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The Music In This Show top

The original Croatian music in this show is from the album "25 godina" by the band Klapa Ragusa. Most of the music is written by the distinguished Croatian composer Djelo Jusic who was gracious in letting us use his work to showcase Croatia's Dalmatian Coast. The CD is available on-line at www.croart.com and www.cedeterija.hr.


Croatia's Dalmation Coast top

Limpid, calm waters …. rock bound coves …..and shimmering stone cities – Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast is Europe’s less traveled Riviera. Ancient stone towns, renaissance palaces and romantic fortresses dot the landscape. Rocky islands --some inhabited, others wild sanctuaries, beckon across the placid sea. Fresh seafood and wine liven up the cuisine. All that and a sunny climate make Dalmatia a prime Mediterranean destination.

Dalmatia is the coastal region of Croatia with a history of its own. This beautiful and strategic region has been fought over for centuries by the Romans, Venetians, Hungarians, Turks and French. Dalmatia’s more powerful neighbors took what they wanted and kept the populace in poverty. Yet through their ingenuity and independent spirit, the coastal people managed to flourish in the 15th and 16th centuries, boasting a huge merchant fleet. In the early 1990’s a devastating civil war rocked the region. Today, only the mismatched roof tiles recall that war, and tourism has returned full force. Tough, resilient, poetic and proud, Dalamatia today is thriving, and the visitor will find modern facilities, great food and warm, welcoming people.

There’s something mysterious and exotic about the Dalmatian coast. You truly feel as though you have stumbled back in time amid all the turrets, towers and ancient ruins. Add to that the sun, the surf, the solitude and you having the makings of a perfect holiday.


Visit www.croatia.hr (Croatian National Tourist Board) for a quick lay of the land. For extensive photo galleries of Croatia, www.photocroatia.com's your place.


Dubrovnik top

Dubrovnik. Named a World Heritage site for its beauty and cultural significance, this walled medieval gem once reigned as the most powerful city in the southern Adriatic.

The most dramatic and romantic way to know Dubrovnik is to circumnavigate the city walls, taking in views of the town...the tiles roofs ...and the clear blue sea.

The Greeks, Romans and Slavic people all populated this coast. Dubrovnik passed hands many times, but in the 15th and 16th centuries, the city remained fairly independent through the payment of tributes and shrewd alliances. Known as the City State Ragusa, Dubrovnik commanded the third largest merchant fleet in the world. Built between the 13th and 15th centuries, the city walls stretch for one and a half miles and are as high as 80 feet in some places.


For more on Dubrovnik as a major tourist destination, read Time Europe Magazine's article from the series Secret Capitals at www.time.com.


Stradun To The Harbor top

The limestone main street, Stradun, polished by centuries of passersby, marches straight through Stari Grad, Dubrovnik’s beautifully preserved old quarter. The city enforces strict rules about upkeep of homes – and signage for shops is limited to a discreet name on the lantern above the door.

At the far end of the Stradun a gate leads to the picturesque harbor. Here, women sell traditional handicrafts and ships come and go into the walled inlet. In the 16th century, Dubrovnik’s sea trade reached its zenith and boats regularly sailed from here to the far corners of the globe. Today enormous cruise ships often loom in the harbor and the streets midday suddenly overflow with tourists.


For a list of monthly events in Dubrovnik, including performances by the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra on the Stradun, go to web.tzdubrovnik.hr.


Franciscan Monastery top

Roman Catholicism is the religion of the Croat; the Serbs belong to the Eastern Orthodox church. Neighboring Serbia differs culturally as well – influenced by the eastern Roman empire, whereas the west dominated in Dalmatia. Catholicism flourished here, as Popes promoted the building of monasteries and churches. In Dubrovnik’s 14th century Franciscan Monastery, you can wander through lovely cloisters where animal and human heads adorn the dual columns.

Preserved within the monastery is the pharmacy, established in 1391, and one of the oldest in Europe. The monks concocted cures from plant roots and bark and extracted poison from snakes for anti-venom.


Interested in historical Dubrovnik? You can find a list of churches, palaces, fortresses, and monuments at www.dubrovnik-online.com.


Grand Palace Hotel top

Most of Dubrovnik’s hotels are located outside of the old town. At the newly renovated Grand Palace Hotel, every room commands a stunning view of the sea.

Here swimming pools nearly merge with the sea and there’s an open air restaurant where you can gaze out and plan your route to the islands.


