Eco & culture volunteer group


Senior fan corner

My most memorable Medvednica experience

Living in Zagreb, which is a nice town, is a great pleasure. Its surroundings are also very nice. Medvednica, a mountain in the north of Zagreb, is a favourite place to go on picnic for the inhabitants of Zagreb and their visitors. Behind Medvednica there is a region called Zagorje with a lot of green hills and old manor houses.

One day, many years ago, my husband and I went to Medvednica, to the top of it called Sljeme. We went there by cable-car. I was looking forward to that. In the middle of our ride the cable-car suddenly stopped. I was terrified, especially after I had looked out and seen how high up we had been. My husband looked after me and tried to calm me down. Luckily, it took only about fifteen minutes for the cable-car to continue the ride. When we arrived to Sljeme, I was really happy to feel solid ground under my feet again. We immediately decided that we would go back on foot. After that, we walked around for a while and soon ended up having lunch at a mountain hut. We had a usual mountain climber’s lunch, beans with sausage, but then it had a particularly good flavour. I wonder if it was that good because of the stressful ride in the cable-car. During the lunch my husband confessed that he had also been frightened, but he hadn’t said anything about it than.

We were happy about the outcome of our outing, yet we were even happier when we finally arrived home to our “White City of Zagreb”, the way we lovingly call it when we come back after going away.

Ana Jovanović,                                                                         Zagreb, 30th November 2012

Dubrava Cultural Centre

Urban Walkers Club

My most memorable Plitvice experience

One of my deepest memories is a day trip to the Plitvice lakes in the early springtime many years ago. There was a group of us; young, happy and healthy people. When we arrived to Plitvice the sun was shining, the sky was blue, there was still a lot of snow all around which was sparkling in the sun, drops were dripping from the treetops and brooks were swollen. The Lakes are always beautiful, but covered with snow they are of special beauty.

We were going all around the lakes, enjoying ourselves, laughing and showing each other a lot of fascinating things. In the middle of our walk, we came to a brook, narrow and full of water. The bridge was flooded by the water, so we decided to jump over the brook. All my friends did it, but I was wearing a narrow skirt so I didn’t succeed. I fell in and my skirt looked like a large sack full of water! When I shouted for help, at first all my friends burst out laughing! Then they helped me get out. I got completely soaked and frozen but I laughed too!

The end of this story? Well, you can easily imagine it for yourself!

Ljerka Išgum-Vorgić                                                                 Zagreb, 27th November 2012

Dubrava Cultural Centre

Urban Walkers’ Club

My most memorable Maksimir experience

Park Maksimir is situated near Zagreb downtown. Thick tree tops of its forest are usually referred to as the “lungs” of the city.

The park has a forest, which is over hundred years old, a ZOO, five lakes with fresh-water fish, beautiful white swans and flocks of wild ducks swimming around.

I really love Maksimir where I spend most of my free time walking, watching around and listening to birds twitting.

The park offers lots of beautiful sights, still, I discovered some of my own wonderful, hidden spots; there is the fifth lake which I normally read by, meditate, observe people of all ages walking by, and sometimes I try to assume what their story could be or what they could possibly be talking about.

Park Maksimir is breathtaking in every season of the year. In spring when leaves are breaking out, flowers are blooming and the grass becomes strikingly green. Then in summer when tick tree tops are blocking the sunlight creating a calming shade. In autumn when leaves are changing colours and gracefully falling off, and finally, in winter when tree branches are decorated with snow and everything looks white and magical.

I can’t wait to see it again!

Neda Predojević                                                           Zagreb, 1st December 2012

Dubrava Cultural Centre

Urban walkers Club

My most memorable Maksimir experience

Living in Zagreb, the capital of the Republic of Croatia, is a great privilege. Dwelling in a large town and having a possibility to enjoy the nature is a very rare opportunity. As a citizen of Zagreb I can go to Medvednica Nature Park, which is only twenty minutes from the centre of the town, or to Maksimir Nature Park. Maksimir Park is situated only a ten-minute-walk away from the place where I live.

