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Souvenirs – Made in Croatia

Souvenirs are inextricably linked to travelling and therefore have a great value – they carry a lot of intangible features such as messages, emotions, communication, meaning ... For people who travel, tourists, business people, people who are in transit, souvenirs are used to fulfill a fraction of the lived memories and to treasure them longer in our memory.

Traditional Croatian souvenirs worth mentioning are: Rab cake, Lepoglava and famous Paska laces, weave work, Lika’s coklje, a fountain pen and Sestin’s umbrellas. Requested items are from archaeological sites as well, such as replica and application of the Baška tablet and Vučedol dove that is perhaps the most recognizable Croatian souvenir. In terms of design awards, rewarded are the work of Vanja Cuculic, design studio Laboratorium and Bruketa and Zinic.

Cuculić signs the label design for homemade jam from fresh figs "Sinjorina Fig," which is produced according to traditional recipes on the family farm Babac in Poljica near Zadar. "Aroma Ragusea" is a common name for the collection of souvenirs from Dubrovnik, whose visual identity is signed by award-winning designers of Laboratorium. They won the "Perfect 10"award of the U.S. magazine for visual design "How" and the prize in Moscow for the product "Aroma Ragusea", a collection that combines the tastes, smells - aromas of Dubrovnik: Rogač liquors, Orahovica and myrtle, herbal teas and spices. The successful designer duo Bruketa and Žinić sign the "Paprenjak" design, aromatic cake that is made from honey, walnuts and pepper, and whose author Sanja Opačak believes that "as a traditional Croatian dish indeed contradictory, similar to the overall of Croatian history: the sweet-peppery bite for many foreign tastes."

The design is not always critical; in some cases the tradition is the most is the most respected, and here we have selected some of the best known Croatian souvenirs and symbols:

1. The Tie

In the beginning the tie was the name for handkerchiefs tied round the neck, which were part of the uniform of Croatian soldiers. They came to Paris during the thirty years’ war led by their viceroys. Tying a neck scarf "a la Croate" was very much liked by the French, and as a fashion accessory it spread throughout Europe under the name "cravate". It is interesting that Croatian soldiers before going to war scarves received from their fiancés as a sign of fidelity.

2. The Baska tablet

The oldest written monument of the Croatian Glagolitic script from about 1100 year, originates from St. Lucy’s church in Jurandvor near Baška on the island Krk. Baska tablet is one of the most famous Croatian monument and souvenirs. The inscription on the stone is actually a grant of the Croatian King Zvonimir, who gave the church one property.

3. The fountain pen (Penkala)

A famous Croatian engineer Slavoljub Penkala was a famous inventor who in 1906 patented and started producing the first mechanical pencil in the world, and the 1907 the first fountain pen. From 1912 to 1926 Zagreb pencil factory was one of the largest factories of stationery in the world, a fountain pen is now one of the better known Croatian souvenirs, and is often an ideal gift for business partners.

4. The Torpedo

Perhaps the most famous invention of Rijeka is a torpedo. Completely new weapon invented by Ivan Luppis 1860 in the world that could remotely attack enemy’s ships. The first factory which produced the torpedo was built in Rijeka founded by the English industrialist Robert Whitehead for the Austro-Hungarian Navy. Rijeka was at that time the world center of high-tech industry and the factory "Torpedo" centre of most advanced technological solutions. Jeweller Tonči Grabušić created a genuine souvenir of Rijeka – the pencil stand in a torpedo shape, and was able to return the former glory to almost forgotten invention.

5. The Lado

Ensemble of Croatian folk dances and songs Lado, a professional folk dance founded in 1949. It represents the Croatian heritage created from the intersection of cultures, enriched by the Mediterranean, Balkan, Pannonian and Alpine influences. The ensemble has a unique collection of original folk costumes of exceptional value and beauty, some of which are old and more than a hundred years ago, and it’s therefore called a "traveling museum".

6. The Vučedol dove

Vucedol dove is a ceramic model of a bird that represents a cult dish on three feet found during archaeological excavations in 1938 in Vučedol near Vukovar. Vučedol’s dove is the most famous individual archaeological findings from Croatia.

7. Croatian Chess

The Legend says that in one of the many wars Croatian prince Stjepan Držislav fell into the Venetian slavery. His enemy the Doge Peter II Orseolo heard that the prince was a very good chess player, he proposed a bet - if they play three games of chess, and the prince wins, he will be free. Prince accepted and after winning all three games, he returned to his freedom and put checks in the coat of arms.

8. Pag’s lace

Pag’s lace is a white gold of a town Pag and the fondest memory you can take from it. This is a handcrafted decorative work from the island Pag embroidered using a needle and thin thread, and it is possible to obtain it from the embroiderers who during the summer make lace in front of their houses.

9. Lepoglav’s lace

The amazing lace, which is believed to be brought by Paulists (monks) a several centuries ago to Croatia, is Lepoglava’s uniqueness and its surroundings. The real expansion for Lepoglav’s a lace was in the late 19th century and 20th century when the lace wins the medals at international exhibitions. In 1937 in Paris the lace wins a gold medal and 1939 in Berlin a bronze medal.

