Saturday 23 Sep 2017

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KORNATI NATIONAL PARK.

THE PARK.

In the central part of Croatian Adriatic Sea, about 15 Nm to the west from Sibenik town, 7 Nm to the southwest from Murter, or 15 Nm to the south from Zadar town, there is amazing group of islands named Kornati archipelago.Beauty and singularity of the archipelago moved authorities in 1980 to proclaim a bigger part of that area national park. Since then certain modifications of its borders were made, so that nowadays Kornati National Park occupies the area of about 220 km2 (54.000 acres). There are 89 islands, islets and reefs within the area of Kornati National Park (238 km of the coastline), what makes it the most indented group of islands in the Mediterranean. The land part of Kornati National Park covers less than 1/4 of its total area, but the values of its landscapes, the "crowns" (cliffs) on the islands facing the open sea, and interesting relief structures, make this part of Kornati National Park unique. Besides, the Kornati submarine area, whose biocenosis are considered to be the richest in the Adriatic Sea, and also the magnificent geomorphology of the sea bed attracts divers from all over Europe to come and enjoy in unforgettable submarine adventures.

WHAT TO DO?

Cruise through a maze of Kornati islands

In tourist publications, the Kornati National Park is often referred to as “a nautical paradise”. By taking a slalom-like cruise through 89 unforgettable islands, islets and reefs (as many as there are in the Kornati National Park), you will have a chance to test your nautical skills and abilities especially if the weather “helps” you at it.
To take the cruise, you only need to have a valid entrance ticket to the Park.

Diving and snorkelling
To visit the Kornati National Park and not dive into the fascinating undersea world is almost a sin. Qualified autonomous divers are in an advantageous position: they can enjoy those undersea natural values because of which (among other things) the area was designated a national park. To those who are not in possession of a diver’s certification, we recommend they use a mask and a snorkel to take a peak at the deep blue of the crystal clear sea of the Kornati area, as there is an abundance of unforgettable natural beauties that can be seen from the sea surface as well.
No special permit is required for snorkelling i.e. diving without autonomous diving gear. If you intend to dive using the autonomous diving gear, you must do so only as part of an authorised and permitted group.

Wild bird and animal watching
The undersea world of the Kornati National Park offers you the pleasure of exploring the exceptionally rich flora and fauna. The land section of the Park, although it often gives an impression of a “half-desert”, also abounds in plant and animal life. It is confirmed that 537 plant taxons exist on the Kornati National Park land and it is assumed that in total there are app. 700-800 vascular plant families. In-depth research of the animal life within the Park has not been conducted as yet. Beside rodents, snakes, lizards, insects and other living creatures that visitors mostly find uninteresting, the existence of beech marten has also been registered at the Park. It’s very hard to find and see it from a close distance though. The Park includes an interesting variety of birds: Eurasian eagle owl, peregrine falcon, kestrel, common buzzard, shag, and seagull.
Avoid close contact with animals and do not disturb them. This area is also their home.

Hiking on the Kornati islands
Numerous hilltop view locations offer unforgettable moments of pleasure and create unforgettable impressions! Interesting geological and geo-morphological phenomena that you will see from the hilltops are surely a sight to remember.
It is not hard to reach the hilltop view locations. Keep in mind that summer heat can make hiking unbearable. We recommend you take a hat and other sun protection products because there is not a lot of shade on the islands.
The land section of the Kornati National Park is privately owned mostly by the people from Murter, a town on the Island of Murter. During your hikes on the islands, please act as a good and considerate guest.

Eating in restaurants and taverns
There are app. 20 restaurants and taverns within the Kornati National Park. With more or less success in their business, they offer quality domestic cuisine that mostly includes seafood specialties (fish and crabs) and domestic lamb from the Kornati area. Some restaurants also offer “ordinary” food for those who are not very fond of the Kornati cuisine.
We recommend you visit some of our restaurants and/or taverns – you will not regret it!

Overnight stay in the Kornati National Park
An amazingly rich starry sky that spreads over the Kornati National Park unspoiled by artificial lights, the quietness and serenity of the natural sea ambiance, the smell of the sea, the fresh air and the soft cooling breeze make the night in the Kornati National Park an outstanding experience, a unique experience! If you try it, you will know what we are talking about.
Anchoring and overnight stay in the Kornati National Park are allowed.
There are 16 bays set aside for this purpose.

