Croatia - About the Country

Croatia lies between the Julian Alps in the north-west, the Pannonian Plain in the east, and the Adriatic coast in the south. The Dinarian mountain range covers its central region, with heights up to 1,830m asl. The country has nearly 56,000 square kilometers and a population of 4.5 Million people. The Capital is Zagreb with 800,000 inhabitants. The official language is Croatian, locally called Hrvatski. The local name of the country is Republika Hrvatska or just Hrvatska.

The country was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until World War I. In 1918, the Croats, Serbs, and Slovenes formed a kingdom known after 1929 as Yugoslavia. After World War II Croatia became a part of the communist Yugoslavia of Tito. The country declared its independence in 1991, but it was occupied by Serb armies, and it took several years of war and the intervention of the UN to clear the country from this armies. Today the country is more or less safe and especially the coastal areas are again popular travel destination. Its also possible to visit the rest of the country, but because of remaining land mines it is important to stay on the road.


The caves and karst features in Croatia are so much a part of the landscape and integrated in the life of the locals for many thousand years. The first records on caves in Croatia date back to 1096. In 1536 Petar Zoranić wrote about the Velebit and Dinara caves. In 1584 Nikola Gučetić wrote the first scientific paper on speleology. 1775 Ivan Lovriæ described Gospodska Špilja near Sinj. He is said to be the first cave explorer of Croatia. 1922 the geologist Josip Poljak received the first doctor's degree in speleology.

At the moment there are 11,500 known caves in Croatia, but several areas were never systematiucally searched for caves, so the amount must be much higher. Many caves do not have natural entrances, about 1,000 caves were discovered through road works.