Both places marked my childhood in some way. Back then the times were different; we used to live modestly and one of our rare ways of having fun was going for a picnic. A natural choice was the two-hundred-year-old Maksimir Park, with its forests, lakes and the Zoo. And what could put a smile on a child’s face better than visiting a Zoo. Finally, children’s happiness would become even greater because in the park there was also a pond with boats to hire. It was a real paradise on the outskirts of my town.

My memories of those days are marked with my first swimming experience. During one of our excursions to the park my parents hired a boat and since the water in the pond was shallow, they allowed me to be alone in the boat for some time. So, on that day I had my first rowing lesson and, quite unexpectedly, my first ever lesson in swimming. The boat had two large and heavy oars. One of them had fallen into the pond and in trying to catch it I ended up in the pond myself. There was no harm done, as I said the pond was shallow. Do not ask what my parents had said!

Now, in my older days, I am again a frequent visitor to the park, but this time with my grandchildren. Everything around me is sixty years older, but pleasure is the same.

Željko Orehoci


Dear lovers of culture and ecology,

the following text was created in cooperation with diligent Seniors of Cultural Centre Dubrava who are participants of the English course and computer workshop. Their witty and valuable contribution you can enjoy in Senior fan corner further down the page. :)

Thank you all!

Theme of the month of November and December is Parks. We are proud to say that our beautiful Croatia has 8 national parks (Brijuni, Krka, Mljet, Paklenica, Plitvice lakes, Risnjak and Northern Velebit) and 11 parks of nature (Biokovo, Kopački rit, Lonja field, Medvednica, Papuk, Telaščica, Velebit, Vransko Lake, Učka, Žumberak – Samoborsko gorje and Lastovo islands).

We chose to introduce you to a Nature park Medvednica, Zagreb’s Maksimir Park, Zagreb’s Botanical Garden and the world-famous Plitvice Lakes. Each of these beautiful jewels of nature, you can get to know better in articles under the following headings. Enjoy!





Senior fan corner




The first natural park we will write about is Medvednica, very dear to those of us who are living in Zagreb, capital of Republic of Croatia. From top of Medvednica called Sljeme, view is wonderfull. Medvednica is for us so much more than just nature park; we grow up hitchhiking to Sljeme, heaving picnics on hers hill-sides or heaving lunches (mostly fine beans) in one of the mountain lodges. In that beautiful nature in fresh air with lots of laughter, we were collecting energy for the upcoming week.

Medvednica_CS_08  Medvednica_CS_13


Many spicies of flora and fauna of Medvednica are protected by law, some of them are endemic.

Gupceva_lipa  alpski_jaglac

In beautiful forests of Medvednica You can breathe fresh air and rest in their shade. Fundamental phenomenon of the Nature Park Medvednica is well preserved forests and forest communities, which cover 64% of Park’s area. Main In the Park are 8 forest nature reserves.


Every old tree is a home to many smaller animals, plants and funghi (often picked by experienced pickers).


It is important to say that the management of Park Medvednica is doing everything to save forest biodiversity on ecological principles.

Medvednica has a long and turbulent geological history. Best way to proof that is Veternica cave, wich was formed 1.8 million years ago, is full of underground corridors and “cave ornaments” – stalagmites, stalactites, curtains, helictites, spaghetti and many others. There are numerous residue findings of animals which lived in these parts at that time, Human bones (Homo sapiens sapiens sculls), and tools he used at that time.


The area is also rich in minerals and in the Nature Park Medvednica we have Zrinski mine (silver, green slate, dolomite).


Medvednica has many streams and springs; there are several hot springs of different quality (Stubičke Spas). There is even one salty stream that originates on the Zagorje side of Medvednica and its name comes from the salty taste of the salt NaCl.



