Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia draws about a million visitors
every year. It is located between Zagreb and Zadar, in area known as Lika, near
the Bosnia and Herzegovina border.
As Croatia's oldest national park, Plitvice Lakes was founded in 1949. With
an area of 296.85 square kilometres, it is the largest of the eight national
parks in Croatia, and one of the largest in Southeast Europe.
Legend says the park's lakes were created by the Black Queen, who sent rain
to the dry earth.
The park unites 16 lower and upper lakes that are connected by waterfalls.
The upper lakes are characterised by rich wood vegetation and a dolomite valley.
The lower lakes are smaller and shallow with canyons and cliffs.
The largest lakes, Pročćansko Jezero and Kozjak, make up 80% of the overall
water area. These lakes are also the deepest, at 37m and 47m,
The 78m-high Large Waterfall stands at the end of the lower
The lakes are separated by travertine barriers, a specific geological
phenomenon. Comparable forms also exist in Krka National Park in Croatia and in
the US's Yellowstone National Park.
Every lake has a name that originates from local folktales. One of the
upper lakes, Ciganovac, was named after the tragic story of a roma who drowned
in the lake.
Plitvice Lakes has always attracted tourists. It became even more popular
in the 1960s and 1970s, when it was the scene for several movies based on Karl
In 1979, UNESCO added the park to its World Heritage Sites list.
The park is also the location of one of the first Serb-Croatian armed
conflicts. The incident between the Croatian police and Yugoslav Army took place
After the conflicts, the park was heavily covered by land mines. It it took
four years to clean it up.
Croatia re-opened the park for visitors in 1999. The park is home to bears,
wolves, eagles and foxes.
The park is open 365 days a year, with longer hours during summer. The best
way to see the park is to walk the numerous paths. But electro-boat and
panoramic trains are also available. The park administration also offers guided
tours in English, German, Italian, French and Spanish.