Living in a Kornati family
We highly recommend you “taste” the life of a Kornati family. Try to live a special, different, simple yet complicated life that not so many people know about but that has been lived here, very close to us, for centuries. Regardless of the tourist season, try to feel it and take part in olive-picking, hunting domestic sheep “turned wild”, sheep shearing, fishing to secure your own food etc. in the way in has been done for centuries by the people of the Kornati area locally known as Kurnatari - very simple, good-natured people and hosts.

WHAT TO SEE?

Crowns
The famous Kornati "crowns" reveal some of the geological activities that happened in the history of this area. "Crowns", the vertical cliffs of the Kornati Islands facing the open sea, are the most popular phenomena of the Kornati National Park. These fascinating steep cliffs are the sides of a large tectonic rift that stretches from Istria and ends somewhere in Middle Dalmatia (maybe even more to the south). The rift was caused by the northern motion of Africa and its collision with Europe.
The longest "crown" above the sea level is found on the Island of Mana (1350 m). The highest "crown" is found on the Islet of Klobucar (82 m). The "crowns" stretch below the sea level as well. The deepest "crown" is found on the Island of Piskera (90 m).
The "crowns" are home to rare "brave" living organisms: peregrine falcon, shag, common swift, centaurea ragusina plant community etc.

Magazinova Skrila on the island of Kornat
Magazinova
skrila is a special geological phenomenon, a place where a mass of limestone slid along its litho logically identical foundation. The cause of this phenomenon was most probably an earthquake. It is hard to say when the earthquake actually happened, how strong it was or where its epicenter was. There are numerous speculations in connection with the origin of the Magazinova skrila but so far there are no definite proofs regarding the period or the conditions of its origin.

To reach the fascinating Magazinova skrila, you have to enter a private property. Please be extra careful and considerate towards the owners. Do not harm the property in any way (jumping and/or tearing down the drywalls, picking the fruits, disturbing the sheep etc.).
We suggest you choose Kravjacica, Strižnja or Vruje on the Island of Kornat as the starting point of your excursion to the phenomenon of Magazinova skrila.

Hilltop view locations (Metlina, Otocevac, Opat, Vrujsko, Litnji vrh, Ravni Zakan, ...)
To set aside a hilltop view location and say that it is better than others is not possible. Each of them has a special charm and will bring you special joy and excitement!
Metlina on the Island of Kornat (237 m) is the highest and the most impressive hilltop within the Kornati National Park, and it’s the most difficult one to reach. The top of the Opat Mount (in the south-eastern part of the Island of Kornat) and Litnji Vrh on the Islet of Vela Smokvica offer a beautiful view of the sea surrounding the Island of Murter on the north-eastern side and a part of the Kornati National Park on the other side. Otocevac on the Island of Piškera offers a breathtaking view of almost the entire Kornati National Park. The Levrnaka hilltop can be easily reached. It offers you an enjoyable view.
Once again let us point out that the land is privately owned. We kindly ask you to act as careful and considerate guests while climbing the hilltops of the Kornati area.

Remains of Illiryan settlements
The Kornati Islands were first colonized in the time of the Illyrians. Small quadrangular separate or grouped dwellings (found below Pedinka, above Željkovci, in Pod Selo by Trtuša and Grbe on the Island of Žut), remains of towns and castles (Šcikat, Stražišce, Tureta, Grbe) and numerous stone grave-mounds (tumuli can be found on almost every elevation on the Kornat and Žut Islands) testify to the fact that Kornati Islands were significantly inhabited during the prehistoric times. The main economic activity of the inhabitants was stock keeping but fishing also played a very important part in their economy.


Tureta fortress
The Tureta Fortress is the most significant structure dating from the Byzantine Era that is found in the Kornati area. It is located on the Island of Kornat and dates probably from the 6th century (Late Antique and Early Middle Age architecture). It is assumed that the fortress was build for military purposes – to safeguard and control the navigation on the Adriatic Sea, a relatively unsafe place at the time.