Medvednica, in comparison to surrounding lowland area, behaves as an «island» in its climate characteristics, with more precipitation, lower temperatures, duration and quantity of snow cover. During summer one can find pleasant refreshment on Medvednica. During winter temperature inversion is sometimes present: in Zagreb it is cold and gloomy, and on Sljeme it is warmer. The coldest month is January with mean monthly air temperature -3.1°C, and most of the winter, Sljeme is covered in snow on wich we like to sledg, ski and to make the snowmen . The warmest month is July with average temperature 15.2°C.

maglica  Potok_Bliznec


Medvednica also has a rich cultural heritage. There is a multitude of famous locations that include the hut, trails, meadows, museums, parks with castles, chapels and wells.

kraljicin_zdenac  pilana_Bliznec

And there is a cable car which hikers and skiers love to ride to the top of Medvednica. First ride was back in 1963. year.



The offer of the parkincludes many fun and educational activities for children and adults, educational and cycling trails with maps (made also in Braille) and tourism facilities in which you can take a break from hiking and have fun in good company.


Nature Park Medvednica participates in various international projects, which seeks to preserve and enhance the natural and cultural heritage that we inherited.


On one of the slopes of Medvednica is Medvedgrad, beautiful fort with long history. It was built in the 13th century and the 1974th began the research and preservation of the walls, and a reconstruction of the individual parts.


To promote the site Medvedgrad and medieval heritage, each year Nature Park Medvednica organizes cultural and tourist event “Medieval Days on Medvednica.” These are days in which the traditions and spirit of the Middle Ages are revived!

Medvedgrad_17  Medvedgrad_11  Medvedgrad_05  Medvedgrad_10

The park offers several tourist facilities (mountain lodges, hotels, hut).



(Sources: Web sites of Medvednica Nature Park)



Dear lovers of culture and ecology,

let us to introduce you to pride of Zagreb,Park Maksimir. So, take couple of minutes and join us in the following text that tells the story about two hundred years old Maksimir, the greatest masterpiece of garden architecture in Croatia.


park-maksimir (1)

Important to residents of Zagreb, including all generations, it was, and still is our oasis of peace. We came in Maksimir as children, playing, walking with parents who sometimes took us in the ZOO; today, we are going there with our own children and grandchildren – circle of life in that beautiful green corner of nature in the concrete world we are living in.




Park’s History

Park Maksimir is a unique object of park architectural heritage of Zagreb and Republic Croatia. It was raised on the final southern foothills of Medvednica at the end of 18th and the first half of 19th century. It is the first public park in southeast Europe, and one of the first in the world. Park Maksimir’s founder was Zagreb ‘s Bishop MAKSIMILIJAN von VRHOVAC (1752. – 1827.). In 1787, after becoming Zagreb ‘s bishop, he decided to grant citizens of Zagreb with a park for rest and recreation on the place of an old bishop’s forest.


Paths constructed by Bishop Vrhovac can still today be seen in the Park, and one of them is the main straight axis of the alley from the main entrance (portal) all the way to the bottom of Vidikovac.


Park Maksimir was ceremonially opened for public in 1794 and given to the people of Zagreb, for their enjoyment. It was the first public promenade in southeastern Europe It was named Maksimilian’s peace or Maksimir for short, after its founder. In the spirit of those times, flowers in Maksimir were abundant, different flowering species exchanged with seasons, and flower beds were regularly maintained. The area of the Park was overwhelmed with webs of weaving romantic paths that wind through small forests, meadows and openings. Numerous pavilions, romantic bridges, many resting places, isolated corners, poetry readings, lakes and streams were scattered all over the Park.



Today Park Maksimir, for its exceptional value, benefits a double protection. It is protected as a monument of park architecture by the Nature protection law and as a cultural asset by the Law on protection and preservation of natural assets, and is registered in the Registry of cultural assets of Republic Croatia.

The Park management is doing their best to protect and preserve natural and cultural values of Park, carrying out scientific and expert researches, maintaining paths and signs, maintaining horticultural basis of the park, organizing and removing waste, and education of employees. For us citizens of Zagreb, Park represents a first rate antique living part of the city area with which we should keep and preserve a prestigious place among European historical sights with a modern approach to protection and ways of utilization.

Park Maksimir you can reach by car (the largest public parking lot is located close to the west wing of Dinamo soccer stadium), bus or tram.





