Krasno and vicinity

Krasno and vicinity

Lying on the northern slopes of the Velebit at about 800 m above sea level within the Velebit Nature Park, Krasno is one of Croatia's largest mountain villages. It comprises fourteen hamlets scattered around the picturesque Krasno Valley that is flanked on all sides by high wooded cliffs and peaks. The hamlets are typically named after family names of people inhabiting them: Ivetići, Vukelići, Glavaši, Anići, Dujmišići etc. Owing to its specific location and altitude, snow is a regular occurrence in Krasno and the snow cover normally persists long into the winter. Administratively, it belongs to the district of Senj and the Lika-Senj County. Running through the village is a road connection between Sveti Juraj (23 km) and Otočac (22 km), which connects the coastal regions with the inland region of Lika.

Krasno’s geographical position and the mountain climate have resulted in a slow pace of development and limited economic activity. The main economic activities include cattle raising, dairy production, forestry, lumber, agriculture (wheat and potatoes), and more recently - tourism. Forestry and wood processing is a traditional industry in Krasno owing to the region’s abundant forest resources. Krasno has the oldest Forestry Office in Croatia (set up in 1765) as well as two privately owned saw mills. With the opening of the Forestry Museum (2005), the only of its kind in Croatia, and the Forester’s House, the Krasno Forestry Office has recently added tourism to its field of activities.

The village has a post office and a GP and dentist practice which is open several days a week. The village also has two convenience stores, several catering facilities and the Runolist dairy farm which produces the famed Krasno cheese.

The village has its own elementary school currently serving 40 pupils. The Northern Velebit National Park and the Velebit Nature Park have their headquarters and branch office respectively in Krasno.

Above the village is the 18th century Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Krasno a well known place of pilgrimage. The church has a beautiful cassette ceiling with painted scenes from the life of Jesus, Mary and saints and Latin quotes dating back to 1740. On August 15, the Assumption Day, the church of Krasno attracts pilgrims from all over Croatia.

In Krasno also has a cultural society „Čuvarice ognjišta“ (Hearth keepers), dedicated to preserving tradition and heritage of the place.

Krasno can be reached from the coast, taking a turn from main coast road in Sveti Juraj over the mountain pass Oltari (22 km) or from the inland, from direction of Otočac via Švica village (20 km).

You can find more information about the village on the web site: www.krasno.hr

The Gacka Valley is a large karst valley fringed with mountain ranges of Velebit on the coast side and with Kapela Mountain on the inland side. The valley is dominated by the river Gacka which springs at one end of the valley and sinks underground on the opposite end. Gacka is the third longest sinking river in the world. Originally 32 km long, the river’s course was cut down to 11 km with the construction of the Hydro Electric Power Plant Senj in 1960. In the Otočac area, most of the river’s waters are diverted through tunnels to an artificial lake called the Gusić Jezero. Owing to a gently sloping terrain, the river’s course is tranquil and winding. The waters of Gacka are extremely clean and rich in oxygen.

The largest town in the Gacka area is Otočac, originally built at a river fork where the Gacka branches formed an “island” surrounded by water on all sides. Today Otočac has 4,000 inhabitants.

The Gacka source area consists of numerous smaller springs, the three strongest among them: the Tonković Vrilo, Klanac and Majerovo Vrilo. The springs resembling little lakes are very picturesque. To be seen here are many old watermills – malenice, many of which reconstructed and restored in a traditional style. There are also saw mills, fulling mills and cloth washing troughs. The people inhabiting the Gacka area navigated the river using plav, traditional boats carved from fir tree trunks, typical for the Gacka. The river is rich in diverse water plants which are so abundant that people harvest them as cattle feed. Until 1937, only four fish species inhabited the Gacka: trout, European eel, weather loach, and pike, probably introduced during the reign of the Frankopan dukes. Gacka also provided habitat to stone crayfish which disappeared in 1931 due to crab plague. Later, numerous other fish species were introduced into the Gacka, while other made their way to the river through the canal built between Gacka and the Lika rivers to serve the Hydro Electric Power Plant. To be found in the Gacka today are also the rainbow trout, grayling, carp, tench, roach, chub, and pumpkinseed. These introduced species have disturbed the biological balance and reduced the purity of water. Trout in the Gacka grow very fast (about five times faster than in other karst rivers) and are known among anglers throughout the globe.

Gacka once sank in three sinking areas: Ponori near Švica, the Gusić Polje and the Hrvatsko Polje. In the Otočac area, the river course used to fork into two branches, the southern branch forming two lakes at Švica, connected by a 50 m waterfall. This area used to be called the "“Little Plitvice Lakes”", and also abounded in watermills, water-operated saw mills used for sawing timber transported down the river, fulling mills and troughs, even a small hydro electric power plant built in 1936 that supplied the town of Otočac and the surroundings villages.

The sinking area of the Gacka River is today threatened by reduced water volume and collapsing travertine barriers along the river due to insufficient amount of water. Because of this, the Croatian Speleological Server has included it among the 10 most endangered karst areas in Croatia. Like other karst fields, this area abounds in many rare and protected plant species, among them early marsh orchid, small-fruited yellow sedge, and greater spearwort, that are included in the red list of threatened plants in Croatia. These fields are also valuable habitats for many birds, which is why the Gacka Valley, together with other karst fields, has been proposed for protection through the European Ecological Network NATURA 2000 as an important bird habitat. In addition, the Gacka Valley and the surrounding area contains twelve more areas important for species and habitats that have been proposed for the Natura network, among them the Gacka Valley, the Gacka River, bog in Čovići, the Majerovo Vrilo spring, the Pećina cave and several other caves.

