Visit a very old settlement and a local community which is also home to the oldest and the largest national park in the Republic of Croatia.
Korenica Through History
Under more favorable historical circumstances, Korenica could have welcomed you today with one of the most beautiful medieval fortifications and an arboretum full of noble types of bushy fruit. Learn a bit about the turbulent past of this old little town and the tragic reasons for the destruction of one of the three largest fortifications of the Krbava parish - the old town of Mrsinj.
We believe that you will gladly come to explore a settlement situated under the highest peak in the northern section of the magnificent Mount Licka Pljesivica when you learn more about Korenica's history and about what it already offers you, and here are some of the things you can already see and do:
- Korenica is a starting point for the ascent to the second highest peak of the magnificent massif Lička Plješivica, Lika's Eagle's Nest, a very important radar position with an amazing bird's eye view - Gola Plješivica Peak;
- Korenica is a home of folklore societies Korenica and Prosvjeta and the Association Nit who nurture traditional culture;
- Korenica is the seat of several excellent restaurants and top beekeepers;
- Korenica is a starting point for several walking and biking tours: the old Mrsinj - town, the medicinal spring and church Ružica, and different cycling tours;
- Korenica is slowly becoming a regional astronomical center, and already today you can visit the Astronomical Society Korenica and Mr. Nikola Mazarekić. Experience the clear sky and stars through the telescope and check how the future observatory advances - a 17 m high and a 10 m wide dome with a 360 degree rotation;
- there is also the Mala Scena Plitvicka, an association that organizes a summer festival and other cultural events throughout the year.
Get inspired to embark on a lovely eco tour of Korenica with this brief historical overview and our Events and Activities!
Early humans began to settle in different parts of the region during the oldest period of human prehistory - the Paleolithic Age, the earliest and longest period of the Stone Age. Significant archeological sites found in Cerovecke Caves and Donje Pazariste in Lika region bear witness to the presence of human life as early as the Middle Paleolithic period (around 120,000 years ago) in which the primary human activity included tool making, gathering fruits, hunting and preparing shelter. These archeological sites are definitely worth a visit.
A very interesting and peaceful Illyrian ethnic group, the Lapydes (or Lapodes), inhabited the area of the present-day Lika region from about the 9th century BCE, mainly the area bounded by the rivers Kupa and Una on the north and north-east side, and the mountain of Velebit and the Vinodol area in the hinterland of Crikvenica on the Adriatic coast. Unlike neighboring tribes (e.g. the Dalmatae or Dalmati), the lapydes are not characterized by a warrior tradition, but rather by agricultural tradition, mining and metallurgy.
The archaeological legacy of the Lapydes is very rich and has so far been extensively researched (Hiller 1991, Raunig 2004, Olujic 2007). It is interesting to note that archaeologists did not find weapons in the graves of this interesting tribe, unlike in the graves of most Paleolithic tribes, but rather numerous bronze and amber objects, such as head ornaments, buckles, pendants, belt fittings, etc., which indicates a high level of the lapydes art and craft skills (Olujić, 2007, p. 198-194).
Archaeologists also found interesting headgears among the many important grave goods - hats with tassels that are believed to be the forerunners of traditional Lika hats.
Imperial Rome gave them no peace; they were targeted on several occasions during which the lapydes successfully repelled Roman assaults, and were even considered to be a formidable opponent, but the situation changed permanently during conflict with the Octavian army.
Classical antiquity - Ancient Rome
Conquering, fighting, occupying, exploiting and killing for power and superiority, this is more or less what any imperial, conquering nation did and does till today, including the Romans once. The Roman military commander Octavian (who would soon become the Emperor Augustus) undertook military operation in Illyricum province in 35 BC (35–33 BC) to stabilize Roman control of it. He then conquered the strategically important Lapodian territory and then pushed further into southern Pannonia, where he next seized the town of Segesta (later a Roman town called Siscia; today Sisak in Croatia). The area of present-day Korenica, along with other conquered parts of the Lapodian territory became part of the Roman province of Dalmatia (Olujić, 2007, p. 71-103).
