Brijuni Islands National Park
Brijuni Islands are situated near the city of Pula and represent the only National Park in Istria County. They were declared as National Park in 1983. With its 14 islands, 743,30 ha of area and water surface of 2652 ha (total are of 3395,00 ha), they represent the most indented and interesting islands in Istria. By arriving to Brijuni Islands and walking on its gentle paths, one can immediately notice why they deserved almost mythical status with its pleasant and mild climate. There is an important archeological site on these islands in the northern Adriatic, and there is a rich cultural ancestry of the islands from the earliest to modern times.
Recommended tour to visit Brijuni Islands
This tour will be arranged on a board of the comfortable ship around the Brijuni National Park and will last 5 hours. The Park is located on the islands in the sea. This place is famous because of its former owner Josip Broz Tito, who had a very rare hobby – he collected exotic animals. You will have a guide on the board of the ship, who will conduct a sightseeing tour around all islands of the National Park and will tell lots of interesting facts about the islands and its famous owners.
Additional info for the Brijuni Islands
Besides impressive nature of the surroundings and rich cultural and historical ancestry, Brijuni Islands National Park are known for its long congressional touristic tradition and hosting of local and international events. Today, there are two hotels on the islands: Hotel Istra-Neptun and Hotel Karmen, along with three villas: Vila Lovorka, Vila Primorka and Vila Dubravka. Impressive untouched nature and authentic Mediterranean atmosphere are inviting you to explore the islands, therefore there are numerous organized trips which are thematic and offer exploration of archeological sites, nature and animal life on the islands. For active visitors, Brijuni Islands offer archery, tennis, golf, team building programs and rides with rented bikes and electronic cars. Lately, weddings have become very popular on the islands, but also other events such as: shows of Ulysses Theater, summer cinema on Brijuni and others. Because of indented and attractive shore, Brijuni Islands has become a desirable nautical destination. Ships and boats can anchor in the Veli Brijun harbor or Sv. Nikola cove on Mali Brijun, where there is a restaurant/bar. Sailing and anchoring in other parts of the National Park are not allowed.
The history of Brijuni Islands
The oldest remains of prehistoric man on Brijuni Islands have been found in Saline Bay, and are dated to Neolithic, in the time when man has turned from hunter to gatherer, farming the land and breed the cattle. In Metal Age, the people of Brijuni Islands have moved to the defended hill fort called Gradina, where they could see the most of the activities on the islands. Gradina was surrounded by three dry walls with entrances in the shape of a labyrinth, which had four to five pre-building stages. The woods were rich with wild animals so living near them could assure a higher quality of life. By conquering the Histri, Brijuni Islands were taken by famous Romans. The prosperity of that time is visible by the country villas from that period, of which the most famous were the ones in Verige Cove on the eastern side of the island. Rural and economic part spread throughout the bay on many terraces, making it a lavish complex. The owner and his guests were served by servants with fisher from their own ponds, fruits from their own fruit groves and oil from their own olive groves. After the fall of the Roman Empire, on the foundations of ancient villas, interesting complex of public and private buildings in Dobrika Cove was built, and secured with hard defensive wall in the 4th and 5th century. Ancient villa was the center of economy with its grape and olive presses and storages for oil and wine. The settlement from late antiquity had all the features of the civil, not military settlement. It had mills, presses, warehouses, water tanks and small workshops. Sacred objects were built in the same period: The Basilica of St Mary from the 5th century and remains of The Church of St Peter from the 6th century, which are located nearby. Because of those structures, Kastrum had the character of the city, and Brijuni Islands continued to charm their visitors.
Businessman Paul Kupelweiser from Wien have bought and rebuilt the Islands in 1893 which as an important year in Brijuni history. In the beginning of the 20th century, they are turned into fashionable and health resort, and in 1900, the first hotel was built – Hotel Brioni. Brijuni Islands have become a true elite and fashionable destination by the start of World War I, under management of Paul Kupelwieser and his son Karl, who continued with the tradition. In June 1947, Josip Broz Tito (the president of Yugoslavia) have arrived to Brijuni Islands, and they became his residency where he, in the period from 1954 to 1979, hosted numerous congresses and meetings with the World’s leading politicians and leaders. It is known that Emperor Francis Joseph and the Queen of England visited the Islands… Start of the development of Brijuni Islands as a World famous destination started in 1983 when they were declared as a National Park.
