The Plitvice Lakes National Park is the largest (294.81 km2) of eight national parks in Croatia. Proclaimed in 1949, it is also the oldest national park in Croatia. The Plitvice Lakes were granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 1979.
The Park represents a phenomenon of karst hydrography. The Lakes are renowned for their travertine barriers and the bio-dynamic travertine building process created in specific eco-hydrological conditions. Travertine is a porous calcareous rock produced by deposition of calcium carbonate from water, thus forming barriers, cataracts and other forms in karst rivers and streams. Travertine-building process is particularly highlighted in the waterfalls of Plitvice Lakes. It is an ongoing process, happening even as visitors enjoy themselves strolling through the Park. The growth of travertine creates many magnificent waterfalls. In time, water changes its course, leaving some of the barriers dry, and building new ones elsewhere. This phenomenon gives an impression that the Plitvice Lakes are always changing.
The wider Park area reveals rich forests and meadow habitats with diverse and numerous plant and animal species. The majority of forest communities are beech and fir forests. As one of the most beautiful forests in Europe, the beech-fir forest Čorkova Uvala takes up a prominent place in the park. The richness of flora is reflected in 1 267 plant species recorded to date, out of which 75 are endemic, and 55 various orchid species.
Up to now research studies in the Park area have discovered 321 species of butterfly, 161 bird species and 21 bat species, only giving a hint of the abundance of animal life. Among large predators, the most attractive inhabitant of the Plitvice forests is the brown bear (Ursus arctos).
A long time ago, in 1937, one of the first explorers of this natural phenomenon, the academic Ivo Pavlek, said: ''Water, lakes, waterfalls and forests can be found elsewhere, however, the Plitvice lakes are unique.” You must come and visit them!
Possible activities in the Park include: hiking, mountaineering, electric-boat and panoramic train tours, photography, cycling, skiing and rowing.
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