The Gacka River springs have been proclaimed a natural monument, and the Gacka and Dabar valleys have been placed on the significant landscape list.

Set up in Otočac in 2006, the Croatian Center for Indigenous Species of Fish and Crayfish in Karstic Waters is engaged in farming trout and crayfish to be introduced into the Gacka and for commercial use. It also engages in scientific research of the Gacka area and its inhabitants, especially the trout, and develops local brands and tourist offers.

To find out even more about the Gacka Valley, visit:

One of the oldest towns in North Adriatic, Senj is known for its exceptionally rich and turbulent history. The town area includes a 76 km coastal strip with several fishing villages, numerous coves and pristine stone beaches.
The symbol of the town is the Fort Nehaj. Built in 1558, it was a rebel stronghold of the famous Uskoks of Senj who defended the town from the Turkish and Venetian invaders. Senj early became a centre of Glagolitic literacy and had its own printing house as early as 1494 when the first printed book in Senj was published - Missal under the Law of the Roman Court.

With its crystal clear sea, beautiful beaches, excellent restaurants and entertainment venues, present-day Senj is increasingly developing as a tourist destination.

The town of Senj is located between the see and the slopes of the Kapela and Velebit mountains and includes a 76 km coastal strip. Lying on the east side of the Adriatic, it has maritime communications with other towns and countries of the Mediterranean. The town also has good road connections: with the inland via the Vratnik mountain pass (700 m above sea level); with the Vinodol Valley and Rijeka to the west; with Zadar, Split and South Dalmatia to the south. The town area is influenced by two climate systems: the Mediterranean and the mountain climates. The Mediterranean climate is characterized by warm and dry summers and mild and rainy winters. The characteristic features of the mountain climate are low temperatures in winter, fresh summers and abundant precipitation (rain and snow).

Of all the Croatian littoral, Senj area is the most exposed to the Bora wind. In Senj, the Bora outbreaks are the most frequent, longest lasting and strongest on the Adriatic. This natural phenomenon is extremely interesting to scientists and the Bora of Senj has been the subject of study for a long time. As early as 1954, Senj had an anemograph installed – a devices for constant measuring and recording of wind direction and speed.
The name Bora derives from the Greek boreasa. In Greek mythology. Boreas, like all other winds, has its own characteristic features. It is personified as a powerful, winged god that is considered the king of other winds (presumably because of its power). Bura, the Croatian name for Bora, did not come directly via Greek, but as a derivation from Italian, probably from the Venetian word bora.

Due to the town’s specific climate and geographical position, it is not unusual for the bathing season to start in the sub-Velebit coastal area while the back country, only 20 km away, is still covered in snow.

You can find even more about Senj and its surroundings on the websites:

The Velebit Nature Park stretches over an area of 2200 square kilometres from the Vratnik Pass in the north west to the Zrmanja River Canyon in the south east in a total length of 145 kilometres. It borders the Adriatic Sea to the west, and is surrounded by the Gacka, Lika and Gračac fields with the rivers Gacka, Lika and Otuča on the inland side. The largest single protected reach of land in Croatia, the Velebit Nature Park received its protected status in 1978 for its extraordinary natural values and importance for the preservation of biodiversity. The Nature Park has been included in UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves. The Park includes two national parks: the Paklenica National Park and the Northern Velebit National Park.

The Park is largely built of sedimentary rock, lime, dolomite and Velebit breccias. The entire area of the Park is characterized by an abundance and diversity of underground and surface karst forms, ranging from countless small grikes and karrens, numerous sinkholes, dolines and karst valleys to large karst crags, ridges, caves, and deep pits. The Park is a habitat for many endemic plant and animal species. The best known by far is the Velebit degenia.

Numerous remains of cultural monuments, churches, mountain huts and settlements are testimonies of intensive human habitation on the mountain. These monuments of the past, such as the Inscribed Stone (Pisani kamen), many watermills, funeral monuments (mirila), and shepherd’s huts, reveal the customs and the way of life of the mountain inhabitants. You can glimpse into the vast natural, cultural, and historical heritage of the Velebit region by taking a walk on one of educational trails at run through the Nature Park: the Terezijana (the Maria Theresa Trail), which runs along a stretch of an old road that was built in 1786 between the towns of Karlobag and Gospić, the “Kudin Most” trail which reveals some of the most beautiful waterfalls and travertine cascades of the Krupa. The Kudin Most is the oldest bridge crossing over the Krupa River. Another educational trail, Starigrad Senjski – Donja Klada, which was laid out as early as 1847, introduces the visitor to a range of gorgeous Croatian coves.

Certainly one of the most beautiful coves is Zavratnica a protected landscape. An upper trail with a lookout point and a sea promenade were built in Zavratnica at the beginning of the 20th century. To the south of the Velebit Nature Park you can also see the Cerovac Caves one of the best known and most important speleological features in Croatia. The Cerovac Cave complex comprises three caves (Lower, Middle and Upper Caves) containing a total of 4 kilometres of explored passages. Available for visitors are the first 700 meters of Lower and Upper Caves (Donja and Gornja špilja). Cerovac Caves abound in finds from the ancient past. In addition to being an important archaeological locality, the caves are also one of the largest cave bear sites in Croatia where you can see animal marking, the so-called Bärenschliffe, on the cave walls. These polished wall markings were created by bears rubbing against cave walls.

You can find more information about Velebit Nature park on the web site: www.pp-velebit.hr

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