The nonviolent, spiritual and material culture of the Lapydes slowly began to fade after the invasion of the Romans, which also marked the beginning of the Romanization process, the larger process of cultural change across the entire Lapodian territory (present day Lika, Gorski Kotar, Pounje and Kordun).
Croats of the southern group of Early Slavs, came to Korenica and the wider region in the early 7th century during the migration of the early medieval Slavs and the reign of the Emperor Heraclius. Croats first settled along the east coast of the Adriatic Sea and then gradually spread deeper into the continent (present-day territory of the Republic of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina), slowly merging with the ethnic groups that they had encountered (e.g. Illyrians and Celts).This period of the reigns of the Croatian kings and princes (lat. princeps, njem. Fürst) was also characterized by turmoil (Macan, 1992, p. 15-17) .
Since 1102 and the Croatian-Hungarian Pacta Conventa agreement, Korenica became part of the Croatian-Hungarian Kingdom.
In the Middle Ages, and later, Croats were known as highly skilled warriors, unfortunately these combat skills were perfected due to the constant need to defend themselves and their homes against the onslaught of various invaders. Korenica, being placed on a turbulent border area between the two warring empires, was one of the places that suffered a lot due to such a fate.
At the time of the Mongol invasion of Croatia, Korenica was developed as a defensive settlement located beneath the medieval fortress Mrsinj-town. During this period, Mrsinj-town was also the seat of Krbava dioceses.
In 1241, the Mongols defeated the army of the Croatian-Hungarian King Bela IV and conquered all of eastern Hungary. The king and his family fled to Croatia, but the Mongols followed in relentless pursuit destroying everything they come across, including our present-day GWT2P regional tourist destination.
The king first took refuge in Zagreb, and the Mongols in revenge lead a town into ruins, the pursuit of a fleeing king then stormed through our region and continued until the coast, leaving behind a horrid trail of devastation and human suffering (Klaić, 1982, book one, p. 251-252).
After the death of the Supreme Khan in Mongolia, the Mongol brutal army quickly disintegrated, marking the end of dreadful suffering with traumatic consequences for all who were on their path of cruel conquest.
Districtus de Korenica
The oldest mention of the name Korenica, also the name of the homonymous seat of the district (districtus de Korenica) in the Krbava County is found in a Latin document from 28th November 1468 when Korenica belonged to the Kurjakovic family. Historical records also suggest that there was a citadel built on a tallish mound close to the village Kalebovac on the Gradina hill at the site of the present-day Korenica, as well as a suburban settlement inhabited with craftsmen and tradesmen (Hrvatska enciklopedija, n.d.). Numerous churches and material remains also suggest that Korenica, and the entire Lika area, were experiencing their prosperous period before the arrival of the Turks.
During a very long time this part of Croatia served as a Habsburg outpost in the defense of central Europe against the Ottoman invasions, and this was largely due to difficult historical circumstances, and badly drawn treaties. Among many settlements to fall to the invaders was Korenica, conquered in 1527 (Hrvatska enciklopedija, n.d.).
Without a doubt, this was one of the most traumatic periods in the history of Korenica and Croatia.
The Ottoman conquest drastically changed the demographics of this area, and the casualties, both human and material, were horrible!
In times to come, this demographic change will be the cause of new and terrible sufferings in Korenica, Croatia, and the region. Indigenous Catholic people fled Turkish raids threatened by continued suffering and destruction. In the period between 1523 and 1526 a significant part of the indigenous Croat population emigrated from their native land and the Turks started to colonize the Krajina and Lika region. They forcibly settled this area with tormented orthodox population from already conquered eastern Balkan territories (Hrvatska enciklopedija, n.d.).
Over three centuries, starting with the earliest conquest in the 1350s, the Ottomans employed forced population transfers (in Turkish sϋrgϋn), resettling thousands and thousands of individuals, even whole communities, throughout the provinces and between continents with the main goal - to maintain its fast growing empire (Şeker, 2013.). Sometimes voluntary, sometimes stimulated by money and privileges, but mostly they were forced transfers of suffering people who were at the disposal to the ruling power.
