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Thursday, 30 June 2016

Dubrovnik's Water Polo Club Jug Crowned Champions of Europe (+Video)







The famous Croatian Water Polo Club Jug from Dubrovnik have been declared the champions of Europe after todays Len Champions League Finals match in Budapest, Hungary. 





Dubrovnik's Water Polo Club Jug are Champions of Europe!





By The Dubrovnik Times Jun 05, 2016


Dubrovnik’s water polo club “Jug” are for the fourth time champions of Europe. Jug (which means the word "south" in Croatian) beat Olympiakos from Greece in a closely fought final - 6: 4. Jug won their fourth overall LEN Champions League final. They long with 7 time LEN European Champion HAVK Mladost, Jadran Split and POŠK are the most successful Croatian water polo clubs and LEN Champions League victors. The match was played in front of a full sold out arena in the centre of Budapest.

This is the first time in the clubs history that they have won four trophies in one season, the Croatian Cup, the Regional League, the Croatian Championship and the icing of the cake, now the European title.

The club was also congratulated by Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and others on social media. Also since she was already in Dubrovnik for an important summit discussing the influx of foreign terrorists and subversive groups infiltrating Europe crisis, she was even able to personally welcome the team back upon their arrival at Dubrovnik Airport.

Congratulations to the pride of Dubrovnik – VK JUG!


Images: www.portaloko.hr










Highlights of the Len Champions League Final in Budapest. (from Hungarian television)





After arriving back to Croatia at Dubrovnik Airport.






Saturday, 25 June 2016

Croatia 1 Of 5 EU Countries Set To Have Visas For Travel To America Waived







Croatian visas as well as visas from other EU members Bulgaria, Cyprus, Poland and Romania are close to being waived, this means that finally exploring real authentic American culture and cuisine will soon be a dream come true for travellers. Image: internet photo.





Source: HINA


Croatia and Cyprus are very close to meeting the formal visa waiver criteria and 3 other nations not far behind, independently of a decision by European institutions on the introduction of visas for US citizens, according to US Ambassador to the European Union Anthony Gardner, Croatian member of the European Parliament Tonino Picula said in a press release on Wednesday…

Gardner said so in response to a question by Picula on the introduction of visa reciprocity for the five EU member states whose citizens still need a visa for the US – Croatia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Poland and Romania.

A two-year deadline for the introduction of visa reciprocity ended on April 12. The European Commission has asked the Council of the EU and the European Parliament to present their views on further actions by July 12. In case of majority support in the two institutions, one of the options is the introduction of visas for US citizens travelling to the EU.

Some of the five countries have initiated official proceedings, while the others are more inclined towards a compromise, Picula said in talks with Gardner in Strasbourg, adding that he saw the free movement of persons as a prerequisite for the free movement of goods and services.




No visa requirements will mean easily meeting new American acquaintances and friends.




Gardner said he hoped the inefficient and expensive reintroduction of visa requirements would be avoided, adding that it would impact other dimensions of transatlantic relations too, the press release said.

Picula and another 11 MEPs have submitted to the Council and the Commission a written statement on the achievement of full visa reciprocity between the EU and the US in which they point out to discrimination in the relations and that it could jeopardize negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

MEPs can sign the statement over the next three months. It needs to be signed by at least half the MEPs to be forwarded to EU institutions, the press release said.






Monday, 20 June 2016

Photos Of The Day: Croatian Fans In Downtown Rijeka Watching Euro 2016...& A Czech Life Guard's Hellish Existence In Split






Just a few pics today of Croatian fans recently watching the Euro 2016 matches on the large screen near downtown of Croatia's 3rd largest city of Rijeka. During this time large outdoor screens have been set up downtown in a number of the larger cities, and some of the smaller towns also. I'm not going to comment about any of the matches, any of the various fans hijinks and shenanigans happenings, whether the ball is gonna bounce this way or bounce that way scenarios or even some of the ridiculous and absurd looking hairstyle designs, I'll do something down the road afterwards maybe.

Actually, lately I've been following more of some of the other simultaneous things going on, a number of terrorist plots that were foiled only at the last minute, security issues and other various terrorism suspects stuff also. It's just really absurd, over 1700 people have gone on to fight for Isis from France over the last few years, many of them even coming back and then doing it again, and again, and mostly from Paris. King Louis IX is probably puking blood in his grave disgusted right about now with what's been going on, same goes for the Merovingians. (And you know what else? the same thing goes with Belgium I found out, call me crazy but I think this might have something to do with the recent terrorism attacks there. Perhaps it's far fetched and fantasy talk and it may sound weirdly absurd, but I think there's some sort of connection or thread that connects these events and people in some way, it's almost like they're all part of the same club or team using the same playbook or have something in common, there just must be some sort of underlying connection, I have a strong hunch so I'll Google around and try to find out more about just what the heck is going on and then let you know with an update)

All of which helps explain my position that I mentioned not that long ago, as in if I was in Croatia and was given the option of watching the matches live or at one these types of things, I would probably just stay put and enjoy the action on the big screen or some other pub or bar screen in Croatia. Firstly, it's way cheaper than the Euro 2016 tickets, plus the hotel and flight costs and various other costs, (fromage costs, crepes costs, the Louvre and other art galley admission costs, souvenir costs etc). Heck, on top of that you'll get to enjoy the Croatian beers which are harder to find in France anyway, as well as that new McDonald's HRburger which will probably be nowhere to be found there at all. (And perhaps the best part, win or lose just steps away is downtown and even more Croatian beers, foods and other stuff)

