The history and little known facts behind Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

The amazing beauty of Plitvice (Credit: Jeremy)

For anyone who has been to Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia, you don’t need to be convinced of the beauty and wonder of this park in the middle of Croatia. For those who have never heard of  Plitvice, it’s lakes and waterfalls make it a must-see stop in Croatia.

The 16 lakes in this park are a testament to the awe-inspiring beauty that nature can give us. Take a visit to this park and you will be amazed with the peace, color, life, and geography of the water, waterfalls, wildlife, and rock formations. Miles away from the closest town, this park is surrounded by nature and is an example of our natural environment at work.

Plitvice is located about a 2 hour drive south of Zagreb. There are two areas of Plitvice – the upper lakes and the lower lakes. Getting around the park is easy, even for those who don’t like to hike, as there are a number of boardwalks which lead you through a guided walk of the 16 lakes and beautiful waterfalls. The biggest lake, Kozjak, is a connecting point for the upper and lower lakes in which you can take a boat to guide you from one point to another.

While the beauty of Plitvice itself is enough to make anyone want to visit, here are some interesting facts about the park and some things you may not have known.

How were the lakes formed? Water comes into the park from nearby mountains.  The key ingredient to the water’s blue-green aqua color is the calcium carbonate found in the limestone of the rocks.  These minerals flow into the lake and interact with the plants and vegetation in the water to give it the beautiful color.  As more limestone barriers are formed, waterfalls emerge.

Hiking the lakes – While most people stick to the boardwalks to guide them through the park, there are also trails throughout the park that people can take to see different waterfalls and get up close to some of the beautiful spots in the park.  There are also a number of hiking trails throughout the park but you can purchase a map of the park and create your own hike.  However, be aware of the steep hills and climbs you may have to make.

Plitvice is the home to what type of movies? Believe it or not, the park has been the location for many “spaghetti westerns” and is a famous movie location tourist stop for many Germans.  Italian “spaghetti westerns” were also filmed here as well.  The German film, Der Schatz im Silbersee (The Treasure in Silver Lake) is probably the most famous film shot here.

The tragedy of war – Believe it or not, the first shots of the Yugoslavian war were fired here in Plitvice on Easter Sunday 1991.  The first casualty of the war was a park policeman named Josip Jovic.  Serbia actually occupied the park until 1995 and many of the Croatians living in the area were evacuated.

While the park has its beautiful lakes, wildlife, and waterfalls, the history of Plitvice Lakes National Park shows that there is much more to this park than just its beauty.

A hike through one of the many waterfalls and lakes (Credit: Jeremy)

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