Visiting museums never seems to fail as a plan during your trip. No one likes that feeling of coming home and thinking that you didn’t learn anything about the destination you visited. Let’s see, it is not mandatory to do so, but in a country with so much history and folklore like Croatia, not going to at least one museum is missing a great opportunity to enrich your trip.
Sinjska Alka museum
I remember it was a beautiful morning on October 31st last year, and it was my parents’ wedding anniversary. In an unprecedented act of randomness, I suggested doing something other than staying home in Split and, instead, take a ride somewhere in the county. We chose Sinj, which we had never visited before. We knew little or nothing about the great history that preceded this town just 40 minutes away. My parents knew the figure of Our Lady of Sinj, but we were unaware of the origin of her devotion. While there are many ways to learn about the history of a destination, and today the internet can surely make it easier, one place, in particular, helped us fully understand the greatness of Sinj and its importance in the country’s history.
Image: Sinj Tourist Board
The most curious thing is that we came across the Sinjska Alka museum when we were just about to leave. The Sinjska Alka museum is a very modern information center that not only tells the story of Sinj in a detailed and interactive way but also celebrates its traditions and folklore. For those not too familiar, one of the most spectacular military feats was achieved in Sinj, in which no more than 700 inhabitants managed to protect the city from around 60,000 Ottoman soldiers in 1715 during the Venetian-Ottoman war. For this reason, that feat has been celebrated since then on the first Sunday of August, through an equestrian competition called the Sinjska Alka, in which competitors must try to point their spear at a hanging metal ring (alka). It is one of the most important cultural events in the country, and surely visiting the museum is a great introduction if you plan to attend.
Nikola Tesla House Memorial
Nikola Tesla is surely one of the most influential people in the history of mankind, and the recognition that was perhaps lacking at that time is beginning to be regained over time. However, few know where to go if they want to learn more about one of the most outstanding geniuses who walked the earth, and that is that Tesla was everywhere. Not many may know it, but Nikola Tesla was born in Smiljan, located in Gospić in Lika-Senj County, in what is now Croatian territory. The house where he grew up remains on the same site and has been converted into a memorial and museum, where visitors can learn more not only about his inventive side, but learn more about his humble origins and childhood.
Photo: Jose Alfonso Cussianovich/Total Croatia News
I had the pleasure of visiting the Nikola Tesla memorial center a few weeks ago, and one of the first things that crossed my mind was how easy one could visit it, and how easily we miss it. If you are going from Dubrovnik, Split, Šibenik or Zadar to Zagreb, and vice versa, then you cannot miss the opportunity to visit the birthplace of Nikola Tesla. If you are on the E71 highway, make sure to take the exit for Gospić. In Smiljan, not only will you find a very modern and brilliantly organized house museum to get to know Tesla better, but you will feel very special and inspired just by being there. At least that was my experience.
Those in the Croatian capital will quickly notice that there is enough history in it to even find some time to explore the surroundings. However, we encourage you to fit Medvegrad Castle into your itinerary, even if it means sacrificing other ideas. Not only are we talking about one of the best views you can get of Zagreb, but Medvedgrad Castle is not like other medieval fortresses you have visited before. In addition to the fact that the castle is very well preserved, you will be in for a big surprise once you enter the south tower of the castle.
Image: Medvednica Visitor Center
After three years of renovation, the visitor center was finally reopened to the public at the end of October last year and the result is spectacular. Visitors have the opportunity to learn interactively not only about the history of the castle but also about the entire area that comprises the Medvednica Nature Park. The interior of the tower has been designed in such a way that visitors, both adults and children, can easily engage with the cultural, historical, and natural values of the place. As a bonus, close your visit by climbing to the top of the tower, an unbeatable viewpoint to enjoy a wonderful panorama.
Maritime and History Museum of the Croatian Littoral in Rijeka
We hope it is not too late to post this disclaimer, but it is worth mentioning that we are not ranking museums, nor are we ignoring others in the same city. We say this because Rijeka is where many very interesting and unique museums are located, like the PEEK&POKE computer museum among them. In this list, we want to mention Rijeka’s Maritime and History Museum of the Croatian Littoral, and although almost all large coastal cities have a maritime museum, the one in Rijeka can boast of having a very valuable possession.
Image: Rijeka Tourist Board
Many know the tragic story of the sinking of the Titanic on April 15, 1912, but few are familiar with the story of the Carpathia, the first ship to come to the aid of the hundreds of passengers waiting to be rescued. The Carpathia has just left New York for Rijeka, and on the fateful night of the Titanic’s sinking, she changed her course because she was the closest ship to her. The Carpathia managed to rescue 712 people among the 2,200 passengers and crew and arrived back in New York with the rescued on April 18. Shortly after, the Carpathia returned to her normal duties and docked in Rijeka on May 8, where she received a standing ovation from the crowds for her heroic feat. An 18-year-old Croatian steward from the Carpathia crew collected one of the discarded life jackets, donating it to Rijeka’s Maritime and History Museum of the Croatian Littoral in 1938. After some time in storage, the life jacket was restored and exhibited to this day, thus becoming one of the most treasured items in the museum.
For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.