But the main thing and probably most important reason is the risk of possible damage to the soccer jerseys, which aren't cheap either. And good luck trying to repair a soccer jersey that's been torn or ripped to shreds from a possible bombing, shrapnel or assault rifle attack. Family members and even limbs are easy to replace these days, but fixing a torn or even stained soccer jersey? Red wine, greasy sauces or dried blood? Don't get me started, it's just one big headache requiring hours of surgery on the jersey. That's about it, the atmosphere really isn't all that bad either and there's practically a zero chance of shrapnel damaging your jersey. The last time I was in Croatia I got a tattoo not far from where these pics were taken, so it's actually like I'm practically there anyway too. There's plenty of pics floating around of fans in France, so here instead are a just few scenes showing the atmosphere from the city of Rijeka the other day, after a 2 goal lead the match ended in a tie, jubilation and then disappointment pics, afterwards they may have all walked over to the downtown and have some beers, which isn't really such a bad thing either.


(For the regular reader of this blog who may wonder why I'm not adding any commentary, pics or highlight videos from the current Euro 2016 taking place, I'll just remind that quite some time ago I made it clear that I decided to avoid doing sports type posts in general to instead elaborate more about other topics and news. Probably because it's still quite early and also because Croatia is not just a one sport nation either anyway. We don't have all our eggs in one basket as the saying goes, and so I am not as super-duper religiously soccer fanatic about this topic. For quite some time I already touched upon the numerous other sports topics, accomplishments, medals and championships, such as in handball, water polo, basketball, hockey, swimming, martial arts and boxing, tennis, skiing/ and athletics sports to name just a few, and of course the summer and winter Olympics successes even just from 1992, even though the history of Croatian Olympic medalists extend even back to the times Croatia and the Croatian lands were a part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. (It may sound unbelievable or made up baloney to many, but the very first Croatian Olympic medalist was actually in the sport of fencing won by Milan Neralić in 1904) That was just another one of my inadvertent yet apropos Croatian "fact of the day" additions. So that explains that, for now you will have to get by with just the below fan images)





Images:www.novilist.hr


Images are in no particular order.






























This second part I added because it's sort of interesting and related to the above Croatia-Czech football match pics, but from a few days previously and down the coast in the city of Split. And also because it just goes to show you that Croatia, (and the city of Split in this example) is basically a problem filled backward shithole inhabited by all kinds of weird mutants and undesirables with really nothing interesting to see or do at all. Large parts of Croatia actually have worse crime and higher murder rates than even Brazil and Jamaica combined. (and that's specifically why in this case Croatia has to import lifeguards, because nobody wants to do it or risk their lives along the slummy freako-infested coastal areas especially)

I also came across some related sites about Croatian lifeguards and the process of becoming a lifeguard in Croatia, this article also gives some interesting behind the scenes information and tidbits about Croatian lifeguards (spasilac) duties whether at the coastal beaches, in the city parks, lakes, pools or elsewhere in the country, sort of like the Croatian version of Baywatch..."Hrvatski Baywatch."





Czech Lifeguard Living in Split Talking About Croatia – Czech Republic Match







By Goran Antonijević, 16 Jun 2016,



Nikola Stracarova, a Czech lifeguard and sport management student living in Split talked with TCN’s Goran Antonijević, and not only about the upcoming clash between Croatia and Czech Republic at EURO 2016.

We met a few weeks ago, as we were reporting about lifeguard training in the coastal Dalmatia region of Croatia, and were surprised by the fact that one of the lifeguards getting the licence for that hard job is from Brno. Nikola Stracarova came to Split to study sport management at Aspira University, but she would like to stay longer, as she is overwhelmed by the quality of life in Dalmatia. We met again on June 16. 2016 to talk about her life in Split, and of course, about tomorrow’s game.


When did you come to Split, and how long do you plan to stay?

I came in March, and as I am on a student exchange, the plan was to leave these days, but I decided to stay for a bit more and work as a lifeguard, and if I find some internship, I would like to prolong my stay here.


What do you like about Split so much that you decided to stay?

I love Split and its lifestyle. I love the atmosphere, people, sea, the smell of it all, everything about Split. And what I simply adore is the “pomalo” way of life. That is the best thing about life in Split. I want to stay here as long as possible.


I have to ask this question; do you miss Czech beers?

(laughing) No, Croatian beers are good too, and I do like beer, I am Czech after all, but I like wine even more, so Dalmatia was the obvious choice.




Czech girls adopting "pomalo" attitude at Split's Riva. ("pomalo" meaning "chilling out/taking it easy/relaxing")





Ok, beer aside, do you follow football?

Of course, especially when there is a big tournament going on. And living in Split, I could not avoid attending the Hajduk – Dinamo match this spring. I was stunned by the atmosphere. Of course, when I mention my Czech origins in Split, I get reminded that Hajduk was founded in Prague.


And on the subject; have you watched the first round games of tomorrow's opponents?

Yes, of course; I think that our team was good in the first game, I was afraid that they would be humiliated, but it ended up ok at the end, even though we lost in the end, but Spain is one of the best teams in the world.


What about watching Croatia with its supporters?

I watched that game in the big campus hall; it was crazy. The hall was packed, and when Croatia scored, everybody went nuts. Firecrackers, horns, and much more… But I really like that emotion.


What is Your prediction for the game tomorrow?

