Innovative Varazdin: First Football Tournament on a Volcano Coming to Croatia?

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TCN discovers an innovative tourism initiative from the Varazdin County Tourist Board on a visit to Lepoglava on April 17, 2016. 

For many, tourism in the modern age is about the story, and destinations which are prepared to think out of the box. On a tour of Varazdin County a few days ago, TCN was introduced to the standards delights of this fascinating country which borders Slovenia and Hungary – Trakoscan Castle, historic Varazdin and the UNESCO lace of Lepoglava – as well as some rather unusual and innovative tourism initiatives.  

Have you ever had the chance, for example, to play football on the top of a volcano?

Leaving the fascinating Lepoglava lace exhibition for which the town is rightly famous, our next stop was the only volcano in continental Croatia, and in case tourists are concerned about being caught up in an eruption, the volcano was most active about 22 million years ago. According to the Lepoglava Tourist Board: 

“Area of Gaveznica-Kameni Vrh was legally protected on March 18th 1998 as the sixth geological monument in Croatia. It is a finding place of a semiprecious stone Agate and the only preserved fossil volcano in Croatia which represents a area of scientific, educational and touristic interest. The volcano was in its most active phase 22 million years ago. Throughout time it was washed over by various seas which appeared and vanished in the geological history of this part of the planet. Gaveznica – Kameni Vrh is not only a fossil volcano, but also an archeological site where remains of a Bronze Age settlement were found. Lepoglava agate formed in hollows and cervices of volcanic rock andesite which appeared in this area 20 million years ago. It takes 1000 years for agate to form by depositing layer by layer of quartz mineral from mineral solutions in wall cavities. Agate is a semiprecious stone, with a chemical composition of quartz-silicone dioxide. The name is derived from the first finding place near the Achates River, now called Dirillo, in Sicily.”

As you can see from the video below, a street art initiative to bring the centre of the volcano to life for visitors was undertaken a few years ago, and the centre of the flat piece of grassy land on the top of the volcano has an impressive volcanic centre circle. There is a small geological exhibition at the foot of the hill, but the Varazdin County Tourist Board have more ambitious ideas.

“A flat piece of grass land, an impressive centre circle. Do you see what we see?”

Indeed I did. The perfect terrain for a futsal (5-a-side) football pitch. And not just any football pitch, but the only one in the world surely to be located on top of a volcano. Taking the idea a little further, the concept – still in the early planning stage – is to invite countries from all over the world with volcanoes to send a futsal team to take part in the world’s first International Volcano Football tournament in Lepoglava. 

An exhibition centre, showcasing all the volcanoes of the world could prove an additional attraction away from the actual tournament, but so too could the football pitch after the proposed annual tournament. Tourists are always looking for something quirky, and I am sure there would be football teams who like to play in different places, who would like to add a match on top of a volcano to their portfolio.

An innovative idea, which could become a reality quite quickly, if the initiative gets support from the right authorities. It is an initiative that TCN will be following, and we will bring you any updates as soon as we have them. 


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