Sunday, 6 September 2009
The Brijuni (also known as the Brionian Islands; Italian: Brioni) are a group of fourteen small islands in the Croatian part of the northern Adriatic Sea, separated from the west coast of the Istrian peninsula by the narrow Fažana Strait.
After taking the boat and some 10 min. of ride, we arrived at the Veli Brijuni island, where the small trains are expecting the visitors for the organized tour around the island.
The largest island of the archipelago, Veli Brijun (5.6 km²), 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.
Famous for their scenic beauty, the islands are a holiday resort and a Croatian National Park. 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.
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 ancient olive is one of the oldest trees in the Mediterranean, a fact that has been proved by research carried out on samples of this ancient olive tree. The ancient olive is an integral part of Brijuni's fascinating landscape and owing to its lush and rich crown, as well as impressive size of trunk, the tree adds to the beauty of this unique micro location.
There are also two main alleys of old Holm Oaks and rare high Pine trees, just beside the tennis courts.
Brijuni Islands had some Ancient Roman settlements, but up to the late 19th century the islands were mainly used for their quarries, which have been worked on for centuries. The islands belonged to Venice from the Middle Ages, and stone from the islands was used to build the palaces and bridges of the city. The islands were part of the Illyrian Provinces after Napoleon's brief annexation.
In 1945 after World War II the Brijuni became part of Yugoslavia and President Marshal Josip Broz Tito made the Brijuni Islands his personal State Summer Residence. Slovenian architect Jože Plečnik designed a pavilion for Tito. Almost 100 foreign heads of state visited Tito on his islands, along with film stars including Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Sophia Loren, Carlo Ponti, and Gina Lollobrigida. Tito died in 1980, and by 1983 the islands were declared a National Park of Yugoslavia. In 1991 Croatia gained independence and made the Brijuni Islands an International Conference Center. Four hotels on Veli Brijun were re-opened, as well as a Safari Park, which holds animals given to Tito, such as Sony and Lanka, two Indian elephants donated by Indira Gandhi.
On the Brijuni there are several archaeological and cultural sites. There is the 13th century AD St. Mary's Church which was built by the Knights Templar. There are also two ancient Roman villa remains, from the 2nd Century BC and remains of a Byzantine palace.
Brijuni seems to be very suitable for different sports. You can play golf, tennis, see how good you are at archery, you can ride a bike... Polo used to be very popular in the '20s. The Polo tournament which was first held in Brijuni in 1924 wasn’t held there for almost 80 years, and finally came back to the archipelago in 2004.
On the island there is also a Safari Park, it is home to a variety of animals which were given to the park as gifts from diplomatic partners. Tito was regularly presented with exotic animals by political leaders. The park is the habitat of many exotic plant eaters: Indian elephants Sony and Lanka (Indira Gandhi's elephants), llamas - South American camels which according to the Indian legend were domesticated in the very beginnings of human existence, zebras, nilgais and kob antelopes, Somalian sheep, Indian holy cows and autochthonous donkeys.
The animals who died were stuffed and placed in Brijuni's Natural History Museum, part of a three-museum complex near the harbour.
There's a Tito exhibition next door.
In front of the museum, there is exhibited President Tito's car, The Cadillac Eldorado, one of the most luxurious and state-of-the-art vehicles of its time, the car that he was driving while at Brijuni.
While taking the walk on the island, you may see herds of wild deer and peacocks roaming around, squirrels and hares and other animals freely loose, which will be an incredible adventure for the kids.
Brijuni have always been an attractive destination for members of European and world aristocracy. Already at the beginning of the 20th century many crowned heads, as well as world famous personalities visited this fashionable seaside and health resort. On Brijuni islands is possible to organize thematic evenings and events on various locations… such as weddings as well;)
I have really enjoyed our stay and I'm highly recommending this beautiful island for a visit, or even for a longer stay and you may check the prices here