Oh, that is a hard question. I think that the match will be a tough one. I hope that we will win, but that is just hope, I am afraid, as I think Croatia has a very, very good team. I would be happiest if both teams would go through to the playoff round.

As we felt it was the perfect way to end the interview, we agreed on that note and wished for this Czech young lady’s hopes to come through, and not only football ones.





Sunday, 19 June 2016

Photo Of The Day: Heineken Presents Limited Edition "Croatia" Bottle For Euro 2016 In France (& Coca-Cola Too)






Here's something quick and amusingly interesting. In Bordeaux France, where Croatia will be playing their third match in the group stage against Spain, one can find in the bars and restaurants a new version of the beer "Heineken."

Not all that unusual or surprising sounding at first, but it is interesting that the Dutch beer brand which is also produced in France, decided for this bottle version to include a 2 tone red and white chequy motif within their familiar star logo, as well as the inscription "Croatie." (which means "Croatia" in French). It's all just part of their advertising campaign during the tournament, a good marketing move also as many Croatia fans have been showing up for the games, at the end of the day it's even just a cool looking bottle. Interesting and good to know. If I was in France I would definitely get a few as a souvenirs.








I think these Coca-Cola "Croatia" and "Dubrovnik" version bottles that came out over the years look pretty cool too. 









Monday, 13 June 2016

Former England Captain Following EURO 2016 in Croatia...& First Trailer Of NBC's 'Emerald City'






Something quick, light and airy today, just interesting and amusing. I don't particularly care or follow about which celebs are vacationing in Croatia, or anywhere actually, but the timing of this one would probably seem very odd to most people probably. Firstly, because former England captain John Terry opted to watch the Euro 2016 matches on the large screen in Croatia while on vacation with his family, instead of watching them live. He could have easily gone to cheer on his team in France in person, and probably have the best seats, hotel rooms, free vip passes to this and that, lots of free celeb attended shindigs and plenty of free foie gras and fromage parties etc to attend, but instead he decided to do a relaxing vacation tour along the Croatian coast and islands. I already explained at a previous post HERE why I would probably have done something similar if in the same predicament, except at one of the downtown outdoor large screens or adult beverage drinking emporiums. Mainly because of taking into account the incredibly high number of Isis and Taliban fighters and supporters these days that are living in just the city of Paris alone, the current possible risks and fundamental crazies scenarios involved is an important fact to consider, and then even the possible damage to a soccer jersey on top of that. (because I explained before how limbs and even family members these days can be easily replaced, but torn or stains on soccer jerseys is a whole different thing altogether and a very complicated topic)

Even deciding to watch the soccer matches live in Croatia instead of in England could be construed by some hardcore soccer fans (aka extreme religious soccer fanatic types) to making him and his family traitors, (during that Queen's 90th birthday extravaganza celebrations on top of it all), but that's another point of view and topic altogether. Yep, there's a lot less fundamentals, kooks, subversives and subversive literature and organizations crawling into Croatia these days, ideal for a relaxing getaway. The main thing I guess is that at least his over 2 million Instagram followers will know that there's no massacres, bombings or other similar threats scenarios going on in Croatia and that it's not a bad place to chill out, so that's good to know. He also picked a good time to go as the summer crowds don't really pick up until July, which is probably the whole point anyway.



Some updated pics from Dubrovnik for those "celeb" and "celeb fashions" gotta know types:

www.thedubrovniktimes.com/john-terry-wife-dubrovnik





Terry with his family in Croatia (Instagram)




Text: croatiaweek.com


After a poor season with Chelsea it seems more football is the last thing former England captain John Terry wants to see…

Instead of heading off to France like many former players to watch EURO 2016, Terry has opted to take a holiday in Croatia instead.






The 35-year-old seemed to be enjoying his stay in Croatia, posting photos to his 2.3 million Instagram followers from Krka National Park  and on a jet ski on Croatia’s Adriatic sea.

Terry was also captain of the England national football team, holding the post from 2006 to 2010, and again from 2011 2012.




Krka National Park (Instagram)



While moored near the costal city of Šibenik. (looks like hell)







NBC Show 'Emerald City' Partly Filmed On Location In Croatia, Sneak Peek Video Trailer









Not much new to add here, I updated the original post with the recent trailer, so I'll throw it in here too. For those not in the know, parts of the new NBC television series were filmed in Croatia this year, this time mainly in and around Dubrovnik and the Plitvice National Park waterfalls in central Croatia. (I've been to Plitvice Lakes before, and actually during the winter season the frozen waterfalls really can look otherwordly surreal and fantasy-like at times even without any cgi or special effects)

I don't really watch much television series or shows these days, but personally I've always liked watching "Wizard of Oz" as a kid, and so this series seems worth checking out. I like that they made it a more updated darker and edgier adaptation of the classic story, without straying too far away from the original plot and characters. The Wizard and a few other characters in the trailer don't come across as wimpy and blithering bumbling as in the original film, more interesting blood and magic talk and less Toto, Auntie Em and musical singing. Also it still comes across as the Wizard of Oz and doesn't seem like a Wizard of the Rings. Wizard Wars, Wizard Potter or a Wizard of the Labrynth Avengers vs the Transformer Ghouls. Anyway, see the previous post link below for more background information.