Treat yourself to a stay at www.dubrovnikpalace.hr.


The Island Of Lokrum top

If you crave a beach break, you can grab a water taxi to the wooded island Lokrum, just 10 minutes away.

In fact, for the best beaches, it’s a good tip to get out of the major towns and take water taxis to nearby islands.

Water taxis ferry people to and from the island and take about 10 minutes. You can also sign up for cruises to various islands for picnics or nature walks. The shore of the island is rocky, with built in ladders to help swimmers down into the sea. A side benefit of the trip is the chance to see Dubrovnik as have so many centuries of invaders, traders, and pirates.


A regular boat service runs every half hour to Lokrum. You'll find the details at the bottom of the page dubrovnik.laus.hr.


Island Hopping top

The Dalmatian coast can be explored entirely by boat. Ferries run to all the major towns and cities. Or you can rent a sailboat or yacht and design your own itinerary. With over 1100 islands and countless private coves, this gorgeous archipelago is a boater’s paradise.

Croatia today evokes Greece a couple of decades ago—a vast number of islands set in the cleanest water of the Mediterranean, unspoiled and inexpensive. With a boat the possibilities are endless – un-crowded waters,...well-equipped marinas …and countless private isles you can make your own for an afternoon. For the moment, Croatia manages to balance tourism with unspoiled beauty.


July and August are busy months, so plan your ferry route early. The Croatian ferry company Jadrolinija runs the majority of routes in the country. You'll find them at www.jadrolinija.hr. For more ferry companies in Croatia as well as information about sailing holidays, be sure to visit www.visit-croatia.co.uk.


The Village of Ston top

A great excursion from Dubrovnik takes in Penninsula then we island hop to stunning Korcula.

Little more than an hour’s drive from Dubrovnik, I came upon a walled town that once provided the Ragusa Republic with riches.

In 1333 when the wall around Ston was completed it was the 2nd largest fortification after the Great Wall of China.

The republic of Ragusa built walls around the town of Ston to protect the saltworks, a series of shallow pools in the bay where salt is still collected today. All the residents of this tiny town were required to harvest salt by hand. Two witnesses had to observe any sale of salt to prevent fraud.


You'll find more about Ston at www.croatia.hr.


The Village of Mali Ston top

Next door to Ston, the little fishing village Mali Ston offers the best seafood in Croatia. Oyster and mussel beds dot the bay at Mali Ston. The picturesque walled town formed another important fortification along the Ragusa republic’s northern defenses. Today, the town restaurants serve up all kinds of fish, mussels and Croatia’s best oysters.

Seafood is the coastal staple here in Croatia. Even Italy imports Croatian fish because they say the seafood is better along the rocky coastline on this side of the Adriatic.

Mali Ston is quintessential Croatia—a gentle fishing village lost in time.


Find out more about Mali Ston at www.croatia.hr. If you'd like to know a great place to relax and taste the region's cuisine, visit the restaurant Rudy visits in this show: Vila Koruna.

There's a great website for the Peljesac Penninsula on which you'll find lots of info on the towns, plenty of maps, and pictures.


The Grgich Winery top

The Peljesac Penninsula also produces some of Croatia’s finest wines.

The grapes in the overgrown vineyards here ripen and sweeten in the sun reflecting off of the sea. At the Grgich winery east meets west. Owner Mike Grgich was born in Croatia but he took his winemaking skills to California to produce world class Zinfandel and Chardonnay. After Croatia gained its independence, Grgich returned to start a small winery. Grgich claims the Plavac Mali grape grown here is a cousin of the Californian Zinfandel. The estate produces a red Plavac Mali and white Posip wines.


Want to find the winery? Here's the address. If you want to know more about Croatian wines and winemakers, as well as where to find them, www.hrvatska-vina.com's the the place for you. If that's not enough, check out www.chiff.com as well.

If you find those fancy Croatian wine labels tough to read, www.hr will clear up any confusion in a hurry.

Finally, Mike Grgich has been producing wines at the Grgich Hills vineyards, in the heart of California's Napa Valley, since 1977. Be sure to visit the
Grgich Hills website for the great story of how Miljenko “Mike” Grgich first gained international recognition.


Korcula top

The Peljesac Penninsula offers sandy beaches and pleasant towns, but the real gem lies across the water from the town of Orebic.

