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The Ucka Nature Park, Istria

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The Učka Nature Park


In ancient times, the supreme god Perun, surrounded by old oaks and mighty eagles, ruled the world from the top of a mountain, lightening stones and stone arrows at all the evil that threatened. Many summers have passed since then, the Perun hill, the beautiful iris and the abundance of old oak trees that preserve the peace and the secrets of the green Učka remind us of those ancient times. Učka was named after the old Slavic word "ljučka", which marks the border between magical Istria and "someone else's country" ruled by some other, alien people. Today the Učka nature park is a unique phenomenon of natural diversity. In this almost untouched paradise 160 km2 in size, there are many endemic, endangered and protected plant and animal species.

There is also evidence of a human presence that dates back more than 12 000 years, of geomorphologic monuments which have been formed by water and wind over the course of 140 million years, more than 200 astonishing cave forms with impressive cave decorations and secret stone villages abandoned long ago by humans. The clean, cold water that flows here has been shaping Učka for millions of years, bringing life in every one of its beautiful corners. Its trails and walkways offer fabulous trips. Učka is a favourite place for tourists because of its impressive views and the resident’s excellent cuisine, and also because it is a major destination for hikers, rock climbers, bikers, free climbers and free-flyers who here have can find Nature in its original form.

History


The geomorphology of Učka speaks of a 140 million-year-old process. The Cretaceous era left its mark on the pillars and canyons in which shells and foraminifera were found. The presence of people on Učka dates back 12 000 years. At the end of the Ice Age, groups of people lived here in caves and hunted game to survive. Findings from the Pupićina cave from the Neolithic era showed that shepherds were engaged in agriculture, cattle breeding and milk processing. The discovery of metals, especially bronze, brought the flourishing of the trade to people, as well as conquests. During that period, the Histri and Liburni settled in the area. Those tribes, in addition to livestock breeding, were also engaged in trade and in piracy. The arrival of Rome meant abundance, road construction and general progress. The famous Učka and Čičarija cheeses are made following the original Roman recipe.

The fall of Rome and the beginning of the Middle Ages meant frequent wars, conflicts and diseases, but also the immigration of new residents, mainly the Slavs. Because of security, many fortresses and walled towns were built. Local people believed in Slavic gods and myths. The space between the Perun hill and Trebišće was a sacred space. In the 10th century, Učka was the border between the Croatian Kingdom and the Frankish Empire and was therefore an area where many battles took place. That area was devastated by the plague for centuries after, while in the 15th century the Vlach population came to live here. At the end of the 19th century, the first mountain campaign on Učka was recorded. Soon, on Poklon, the Climber’s lodge and the view-tower were built. During the Second World War, Učka became a base for guerrilla resistance to the occupying army, which implemented a policy of persecution, arson and murder. After the Second World War, Učka was annexed to Yugoslavia and finally, in 1991, to the Republic of Croatia.

Recommendations


Biodiversity - Učka is home to 10 endemic underground species, 234 species of butterflies, 20 species of amphibians and reptiles, wild boars, chamois and bears, the endemic Kirk dormouse and over 160 bird species, of which we emphasize the golden eagle. There are Beachwood forests and oak, hornbeam, black pine and chestnut trees. Fields and grasslands with numerous protected plant species hold a special place. Along with the edelweiss and the alpine primrose,  a special place is held by the bellflower of Učka.

Canyon Vela draga – A geomorphologic nature monument, it features picturesque limestone pillars and rocks with visible fossils, a favourite destination for mountaineers and free climbers, with a wonderful view point. The Pupićin cave is in this area, with over 12 000-year-old findings indicating a human presence.

The Perun Hill– 880 meters high and once the centre of Old Slavic mythology about ancient gods,it is rich in beautiful nature and old preserved villages such as Trebišće, with old buildings and a mill.

Lovranska Draga - A beautiful canyon with a village bearing the same name, the Baroque church of Saint Michael, an attractive waterfall that leads down to the sea, chestnut, oak and hornbeam forests and old terraces

Veli Planik - 1272 meters height, with beautiful bare rocks above a dense forest and a lookout point that offers a unique 360-degree view.

Korita - A water source that spills over ten massive wooded sinks at the base of which there is a bigger pool rich in plant and animal life.

Kožljak - A medieval castle from the 12th century, built on a steep cliff with a preserved staircase

Vojak – Učka’s highest peak, 1401 meters high, with an old tower from which the Kvarner bay and its islands can be seen, as well as the mountains of Gorski Kotar, Velebit, of the Alps and of Italy

Recreation and Sports - Učka is a place that attracts many hikers because of its nicely arranged and informative trails,  as well as many mountain climbers, cyclists of different categories, free flyers, cavers and sports adventurers due to the excellent supply of integrated sporting activities

Events


Učka Fair, Poklon – An ethnological heritage fair with a rich indigenous gastronomic offer, exhibitions, traditional crafts, customs and musical instruments 05.09.

Mihoje, Lovranska Draga - A traditional folk festival with entertainment and a gastronomic offer mainly of traditional dishes made with beets and beans 29.09.

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