Besides Park Maksimir as a whole, many other single objects in Park Maksimir are protected as cultural assets: BISHOP HAULIK’S NEW VILLA, GATEKEEPER’S CABIN, ECHO PAVILION, GAZEBO, SWISS HOUSE, OBELISK, ST. JURAJ’S CHAPEL, SILK FACTORY etc.




Park Maksimir represents a shelter for many plant and animal species, despite its small area of only 316 ha. Park Maksimir encompasses the bordering area of southern slopes of Medvednica and the flats of Sava river. For centuries this area was abundant in oak forest, which is characteristic for north Croatian climate. And exactly in this autochthonous flora lays the beauty and stylistic value of Maksimir’s park vegetation.


More than 300 species of various plants, besides autochthonous tree and shrub species, were planted in Park Maksimir at the time it was formed, but many of them have disappeared.

Animal world, which is an important component of each ecosystem, is closely connected with Park’s vegetation

Nowadays, although surrounded by a city, Park Maksimir is an important habitat to many animal species, many of which found their sanctuary right here. Park Maksimir’s fauna has been significantly impoverished during adaptation of old Bishop’s forest and because of urbanization. Many animal species have disappeared, mainly large herbivores like roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) and deer (Cervus elaphus), as well as wolfs (Canis lupus). Out of mammal species we can see squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris), door mice and bats, as well as martens, foxes…


Bird world of the Park is still rather rich. Until now 104 bird species have been recorded in Park Maksimir.


It is interesting to mention that the distribution of Middle Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos medius), a species endangered in Europe, is one of the largest in the world.



Maksimir lakes are a inseparable part of total landscape picture of the Park, which can be confirmed by the fact that they were formed parallel with the Park. Highly valuable esthetic and landscape characteristics of lakes, from the time they were formed have an artifact function as well, firstly as ponds, and than as recreational surfaces for boat rides. During the past, six lakes were formed in Park Maksimir, and today we have four left – THE FIRST, THE SECOND, THE THIRD AND THE FIFTH.

Bonsai Croatia (22)

Also, in park Maksimir we can find the following streams which are of great importance for Park’s water system.



The area of Park Maksimir has moderate continental climate modified by maritime influence from the Mediterranean. Temperature of the coldest month is higher than -3°C and lower than 18°C and temperature of the warmest month is around 21°C.

Zagreb, 12.02.2012 - Park Maksimir prekriven snijegom sto je pogodno za snjezne radosti

Two elements have a significant influence on the microclimate of Park parka Maksimir: city traffic and industry on one hand, and the vicinity of Medvednica on the other hand, which with its relief and forest has a great influence on overall climate of Zagreb.




Park Maksimir’s info-center is located in the Gatekeeper’s cabin at the very entrance of the Park. Here you can, in one place, get all the information you want about Park Maksimir.

Inside the Info-center you can find a souvenir shop with various publications, promotional material, and different souvenirs with Park motives. In Park You can also have a drink or nice lounch in restaurant or in several cafes.


One of the leading idea of Park Maksimir’s founder Bishop Maksimilijan Vrhovec when he begun its restoration, was to turn an old bishop’s forest at the end of the city into a place for rest and recreation of Zagreb ‘s citizens.


If we look back into the past we will see that Park Maksimir is connected to the beginning of many sport games: the first skating ring in Zagreb, also skiing and slaying, first international swimming and water polo match, and in 1931 the first golf course in Croatia was made. History recorded many rowing and cycling races that were held there.

Today, Park Maksimir represents an ideal place; only five minutes away from the city centre, where you can at least for a moment hide from the city noise and enjoy rest and recreation. There are many possibilities that the Park offers, like taking a walk down Park’s paths, Nordic walking, jogging, cycling, rowing on the third lake, and for children there are two modern playgrounds.


It was founded in 1925 on Swans island, in the middle of the first lake, with only two owls and three foxes and in two years of its existence, Swan’s lake became too small, and the ZOO spread out to the large peninsula, as well. It occupies that same 7 ha area today.


