On the Road with Domovina Birthright Program: Smiljan, Knin & Kornati

Total Croatia News

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August 5, 2019 – As previously reported on TCN, the first Domovina Birthright Program took place in Croatia last month, an initiative between the American Croatian Association of Professionals, and the Croatian Government.

The idea of the program is to take the young adults of Croatian descent (ages 18 – 30), who wish to learn about their heritage, explore Croatia, connect with their Croatian identity and meet other young Croatian adults on an amazing trip to Croatia.

Kristiana Banđen is one of the 34 initial participants in the program, and she has kindly agreed to document her journey as she explores the country of her heritage. Over to Kristiana for Day 8-9:

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On day 8 of our trip, from Pula, we travelled to Smiljan to visit Nikola Tesla’s hometown and memorial centre. 

It was really cool to see that the memorial centre was built in the home of Nikola and his family. Although made modern for the museum, all the old structure is still in place. Our tour guide was really insightful and shared a lot of interesting facts about Nikola as a child. Today, his most notable contribution is the modern alternating current electricity supply system as well as the Tesla coil, the induction motor, neon light and the radio to name a few. 

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I think it’s important as a Croatian to take note of the influence Croatians have had on today’s modern day. Although Tesla was born on land that is part of Croatia today, his family was of Serbian background.

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My favourite aspect of the memorial centre in Smiljan was the attic of Nikola’s home where it showcases samples of his inventions. Pressing the buttons puts on a display of the invention, showcasing how it looked through photographs and not modernized for how it’s used today. 

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After lunch, we arrived in Knin where we had some free time and time to prepare for a meeting and dinner with the Minister of Defence and Deputy Prime Minister of Croatia. Not only was it amazing to have the opportunity to speak to and dine with this company, but we had the chance to do so in an amazing venue, the Knin Fortress! Catching the sunset at the top of the fortress was absolutely breathtaking with the view! 

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We were blessed again with an amazing meal. Not only was the food delicious (as per usual!), we were able to enjoy the vocals from Klapa Sveti Juraj! What a great experience! 

For a little bit of fun and relaxation, for the next day, a Kornati trip was organized for us on a private boat for the group. I have previously taken a tour for the Kornati National Park with my family but with the trip I had taken before, we didn’t have the opportunity to stop at the memorial crosses. The crosses, found on the island Veliki Kornat, commemorates the Croatian firefighters who lost their lives in the Kornati tragedy on August 30, 2007. On that day over 10 years ago, a group of firefighters were deployed to the island to extinguish a small fire. Unfortunately, for an unknown reason, the fire had taken the lives of the group. Croatia remembers the heroes as a permanent reminder for the dedication of the profession. This is something that almost all of us in the group had no idea of. It has been really riveting to learn about incidents such as this one that I never knew about. 

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Swimming, beautiful views, good food, singing and dancing soon ended and the party continued to Vrana for the evening to enjoy dinner at Maškovića Han. Located in my dad’s hometown, it made dinner even more special. I remember how the location of the restaurant/hotel looked like before it is what it is today. As a child, we would walk the grounds with my family, and I loved watching all the rabbits jumping around. It is amazing how Croatia as a whole has developed so much throughout my years visiting. Each year, the country becomes more developed, but not in a bad way. It makes my childhood memories even more precious to have had experienced the country in its most simplistic form, which I feel others could relate as well! 


Next up: More of the Dalmatia coast! 


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