Previous post:german-tv-series-mordkommission-split-emerald-city-nbc










Related previous posts: annual-swedish-television-series-to-film-croatia

goran-visnjic-filming-3rd-season-crossing-lines

goran-visnjic-to-star-in-new-ridley-scott-film


hbo-to-build-studios-in-croatia

dubrovnik-kathy-wilkes-and-game-of-thorns

looking-for-immortality-become-game-of-thrones-extra

game-of-thorns-films-3rd-season-in-dubrovnik

63rd-dubrovnik-summer-festival-croatian-cultural-bash

photo-of-day-game-of-thrones-cast-in

hbo-to-film-season-4-in-croatia-again

game-of-thrones-theme-park-being-built

john-malkovich-helps-bleeding-man-in-toronto

tomo-ivana-milicevic-30-seconds-to-mars

gameofthrones-croatia.com

www.kingslandingdubrovnik.com

reality-show-romantic-sends-south-koreans-croatia

gameofthronestourcroatia.com

www.hbo.hr





Friday, 3 June 2016

Croatian Island Town Of "Stari Grad" Celebrating 2,400th Year Since Being Founded







The old town of Stari Grad on the island of Hvar as it appears today is largely due to 16th to 19th century rebuilding efforts. However, in 2016 the town will celebrate the 2,400th anniversary of it's founding with various events and festivities. Read on for the interesting story about this ancient and also not so ancient Croatian island town.





Firstly, the reader should know this is not any sort of tourism post at all, because I don't do tourism posts and this isn't a tourism blog. This one is just mainly some interesting background information about this celebration of the 2,400th year anniversary of the island town of "Stari Grad" taking place this summer, (probably also because it's interesting information that you simply will not come across in the National Enquirer, OK Magazine or Celebrity Hairstyles magazine and similar publications) Basically, there will be all kinds of things going on, which you can check out at the links, but this year will be a little different from previous years, and probably information many don't know.

That's because this year the old town of Stari Grad on the island of Hvar is marking an exceptional anniversary that not many towns can – 2,400 years since the foundation of the settlement and the future more familiarly known town of Stari Grad, as well as the equally long tradition of urban living on Croatia's sunniest island in the Adriatic. Even though this rare anniversary extends back in time to even before the Croatian tribes arrived in the area from around the Carpathians and north of the Danube circa 6th-7th century, which was about 900 years after this first Hellenic settlement/town on the island of Hvar, it's still pretty interesting to note. (Interestingly, the Tadich Grill in San Francisco is the oldest restaurant in California to serve grilled seafood (the traditional Croatian ways especially) as well as the first restaurant in San Francisco, and it was coincidentally started up by Croatians from this town of Stari Grad/Hvar in 1849)






The heritage of Stari Grad, (which in Croatian literally means "Old Town") and preserved since the Age of Antiquity has also been recognized by UNESCO which in 2008 inscribed the Stari Grad Plain on the World Heritage List due to its preserved Greek land division still evident today and then the continuity of life and agriculture in this place ever since up to today...


Here's the brief version history lesson for those not in the know....

...Hvar island hasn't always been the popular relaxing mecca of summer entertainment, swimming, boating, suntanning and restaurants that we see today, even just since the Middle Ages and Croatian Kingdom times numerous battles have taken place on the nearby mainland and at times directly affecting life on Hvar. Plenty of sacrifice, blood, sweat and toil in defending and protecting the island through the centuries, defending progress and civilization so that today it finally is again a safe and tranquil enjoyable place.....the settlement of Hvar was founded on the western part of the plain by Greek colonizers who sailed from the island of Paros in the Aegean sea in 384 BC, and who found it a perfect place for a new life at the end of the long bay, with a fertile field and springs of drinking water lying behind it. They defeated the Illyrians who had already lived there, and their victory was immortalized in one of the oldest known inscriptions on Croatian soil that can still be seen today, (an inscription from the 2nd century BCE refers to the Farians and their delegation to the Greek island of Paros and the oracle at Delphi, which was also a sanctuary for Apollo the Hyperborean), and soon after they then built the early settlement of Pharos. Both politically and in terms of city planning, they divided the land of the fertile plain – Chora Pharou, starting the first recorded urban life on the territory of today's Croatia. Later through many centuries of conflict and tumultuous events and happenings (aka history), and long after the dissapearance of the towns Hellenic founders and original name of Pharos, Stari Grad has still managed to keep continuously going on and existing until the present day.

Founded in the same year as the birth of Aristotle, the philosopher who tutored Alexander the Great and during the times of Plato, today's town of Stari Grad is going to celebrate its jubilee birthday through numerous events and take the opportunity to present its cultural and historic wealth and 2,400 year-long tradition to the world. (that's also almost 2,400 years before even Kevin Spacey arrived to the island of Hvar, believe it or not)

The entire 2016 will be dedicated to this anniversary, yet the central celebration will be held from 7 to 11 September with numerous events being envisaged such as the sea & seamen festival Dani u Vali (Days in the Bay), anniversary-related symposium, lectures, workshops, food festivals, concerts and exhibitions. Below is some more detailed background information about Stari Grad....



Images/related text: www.stari-grad-faros.hr

www.stari-grad.eu

www.stari-grad.hr

www.facebook.com/farosmarathon

farosmarathon.com







ANTIQUITY


Although the Pharians found a strong Illyrian community on the island, after a brief struggle they were conquered and established their rule. Pharos became an independent city-state (polis). It minted its own coins, had its own pottery workshops and enjoyed an abundance of food from its fertile plain – Chora Pharou (Xορα Φαρου), today the best preserved Greek land division in the Adriatic. Following the Roman conquest in the 3rd century BCE, Pharos was called Pharia, and Chora Pharou and then became Ager Pharensis. Following the Roman victory in the Second Illyrian War against Demetrius of Pharos, the island became a part of the Roman Empire in 219 BCE.