10. The Gingerbread Heart

The Gingerbread heart is colorfully decorated cake made of honey dough shaped into a heart, bright red colour. The tradition of making gingerbread dates back to the Middle Ages. Many European monasteries made them cakes in richly decorated wooden molds. In the east Alps area, this way of making cakes soon grew into a business, which gradually expanded to other areas of central Europe, and then comes to the continental parts of Croatia. Today, a particularly rich selection of products made of honey is in Marija Bistrica, the largest Croatian Marian shrine.

11. The traditional weaving craft “Tkanica”

Weaving is part of the Croatian national costume - a decoration on the costume, which connects the costumes in a harmonious piece. On the white costume of domestic flax weaving, Tkanica was one or multi-color until ultimately took the national colors: red - white - blue, which is encouraged and emphasized the national pride of the Croats. Today, for instance, woven tablecloths, mats, woven pictures, bags – are the original Croatian souvenirs decorated with local traditional motifs.

12. Šestin’s umbrella

Šestin’s umbrella is part of Šestin’s traditional costumes typical for Zagreb surroundings. The Costumes have been in use up to the sixties of the 20th century, and since then slowly fading from everyday’s life. The Šestin’s costumes are now worn at various events and festivals, mostly in folklore purposes. Šestin’s umbrella is still a recognizable souvenir of the city.

13. The Moretto

Today it's one of the main souvenirs in Rijeka, while in the history it was used as a part of Rijeka’s ladies jewellry. It was founded in the 17th and 18th century, modeled by the Venetian "Moretto", richly decorated with precious stones. Moretto of Rijeka is a modest version that uses enamel on gold. Female jewelry includes earrings, pins, brooches, and men, sailors and fishermen wore Moretto on the right ear as a talisman. Today the figure of Moretto is a symbol of Rijeka and the coastline. Nowadays only a small number of jewelers cherish the art of making Moretto using precious enamel, coral, and gold.

14. Kažun (Italian: La Casita)

A small, insignificant-looking, yet so striking – kažuni are the round stone shelters covered with stone slabs. Kažun’s have provided shelters to shepherds, peasants or they used them as sheds since ancient time. For Istria’s inhabitants kažuni are etched as part of their identity, a symbol of Istria. They are made from small pieces of crushed stone, erected on a stone plaque.

15. Rab’s cake

According to the legend, Rab’s cake was first served in 1177 to Pope Alexander III during the blessing of the Cathedral of Assumption in Rab. It was preserved by the nuns at St. Anthony of Padua monastery, and later the Benedictine Monastery of St. Andrija. The original secret recipe with all the details you need to know to create these sweet delicacies knew just a few ladies from Rab and grudgingly passed it on from generation to generation, so it is known today only to few of them. Rab’s cake is made on a special occasions, and it consists of bitter almond, crystal sugar, lemon liqueur "maraschino".

16. The Lavandula Croatica

Besides the "sunniest Croatian island", Hvar is known as the "lavender island". Croatia is one of the largest producers of lavender, which due to the ideal climate and favorable soil thrives along the coast. "The smell of the homeland" - "Lavandula Croatica" was chosen for one of the main Croatian souvenirs several years ago. If you want the original Croatian souvenir, medicine and fragrance in one, then this is the perfect souvenir for you.

17. The Bermet

If you like traditional wine and gastronomy, you will be interested in this noble wine of dark-red color, strong aroma and sweet and bitter taste. In the 19th century the outcome of the combination of selected varieties of red grapes, wormwood, citrus, figs, raisins, cinnamon, and carob and a few other ingredients resulted as the bermet. Bermet comes from the German word “wermut” wormwood, and it is an authentic Croatian wine whose recipe is strictly kept in the family Filipec from Samobor that produces it.

18. The Olive oil

Olive oil is the basic ingredient and essential part of the Mediterranean cuisine, in which all the valuable biological and nutritional ingredients are preserved. Croatia is known for producing high quality olive oils and the olive oil Chiavalon, is one of the fifteen best olive oils of the world and the most awarded olive oil in Croatia.

19. The Ivanec embroidery

Ivanečki souvenirs - continues the tradition of the Ivanec embroidery. Katarina Vrban from Koprivničkog Ivanca, with her skill and effort, authentic techniques and materials, from the most original details of the Ivanec native costumes, draws something the most valuable and beautiful out them. She is making useful value items adjusting them to the needs of the present way of life.

20. Halubian Bell Bearers

In Halubje, the western part of the Kastav around the river are preserved unique folk native customs – bell bearers, who origin from prehistory. Related to the livestock area, as shown by their equipment, their initial task was to scare away evil spirits of winter and to encourage springs new cycle. Today they are the permanent participants of the international "Rijeka Carnival", the largest group in Croatia and one of the most famous in Europe.

21. Tangerines from the Neretva region 

Tangerines from the Neretva region After three years of extensive research in October 2013th The “Neretva Tangerine” received the designation of origin of Croatian products. It has been proved that tangerina from the Neretva region has exceptional properties due to the special microclimate conditions and the ratio of sugar and acid. Designation of origin guarantees the quality, but also greatly facilitates the export of this famous Croatian product. Since Croatia has enough tangerines from the Neretva valley for their own purposes, one part is intended for export. And data show that one of the most famous Croatian fruits has already been popular in the European Union.

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