Lake Vrana & Zadar~

These first five photos were taken atop Mt. Kamenjak in the Vrana Lake Nature Park in Croatia. The amazing view you are seeing looks down over Lake Vrana towards the Kornati Islands in the Adriatic Sea.

Lake Vrana, the greenish body of water in the forefront, lies on the Dalmatian coast, and is the largest lake in Croatia. It is separated from the sea by a mere 2 km strip of land which you can clearly see in this photo.

The view from the opposite side of Mt. Kamenjak is also incredible, and looks into the interior of Croatia. It was quite special for me to visit this area of the world, because my grandfather, who emigrated to the US through Ellis Island in the early 1900’s, was from this area.

The spectacular Mt. Kamenjak viewpoint is off the beaten track and less traveled.

There is a charming old chapel, many hiking options, picnic facilities, and a place to order snacks if you didn’t bring a picnic.

Lake Varna can be easily reached on a day trip from nearby Zadar, the oldest continuously occupied city in Croatia. This is St. Donatus Church in Zadar, founded in the 9th Century.

The small chapel is St. Mary’s Church, founded in 1066, and the ruins you see scattered about are the remnants of the largest Roman Forum in the Eastern Adriatic.

Zadar is the historical center of The Dalmatian Coast. It was founded by the Liburnians in the 4th Century BC, and numerous Neolithic settlements have been discovered here.

Zadar is a delightfully fun city to visit, with lots of places to explore, and wonderful restaurants to sample the local cuisine. If this isn’t enough to tempt you, Croatia is a good travel bargain, especially off-season. The city quay, where people gather, has a sea organ that chimes in rhythm with the waves. It also has the remarkable glass “Greeting to the Sun,” which you can see in this photo and read about by clicking on the link below:

We are still home at The Holler now, but it is cheers to you from spectacular Lake Vrana and historic Zadar, Croatia~

220 thoughts on “Lake Vrana & Zadar~

  1. Gosh, how beautiful. I have never been to Croatia but hear from many that it is a place to visit and your post certainly reiterates that. Another place to add to my list.

  2. That’s a part of Croatia that I haven’t seen. Awesome & unique mountain view of the islands … and I imagine I would enjoy Zadar. Many thanks for sharing. πŸ™‚

      1. Somehow I doubt there are many who fully understand it’s very complicated and interwoven history…fascinating all the same and it’s almost as if you can sense it when visiting these places. πŸ˜€

  3. What an amazing trip and with a family connection too! I love the views from Mt Kamenjak, so beautiful whichever way you look! Thank you so much for sharing :o) xxx

  4. Gorgeous photos as always, Cindy. Cracking good views up there!
    Great that you had the chance to visit the place of your Grandfather’s.
    Wishing you a great summer at The Holler before you start on your next exciting expedition! πŸ™‚

      1. We know, we are fevering for the reports and the photos. ***Shiver*** with joy for you, sending lots of smiles πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  5. Our neighbours are from Croatia, Cindy, and it’s so nice to see the country where they came from.
    That’ll be on our bucket list.

  6. I adore the way stones are incorporated into everything there. Please tell me that you dined at a restaurant that used large flat rocks instead of plates. πŸ˜‰ Lovely pics as always sweet girl!

  7. What a delight to get to see a part of the world I know very little about. Your photos and enthusiasm made me want to travel there or at least learn more. Thanks.

  8. Exquisite Cindy! The lake is gorgeous but my heart leaps to the sea. I do understand your connection and do hope that one day I will finally see Sweden where my father was from… πŸ™‚

  9. Beautiful photos, Cindy. It’s strange to look at such lovely “normal” looking places and remember that not long ago war was waged here, neighbors killing neighbors. I’m glad that your photos show a place of peace and beauty now.

  10. Cindy, how wonderful for you to visit the land of your ancestors! And what a beautiful land it is, too! I’d never heard of the sea organ or the greeting to the sun — how interesting! You’ve got some gorgeous photos here … as usual.

  11. Lovely insight into the world of Croatia πŸ™‚ That sea reminds me of the sea at Brighton the other day!! It was 32 degrees C and blue skies and sunshine….bit like Croatia!! πŸ˜‰

  12. Oh Cindy, this one is extra special to me because my grandfather’s family was from the former Yugoslavia. Croatian love xx Thank you for the extraordinary photos

  13. I told my wife about some photos of Croatia I had seen and she’s ready o go. I love that brick building with the green shutters. Is it a house? or a business of some sort?

  14. I see the building architecture seems to be using strong rectangle or square shape (or close to be). That is very interesting but beautifully blended together.

      1. I am wondering what the build is for now. I used to work in a build that has no window at all. Once you are in you do not know what the world outside is like.

        1. Sounds like an electronic room. They have these in defense, no windows, no noise, you wear headphones, and just have computer screens. When you step outside, you are temporarily disoriented.

  15. The churches and buildings that are that old seem to be in very good condition, considering. They are very unique, and I’m sure as you said made that trip very special to visit having your grandfather coming from there. That was another thing I loved too about my trip to Russia in 1989 because Odessa was my grandfather’s birthplace and the city he immigrated from to the U.S. Croatia looks like an awesome historical site to visit. The coastline with the Vrana lake pretty too.

    1. I don’t think the ones you are looking at are old, although the rocks certainly are. This lookout was spruced up recently, possibly 2006. There are much older buildings around though.

  16. I have heard good things about Croatia. How wonderful you got to go back to your grandfathers roots. You mention the restaurants and local cuisine, which leaves me wondering what type of cuisine is typical of Croatia?


