Thursday 23 Nov 2017

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BRIJUNI NATIONAL PARK.

HOW TO REACH US?

The Brijuni islands stretch along the south-west coast of the Istrian peninsula; they are separated from the Istrian mainland by the Fažana Channel which is 3 kilometers wide.
The islands are situated 7 kilometers from Pula (a road, rail, air and maritime centre) near Fažana which is the terminal for the frequent connections by boat (15 minute ride).


GEOGRAPHIC POSITION.

Along the western Istrian coast there are several island groups among which the most interesting, the largest and most indented is the Brijuni island group with its 14 islands and islets covering and area of 7.42km2.
The present day boundaries of the National Park were set in 1999 and comprise the land, the surrounding sea with the seabed and cover an area of 33.9km2. The length of the coastline of all the islands is 46.8 km. The most indented islands are Veliki Brijun (25.9km) and Mali Brijun (8.3km). The shores are mostly low and rocky but easily accessible due to the horizontal stratification of the rocks, and in some bays pebbles and sand can be found.
The National Park of Brijuni includes the following islands: Veliki Brijun, Mali Brijun, St. Mark, Gaz, Okrugljak, Supin, Supinić, Galija, Grunj, Vanga (Krasnica), Pusti (Madona), Vrsar, St. Jerome and Kozada. (Krasnica), Pusti (Madona), Vrsar, Sv.Jerolim i Kozada. Geologically and geo-morphologically Brijuni are the continuation of western Istria, the so-called "Red Istria". Since the depth of the channel of Fažana is just 12m, Brijuni were until some 10,000 years ago an integral part of Istria.
The islands are made of horizontal or slightly inclined layers of limestone from the Cretaceous, on which in places there are layers of carbonated brown or red soil. The stone that belongs to that formation is white in colour, easily breakable, of marble structure and is abundant in clay and flint. Therefore it is very solid and is an excellent building material. Roman builders appreciated the listed qualities of these stones and it was used to build many towns on the Adriatic.
Climatically Brijuni are part of the northern Mediterranean type of climate and have all the qualities of the western Istrian coast with a relatively high value of dampness in the air (76%). The average yearly temperature is 13.9C, the precipitation average is 817mm, while the level of insolation is 2350 hours per year.
The main characteristic of the Brijuni archipelago is the extraordinary biological diversity given thanks to its geographical location, its geological base and geomorphology, its diversity of the habitat and its island isolation.
The natural biological diversity was enriched by men’s traditional husbandry. Veliki Brijun, as the largest island of the archipelago, which was cultivated into a harmonious landscape of meadows and parks, has along with the rich remnants of architectural heritage also the preserved vegetation types typical for the western Istrian climate. It is important to underline that the sea forms 80% of the protected area of the National Park and has almost all the elements of the marine eco-system of the Adriatic.

FLORA.

Another characteristic that makes Brijuni even more valuable in relation to other areas of this climate is its vegetation. On Veliki Brijun an extraordinary unity of natural elements and anthropogenesis has been achieved. By taking up the farmlands and by clearing the forests and transforming them into landscape parks with vast meadows, a unique landscape on the Croatian Adriatic coast has been created.
The majority of the flora on the archipelago of Brijuni has the typical Mediterranean characteristics. The most important plant associations of Veliki Brijun are:
It is interesting to point out that on the islands there are some plant species that are among the endangered plant species of Istria (marine poppy, wild cucumber, some grass species etc.), but on the islands they are quite widespread and develop freely.


FAUNA.

Because of the millennial presence of men on the archipelago of Brijuni, the animal world on the islands, especially Veliki Brijun, besides the autochthonous species, was enriched by many imported species that are not congenial to this habitat but got acclimated to it thanks to the almost ideal microclimatic conditions.
The indentation of the coastline, the diversity of the base, the bathymetric configuration and the specific hydrodynamic conditions are reflected in the wide variety of littoral biocoenoses - life communities - that are characteristic for the northern Adriatic region and are still unaffected by direct sources of contamination.
The local seas of Brijuni are important hatching grounds and representative oasis (marine park) for the typical marine organisms of the northern Adriatic, that is their colonies and communities. Of the marine organisms that are protected by the Law on Environmental Conservation in the waters of Brijuni you can find the pen-shell (Pinna nobilis) and the date-shell (Lithophaga lithophaga). Turtles and dolphins, the protected marine vertebrates, can also from time to time be seen in the waters of Brijuni. There are also some endemic species like the black tang, Jadranski bračić, and the tunicate, Jadranski ciganin.
The seabed abounds in sponges, shellfish, sea urchins, crustaceans, fish etc. Among fish the most numerous are sea basses, giltheads, grey mullets, soles, groupers, conger eels, dentexes, black umbers… In the past in the seas of Brijuni were found some species that were never seen in the Adriatic, as well as some species up to then unknown to scientists like the soft coral Alcyonium brionense (Kuekenthal 1906) or the variety of the sponge Ircinia variabilis fistulata (Syzmanski 1904).


SITES WORTH VISITING.

Belvedere

The best preserved among the three belvederes on Kupelwieser's Brijuni, which owing to their construction were even displayed at exhibitions. They were made around 1895 at the ironworks in Vitkovice, where Paul Kupelwieser had worked before coming to Brijuni.
Once a dominant tourist attraction, today it has been overgrown by trees. The second preserved belvedere stands on Saluga hill, above Brijuni''s central beach.
A unique example of engineer architecture.


Kupelwieser's resting place, 1917
The mausoleum of the Kupelwieser family. Although it was conceived as the final resting place of the island's owner and his wife, only the mother and son are buried here.
Maria Kupelwieser (1850-1915) who faithfully followed her husband in realizing his dream of the Brijuni Islands, lies here next to her younger son Karl, who after his father's death (1919) tried to continue his work. Unfortunately, after a series of unsuccessful investments, due to the economic and then emotional crisis he shot himself.
Paul Kupelwieser died in Vienna and was also buried there. The only words on his tombstone below his name is the name of his beloved island.


Quarries
By clearing the old quarries of stone that accumulated over the many years as a result of stone carvers' activities (ever since classical times), Alojz Čufar, forester and planner of all promenades on Brijuni, designed small hills. That is how promenades appeared which are pleasant and attractive all year round: protected from summer heat and sheltered from cold winter winds they became popular places for guests of the health resort.

Koch's quarry
In 1905 a memorial tablet was set up in honour of Dr. Robert Koch, the great scientist who exterminated malaria from the islands, with the following epigraph: DEM GROSSEN FORSCHER - DEM BEFREIER DER INSEL - VON DER MALARIA - DR ROBERT KOCH annis 1900-1901 (The great scientist - who freed the island - from malaria - Dr. Robert Koch - 1900-1901). The marble relief is the work of Austrian sculptor J. Engelhart.

Čufar's quarry
To express their gratitude for the major contribution regarding the development of Brijuni, in 1909 the Kupelwieser family set up a bronze tablet in honour of Alojz Čufar, diligent collaborator and long time director of Brijuni. The tablet is the work of Secession artist J. Engelhart, bearing the following epigraph: DANKBARER ERINNERUNG AN GUTSDIREKTOR ALOIS ZUFFAR DEN TREVESTEN MITARBEITER AN DER ENTWICKLUNG BRIONIS AD 1894-1907 DIE FAMILIE KUPELWIESER (In grateful memory of the property director, loyal collaborator who contributed to the development of Brijuni 1894-1907 - the Kupelwieser family).
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