The car ferry at Orebic carries passengers 2 miles across to the island of Korcula and to the stunning town for which the island is named.

Perhaps the most romantic of all the Croatian walled beauties, Korcula makes a spectacular first impression.

The town took its present form from the 13th to 15th centuries. The streets curve to form a leaf-like grid to minimize the effects of a strong northeast wind and to maximize cool breezes from the west. Grey stone houses, red tiled roofs, fortress walls and a splash of green palm trees—Korcula town makes an idyllic island retreat.

Korcula claims adventurer Marco Polo as their native son. Many experts agree Marco Polo came from Croatia, but from which town, no one is certain. Yet it was surely in these waters off of Korcula in 1298, that a battle raged between Venice and Genoa and Marco Polo was captured. Later, in a Genoa prison he recounted his travels to a fellow inmate who wrote them down.

For swimming, touring, stopping at towns or monasteries, a boat trip from the island makes for a great adventure. On my trip I hit a sudden squall and caught Korcula looking quite dramatic.

The Venetian influence in Korcula is manifested in lacy architecture. From the 10th century, Venice controlled much of Dalmatia for some 800 years.

Korcula’s main cathedral, St Marks, features expert carvings in its pale limestone, some by 15th century artisans from Italy. Limestone quarries on the island provided Dubrovnik with stone and master carvers from the republic taught Korcula artisans their craft.


The town of Korcula is also well known for its dramatic sword dance, Moreska. Find out the story of this fascinating dance, as well as where to find others in Croatia, at www.korculainfo.com.

For a great 3D map of Korcula town, including ferry locations, check out www.korculainfo.com. When you've had your fill of the town, hop a catamaran up the coast to Split. Here's the schedule.


The City Of Split top

With a car, you can explore other towns and beaches on the island. You can even search the internet or travel agencies for vacation homes to rent in a private cove along this gorgeous coastline.

Back on the mainland, we tour the ancient city of Spilt and its neighbor, little Trogir, then hop a ferry to one last island, Hvar.

Croatia’s second largest city, Split began as a Roman Palace and today a jumble of centuries exist within its glorious shell.

Split sprang from a Roman emperor’s desire to retire to the peaceful, secluded Dalmatian paradise where he was born. The year was 295, and after years of trying to whip the empire in shape and ruthlessly persecuting Christians, the emperor Diocletian opted out.

He built a colossal palace – over a million square feet of apartments, temples, barracks and baths. The largest private residence in the ancient world, Dioletian’s retreat survives in remarkably good shape.

The peristyle or open square with its granite columns once served as the public meeting place and grand entranceway to the imperial quarters. Diocletian spared no expense, importing what were even to him ancient black granite sphinxes from Egypt that date all the way from the 15th century BC.

The mausoleum of Diocletian later became a Christian church – St Dominus. The principal structure and the dome, which was once covered in gold – date from Diocletian’s day. Baroque chapels, 3rd century Corinthian columns, and 13th century walnut and oak doors make for a dazzling hotchpotch of styles.

To get a sense of the vastness of the palace, take a trip below to the unadorned underground where the layout of the rooms mirrors the palace rooms that once stood above.


Split Archeological Museum top

Just outside the city center, the evocative Split Archeological Museum, takes us back to Diocletian’s roots. Here in a lovely courtyard you can wander among sarcophagi from ancient town Salona, where Diocletian was born.

Enchanting mosaics and eerily life like tomb sculptures are jumbled together in a way that makes you feel you are discovering them for the first time. The city of Salona or Solin was located four miles northeast of Split. A great Roman city in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, Salona was the capitol of Dalmatia. In Diocletian’s time the city had a population of 60,000 and many splendid buildings. The tombs often depict couples and the realistic portraits demonstrate great sculptural command.

The most remarkable piece in the collection: a glowing tomb illustrating the Greek story of Phaedra, who falls in love with her stepson and then kills herself. The tomb was buried with the relief side protected by a building, thus the remarkable preservation.


Find Croatian museums on the internet, go to www.mdc.hr.


Croatian Neckties top

In 1635, a group of Croatian mercenaries arrived in Paris to lend aid to King Louis XIII. The French were immediately struck by the soldier’s silk scarves which they tied loosely around their necks. The fashion caught fire. The French called the scarf la croat which later turned into la cravate, and thus the modern necktie was born.

Croatian neckties are made of silk and handcrafted. The designs reflect the mingling of east and west—a touch of the exotic mingled with a classic design.