    1. It is a mixture of regions and this part of Europe, but it is basically food my grandmother and mother cooked, all influenced by my grandfather. It has a strong slavic influence, so there is goulash, yogurt sauces, lamb dishes, stuffed peppers, stuffed cabbage, bulgar pilafs, stews with veggies, meat and potatoes, Greek influenced foods, like Spanokpita and Mousakka, and on the coast seafood dishes. It is a gimmish, but definitely has it’s own unique character. My grandfather always made his own yogurt since it was not popular when I was young and it is used to make all sorts of sauces. Lots of eggplant and pomegranate too.

      1. Food, family, tradition, culture — a timeless combination. And I have experienced how nearby cultures influence each other too, especially when it comes to menu items and recipes.

        Very interesting pictures of Zadar. And the lake neighboring the sea. Or the sea guarding the lake. A special place! It’s own holler maybe? Actually two of them, depending on which way you look from up there, though both probably way too large for that special term.

        Nice trip, Cindy! You are generous to take us along.

        1. Thank you for such a thoughtful response. I love the intermixing of cultures. It tends to shift the best of each, with resultant wonderful variety. This is why I love the food of the Alsace region of France, it is a mixture of the best food from Germany and France, with some unique to Alsace alone and you can always order sauerkraut with everything! πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰

  17. Beautiful photos, Cindy. How lovely to go back to the roots of where your family originated. I’ve heard that Croatia is a wonderful place to visit. πŸ™‚

      1. What was amazing is that I travelled through areas before the Bosnian war and saw life as it was lived for hundreds of years (in the countryside in particular). I’ve thrown most of my lousy photos out now, but I did keep a couple of shots taken in Zadar and also when our bus broke down for a week on the Dalmation coast. (note: I was on a 9 week organised camping trip at that particular time).

          1. Unfortunately, the images, made with a little instamatic camera are too faded and yellowed to scan, and I only remember little snippets of the trip. Every time I read of someone’s travels I get out my few remaining photos and wish that they were better to share online. My memory has deteriorated so much too. One of the symptoms of my health condition. A recent brain MRI (because of my current severe headaches) showed quite some deterioration. When I was 19, a psychic told me I would visit Dubrovnik and about some of the people I would meet and travel with and at 23, when I booked that camping trip, I was surprised to see Dubrovnik on the list of towns on the eastern part of the tour. It’s not as though it was a well-known city like Rome for example. I remember the most odd snippets from my past. Almost nothing of my childhood at all. (I did wonder once whether I had early Alzheimers or something).

            1. You provided a lot of interesting leads here. If I were still working, I would want to explore the memory issues, but it sounds like you have it well in hand, and are following up on it, which is important. So sorry about the severe headaches. They must be exhausting. Your trip though sounds amazing. Somehow I suspect these ancient little towns may not have changed all that much and that is a comforting thought.

  18. How wonderful to visit the land of your grandparents. It would be fun to visit Czechia and Germany to explore my roots. And I learned something by looking up Lake Vrana on the map! πŸ™‚

    1. There is definitely a strange feeling of familiarity when you go back to the home countries of your relatives. It feels almost like you are revisiting these places with them, and are a returnee, rather than just a tourist.

  19. Thanks for another virtual visit powered by fine photos of a beautiful place that was new to me.

    I am curious about the “sea organ that chimes in rhythm with the waves”. Is it something like wind chimes with the clapper in the water? Apart from the *Greeting to the Sun*, I did not see anything unusual on the quay.

    1. Croatia and this part of the world has such complicated history, and I do not pretend to understand it, or my grandfather’s family history, well. This is what I was told: My grandfather’s family owned a large poppy plantation, that I think was in Yugoslavia (Croatia was apparently once a province of Yugoslavia). The plantation was confiscated with communist rule. My grandfather stowed away on a ship to the US (interestingly, he became a prominent judge in Chicago, but stowed away here illegally), and the family scattered to Sofia Bulgaria where they still are now. My family name is Doscolov, Doscolova for the females. I wish a Doscolov would read this post and tell me more! I had an Uncle Alexander from Sofia, and who was the chair of the Universities Dept of Mathematics, that I met several times, and really especially liked. He would come on visitors visas and stay for several months, and I wrote regularly to him as a child.

      1. Very interesting, Cindy. Have you tried genealogical sites? My research took me to a lot of historical family locations in the US dating back to the 1600s. I also visited some historical family sites in Scotland. I’ve also had my DNA done. There is a ton of information out there now. Good luck. –Curt

  20. A wonderful place! I’m so glad you went to the birth land of your grandfather!
    1066 was also the Battle Of Hastings. History is so interesting! Thank you for this lovely post!

  21. Hi Cindy, i love all of your pictures, however I just cannot get over that stone chapel with the stone roof! It really must have some kind of heavy duty support structure on the inside, I would think the stone roof would weigh more than a solid teracotta tile roof would even! πŸ™‚

    1. Yes definitely heavier than terracotta. There was one stone building with no windows and I noticed the walls were stacked inside a frame that stopped the wall from toppling and the rocks had no cement holding them, just the frame and the cumulative weight of the rock. Remarkable!

  22. Wow Cindy! Have heard about friend’s travels in Croatia, but have never seen photos like these. It looks less polished than places we’ve been in Europe–maybe more “real.” Wonderful that you were able to see the area from which your grandfather immigrated. Do you have any family there that you know of?? Love this post. And- how do you celebrate July 4th in the Holler?? Hope it’s a good one! xox

  23. Thank you for pictures for me to save in the cloud. Or anywhere my server keeps them, a warehouse in New Jersey or anywhere else. To be enjoyed anywhere irregardless.

  24. These are gorgeous photos of a fantastic setting. Enjoyed.
    Also, want to thank your for following “Renaissance Musings. Look forward to any input you have to offer.

  25. What a lovely area! It’s quite moving to visit a land of your ancestry, isn’t it? I saw your comment above and hope that someone of your birth name can tell you more about the history! <3

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