An Insight Into Croatian Culture
Croatian culture is a delightfully rich tapestry that has been greatly influenced by a plethora of notable groups throughout history. Over the years, its various settlers have left their individual mark, creating a melting pot of unique customs, values and habits. Its people are undeniably friendly, its traditions often charmingly obscure and its history remains tangible to this day. In fact, the culture of Croatia is one of its main draws for most who travel here.
The obvious place to start when delving into the culture of a country is its history. And the history of Croatia is nothing short of absolutely intriguing. Throughout its beginnings, parts of Croatia were ruled by both Greek and Roman empires. Echoes of these eras can still be seen in parts of Croatia today, including the impressive Pula Arena, which is one of the world’s best preserved Roman arenas. Another way that you can experience the legacy of Greek and Roman culture in current day Croatia is through the country’s wine. Delving into Croatia’s wine and culinary delights is a brilliant – and delicious – way of experiencing part of the country’s culture.
After the Greek and Roman settlers came the tribes from whom the country got its name – the Croats. Then came periods of rule from the Venetian empire in Dubrovnik, which was seen as a vital port city at the time. Thanks to this, remnants of this period can be seen throughout the city, which bears a great resemblance to the famously picturesque city of Venice. Wandering the streets of Dubrovnik, you would be forgiven for believing that you were in fact on the other side of the Adriatic Sea.
In the convening years Croatia has seen many changes, from becoming part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes after WWI and subsequently part of Yugoslavia after WWII. After much toil and strife, the country gained full independence in 1991, followed by a four year conflict with neighboring Serbia. This recent turmoil has created an unshakable sense of national pride in Croatia, which can be felt any time that you ask a local about their home country.
Through its meandering history and a unique geographical location that has seen an amalgamation of Mediterranean and Eastern cultures, Croatia has adopted a number of – often totally unique – traditions. Festivities vary from pirate-inspired boat marathons to majestically coordinated sword dances, in what is a brilliant reflection of the diversity on offer from Croatian culture.
While many of the country’s famous festivities have a rich historical context behind them, others have lost their meaning as time has passed, causing them to become truly unique to Croatia alone. Plus, each region has traditions that vary from one to the next. Take the festival of Lastovo Poklad on the island of Lastavo, located in the southern reaches of Dalmatia. The puppet carnival is focused on a cigar-smoking, fez-wearing puppet which is assaulted with firecrackers and sword-wielding locals. While it is loosely based on the Ottoman invasion, it is not clear how the event has taken on this form.
Another endearingly obscure tradition is that of the gargoyle located in Dubrovnik’s Old Town. Walking through the Pile Gate, travelers will often witness locals climb onto a gnarled stone gargoyle built into the wall. It is said that those that do so will find luck in love. Again, the origins of this quirky tradition have become increasingly blurred as time goes on. One thing is for sure – you will not experience anything like it outside of Croatia.
Our local guides on the ground offer unmatched insight into Croatian culture, offering travelers an in-depth experience of the Balkan nation. Get in touch with them to begin a cultural Croatian voyage of your own.
Modern Day Croatia
Today, Croatia is a collection of different cultures, depending on where you may find yourself in the country. However, despite the minor variations, whether you are in the highlands of Istria, relaxing on the Dalmatian coast or anywhere in between, the modern day Croat is sure to be filled with a mixture of passionate national pride and a welcoming affability.
Always keen to show off their country to foreign visitors, Croatians are sure to make you feel at home wherever you are in the country. They live life at a relaxed pace, a characteristic which becomes infectious the moment that you set foot on Croatian soil. One of the characteristics that has seen it become an increasingly popular place to travel during the summer months.
However, the winter months in Croatia are also an intriguing time to witness local culture in action. Due to Roman Catholicism being the country’s main religion, Croatia celebrates traditional Catholic holidays. This has led to Zagreb becoming home to some of the most brilliant – yet undiscovered – Christmas markets in Europe.
From the food to the cities to the way of life, Croatia exists in a way totally unlike any other country on the planet and much of this is thanks to the culture that it has inherited through its fascinating historical journey. If you would like to experience Croatian culture firsthand, please contact a member of our friendly team and begin planning your bespoke journey.