Early Christian three-nave basilica and church of our lady of Tarac
The Early Christian three-nave basilica located at the foot of the Tureta Fortress is yet another very interesting structure from the Byzantine Era. The remains of the larger part of the apse and the foundations can be found today. Considering that the church was relatively big (30 x 13 m), it is assumed that Kornati Islands were significantly inhabited during that period. In the immediate vicinity of the basilica (in what is today a sheep-fold), there are traces of the foundation of a structure that used to be either a Templar or Benedictine monastery. An interesting fact is that during the Middle Ages the Island of Kornat used to be called Insulae Sanctae Mariae, the Stomorin Island and similar. The island was named after this particular church (Saint Mary’s Church).
Very interesting cultural structures that can be found within the Kornati National Park date from the Middle Ages. The Church of Our Lady of Tarac is the most impressive one among them. It’s a modest one-nave sacral building (a rural Late Romanesque church) built on the foundations of a Late Christian basilica. The remains of the basilica were most probably used in the construction of the new church. The period of construction of the Church of Our Lady of Tarac is unknown. It is assumed that it dates from the period between the 12th and 16th centuries. Every first Sunday in July, a service is held in this church. It is no longer just a religious event. It has become a tourist attraction as well.


Saltpan in Lavsa bay
The remains of a salt magazine and a saltpan, which is now completely under water in the Lavsa Bay date from the Middle-Ages as well (probably from the 2nd half of the 14th century).

Venetian castle, island Piskera, church on the island Piskera
At the beginning of the 16th century a Venetian castle was built on the Islet of Vela Panitula. It served as a place where fish tax was collected from the fishermen of the Kornati area. In 1532 Venetian authorities passed an order that the fishermen of the Kornati area must bring all of their catch to the Islet of Vela Panitula to pay the taxes. In the immediate vicinity of the castle, on the Island of Piškera (Jadra), the fishermen built a settlement comprised of 36 dwellings and magazines, eight little piers and a movable bridge between the Vela Panitula and Piškera Islands. This was a relatively large settlement for that period. It also included a one-nave church with Gothic construction elements, which was sanctified in 1560. The fishermen lived in the settlement only during the “dark” period of the summer (the best time to catch pelagic fish – when there is no moon). At the end of the 18th century when the Venetian rule was over, the castle and the Piškera settlement disappeared as well. The fishermen settlement is entirely gone; there are only a few remains of the castle found today. The church was renovated, however, and is still used today.

Laborer and sheepherd settlements, coastal settlements, drywalls
Since the arrival of the first settlers (people from Murter, Betina and Zaglav in the 17th century) until the end of the 19th century, the circumstances on the Kornati Islands remained mostly unchanged. There are only a small number of documents describing the life on the Kornati Islands. The first laborer and shepherd settlements (stanovi) were built around that time. These settlements were small rural complexes built along the edges of the fields. The cadastre maps from 1824-1830 register 187 settlements with Murter as the main one. These records mainly refer to the inland part of the islands (not to coastal settlements). It is important to mention that as early as in 1682 Murterini, the inhabitants of the Pašman Island and the adjoining mainland, were recorded in the documents as a real “threat and bother” to the fishermen of Sali. The fight for the fishing right in the Kornati area escalated during that period.
At the end of the 19th century, because of the new agrarian politics in Dalmatia, the noblemen from Zadar, owners of the Kornati land, could no longer pay the duties and taxes and they, therefore, sold the Kornati Islands. In 1885 the Murterini bought the Island of Žut, and in 1896, together with the people from Betina and Zaglav, they bought the Island of Kornat and all its surrounding islands as well. The inhabitants of the Island of Murter became owners of 90% of the Kornati land. The inhabitants of Sali remained in control of the sea because they had the traditional and documented fishing right which they held onto throughout the entire history of the Kornati Islands.
At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century the economy and life in the Kornati area acquired a completely new meaning. This is the time of the greatest agrarian activities. What used to be mostly pastural landscape was turned into fertile fields (there were ten times more newly cleared land sections and fences). A complex mosaic of drywall fences was built during this period. It is today one of the main cultural attractions within the National Park. The people turned slowly towards the coast. Porti, the coastal settlements built in the bays suitable for living, became fully recognized in the 20th century.

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