An important strategic position and various borders that stretched across this area for several centuries caused frequent war conflicts and grave human suffering, such as the one that took place on the Krbava field near Udbina.
In the immediate vicinity of Korenica, in the area that now administratively belongs to the municipality of Udbina, the tragic Battle of Krbava took place between the Kingdom of Croatia and the Ottoman Empire. On 9 September 1493, Croatian feudal army led by Ban Emerik Derencin intercepted the Ottoman forces led by Hadim Yakup Pasha, sanjak-bey who were looting, murdering and robbing across Croatia and other territories.
The disastrous tactic by Ban Derencin to face the Ottomans, who had more calvary and experienced soldiers, in an open battle was tragically wrong. There was a better option of an ambush in the canyons and straits considered by Ivan Frankopan Cetinski, but the Ban rejected the suggestion to serve his personal interests and caused a teribble loss of tens of thousands human lives and the defeat of the Croatian army.
The fierce battle was fought chest against chest with bladed weapons and edged agricultural tools, leaving behind a shocking scene with over ten thousand mutilated corpses. It is estimated that the battle was responsible for the deaths of 10,000 - 13,000 Croats and 1,000 Ottomans (CHM, 2003). Since then, the Krbava Field became known as the "Bloody Field".
The Croatian struggle for survival and defence against the horrible incursions of the Ottoman army and their further penetrations in Europe has not gone unnoticed by other European countries.
Tragically, due to the power struggles within European kingdoms, and the Croatian Kingdom itself, the fight for survival was often led only by Croats and accompanied by immense suffering and destruction.
They suffered in yet another major battle, the Battle of Mohács in 1526. The Hungarian nobility and the Croatian contingent from Slavonia were then heavily defeated by the Ottomans, and the king of Hungary and Croatia Louis II killed - in an attempt to escape (Hrvatska enciklopedija, 2021). Most severely affected by a heavy military defeat, both the Croatian and Hungarian nobility looked for ways to effectively defend against the growing threat - the Ottoman invasion. In such circumstances, the Croatian Parliament met at the end of 1526 and voted to enter into Treaty of Alliance with Austria and to elect Ferdinand I of the House of Habsburg for the King. Ferdinand was crowned on 1 January 1527 at Cetin (Macan, 1992, p. 123-127).
However, with this, yet another, badly drawn treaty and entry into the Habsburg Monarchy, the Kingdom of Hungary and Croatia lost a part of their autonomy and their sovereign rights. To develop a clearer picture of the consequences, explore the story of the tragic end of two of the most prominent families of Croatian history under Explore Local - Remains of the medieval fortress Mrsinj-town.
The dreadful life continues until the great Austro-Turkish war (1683 - 1699) when nearly the entire Lika region was liberated from the Turks.
Unfortunately, after the Treaty of Karlowitz in 1699, Korenica was not returned to the Croatian Ban, but became a part of the Military Frontier, first as part of the Lika Frontier Regiment and from 1765 as part of Otocac Frontier Regiment (Hrvatska enciklopedija, n.d.) - and that was a very bad news!
The Military Frontier was under the direct control of the Habsburg military whose administration introduced new and heavy obligations for frontiersmen, forcing all men aged 16 to 60 to serve.
The service was cruel, the smallest offenses were severely punished and very soon the liberation from the Turks was seen as passing from one slavery to another which caused many mutinies in Lika reagion. An example and the extent of sheer cruelty is best described in an event that took place in 1848 at the time of the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Klanac in Lika region when Mr. Ante Starcevic, Doctor of Philosophy met a young man Filip Baricevic, who lost both arms.
The Frontier soldier Filip Baricevic complained about the violence and injustice of some Austrian officers to higher military authorities. Frontier officers accused of brutality then summoned him to military command in Karlovac where they cut off his left arm in revenge. The man who works his land to ensure food for himself and his family cannot survive without his arms, but when he complained again of their cruelty - they cut off his right arm (Knjaz, 2016).
