8. May 2015.   •     Tamara Haddad

Hello from Starigrad Paklenica, again!

But, this time, I won’t be talking about Paklenica climbing paradise, or cycling. Even though we are situated here for the summer, our urge to explore beautiful places is not shaken. Well, it was a few nights ago, when Marija and I were sitting and planning what to do and where to go. We had a free day in front of us, it would be crazy just to rest and stay home :). We decided to go to one of my favorite places ever, the Krupa River Canyon.

Urge to explore

I was talking about spring for weeks now and it’s never enough. You know what I’m talking about? That feeling, the sounds, the scent, the awakening… Something in the air, that you can’t quite explain, but you can feel it all around you.

Why is it so special? Maybe the reason is very obvious. Spring is that short period when everything gets colored, the air temperature is optimal, and the sounds of rivers get loud enough to be perfect. That was exactly how that morning looked like.

Marija and I may not be “morning persons”, but that morning we got up from our beds easily. Excitement was obvious and mutual. It’s funny how some places are special no matter how many times you visit them, and every time you see them, they cause the exact same feeling in a million different ways. Some places always seem new.

The most beautiful place on Earth

Krupa River Croatia
Krupa River Croatia!

Well, if you ask me, it is the most beautiful place on Earth. I kid you not :). I’m even a little bit jealous to share this with you, but hey… Who am I to decide who will know about that stunning beauty? It certainly deserves to be cherished.

We left Starigrad with our car and decided to visit Kaštel Žegarski and Zrmanja River first. We wanted to do our Trekking Krupa River Canyon trip by the book :). Even the drive to there was beautiful. Early morning sun combined with the view of Zrmanja canyon. We passed Obrovac. In the Roman period Obrovac was an important connection between the coast and the inside of the country, especially considering the salt, meat, wool and wood trade. The Roman rule ended in 476, with the end of the Western Roman Empire. Today’s Obrovac developed as suburbia of a medieval fort on a hill. In 1337 it was mentioned in documents for the first time as Obrouec (Hobrouec, Hobrouac). Five kilometers upstream from town of Obrovac on the left river bank you will see the remains of the medieval fortified city, in the historical sources known as the Old Obrovac.

Well, certainly a nice place to see, even if just passing by.

We finally arrived to a little village called Kaštel Žegarski, the starting point of some of our trips, including Zrmanja Canoe Safari, Zrmanja River Rafting and Trekking Krupa River Canyon. We said hello to our hardworking guides and continued our trip to the magnificent Krupa River Canyon.

As we drove towards our destination, the road became narrower and the scenery even more beautiful. Our second stop before we arrived to Krupa River Canyon was the Krupa Monastery, placed in green and quiet surroundings, almost hidden from the outside world, in its own little paradise. There is something peaceful about little places, like lost villages to be found and discovered.

Monastery on Krupa River

Krupa River canyon
Krupa Monastery is located at the foot of the Velebit Mountain, near the source of the eponymous river

Krupa Monastery is located at the foot of the Velebit Mountain, near the source of the eponymous river. Although it was often devastated, the monastery kept many cultural and religious values. It was built in the reign of King Milutin, in 1317.  The monastery has always shared the fate of the Serbian Orthodox people in those areas. It often suffered in various invasions. Yet it has always been rebuilt. For the first time since the foundation, the monastery was rebuilt in the time of Emperor Dusan, 1345. This is evidenced by entry in the firmament of the monastery church. Monastery on Krupa River preserves valuable cultural and spiritual testimony, despite the frequent devastation in the past.

We continued our road trip

Driving to the little village Golubić, high above the Monastery. In this peaceful village few houses and few people to be found, but lots of sheep and goats, a dog here and there wait for its master. It is quiet, in a nice way, as if time stopped here, just about when life was beautiful and modest, yet hard. Once we parked our car and stepped out it hit us hard. We became aware of nature’s finest work revealed in its cruelty and kindness, like a kick in the gut. That moment when you realize the time is relative and that soberly is the only way to feel the nature.

We took a little path down, to the magnificent Krupa River Canyon. Krupa River is the longest and richest confluent of Zrmanja River. Along its short watercourse of some 17 km, Krupa formed 19 cascades. Most of these cascades are well-indented and among the most beautiful in Croatia regarding height and shape.

Krupa River Canyon

Like a serpent, the narrow path takes you down to the amazing rich colored river. Every turn reveals little more about it. Everywhere you look, the canyon slopes surround you. I always feel small and peaceful there. Somewhere in the middle of the path, you can take a turn to the cave inhabited by bats. If you get inside and listen very carefully, you can hear them, hidden in the dark and moist.

Krupa River Canyon
Along its short watercourse of some 17 km, Krupa formed 19 cascades

When visiting the Educational Trail Kudin Bridge, you are about to meet the most beautiful part of Krupa River Canyon, its fabulous waterfalls and travertine cascades, the walk over Kuda’s Bridge, the oldest preserved crossing over the river. It was built in a dry wall technique, by the end of 18th and the beginning of 19th century. The legend says that the bridge was constructed by Kude, young lad who was separated from his beloved one by the river. In order to get to her and ask to marry him, he built the bridge that was named after him.

Kudin Bridge

The bridge is 109 m long, with an average width of 1.50 m. It consists of 12 arches made of limestone alternating with stone parts of the route, and two culverts for water. When Krupa River overflows, it floods the entire bridge. That is why during the last flood two arches collapsed. This path is still used by the local population for the purpose of cattle watering and cultivating scarce arable land. If you ever decide to visit Kudin Bridge in the summertime you should take protection against sun. I learned that the hard way, when I went there for the first time. Now, I’m smarter. When we got down to the bridge, we sat on the river bank and stayed quiet. All by ourselves in silence, under the tree shade and surrounded with freshness of the river.

Everything, but really everything, even the heat is worth it.

Can you image a better way to spend your day off?

Krupa River Canyon
Kuda’s Bridge over Krupa River Canyon