(Sources: Web sites of Park Maksimir)






Dear lovers of culture and ecology,

following text does not tell the story about the park, but the story about the garden. Botanical Garden of the University of Zagreb (Faculty of Science) is located in the centre of Zagreb, just one tram station from the Central Railway Station, or a 10-minute walk from the main square (The Jelacic Square). For people working in the centre, it represents little nature hideaway just ˝around the corner˝ in wich they can relax during breaks. When you enter the garden, peace and beauty you find there is not disrupted with trains and trams passing nearby. Join us for a walk under the beautiful treetops.




Zagreb’s Botanical Garden was established in the year 1889.It was designed and constructed in the landscape style, with free-standing clumps of trees and winding paths, with only the flower beds having strictly symmetrical lines. Just a few years after its foundation, the Botanical Garden was in possession of a very rich collection of plants.


From the very outset, the fact that the Garden belonged to the University meant that its first and basic purpose was to be at the service of university teaching and scientific work, although even long ago it was also used as a city park.


Because of its great educational, cultural, historical and tourist values, as well as its overall importance for the city of Zagreb and the Republic of Croatia, the Botanical Garden and all things in it (buildings, infrastructure, plants and animals) have been since 1971 statutorily protected as a monument of nature and culture (as monument of horticultural architecture).


In order for this richness to be preserved, our Botanical Garden too, together with other expert and scientific institutions, has to a great extent devoted itself to research into, and the cultivation and protection of, Croatian indigenous plants, as well as to the provision of information and to ecological education, of both our students and scientists, as well as of other visitors to the garden.


Of the 4.7 hectares of the Botanical Garden’s total area, the greatest part is occupied by the arboretum, developed in the style of the English landscape garden, in which are grown woody plants (trees and shrubs) from various parts of the world – a total of about 1000 different taxa.










In 2003 staff of the  Garden set up a small laboratory for the in vitro cultivation of rare and endangered plants of the Croatian flora.




Every year many groups visit the Garden, groups of various ages and interests; there are preschool children and elementary and secondary school pupils, students, members of the public and experts. For all such groups there is a guided tour through the Garden. The tour lasts about one hour.

You can find out more about the Garden and its collection from the Pocket Guide to the Botanical Garden, which was produced in 2002. The guide contains nuggets of useful information and colourful photos, a map of the Garden and a small botanical glossary.  It is available in Croatian, English and German in the info kiosk by the main entrance to the Garden.  Here you can also buy souvenirs (biros, pads and badges) as well as postcards with photographs of plants from the Croatian flora that are cultivated in the garden.



(Sources: Web sites of Botanical Garden)




Dear lovers of culture and ecology,

last but not least park (in this case, national park) that we will write about are the world famous Plitvice lakes. Every year lakes fascinate tousands of people from all over the world, especially the couples who come here to marry under the rainbow colored drops of the Large waterfall. We belive that the only way to experience that beauty is to see it with your own eyes. Nevertheless, we’ll say a few words so that those of you who hasn’t seen them yet, get the picture. :-)


(For more detailed informations, click the links below).


Plitvice Lakes National Park  is the oldest national park in Southeast Europe and the largest national park in Croatia. The national park was founded in 1949 and is situated in the mountainous karst area of central Croatia. In 1979, Plitvice Lakes National Park was added to the UNESCO World Heritage register among the first natural sites worldwide. Each year, more than 1,200,000 visitors are recorded.


The Plitvice Lakes are today one of the most frequently visited tourist attractions in Croatia. Strict regulations apply.




The national park is world famous for its lakes arranged in cascades. Currently, 16 lakes can be seen from the surface. These lakes are a result of the confluence of several small rivers and subterranean karst rivers. The lakes are all interconnected and follow the water flow. They are separated by natural dams of travertine, which is deposited by the action of moss, algae and bacteria. Travertine barriers are groingw at the rate of about 1 cm per year.


The lakes are renowned for their distinctive colors, ranging from azure to green, grey or blue. The colors change constantly depending on the quantity of minerals or organisms in the water and the angle of sunlight.