Flora and Fauna of Brijuni Islands
According to floristic research, there are 680 autochthone plant species in National Park of Brijuni Islands, and on smaller islands there are probably more species that have not yet been recorded. Brijuni Islands flora is consisted of plants which made Brijuni even more interesting, such as: endemic Drypis spinosa (Drypis spinosa) and the Hop Hornbeam (Ostrya carpinofilia). Smaller islands are characterized by thick and impenetrable maquis, and many species typical for the surroundings (holm, holly, bearberry, myrtle, mastic).
On Veliki Brijun, the central island of the archipelago, besides autochthone forest vegetation of oak and holm, almost half of the area is covered with picturesque parks and grassland with solitary holm trees, which has an effect on overall impression and atmosphere on the island. On islets Gaza, Grunj, Vrsar, Veliki Brijun – Barban Cape, maquis of Pistacchio-Rhamnetum alaterni (Šugar 1984) association is dominant. These are thick and impenetrable maquis of 1-7 meters high. They are dominated by species Rhamnus alaternus, Pistacia lentiscus and Phillyrea latifolia, but there is no holm oak and some other species that follow it. The true value of this National Park is definitely holm oak forest with laurel, which is around 20 meters high. Biological characteristics of the seabed do not have any specific species which would set aside this area from other parts of Istrian Sea.
Besides the butterflies, which are represented by 44 day species and 331 night species, land arthropods have not been systematically researched, so they is not much information about them in National Park Brijuni Islands. Freshwater arthropods fauna also hasn’t been researched, besides several dragonflies. The vertebrates have been only partially researched. From autochthone freshwater species, only eel have been recorded in some areas. One of the two known species of the amphibians have been recorded.
There are six species of the reptiles, so they have been relatively researched, but there aren’t any data on ecology. Only three species of lizards and one of the non-poisonous snakes are known. There is one species of the land turtle recorded, but later there was only terrapin on the islands. Birds are also poorly researched and only ten species of the nesting birds have been logged. There are 13 species of the mammals on the islands, but for smaller mammals there are no verification, so it is now known if they are still on the island today. For large herbivore mammals (which were all brought to the islands, beside wild pig who has swam on the island itself from the land) there are internal data about the counting that is being done twice a year. It still a matter of debate if the rabbit is autochthonous specimen, or he was brought by the humans. There is no information about the bats. Of the species that are on Veliki Brijun today, many are located in the fenced 10 ha area (Safari park), and some individual cages with around 60 larger mammals (Indian elephant, zebra, antelopes, llamas, dromedaries, Somalian sheep and Indian cattle) and some birds. For economic purposes, autochthonous species of the rock partridge and quail are being cultivated. Along with exotic mammals, there are also Istrian autochthonous domestic animals such as Istrian longhorn cattle (Istrian Podolac and Boscarin) and donkeys.
The 1600 years old olive tree on Brijuni Islands
The olive tree that is located in National Park Brijuni Islands is one of the oldest in the Mediterranean. There was a test performed on Institute Ruđer Bošković in Zagreb in the 60s, which proved that this particular olive tree is around 1600 years old. The olive tree is 6 meters high and has a 22×8 meters treetop.
The dinosaurs on Brijuni Islands
Brijuni Islands are filled with paleontological findings of the dinosaurs which inhabited this area sometime between 220 and 65 million years. Traces of about 15-30 cm of the dinosaur movement were found. First of them were recorded in 1925 by Austrian Bachofen-Echt, and they belonged to the carnivore dinosaur of Therapod group. Forty and sixty years later, Ante Polšak (1965) and Ivo Velik / Josip Tišljar (1987), have found more evidence, while first serious paleontological research was conducted in the 90s.
Location of the findings are:
- Veliki Brijun: 4 sites with over 200 footprints
- Cape Pogledalo on Barban Peninsula: 60 footprints
- Cape Ploče / Zelenikovac Peninsula
How to get to National Park Brijuni Islands?
On Brijuni Islands one can get through organized excursions from Pula or some other destination.
See more details about the National Park Brijuni Islands Excursion.
You can also come by yourself to Fažana where you have to buy a boat ticket and you can get on a boat that sails directly to the National Park. Boats sail every day. Reservations are mandatory. By phone: +385 (0) 52 525 883 and 525 882, or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or in the National Park Brijuni Islands office in Fažana.