Long centuries of the Pax Romana ensued and then the town then came under permanent Roman control by force in 168 BCE, following the defeat of Gentius during the Third Illyrian War. With the fall of the Roman Empire in the west after the Gothic invasions from the 3rd to 6th century, the island fell under the control of the Byzantine or Eastern Roman Empire for a time, and then the domains of the Ostrogothic Kingdom. The population gradually increased again during the Late Antiquity with an abundance of archeological finds. A large number of new villa rustica in Stari Grad Plain and also on the previously vacant eastern shores was built.







MIDDLE AGES - 6th TO 12th CENTURY

CHROATORUM EX MACHINA (ENTER THE CROATS)


At the beginning of the 7th-8th century, is when sources state that a foreign languages speaking people found their way onto the island from the mainland. (the term Sclaveni/Sclav/Slavic during those times being a newly introduced word by the 6th-century Roman writer Jordanes as a broad generalization term for any of the new unknown barbarian languages/speakers that were not Latin or Greek based, at first mainly applied to the first appearing soldiers on the empire's borders, he also informs that they used to be known as and came out of the ancient Veneti/Venethi/Venedi). According to the old Byzantine imperial archives in Constantinople, Roman library manuscripts, old written material from emissaries, ecclesiastics, ambassadors, military notes and journals and records from their expeditions, and used for the domestic and foreign policy manual De Administrando Imperio by Eastern Roman Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos, the pagan Croat tribes ("Horvati" tribes specifically in the plural, as they called themselves...ie: Hrvati), had arrived from the vast widespread areas north of the Danube, conquered other nomadic batbarians pillaging the coastal areas of the Adriatic sea, liberated and then settled ancient Dalmatia, Pannonia and Illyricum during the time of Emperor Heraclius. The Croats arriving from the mainland then ended up taking the ancient name for the city and the island into the new Croatian version name - Hvar. (a cognate from the original Pharos/Faros). In the Early Middle Ages, at the edges of the Plain, new villages of Dol, Vrbanj and Pitve were established. The surrounding bay provided protection and for centuries it was a safe harbour to sailors and from strong winds during the winter months.

When the Croatian tribes (Horvati/Hrvati tribes in the endonym version) settled the island during these early Middle Ages, the island was at first still ruled by a small remnant population of Romanized Illyrians and mainly just site of today's Stri Grad. The appearance of the Croats from the mainland and new influence on the island convinced the remaining resident Roman speaking population to change their Latin version name Quarra, which was a version they also later used at times, instead to Huarra-Hvar. (replacing the original consonant "f" sound with the old Croatian consonant version "hv" because formerly in the Roman province of Dalmatia it was known as Pharia and Fara). Soon after Pharia/Fara/Hvar, (ie; today's Stari Grad), the whole island of Hvar, as well as most of Ancient Dalmatia was then officially a part of the Croatian realms andsoon the Kingdom of Croatia ruled by King Tomislav from 925 and other Croatian Kings until 1102, however it still remained part of the Croatian crown realms even after union with Hungary in 1102  and the later Habsburg Monarchy and Austria-Hungary.

During the times of Croatian Kings Michael Krešimir II (reign 949-969) and Stephen Držislav (reign 969–997) as well as their powerful Bans/Viceroys Pribina and Godemir, Croatian navy ships were known to have frequently sailed past and porting at Stari Grad, as they were in conflict with the fleets of Saracens and Muslim Arabs attempting to cross and invade from the Italian peninsula of Gargano in 968-969.

Hvar was used by Croatian navy ships during the reigns of Croatian Kings Peter Krešimir IV (1059-1074) and Dmitar Zvonimir (1074–1089). Zvonimir allied with the Normans who had already conquered southern Italy which was occupied by the Saracens and Moors at that time. King Zvonimir also sent ships from his fleet to aid the Norman Duke of Apulia Robert Guiscard in 1084 against the despot Emperor Alexios I Komnenos, contributing significantly to the wars against the encroaching Byzantine navy into the Adriatic sea and on land.




The monarchical realms and political landscape of Continental Europe during the 9th to 11th century.




Later, the 12th century saw the formation of the first island noble families as well as the founding of Hvar Diocese in 1147. The Plain was then called Campus Sancti Stephani in Latin written sources. After the island fell under the rule of the Venetian Republic in the 15th century, the seat of the diocese moved to the newly founded town of Hvar, aka Hvar Town today on the island of Hvar. (In Croatian pronounced as "Hvar")

Interestingly, the name of the island Hvar then actually comes from the ancient name of today's town Stari Grad - a cognate of Pharos and Pharia/Fara. After the Diocese moved, the name also moved, and the old seat of Hvar then just became Stari Hvar (Old Hvar) and later still the more familiar Stari Grad (Old Town) of today. So even though the later and today's town of Hvar (Hvar Town) is larger and more well known, it is actually Stari Grad which is the historical heart of the island of Hvar and from where it got it's name.







