Croatia is a land of diversity, with an array of natural beauty. Meet Opeka.
Croatia is a land of stunning natural beauty, with over 10% of its area allocated to national and nature parks, ensuring a healthy and natural tourism experience for its millions of visitors each year. And while the coast and islands may attract much of the international attention, there are plenty of natural paradises off the beaten track to enjoy away from the crowds.
Croatia has three major arboretums, for example, unique spaces which capture and preserve the beauty and diversity of the arborial world. The largest of these is located in a tiny village off the main road from Varazdin to Slovenia, very close to the border, offering a true escape from the masses, with plenty of space in its 65 hectares to explore and relax.
Located in the municipality of Vinici, Opeka Arboretum is located in an impressive park, complete with lake, around a manor of the same name, which sadly has seen better times, but still looks majestic in its current dilapidated state. Help may be at hand, however, as progress has been made in attracting EU funds to the arboretum, the first stage perhaps in restoring the manor to its former glory.
Different trees and bushes are classified into 68 families, 156 genus and more than 600 species and on that relatively small place there are about 100.000 individuals. There are pretty, a little bit older coniferous forests and deciduous trees in this arboretum which one seldom sees in any part of our country.
The arboretum is worthy of attention because it has a landscape shape, and its rich inventory serves for introducing possibilities of acclimatization, but its role is multiplex and it is lined with those park realization which have a significant horticultural and art value. Along the arboretum, “Opeka”, in 1958 a gardening school was opened for teaching gardening staff, also a modern gardening was constructed and a dendrology nursery which had 1.200 species even in 1962, and it had characteristics of different plants of coniferous forests and deciduous trees.
This arboretum was put under the protection in 1961 as a special object of Nature (horticultural monument).
The arboretum was founded in 1860 by the Count Marko Bombelles, who travelled a lot all over the world and brought back various exotic seeds and plants from his travels, expanding his garden and park all the time with exceptional care. The Opeka estate remained the ownership of Bombelles family until 1945.
The arboretum passed into Yugoslav state ownership in 1945 and was declared a natural rarity in 1947. Today it has been managed by the local Agricultural and veterinary school.
To reach Opeka Aboretum, take the road out of Varazdin towards Maribor and the Slovenian border. The arboretum can be reached via a turning to the left, as seen in the Google Map below.