Holiday apartments by the sea +
exciting activities in Paklenica National Park

 
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PAKLENICA NATIONAL PARK

Location

Paklenica National Park and the Paklenica Riviera are located in the far northwestern part of Dalmatia, in the Zadar region. Coming from the north via A1 highway at the exit of the Sveti Rok Tunnel, you enter Dalmatia and enjoy your first view of the Adriatic Sea. The landscape and the climate have suddenly changed. Leave the highway at the first exit to reach the Paklenica Riviera that joins the mountains to the sea.

 

Paklenica National Park covers the area of the Velika Paklenica and Mala Paklenica canyons carved vertically into the south slopes of Velebit and the highest peaks of the Velebit Mountains. The Paklenica National Park lies entirely within the Velebit mountain range.

 

The Paklenica Riviera is composed of beaches and villages situated on the narrow strip of land between the mountains, Paklenica National Park and the sea. It is one of the most popular destinations for active holidays in Croatia. The Paklenica Riviera and Paklenica National Park are part of the Velebit Nature Park, which because of its specific relief, vegetative, wildlife and landscape features was placed by UNESCO in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves.


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Starigrad-Paklenica

The center of the Paklenica Riviera – the village of Starigrad-Paklenica – arose in the seventeenth century on the foundations of the ancient Roman trading center of Argyruntum. In the fourth century A.D., Emperor Tiberius had the city fortified with walls and towers. The most interesting finding from the Roman city of Argyruntum is certainly the ancient glass collection – as many as 146 vessels of many different forms – kept in the Zadar Museum of Archeology.

 

In the early Middle Ages, Croats arrived in this area. The earliest preserved traces of their presence are the chapels of St. George (Sv. Juraj) in Rovanjska and St. Peter (Sv. Petar) in Starigrad, built in the ninth or tenth centuries. Two forts – Večka kula and Paklarić – were probably erected in the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries. You’ll often see photos of the remains of Večka kula (located at the beach between Seline and Starigrad-Paklenica) in tourist promotions. Paklenica’s name probably derives from a local word for tar of the black pine, "Paklina." The tar was used in folk medicine for healing wounds, as sliver for lighting and for coating wooden boats.

Between the seventeenth and twentieth centuries, unique landmarks called the mirila, or measures, were installed alongside the paths and trails of Velebit. The mirila are secondary shrines to honor the dead. They consist of a headstone and a footstone with a strip of paving between them, and are the exact length of a person’s body (that person’s “measure”). Cemeteries were often a long distance from family homes, and thus a deceased person would often have to be carried a long way. On the way, mourners would only be permitted to stop once to rest and place the deceased on the ground, approximately halfway. On this spot was erected a mirilo, the resting place of the deceased. The mirila were marked and then visited more than the grave; according to local custom, the actual grave is only where the body lies, while the soul remained at the mirilo.  These mirila can still be visited today.

Events and activities

Today Paklenica Riviera is a vibrant tourist destination with exciting events and activities offered from spring until autumn. Each year around 1 May, an international competition called “Big Wall Speed Climbing” is held in the national park. The competition is held on the Anića Kuk cliffs – often more than three hundred metres high – justifiably the most famous climbing spot in Croatia.

 

The Starigrad-Paklenica Film Festival is another established yearly event. At the festival, music documentary films are presented in the magnificent settings of the Velika Paklenica and Mala Paklenica canyons. Between 1962 and 1968 the Paklenica area was the backdrop for the shooting of a film cycle about the Indian chief Winnetou, based on the novels by the German author Karl May. The movies were hugely popular in the Eastern Bloc countries. The Winnetou Museum in Starigrad-Paklenica preserves the memories of those times.

 

Over 360 well-equipped and maintained routes of various difficulty levels and lengths grace Paklenica’s climbing sites. The sea’s close proximity gives this climbing site a special charm, making the Paklenica Riviera an ideal place to combine climbing with a beach holiday. That and the very special peaceful atmosphere of Paklenica make it a favourite family getaway.

 

Paklenica National Park has over 150 kilometres of beautifully-maintained hiking trails. The clearly-marked trails in the park are easy to follow, and range from easy recreational paths to more demanding ones leading to the Velebit peaks, which require several days to accomplish. There are also interesting educational trails in the wider Velebit Nature Park area. The karst landscape abounds in extraordinary forms – dramatic canyons, unusual rocky crags, caves and so on.

 

Three caves in the immediate vicinity of Starigrad-Paklenica are open to the public: Manita Peć, Modrič Špilja, and Cerovačka Pećina. In Manita Peć Cave, the stalagmites and stalactites reach up to 20 metres high. The undeveloped Modrič Cave is not equipped with electric lighting, stairs, or pathways, making a guided visit to the cave a true speleological expedition. And humans have been enjoying Cerovačka Pećina for over five thousand years – ancient pottery has been found there dating to 3300 BC!

 

In the Paklenica area flora and fauna are plentiful. Amongst the wildlife in the park are various types of birds: falcons, eagles and owls. Not surprisingly, Paklenica is one of the best Croatia’s bird watching destinations.

 

 

Some paths in the Paklenica Riviera area are accessible by bicycles; these are clearly indicated by the corresponding signs. Bikes are available for rent, as well as equipment for sea sports such as windsurfing, standup paddling, sea kayaking. There are schools with licensed and experienced instructors or guides for many activities. You can also join a group for white water rafting and canoeing (in the upper reaches of the Zrmanja River) or night fishing. If you are looking for yet more adrenaline, try bungee jumping at the Old Maslenica Bridge! By the way, this is the highest bungee jump in Croatia.

 

In short, there is a lot to do in Paklenica National Park and the Paklenica Riviera. From early spring until late autumn, you’ll find exciting activities on the sea and in the beautiful mountains of the national park. Come and join the international crowd and make Paklenica your holiday destination!