RENAISSANCE ERA


This period was marked by the commoners’ uprising, led by Matij Ivanić in 1510 and the invasion attempts of the Ottomans and Moors in 1539 and 1571. During the 16th century, when the town was attacked by the Mohammedans the first time they were repulsed, but in 1571 the sparesely populated town temporarily lost due to massive numbers of Muslim attackers and their Serb allies, subsequently most of the town was burnt down and ransacked before they retreated back to their Sanjak of Smederevo. Following that loss, Stari Grad was slowly rebuilt from the ruins. Croatian poet and playwright Hanibal Lucić started his writings, and the mid-16th century Croatian Renaissance nobleman and poet Petar Hektorović began the construction of his summer residence where he realized his idea of microcosm – a small, enclosed world where all divine creatures – fish, birds, plants and people had a space to live, a restful secure space especially free from distractions and dangers during the main Ottoman and Serb Jihads into Europe towards the free continent. (the Sanjak of Smederevo at the time, aka Dar Al Jihad (meaning Door of War in Arabic, ie: modern day Serbia), was for centuries complicit in expediting the Ottoman Muslim incursions and attacks towards continental Europe, along with numerous enthusiastic Serb volunteers/accomplices joining to attack the Croatian and other Habsburg crown lands for centuries, as well as any areas governed by the Venetian Republic also. (even the Ottoman Grand Vizier Sokollu Mehmed Pasha at the time was in fact a Serb, even the most powerful Serbian ruler in all of Serbian history, (Serbian: Мехмед-паша Соколовић) who was the de facto ruler of the Islamic Ottoman empire armies and their Serb allies attacking Central Europe). It was also during this time that Hvar Fortress, aka Fortica, was built in Hvar Town. It protected the town from any Ottoman navy ships sailing in the area, and especially protected the town's civilian population who sheltered there in 1571 from occasional Turkish sacks before the famous Battle of Lepanto near Greece.

It was also during this time that Hvar Fortress, aka Fortica, was built in Hvar Town. It protected the town from any Ottoman navy ships sailing in the area, and especially protected the town's civilian population who sheltered there in 1571 from occasional Turkish sacks before the famous Battle of Lepanto near Greece.

Croatian Renaissance poet and playwright Hanibal Lucić (1485-1553) was born on the island of Hvar, he also did translations of Ovid's work as well as wrote the play "Robinja" (in Croatian meaning "Slavegirl", the first secular-themed play in the history of Croatian literature and one of Europe's earliest secular dramas, about a noble Croatian girl who becomes imprisoned by the Turks) and various love poetry, also influenced by works of humanist writer Francesco Petrarca.

Croatian national poet and Renaissance humanist Marko Marulić, (known as the Crown of the Croatian Medieval Age and the father of the Croatian Renaissance) and who was very active in the struggles against the Ottoman Turks and their former African slaves turned Bashi-bazouks who were attempting to invade and pillage the Croatian lands from the Sanjak of Smederevo at that time, for 2 years lived on the nearby island of Šolta, a short boat ride from Hvar.

In 1448, Petar Hektorović was granted permission by the Hvar Governor/Duke (Hvarski Knez) to build on the land at Tvrdalj where the Stari Grad mansion was later built. Hektorović’s poetry and Renaissance era writings were published in the 1560's using a hybrid of Croatian dialects, and are particularly a treasure of original Croatian maritime and zoological terminology incorporated into the Croatian standard language and used today.




View from the nearby 16th century Hvar Town Fortress (aka Tvrđava Fortica or just Fortica). Image: iamaileen.com.




Due to those Ottoman raids, Hektorović undertook to fortify his villa mansion so that it could also act as a shelter for him and his fellow citizens, within it bearing numerous stone inscriptions in Latin and in Croatian using Latin script. An altar of Hektorović’s family was also erected nearby, for which Hektorović ordered a painting from the Venetian painter Tintoretto, (the fortified mansion eventually came to be called Hektorović Castle, and these days is colloquially known simply as the Town Castle - Gradina Tvrdalj.




Old Town Hvar and Stari Grad stone houses and narrow street walkways are a familiar feature dating from renaissance times.




BAROQUE ERA


During the 17th and 18th century, Stari Grad was increasingly turning towards the sea, the Ottoman threats had finally disappeared permanently after their heavy battlefield losses on the Croatian mainland, and the town's many captains, ship-owners and ship-builders were growing into an influential new social class. Old seafront (Stara Riva) was expanded and shipyards were built. In 1605 began the construction of the new parish church of St. Stephen, which together with its bell tower is one of the most visible architectural expressions of Dalmatian baroque in Croatia. The local pork production increased, various smoked bacons, hams, meats and native cheeses became well known specialties on and off the island also, vineyards were replanted and wine production restarted.




Of the numerous small squares in Stari Grad, the most picturesque is Škor. Almost like a theater coulisse (which it is during the summer cultural events), dating from the 17th century from a stretch where there was once a shipyard, which was covered and the square took its name from this (škor from škver, in the local Dalmatian Croatian dialect, meaning shipyard). Working-class houses with picturesque roof windows as well as stone terraces with staircases are typical common scenes, much like the Renaissance era and older historical quarters of cities and towns on the mainland.




19TH CENTURY


After the collapse of the Venetian Republic, and the early 19th century fall of the Napoleonic Empire, (and Napoleon's short-lived Illyrian Provinces between 1809-15), the Vranyczany-Dobrinović brothers became one of the most eminent Croatian noble families from the town of Stari Grad, already being influential for centuries they became especially recognized for their exemplary conduct in leading the resistance against Napoleon's French occupation.




During the summers various wine tasting events themed around the various locally grown and produced native wines, liquors and liqeurs is a common summer tradition. Stari Grad and the whole island of Hvar for decades used to be the Brazil gay horse fuck and scat porn center of Croatia until just a few years ago, but since cleaning up the local favelas and drug gangs the town has again become a popular summer destination.