The hard life lasted for more than two hundred years through which the Habsburgs retained complete civilian and military authority, and during which quality education and the development of local economy, crafts, and trades remained only a dream. Population transfers continue to take place and while part of the indigenous Croatian population seeks salvation in migration, others settle here - tens of thousands of Orthodox population who were dissatisfied with their status in the Ottoman state came to serve the Harsburgs as border guards. Forced or voluntary displacement of people that doomed us to a terrible future.
Dr. Ante Starcevic
Born in the village of Zitnik near Gospic on May 23, 1823, Ante Starcevic was a genuine son of the Lika region and one of the greatest leaders in Croatian history. The ideologist of Croatian state sovereignty, a Doctor of Philosophy and writer, Ante Starcevic was a true liberal, patriot and supporter of freedom, justice, and equality.
Although born in the turbulent Military Frontier and the witness to years of mistreatment, oppression and the consequent rise of rebellion, Dr. Ante Starcevic was not a supporter of wars and other armed conflicts because he believed that through conflicts people easily lose their rights and fundamental freedoms. He considered arbitrary power and decisions of either rulers or the people unacceptable and advocated a diplomatic approach and a vital role of Parliament where elected representatives of the people have a mandate to protect and promote people’s rights and oversight the implementation of laws. Croatia entered into various mutually binding treaties of its own free will and on the basis that the terms of those treaties serve national interest. If the rights of the people were violated, the affected party had the right to terminate the treaty by a decision of the Croatian Parliament as the representative body of the people whose rights were being violated.
Through his years of public life he was often alone as a politician, without the support of his fellow parliamentarians to improve understanding of the role of the Parliament and the importance, value and impacts of individual and the nation-state sovereignty.
Among other things, Dr. Ante Strcevic left behind an extremely important legacy and recommendations derived from years of political experience. Particularly noteworthy are those related to the interrelationship between nations and states in the turbulent region of SE Europe: freedom (of nations), equality (of citizens) and brotherhood of all people, as well as values on which the Croatian state should rest: personal freedom, freedom of religion, freedom of thought written and alive (Knjaz, 2016).
Decisions that have detrimental impacts on the lives of people and nations are easily made in times of almost continuous war conflicts, such as the one that raged between 1914 and 1918 - the First World War or the Great War. The main cause of this global war was nothing less than a disagreement over the maintenance and expansion of national and colonial empires, acquired by previous conquests, between the members of the Entente (Great Britain, France and Russia) and their allies (Italy, USA, Japan, Serbia, Montenegro, Romania, Greece, etc.) and the members of the Central Powers (Germany and Austro-Hungary) and their allies (Ottoman Empire, Bulgaria).
Former centuries-old bitter enemies are now allies in creating a new world order.
Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes
Chaotic events continue as well as the era of extremely difficult international relations. In 1918, after defeat in the First World War, the Austria-Hungary was dissolved. Following the decision by the Croatian Parliament to leave the Monarchy and enter into the new State, Korenica is now in the short-lived State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs. At the same time Italy began invasion of the Croatian Adriatic coast and in such chaotic conditions certain members of the Croatian Parliament sped up the unification act of December 1, which, instead of equitable unification, paved the way for the creation of a unitary state. The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was a form of ethnic (Serbian) homogenization, aiming to build a fully unified and centralized system of government, with ultimate goal in creating a unitary state, which will be from 1929 known as the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (Macan, 1992., str. 392-398).
This is a period in which the great Croatian politician, writer, translator and publicist uttered his famous words: “Do not rush like geese into the mist.” Unfortunately, Stjepan Radic remained almost completely alone in his efforts to make members of the Parliament aware that mutual relations and the political position of each concerning state must be agreed upon by all parties before signing the formal Unification Treaty. It was then that he made his famous speech in the Croatian Parliament, but on November 24, 1918 he was supported by only a few members of the Parliament, just like his great predecessor, Dr. Ante Starcevic once was - a lone voice in the wilderness.