(soundbite) I think it says buy this tie in ancient Croatian...buy this tie...buy this tie...buy this tie...


Boutique Croata has many locations in Croatia. Visit their homepage for address and phone info. There, you can also order neckties to your heart's content.


The Mestrovic Museum top

For something completely different and more modern in Split, the Mestrovic Gallery houses a collection of sculpture by Ivan Mestrovic. The artist was born on the coast in 1883. An illiterate Shepard boy, Mestrovic began attracting attention with his wood carvings and was soon apprenticed to a stone carver in Split. His work went on to receive international acclaim. Mestrovic’s sculptures are influenced by Greek classical art and inspired by religion and Croatian nationalism. His fluid lines and swooning bodies are sensual, poignant and powerful.


The museum hosts many fascinating "virtual walks" of the collection, as well as the grounds, at www.mdc.hr.


Trogir top

Nestled on a small island, the little town of Trogir is a car free open air museum with splendid 13th to 15th century buildings on display.

An hour’s drive north of Split, romantic Trogir makes a nice day trip. The narrow streets of the town reverberate with history. First the Greeks settled here, then the Romans established an important port. In the 10th century, Venice and Hungary warred for possession of the Dalmatian coast and Trogir sided with the Hungarians in exchange for a degree of independence. Art and architecture flourished. In the 15th century Venice finally took over the town and added its own distinctive style.

Here, as elsewhere in Croatian towns, economic and comfortable accommodations can be had by renting local apartments. Travel agents and the internet are great resources.

Trogir’s gloriously faded stone streets are some of the narrowest and most evocative in Croatia. The town was also named a World Heritage site.


You'll find an excellent on-line city guide of Trogir and the surrounding area at www.trogir-online.com. Also, for a quick tour of the city, visit
www.e-trogir.com and select the site links along the right side of your screen.


Hvar top

A long day trip from Split or an ideal getaway for a few days our last island stop awaits.

We’re docking at another spectacular island, Hvar. Pirates once cruised these waters until the Venetians drove them out in the 13th century, then the town flourished.

The Venetian legacy of fine carving and renaissance palaces graces Hvar town, the most beautiful town on the island. In the 15th century, Hvar grew quite wealthy, as all Venetian boats stopped here en route to and from Venice. Today the island town attracts wealthy European vacationers.

A pleasant afternoon can be had strolling along the waterfront and shopping for lavender products. Lavender grows in profusion on the hillsides and you can purchase the perfumed herb in many forms.

A long seaside walkway hugs the shore and meanders past rocky coves and small beaches. At the end of the promenade, a 15th century Franciscan Monastery stands watch over a sleepy cove. Here too, water taxis ferry people to islands for swimming or exploring. Some vacation rentals on the island include a boat for guests.

Sweet views can be had from the Fortress Spanjol, a fortified medieval castle built to defend against attacks from all the invaders who coveted these shores.


There's quite a wealth of information on-line if you're getting ready to visit this getaway, or even if you just want to know more. Our top three picks: www.hvar.hr, www.hvar-travel.com, and www.sunnyhvar.com. The ferry schedules alone from various locations along the Dalmatian coast are especially helpful.


Visit Croatia top

Croatia captivates. With its translucent waters...secluded islands...and walled towns:...no wonder people have battled for this land for centuries. Countless travelers who have ventured here for a quick stop have found themselves abandoning their plans and staying longer in this enchanted land.

Here on an island forgotten by time, there is nothing to do but enjoy some fresh local seafood and wine and watch the sun set over the blue coves of the Mediterranean. From Paradise Found, I’m Rudy Maxa on the Dalmatian coast.


The Croatian Embassy in London provides a helpful "mini guide." Take advantage of this handy travel resource by visiting croatia.embassyhomepage.com. Next to the waterfalls picture, click on create a mini guide and check just the type of information you'd like to include in the guide. When you're done, click on "create mini guide" at the bottom of the page. Print the result for your convenience, or you can send it along to a friend.


Interested in planning your vacation to Central Europe?
Start your trip at
Expedia.com/Central Europe



Visit www.croatia.hr (Croatian National Tourist Board).

Interested in historical Dubrovnik? You can find a list of churches, palaces, fortresses, and monuments at www.dubrovnik-online.com

Find Croatian museums on the internet, go to www.mdc.hr.