Stari Grad and the whole island of Hvar was soon again part of the Croatian Triune Kingdom.ie; the free royal and historical Croatian lands in the 19th century united, even if still administratively a part of the larger Habsburg Austro-Hungarian Empire. One peaceful century brought unprecedented prosperity to Stari Grad. Its mid-century fleet had more than 50 sailing ships that sailed and traded throughout the Adriatic and into the Mediterranean, Already in the early part of the 19th century the period of exceptional economic and cultural life for the town promoted the development of tourist services. As a period of the strong maritime rise of the town; it was full of local craftsmen and merchants. Although Stari Grad was primarily a sailor’s, captain’s and labourer’s town, this street was once a true craftsman’s paradise.




Stari Grad summer nights.




Numerous representative houses were built along the old seafront during this priod. A new main school building, the Croatian House building, (Hrvatski Dom), "Theatre Petar Hektorović" dating from 1893, and "Town Music" a society of local music enthusiasts founded in 1876, Biankini palace, the palace of Šime Ljubić,  and others were built during this period. Stari Grad grew substantially and transformed into a lively trading port town, with Middle Street as the lifeblood of the town.




Summer evening entertainment in Stari Grad.




The beginning of the 20th century was marked by numerous emigrations due to the collapse of the grapevines and wars, large numbers of people emigrated to North and South America, Australia and New Zealand. Public beaches were rebuilt on the north side of the bay. Since the 1990's there have finally been numerous constructions of wineries, olive groves, summer and winter cinemas, new roads, as well as the establishment of museums.




Hvar these days is probably one of the best locations in Croatia for fresh seafood restaurants and dishes. (tip: the smaller tucked away ones away from the busier areas are usually cheaper, big portions and usually very interesting)




Given its position in the most fertile plain on the island, Stari Grad, since it was founded based its economy on agriculture (grapes, olives, figs etc), fishing and commerce. Today these activities are reduced to basic needs of the town and nearby population while tourism has grown into the main branch of economy over the last few decades.






Most buildings in the old town center were part of the rebuilding efforts between the 16th and 19th century with renaissance-baroque characteristics, although many buildings also exhibit traits of the romanesque period and gothic stylization and motifs.




A number of hostels have become popular for travellers to Hvar island over the years, (and in Croatia in general actually) especially for those on a budget who just need emergency no-frills rooms and just the basics to stay at for a short time. Image of Hvar Centre Dorm Hostel in Hvar Town.




Nowadays there is the Library and the ceremonial hall. It was built in 1894 as a joint-stock company and on the ground floor there is the town coffee house. The famous Faros Marathon starts from this point on the Riva. Also the "Theatre Petar Hektorović" dating from 1893, and "Town Music" a society of local music enthusiasts founded in 1876. Walking further you arrive at the Mausoleum of the famous archaeologist and historian, Šime Ljubić. Stari Grad bay is still regulary visited by most of the travellers on boats and yachts passing through the Croatian coastal areas, and the middle Dalmatia region islands especially. The marina was expanded and many of the old stone houses have been renewed by inhabitants, and even offered for rent with fully modern amenities. The Stari Grad ferry connects daily to the mainland also.




Just like the previous restaurants example, the cobbled road hidden and tucked away smaller bars and pubs are usually a good option.



A scene before the start of a race during the annual "Faros Marathon" in Stari Grad. Image: farosmarathon.com.




Stari Grad today is home to about 2,800 people and the closest large city is Split which is still a few islands away on the mainland but connected by ferry, it's also friended/twinned with the town of Samobor in north western Croatia, as well as Velké Opatovice Czech Republic, Szentendre Hungary, Letovice Czech Republic, Kunštát Czech Republic, Paros Hellenic Republic, Bohinj Slovenia and Zagorje ob Savi Slovenia.




The whole Croatian Dalmatian coast is also a cyclists paradise and especially the whole island of Hvar, a number of bicycle rental shops are found in Stari Grad and in Hvar Town. Image: hvartours.com.




Much like other Croatian coastal cities and towns such as Split, Zadar, Šibenik, Biograd na Moru, Dubrovnik and others on the mainland, the centuries old historic quarters of Stari Grad, as well as Hvar Town, today also features modern day services and shops located within the historic areas. One can find various clothing stores, jewelry and sunglasses shops, hair salons, art galleries, museums, bars and restaurants and other stores at times literally in the buildings or near still standing building monuments that go back to the renaissance, to the baroque and gothic eras and even to the middle ages. A veritable island time capsule that reminds the visitor of centuries past in the modern era.




Because of the warm summers and most hours of sunshine in all of Croatia, the island of Hvar is also ideal and famous for red wines produced from the native Plavac Mali grape, as well as its various white wines and liquers. For this reason Hvar is also known at times as the island os wine.




Images/related links: www.stari-grad-faros.hr

www.stari-grad.eu

www.stari-grad.hr

www.facebook.com/farosmarathon

farosmarathon.com








.....And lastly as an added bonus, and back to this century and year, some more recent modern history. One of the music acts that will be performing this year in Stari Grad is Gustafi. (It's not going to be just all classical, renaissance-baroque, strictly traditional folk or the just the more popular well known modern acts with the fancy music videos playing as part of the 2,400th year anniversary entertainment). Interestingly, this less well known Gustafi are a Croatian modern folk rock band formed way back in 1980 in Vodnjan, a small town in the Istria region. The band was founded by Edi Maružin, Vlado Maružin, Čedomir Mošnja, Igor Arih and Livio Morosin and was originally called Gustaph y njegovi dobri duhovi. Going through various band members lineups through the years, they released their first album titled "V" back in 1985, and have been touring for over 31 years now.