A brief history of speleology in Croatia

* new value based on new measurements
120,000-40,000 BP Homo sapiens neanderthalensis resided in the Hušnjakovo Hemisphere in Krapina.
40,000-10,000 BP Homo sapiens entered the caves of Vindija (Varaždin), Mačkova cave (Lepoglava), Bukovac (Lokve), Veternica (Zagreb).
28,000 - 29,000 BP The Vindi cave near Varaždin was probably inhabited by the last Neanderthals in the world.
6000 BP in the Gromača cave near Dubrovnik, our ancestors entered about 750 m far from the entrance and went down 85 m deep, overcoming an almost vertical canal about 50 m high. The remains of ceramic vessels and the prints of bare feet were found.
5,000 - 4,000 BP A Neolithic culture from that period was found in Hvar in the Grapcevo Cave, Markov Cave and Pokrivenik Cave (findings of scientist Grga Novak)
1400-900 BC In the Cave of the Abyss near Vrhovina (Horvat's Cave), members of an unknown tribe descended into a pit 400 m away from the entrance and 125 m deep.
340-420 St. Jerome stayed in several caves in Dalmatia. During this period, the hermits lived in a series of caves such as Opatje, Zmajeva and Ljubitovica on Brac, the caves above Sv. Nedilje in Hvar. Sv. Martin was staying in a cave in Podsused near Zagreb.
362-366 St. Ilar was in a cave near Cavtat. According to legend, he saved Epidaurum (Cavtat) from the terrible dragon Voaz from the Shipun Cave.
1096 The first written record of the Croatian cave, the Latin script on the boundary of the monastery estate of Sv. Krševana on the island of Ugljan where there is a Cave in Željina Bay.
1536 The poet Petar Zoranic Ninjaningave a poetic account of the underworld of Velebit and Dinarain his book The Mountains .
1584 The first scientific work on cave phenomena. The Dubrovnik philosopher Nikola Gučetić studied the Šipun Cave in Cavtat and the Vjetrenica Cave in Popovo Polje and tried to interpret the sigas, humidity and airflow in the work About Aristotle's Meteors .
1689 The Slovenian explorer Ivan Vajkard Valvasor published in his book The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola the first description of a cave in Croatia (Druška pec in Učka) and the first drawing of the entrance to a Croatian cave (Tounjčica cave in Tounje near Ogulin).
1725 The Italian scientist Louigi Fernando Marsigliadescribes the phenomena of the rivers in Likain the Physical Nature of the Sea .
1774 The Italian abbot Alberto Fortis in the book The Road to Dalmatia described several caves in Dalmatia (Rudelić caves near the source of Cetina, etc.) and was the first to interpret our word cave.
1776 Ivan Lovric, a Sinjan, published a description of Lord's Cave exploration near the Cetina spring (he explored several hundred meters of the cave where he overcame a 13 m vertical line and reached the Siphon lake, which he concluded was connected to the Cetina spring).
1787 French cave explorer Belsazar Hacquet created the first topographic cave mark in the world and applied it for the first time that year to a topographic map of Croatia.
1835 Julius Fras describes about 80 caves and pits. In Baric's Cave (Ličko Petrovo selo, Plitvice) he used wooden ladders 6 m long.
1841 In Danica Ilirska, Stjepan Mlinarić wrote the first article about a cave in Croatia in the Croatian language (the cave in St. John Zelina).
1855 During the cholera in Dalmatia, the wealthier citizens of Split took refuge in Vrlika and visited the cave near the source of the Cetina River, which was named after the Lord. The entrance to the cave is slightly arranged. Dr. In the same year, James Chiudina described a sightseeing tour of that cave under the title Visiting the Vrlika Cave . This is the oldest information on tourist visits to a cave in Croatia.
1880s the Viennese painter Eugen von Ransonnet arranged the Blue Cave on the island of Bisevo for tourists to visit.
1882, JM Granić published a sketch of a nameless cave in Dalmatia Mijo Kišpatić published the results of his paleontological research in Barac's Caves near Rakovica.
1886 first association related to caves in Croatia founded, the Committee for the regulation of the Samograd cave near Perušić.
1887-1930 Members of the Rijeka Mountaineering Club (1885 Club Alpino Fiumano, after 1919 Club Alpino Italiano-Sezione di Fiume) explored speleologically in the Croatian coast, Gorski kotar and Istria and explored more than 200 caves and pits In 1887, they explored the Asparagus Cave near Kastav and later arranged it for a tourist visit and protected it with a door.
1887 Duro Pilar made the first true topographic draft of the cave on millimeter paper (the Great Cave at Medvednica).
1892 Geologist Mijo Kišpatić founded the Committee for the Arrangement of Barač Caves in Rakovica .
1898 HPD begins to publish the journal Croatian Mountaineer, in which articles on speleology have been published in large numbers.
1898 Dragutin Hirc published in Gorski Kotar the first drawing showing the exploration of a cave - the Hyde House The drawing was made by painter Vaclav Anderle.
1899 The Liburnia Mountaineering and Tourism Association was founded in Zadar , and in 1900 its cave section (section) , whose members explored caves in the surrounding area In 1903, they organized the first Croatian speleological expedition With a cutter through the Kornati Islands, and in 1908 a Committee for Cave Research.
1910 Due to Dragutin Gorjanović Kramberger, a Cave Research Committee was established in Zagreb in the Geological Commission of the Kingdom of Croatia and Slavonia . It is the first professional speleological association.
1911 In Split, Professor Umberto Girometta founded the Cave Department at Velika Realka and with the students explored the caves and caves of Dalmatia In the Cave and Cave of Central Dalmatia, published in 1923, Girometta gives an overview of the main characteristics of 472 caves and caves and discusses their morphological and genetic characteristics. In 1927, at his urging, a Section for the Investigation of Karst Phenomena (now the HPD Mosor Speleological Section) was established, thus continuing the tradition of the "cave" from the Great Realka .
1912 Dragutin Gorjanović Kramberger first uses the term speleology in the Journal of the Geological Commission for Croatia and Slavonia.
1922 Geologist Josip Poljak defended his doctoral dissertation with a topic in speleology He was the first to scientifically investigate the Veternica cave in 1934.
1923 Umberto Giromettadescribed as many as 472 speleological phenomenain the work of the Cave and the Cave of Central Dalmatia .
1925 Italian cavers descended into Ponor near Raspora on Ćićarija and measured a depth of -450 m, which is when the cave was declared the deepest in the world However, by measuring the cave more accurately in 1974, Croatian cavers measured a depth of only -355 m.
1949 A speleological section was founded at the Zagreb PD(initiated by Vladimir Redenšek) Subsequently, speleology in Croatia is experiencing a major upswing. Speleological sections were established in other mountaineering societies and speleological activity was initiated at the Geological Institute and the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts. Today, there are about forty speleological associations operating under two umbrella speleological organizations in Croatia.
1954 The Croatian Speleological Society was founded.
1955 A research institute was founded at the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts called the Geological-paleontological collection and karst laboratory , or the Institute for Paleontology and Geology of the Quaternary (since 1974), in which academician Mirko Malez made a significant contribution to scientific research within the Quaternary geology and speleology.
1956 The Speleology Commission of the Croatian Mountaineering Association was established.
1957 The first speleological course in Ogulin is organized The following are speleological courses in the Lower Cerovačka Cave in 1958 and in Toun in 1960. The organization of speleological schools according to the program of the Speleology Commission began in 1966, and since the founding of the Zagreb Speleological School in 1971, they have been organized almost every year in Zagreb, Split, Karlovac, Šibenik and other cities.
1977 The members of the Speleological Section of the PDS Velebit descend to the bottom of the Ponor at Bunovac to a depth of -534 m, which then became the deepest pit in the wider region.
1987 Detailed investigations of the cave system Đulin abyss-cave Medvedica under the city of Ogulin were completed, which until 2011 represented the longest Croatian cave with a total horizontal channel length of 16 396 m. ancient times. The first research was conducted by Josip Poljak (1926) and Mirko Malez (1956-1957), and detailed research was carried out by members of the Speleological Section of the PDS Velebit under the leadership of Marijan Čepelak from 1984 to 1987.
1993 The first speleological expedition of the Croatian Mountaineering Union Speleology Commission to the Lukina jama-Trojama cave system in the Northern Velebit National Park Expeditions continued in 1994 and 1995. The cave system Lukina jama - Trojama was explored to a depth of 1392 m, which ranked it 9th in the list of the deepest caves in the world, and today it is the deepest cave in Croatia and next to the second deepest in the Slovak cave (1320 m deep, explored). between 1996 and 2002) among the twenty deepest in the world. The discovery of Lukina jama begins a new period in the exploration of deep caves in Velebit, which continues with the discovery of a third Croatian cave more than a thousand meters deep, the Velebit Cave System (-1026 m) discovered in 2003, in which research is still ongoing.
1998 The Croatian Speleological Association was founded Today in Croatia, associations that are registered for speleological activity (speleological and mountaineering) operate within the Speleology Commission of the Croatian Mountaineering Association or the Croatian Speleological Association.
2009 The Istrian Speleological Association was founded.
2011 The Zagreb Speleological Association was founded as a regional organization that brings together speleological associations in the area of ​​the City of Zagreb and Zagreb County.