Since 1922, Korenica was a kotar (lat. Processus) a territorial administrative unit within the Primorsko-Krajiska district, and after the devious decision to subdivide now Kingdom of Yugoslavia into a system of nine bantes, provinces (cro. Banovina) at the expense of national borders, Korenica was part of the Sava Banovina (Hrvatska enciklopedija, n.d.). Altough one of the micro periods without wars, Korenica and Lika suffer from pervasive poverty due to frequent wars and long periods of economic decline.
As if the terrible population loss through far too many armed conflicts was not enough, the widespread poverty was then a second major cause of population loss - the mass transatlantic migration from which some communities in Lika region have never recovered.
Unfortunately, peace did not last long. The brutal Second World War lasted from 1939 to 1945 with tens of millions dead. The main cause of a new military conflict between the members of the Axis powers (Germany, Italy, Japan and allies) and the Allied powers (Great Britain, Soviet Union, United States, France and allies) was the "discontent" of certain countries (especially Germany, as well as Italy and Japan) with the new world order established after the First World War, that is with the loss of previously brutally conquered territories, colonies.
Independent State of Croatia
Numerous nations that gradually lost certain parts of their territory and sovereign rights are easily seduced by the prospect of regaining the lost territory and sovereign rights, as happened to Croats in 1941. In the midst of the April War and the collapse of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, the Independent State of Croatia (ISC) was formed within the Axis order and under the military-political patronage of Germany and Italy.
But the true face of the state soon came to light. In less than a month from its proclamation in 1941, the ISC passed the Racial Laws and began cruel persecutions and executions, and already on May 18, 1941 it signed the treasonous Treaties of Rome and easily handed over to Mussolini's Italy, the same Italy that unsuccessfully pounced on Croatia's Adriatic coast in 1918, a substantial part of the Croatian coast and a large number of islands (Klasic, Bukovcan, 2021).
It didn't take long for an explosion of indignation and revolt, and that revolt resulted in a massive anti-fascist resistance by the Croats who were able to establish, in the conditions of Hitler's enormous military superiority, the First Armed Anti-fascist Resistance Unit in Europe. From that partisan unit, which was founded by 72 Croats, 3 Serbs and 2 Slovenes in the forest Brezovica near Sisak on June 22, 1942, emerged the most massive resistance movement in Europe (Vlada HR, 2021).
About 500,000 male and female citizens of Croatia took part in the organized anti-fascist struggle in Croatia and 230,000 Croatian soldiers fought in the units of the People's Liberation Army (52 Croatian brigades, 17 divisions, and even 5 corps, out of 11!), and the whole resistance was under the leadership of J.B. Tito, revolutionary, statesman, born in 1892 in the Croatian rural family in Kumrovec, Croatian Zagorje. For the sake of comparison, both Croatia and France were countries with strong partisan movements and the same number of partisans - with Croatia home to about 4.00 million people and France to 55.00 million (Prerad, Suvalic, 2021)!!
In addition to becoming one of the victorious nations in the Second World War, Croatia also regained at least part of its lost territory - its islands and the coast.
Like any other evil-induced war, this one also brought tremendous suffering to people everywhere, including the inhabitants of Korenica, which was under the occupation of the Italian and German armies until March, 1945, when it was liberated. The ISC disappeared after the military defeat of Germany in May 1945, and part of the partisans began the brutal execution of the defeated ISC army. The seeds of hatred, which have been systematically cultivated since the Ottoman period, through the Military Frontier and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, were gaining new momentum.
From 1945 Korenica was with the rest of the Croatia a part of the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia, which in 1963 changed its name to the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
SFR Yugoslavia was a federation composed of six republics and two autonomous provinces. Although seemingly calm, this period was very restless below the surface. Yugoslavia was characterized by the continued tendency of the minority to consolidate state socialism based on strict centralism and absolute state-party control. Far too many accumulated problems and political issues that had been left unresolved since 1918, as well as the persistent efforts of the State to ensure equality of all member nations, only further exacerbated an already challenging situation.