This also is not your average folk themed band, they're well known for their eclectic style which combines modern Istrian region flavoured folk music along with rock and some other Croatian folk & polka dance elements, blues, Tex-Mex and even alternative music influences in some songs, resulting in a very creative and interesting overall sound. They are considered one of the most prominent examples of the so-called ča-val (Cha Wave), a type of pop rock music accompanied with lyrics sung in the old chakavian dialect still colloquially spoken in Istria at times even today in some places, and which became popular again in the mid-1990s in Croatia. (other notable performers of ča-val are Alen Vitasović and Šajeta).

It's one of the three historical Croatian dialects that contributed to today's standard Croatian language and literary history, with a vast number of words that transferred over into and helped form the modern Croatian standard language and alphabet, it initially appeared and gained form as an elite dialect used during the times of the Croatian Kings Dukes, Princes and their royal courts and among their nobles, upper class and aristocracy, eventually even spreading to the commoners among the coastal urban centers, and also found on stone monuments and in a number of charters and literary written works written mainly along those coastal areas near where they also held their royal residences and courts, (Klis, Knin, Šibenik, Solin, Split, Zadar, Nin etc), so it's actually pretty cool to hear today modern songs using it instead of just seeing examples on old stone monuments and in old books and charters in libraries and museums. It's sort of a reminder of the times of the Croatian Kingdom, Kings, rulers, elite and their early prestige and political dealings with the early rising Venetian Republic, Carolingian Francia, Byzantine empire, Bulgarian empire etc, (particularly in regards to supremacy and rightful ownership of the eastern shores of the Adriatic sea and maritime naval history), a case very similar to Old English, Old High German, Old French, Old Polish, Old Czech and their various historical dialects, in the same way the Croatian language and alphabet likewise emerged out of it's old historical dialects. (Interestingly and pretty amazing actually, even after the death of the last Croatian King Dmitar Zvonimir and the following union of the Croatian Kingdom with Hungary circa. 1102, instead of completely disappearing immediately as most would have expected, it instead still remained and eventually even became a very important and influential part of Croatian literary history, with even novels, poems, plays, dictionaries and grammars written using it which greatly affected, carried over and directly contributed to our other dialects with all 3 coalescing to form the modern day Croatian language, that's pretty incredible and cool actually. (Croatian Kings Stephen I (1030-1058) and Dmitar Zvonimir (1075-1089) married the daughter of the Venetian Doge Pietro II Orseolo and sister of Hungarian King Ladislaus I, and though the Croatian Kingdom reached the Drava, Danube and Drina rivers, it was a prestigious elite dialect probably already used by then at their royal courts along the coast). For instance, check out this amazing fact, even the very first mention of the words "Croats/Croatian" and "Kingdom of the Croats/Croatia" written in stone in the Croatian language, as opposed to the commonly used Latin lingua franca of Central Europe and Latinized exonym version during those times, it was written in a 'ča' dialect, so even the words "Hrvatska/Hrvati/Hrvatski" has connotations and roots directly associated to this old former prestigious elite dialect from Croatian Kingdom times, interesting and amazing. more so because some languages didn't even acknowledge the "H" sound as existing. (the Croatian 'ča' and 'što' dialects have the long Croatian literary history going back to the Middle Ages, but the 'kaj' dialect didn't make an appearance until around the 16th-17th century and mainly just in the northwest region centered around Zagreb and near the Slovenian border, however many words from even that localized 3rd dialect also became part of standard literary Croatian, and all 3 Croatian dialects were of course also based on a Croatian Latin script alphabet that directly developed into the modern Croatian sound system and alphabet). Also just as in the case of Czech, Slovak, Polish, and Slovenian, many Latin based words and Middle High German urban and legal words filtered into the Croatian language through this dialect. Basically in a nutshell, just think of a modern folk rock song being sung in an Old English/Beowulf, Old High German/Carolingian, Old French/Capetian, Old Czech/Bohemian or Old Polish/Piast dynasty era rooted dialect, it's something cool like that).

History and Croatian dialects lessons aside, the band Gustafi sure won't have fans thinking middle ages history or royal courts at one of their concerts, perfect with a rakija (plumb brandy) in one hand and a Croatian beer (pivo) or pečenka in the other, and that's just for starters. I guess the best way to describe their music is a sort of a Croatian rock folk polka beats version of a Tupac or Biggie fusion with Wham, Dick Dale, Ol' Dirty Bastard and Taylor Hicks-Boy George thrown into the mix for rythym, and maybe some B-52's and the Louvin Brothers too for extra melody except just with more accordions and trumpets, something like that. Anyway, below are a few peeks at some of their stuff from over the years.

More info about this eclectic fun-time folkish rock-pop fusion band at www.ipazin.net/gustafiwww.menart.hrwww.soundset.hrwww.muzika.hr and www.rirock.com)


(This isn't a music blog, but I did do some other less well known Croatian Music/Musicians themed posts previously the reader may find interesting, just hit the link HERE for those posts)









Just fyi, in this one the footage is taken from clips while touring in Italy and France and which were part of a documentary about the band.

















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