of Hvar.
  • One of the world greatest innovators Nikola Tesla (1856 - 1943) was born in a village Smiljani near Gospic.
  • Inventor of propelling pencil (a penkala), Eduard Penkala (1871 - 1922) lived in Zagreb.
  • Famous sculptor, known for monumental sculptures with national themes Ivan Meštrović (1883 - 1962) is also Croat. His best known sculpture is "Indians" in Chicago.
  • Chemist Vatroslav Ružička (1887 - 1976) is the winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1939.
  • Chemist Vladimir Prelog (1906 - 1998) is the winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1975.

Further reading:
Ministry of Culture
An Overview of the Croatian History, Culture and Science

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