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Croatian Inventions and the Locations From Which They Originate

Brač Island beach with people swimming, sunbathing and flying with parachutes high in the sky
12 Jan

Croatian Inventions and the Locations From Which They Originate

There are things we use every day that we take for granted, from the comforting hot water bottle to the simple necktie. But have you ever stopped to consider where they have come from? Would it surprise you to know that these are Croatian inventions? 

Located along the breathtaking Adriatic coast, Croatia is a country full of surprises. While it may be most famous for its picturesque landscapes, it also has a long history of inventions which have become integrated into everyday society across the globe. From innovative technological advancements to ordinary objects that have become a staple in our daily lives – there are many Croatian inventors we can thank for their brilliance and what they have contributed to society.

So join us as we embark on a journey through Croatia, exploring some remarkable Croatian inventions and the locations in which they came to originate. 

Croatian Inventions

From high above the clouds to discoveries on a molecular level, there are many inventions in which Croatia has been the birthplace. Here are the top Croatian inventions you should know about:

The Hot Water Bottle 

While the concept of the hot water bottle has been around for centuries, the rubber or PVC design we’re most familiar with using today was originally patented back in 1903. This was designed by the Croatian inventor Slavoljub Eduard Penkala who has quite a list of Croatian inventions linked to his name. Such as the very first mechanical pencil, an insulated bottle, a rotating toothbrush, a pocket light, laundry detergent and even the first Croatian aeroplane. 

The man was truly a genius of his time and a genuine jack of all trades. He lived in Zagreb, Croatia, the location where many of his inventions were originally registered. Nowadays, the city is a beautiful blend of modern sophistication and historic elements yet visitors still have the opportunity to walk the cobblestone streets much like Slavoljub Eduard Penkala did (and perhaps make use of his hot water bottle when here during the colder months). 
We recommend exploring the museums in the area to learn more about the capital’s fascinating history, in particular the Zagreb City Museum which boasts a large display dedicated to the achievements of Slavoljub Eduard Penkala.

Zagreb City Museum housing many Croatian inventions made by Slavoljub Eduard Penkala

The Parachute 

Believe it or not, the parachute was invented in Šibenik by the Croatian polymath and bishop Faust Vrančić. Back in the 16th Century, the inventor released his work titled “New Machines” which showcased over 50 sketches of creations. Included within this selection was one named Homo volans (Flying Man) which most today know as the parachute.

It is allegedly believed that Faust Vrančić actually tested his own invention by jumping from the top of St Mark’s Campanile in Venice. To visit the location of this historic moment, why not create a custom tour that includes Venice on your itinerary? Speak with our travel specialists today to start planning your perfect vacation. 

a couple floating in the sky with a parachute above them (a Croatian invention)

Dactyloscopy (Fingerprint Identification)

What is now a crucial part of gathering evidence against criminal activity was once a simple idea in a Croatian inventor’s mind. That’s right, the concept of finger identification and how to identify someone through their unique fingerprint makeup was pioneered by Ivan Vučetić.

a finger being placed down on a blue finger print reader

After immigrating to Argentina from the Croatian island of Hvar, Ivan Vučetić began working for the Central Police Department in La Plata. It was here he started working on improving the identification process for the police force, using the findings of Sir Francis Galton, a British anthropologist, to inspire his work. 

Knowing that no two fingerprints could be identical, he invented the dactylonome. This was a wooden device which could take and archive fingerprints, ultimately revolutionizing the criminal justice system. 

To visit the beautiful island of Hvar and see the birthplace of this incredible inventor, contact our travel experts to book your very own bespoke vacation around Croatia.

Hvar Town seen from a platform overlooking the Old Town and islands in the distance

The Airship 

Many might credit the invention of the zeppelin to the eponymous German Ferdinand Zeppelin, however, this was originally a Croatian invention. Back in 1897, an Austrian man named David Schwarz built the first steerable airship made from an aluminium frame filled with hydrogen to float in the air. Although he was born in Keszthely, Kingdom of Hungary he was known to have spent most of his life in the capital city of Croatia, Zagreb, where he invented the original model of the airship.

After the sudden demise of David Schwarz, Ferdinand Zeppelin went on to buy the patent for his work, using the original design to create his own aircraft which is known as the Zeppelin today. 

Zeppelin airship flying in the sky (a Croatian invention)

The Necktie

The origins of the necktie can be dated back further than its Croatian roots however, the modern version which gained popularity throughout 17th Century Europe was that used by the Croatian military. The Croatian soldiers would wear white scarves around their necks named cravats as a sign of identification.

This was quickly adopted by the French during the reign of Louis XIII (1610 – 1643) and became a staple fashion accessory across the continent. Later in the 19th Century, the British adapted the cravat further, adding more variety of colors and knotting style to the original Croatian design. 

Croatian soldiers in traditional clothing (hats, cravats, uniforms) standing in a line

Special mentions – Tesla!

Did you know that Tesla came from Croatia? No, not Elon Musk’s tech company, but the original inventor Nikola Tesla. He was born in 1856 in the village of Smiljan, found in the Lika-Senj region of Croatia. 

Tesla is most known for his contributions to electricity and magnetism which in turn have innovated the world of science and engineering, in particular the use of electric cars. While Tesla may have created most of his inventions in the United States, his roots still lie in the stunning landscapes of Croatia.

In fact, you can visit his family home in Smiljan which has been converted into the Memorial Center of Nikola Tesla. It’s a wonderful museum which hosts a tonne of original exhibits connected to his life. To include a trip to the birthplace of Tesla and visit this fascinating museum on your next vacation to Croatia, get in touch with our travel specialists. 

Outside of the Memorial Center of Nikola Tesla the inventor of Tesla

Exploring the wonderful world of Croatian inventions

Want to discover the origins of these Croatian inventions for yourself? Here at Adventures Croatia, we create custom tours to Croatia that are tailored to your travel preferences. Whether you’re looking for a beach holiday that incorporates a historic element into your holidays or a trip which perfectly encapsulates the culture of the local area – our travel experts will help you create the ideal vacation for you and your travel party. 
Speak to our team to start planning your trip today!

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