Hidden Paradise – Brijuni Islands
Discover this hidden paradise of Istria – Brijuni Islands National Park. You can’t talk about Brijuni without telling the story about Josip Broz Tito, a formal president of formal Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
But before talking about him let me tell you a quick history of the island. The 14 islands are creating an archipelago in the Istria and Kvarner, near city of Pula. The earliest life inhabitants of the island would be dinosaurs which footsteps have been found on the island Veliki Brijuni. Next great finding are the ruins of ancient Roman villa, proving that even in the Roman era Brijuni were the place to be!
In the 19th century an Austrian Industrialist Paul Kupelwieser bought than a malaria-ridden islands, brought the scientist Dr. Robert Koch who made the island malaria-free and started on his vision of making Brijuni, elite health retreat. Soon the islands had a hotel, villas, seawater pool, small Zoo, health facilities and even a 5 times a day boat connection to Pula, from where the guests would arrived. Pula had a train station that connected trains from Vienna directly to the Adriatic Sea. After the last family member past away the island got back to the government beginning of the 20th century.
In the 40s Tito discovered the islands beaches and grow fond of its bays, vegetation and general feeling. Soon after he decided to build a house on island of Vanga. One house soon became two, and Tito made the island a Summer State residence. The president liked so much the islands that he often talked about them as the most intimate and dearest residence. And often the summers last for up to 6 months for president as he enjoyed so much the area!
Bit by bit the island grow into a residence worthy of the president and its visitors. Always taking in consideration of incorporating the spirit of working nation and its customs (as it was at the time the politics of Yugoslavia), Tito managed to make Brijuni one of his most lovable residences. He believed that hosting other government officials in this easy-going environment could contribute to more intimate circle and make bigger bonds. One of the most historical bonds would be in 1956 when in Brijuni Island Tito hosted India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru and Egypt’s second President, Gamal Abdel Nasser. These 3 leaders formalized on the island the declaration and founded an organization of Non-Aligned Movement. Although Yugoslavia doesn’t exists anymore and is not in the organization, the movement is still active and counts 120 countries. Through years over 90 other government officials, kings and queens, famous singers and actors and even political rebels had a privilege to visit the island and be hosted by the president Tito.
With so many official visits Tito received as well many gift from all corners of the world. From President Kennedy for example he received a color photo development chamber, knowing that Tito was a passionate amateur photographer. Croatian Canadians offered him a 1953 Cadillac Eldorado that is still on the island and you can take a ride in. As well many animals were present from people visiting Tito. In the Brijuni Zoo you can see on of the two elephants that were a gift from Indira Ghandi, and as well Kiko, the Tito’s parrot is still alive and in Zoo telling stories about the old days! The flora of the island has been accustomed to the typical Mediterranean plant species and as well many allochthonous species that were imported and as well gift from visitors.
After Tito’s passing away the islands became a National Park in 1983 keeping the flora, fauna and the civilization history untouched from any further constructions or development. Today you can visit the islands by private boat or by a park boat that daily shuttle service from Fazana during summer times. The boat ride takes about 15 minutes.
There is another great thing to experience when in the area the Ulysses Theater. The theater was established in 2001 by actor/director Rade Serbedzija (known to many from its acting roles in American movies) and writer Borislav Vujcic. The theater is situated in Small Brijuni Island in Fort Minor. This open skies theater is running all summer and you can see artists with different experiences and background working together pushing the limits of their creativity.