Through different climatic influences and the large difference in elevation within the protected area, a multifaceted flora and fauna has been created. The national park area is home to many endemic species. Those species that prevailed at the lakes before the arrival of man still exist.


The Plitvice Lakes national park is heavily forested and features a mixture of Alpine and Mediterranean vegetation. Rare fauna such as the European brown bear, wolf, eagle, owl, lynx, wild cat and capercaillie can be found there, along with many more common species. Also, at the moment, scientists have discovered 321 different kinds of butterflies. :-)

Lower lakes canyon

The two largest lakes, Prošćansko jezero and Kozjak, cover about 80 percent of the overall water body area. These lakes are also the deepest, with a depth of 37 and 47 meters respectively. On Lake Kozjak, low-noise and ecologically-friendly electric boats are being used. None of the other lakes in the park exceeds 25 meters in depth.


The 16 lakes that can be seen from the surface are grouped into the 12 Upper Lakes (Gornja jezera) and the four Lower Lakes (Donja jezera).

The highest waterfalls are the Large Waterfall (kroat. Veliki slap) at the end of the Lower Lakes, over which the Plitvica river falls, and Galovački buk at the Upper Lakes.



In January, the average temperature is 2.2 °C. During the summer months of July and August, the temperature rises to 17.4 °C. The general average annual temperature is 7.9 °C. Snow falls from November until March. Usually, the lakes are frozen during December and January.

national-park-plitvice plitvpejsazmaki

The water temperature at the springs is usually below 10 °C. Within the rivers and lakes, the water temperature rises up to 20 °C.


The dissolution and creation of rock

The lakes of Plitvice are a result of century-old processes and the sedimentation of chalk. 

A distinctive feature of the Plitvice lakes is the fact that they do not represent separated, stationary waters. The lakes altogether have always been seen as one composed system of lakes. The water masses reaching the lakes at the upper or lower part of the system are continuously changing the outlook of the lakes and the surrounding landscape. They finally exit the lakes as river Korana. As a whole, the complex of lakes represents a very sensitive and labile ecosystem.

Alteration processes

In geological terms, the actual phenomena molding the Plitvice Lakes are quite young. The complex processes of dissolution and sedimentation of limestone require specific climatic preconditions. These have only existed since the end of the ice age about 12,000 to 15,000 years ago.


Since 2006, it is strictly forbidden to bath or swim at the lakes. Until before, swimming was allowed at Lake Kozjak.


Local Customs and Traditions

The preservation of old customs and traditions is of high significance for the local population. As regards architecture, the region of  Lika is well known for its low wooden houses with roofs made of rye straw or shingles. Many features of the ancient living style are mirrored in local costumes. Up until the 20. century, social gatherings during the winter months, when no agricultural activities could be performed, called “prelo” represented a typical tradition of this region. These activities used to be accompanied by drinks and dances, particularly during the evenings. An well-known dance of this region is the round dance (Croatian kolo).

Local cuisine consists of drinks, such as Slivovitz (Croatian šljivovica), wine and coffee or dishes, such as soft cheese (Croatian vrhnje), polenta, pršut, sausages, (as for example the paprika sausage), roasted suckling pig (Croatian: odojak) or lamb (Croatian: janjetina).

Lake names and anecdotes

Each of the Plitvice Lakes has a story or legend to tell. Most lake names stem from true events. For example, the Prošćansko jezero (Crave Lake), the Legend of the Black Queen, the legend on “prošnja” (praying the black Queen for water) says that the inhabitants of this region were craving for water and thus called upon the magic queen to help them, which she did. According to the legend, this is the reason why Prošćansko jezero and the other lakes have emerged. Also, Kaluđerovo Jezero (Monk Lake ) is named by a monk (Croatian kaluđer) used to live either in Šupljara Cave just next to the water or in Golubnjača Cave at the canyon edge. People used to seek advice from this monk.


(Sources: Web sites of Plitvice lakes national Park and Wikipedia)



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