Yugoslavia was not destined to gradually and peacefully dissolve into sovereign countries at the negotiating table. Despite a constitutionally guaranteed right to independence and sovereignty, brutal wars erupted with the dissolution of Yugoslavia in 1992. Among those most affected by a cruel war were Korenica, Plitvice Lakes, and the whole of the Lika County, as well as the town of Bihac and the Una-Sana Canton on the Bosnian side of our destination.
Republic of Croatia
At the very beginning of life in a (finally) sovereign homeland, instead of the lasting peace a new dreadful war conflict happened after the breakdown of Yugoslavia that had caused immense suffering of the population and the destruction of material goods, something Korenica and Lika remember painfully well. During the Homeland war, Korenica was occupied by the rebel Serbian forces from 1991-1995.
The oldest Croatian national park was also badly damaged in the war. One of our 2Parks - Plitvice Lakes National Park which covers a large part of the Plitvice Lakes Municipality area that has its administrative headquarters in Korenica.
Among other damages in the Park, the Occupation Army had also completely destroyed the unique forest vegetation of the protected park architecture - the Taxus baccata group (Yew trees) in Sertic Poljana.
Taxus baccata is often called a sacred tree, it grows very slowly and can live up to 3,000 years.
Today is highly endangered and specially protected in all natural habitats.
It is not difficult to assume just how much is Korenica, as well as the whole region, burdened with numerous war traumas which all resulted with unprecedented destruction and loss of life. Every nation so deeply traumatized by the repression of various invaders and burdened by poverty needs a lot of patience and a strong will to become aware of its strengths and its vital responsibility in achieving sustainable development, and prosperity.
With the awakening of a new consciousness, there is absolutely no bigger priority than everlasting peace and unity, only under such conditions can we create a prosperous society that will benefit both humans and nature.
Support local people in making changes, stay a bit longer to reveal the true face of these ancient settlements and meet wonderful people who have prepared for you various products and services!
Meet the Lika locals: hospitable, heartfelt, faithful, proud and loyal to their home and country!
Join our Green Mission! Thank you for Caring!
Welcome to the home of the Plitvice Lakes National Park!
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2. Hrvatska enciklopedija, mrežno izdanje, (n.d.). Korenica. Leksikografski zavod Miroslav Krleža, Zagreb. Retrieved April 8, 2022 from ˂http://www.enciklopedija.hr/Natuknica.aspx?ID=33168
3. Hrvatska enciklopedija (2021), mrežno izdanje. Mohačka bitka. Leksikografski zavod Miroslav Krleža, Zagreb. Retrieved April 8, 2022 from ˂http://www.enciklopedija.hr/Natuknica.aspx?ID=41521˃
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6. Knjaz R. (2016) Hrvatski velikani 2. Ante Starčević. [Dokumentarna serija] HTV. ˂https://skolski.hrt.hr/serijali/55/hrvatski-velikani-2˃
7. Macan, T. (1992). Povijest hrvatskog naroda. Nakladni zavod Matice hrvatske – Školska knjiga, Zagreb, 15-398
8. Olujić, B. (2007). Povijest Japoda. Srednja Europa, Zagreb, 71-198
9. Prerad D., Šuvalić I. M. (June 22, 2021). Istina je voda duboka, Hrvatska je bila na strani dobra. Večernji list. ˂ https://www.vecernji.hr/vijesti/˃
10. Şeker N. (2013) Forced Population Movements in the Ottoman Empire and the Early Turkish Republic: An Attempt at Reassessment through Demographic Engineering. European Journal of Turkish Studies. ˂https://journals.openedition.org/ejts/4396˃
11. Vlada RH (2021, June 22) Hrvatskoj je potrebno jedinstvo, pozitivna energija i optimizam za izgradnju bolje, tolerantnije i demokratske Hrvatske. ˂https://vlada.gov.hr/vijesti/˃