Brijuni – Magnificent Images of Nature
I do not want to start a sentence with “National Park is the most beautiful…”, because it is not the most beautiful, not even among the most beautiful because all 8 of them are the most beautiful and it’s hard to choose which is the best and suits you the best. Each of the 8 of national parks in Croatia offers the special magic to its visitor. And what National Park Brijuni offers to you, find out in this short guide for Brijuni.
Brijuni became a National Park in 1983, primarily due to its beautiful nature and cultural and historical heritage. Compliance of visual impression with this unique landscape makes this place a bit unreal.
National Park Brijuni is located along the western coast of Istria and consists of 14 islands and islets. The only way to reach the National Park is by boat or catamaran that sails from Fažana by regular routes throughout the year. Please make a reservation of your ticket for your trip to the National Park Brijuni especially in the summer months when the crowds are bigger.
The main characteristic of this park is the biological diversity of flora and fauna. Over five thousand years long coexistence of flora and fauna on the islands of Brijuni have shaped this area. Nowhere will you find so many holm oak and laurel in one place and the shade under the treetops in the range up to 20 meters. Fauna is a green decoration of Brijuni, and the deer and axis deer, mouflons, peacocks and rabbits who walk freely over National Park Brijuni are just a small part of a very famous Brijuni identity.
Brijuni are magnificent images of nature that are cultivated by man for the most pleasant stay there.
It is often forgotten that approximately 80% of the total area of the National Park Brijuni occupies the Sea. Visitors are especially happy when they see a sea turtle or when in the sea seen the playful dolphins. The Adriatic Sea in this park is a habitat for many protected and endemic species, such as brown algae, Adriatic wrack etc., and the sea around Brijuni is habitat for a pen shell (Pinna Nobilis), and strictly protected and endemic species of shellfish (Lithophaga).
On Brijuni Islands are the luxurious Roman villa, the ethnographic collection, frescoes, Archaeological Museum and the Museum of natural history, and in August you can join to the one of the theater show of Ulysses theater or visit one of the golf tournament which takes place throughout the year. A numerous of famous guests were visit Brijuni from the Duke and Duchess, princes and princesses, statesmen, actors and actresses, scientists, Nobel Prize winners, doctors, athletes, etc.
Who were the inhabitants of Brijuni
If you come to Brijuni it is possible to see the footprints of dinosaurs and Mesozoic reptiles on the island’s stone. The collections of the museums at the Brijuni are full of archaeological and cultural-historical monuments.
In the bay Verige is the remains of the luxurious Roman villa on three terraces, with temples, promenade, spa and fish pond from the 1st century. It was the villa of Emperor Vespasian and became the imperial residence and a place where they spent their holidays.
The residents and the character of these islands have been changed through historical periods. Salt and stones were harvested from ancient to the Venetian days, and in the second half of the 18th century, the islands are almost entirely abandoned.
The century later, the Austrians built fortifications to defend the port of Pula.
The originator of tourism is Austrian industrialist Paul Kupelwieserin in the 19th century. He cleared the macchia, planted trees and did many construction works. All of this would be almost destroyed because of the mosquitoes whose bites carrying malaria. The famous bacteriologist and Nobel laureate Robert Koch arrived on Brijuni at the call of Kupelwieser. Robert Koch has successfully resolved the “crisis” with malaria, because of that, today on Brijuni, you can see a monument dedicated to this famous scientist.
From 1913, Veli Brijuni records hotel with 300 rooms. On the Veli Brijuni was brought water, post office, phone, the paths and walkways to the sea, parks, beaches, swimming pools, a casino, sports facilities, a horse paddock and all that can provide comfort and leisure to guests. Also, a comfort can be provided by the best wines from local vineyards, olive oil, milk products and fine cheeses. All of this is a prerequisite for those who are members of high society, the Austrian and Hungarian aristocrats including members of the Viennese court, scientists, and dignitaries.
The archipelago was named as an exclusive and elegant seaside resort.
The archipelago is interrupted with the development during the First World War. Due to the heavy damage during the 1st and 2nd World War, the island losing its trendy glow.
It can be said that the second boom of Brijuni was after 1947 when Brijuni becoming a residence of the president of then Yugoslavia, Josip Broz Tito, and that remain until his death in 1980. Hotels and parks are restored, villas were built, orchards, vineyards, and wine cellars. After 1954, Brijuni are visited by many statesmen (talk about a third of all countries in the world) and some celebrities. Their stay on Brijuni was immortalized by photos and set it as a permanent exhibit at the Museum in the Veli Brijuni.
What to see in the National Park Brijuni
The only island that is open to the public throughout the year is Veli Brijun. On it, you can reach by boat from Fazana, the place near Pula. The island can be seen by rented bikes, tourist train or electric vehicles. What can not be missed on Veli Brijun is certainly the Byzantine castrum, villa from the Roman era, and the Venetian fort Tegetthoff.
Changing the landscape is stunning on this island, on the one hand are the deep woods and on the other are open grasslands surrounded by turquoise sea. Driving through this park you will meet old olive tree even 1,600 years old, with a treetop diameter of 22 meters, go through the famous avenue and see many native and imported animals that live on this island.
The most numerous are deer, for which are said that are natural lawn mowers and due to which are golf court on Veli Brijuni is unique in the world. Next to the golf terrain lies the Safari park, where are placed the animals that are brought in this Safari as a gift to the then President of Yugoslavia. Safari park was founded in 1987 and there you can see zebras, elephant Lanka, Indian cattle, ostriches, llamas, fallow deer, axis deer, mouflon, peacocks, rabbits, and indigenous animals like Istrian cattle, sheep and a donkey.
On the island of Mali Brijun social life takes place mainly during the summer months when visitors can enjoy a theater performance by the Ulysses Theatre that founded by Croatian actor Rade Serbedzija and his wife Lenka Udovicki. That’s one of the reasons why this island is visited by many world famous personalities.
Theatre Ulysses returned glamor and prestige to this island as it was at the time of president of Yugoslavia, Tito.
What to do in the National Park Brijuni
The possibilities for this are many, so, on the Brijuni islands you can go to one of the organized tours, golf, tennis, cyclings or marry. Yes, you read it, here you can organize weddings. What are you waiting for?
Let me finish with the words of the German author Hermann Bahr about Kupelwieser “Brijuni were marshes, he came, now they are islands of flowers and fruits.“
If you ever visit Istria and visit National Park Brijuni, remember that while you walk through its paths and enjoy the view of the extraordinary landscape, remember how much of hard work was needed to shape islands in this magical oasis.