Brijuni National Park is an oasis of the magnificent harmony between man, animal and plant life. There are almost 700 plant species and about 250 bird species on the islands, whereas the mild Mediterranean climate makes it a pleasant health resort. After leaving Fažana, the line of green islands viewed from the boat, transforms into Veliki Brijun, the largest of the 14 islands.
The traces of dinosaurs, remains of Antiquity and later periods, achievements of modern times are all present in this area, whose development as an exclusive resort starts in 1893 thanks to the “old Austrian”, the industrialist Paul Kupelwieser, owner of the Brijuni Islands. This fashionable seaside resort and one of the leading health resorts started developing and gaining popularity all over Europe and worldwide, but this unfortunately ended with the beginning of World War I.
From then on Brijuni were mostly known for the political activities ofMarshal Josip Broz Tito, the president of former Yugoslavia, who arrived on Brijuni for the first time in 1947. The usual, short introduction to Brijuni is a tour by tourist train that takes visitors through all the different natural beauties; through the safari park, by the Byzantine castrum, Roman residential villa in Verige Bay and many other interesting sights. Right by the harbor, close to hotels “Istra”, “Neptun” and “Karmen” is the church of St. German from the 15th century which houses an exhibit of Istrian frescoes and copies of Glagolitic monuments.
Nearby is the natural science exhibit, archaeological museum and exhibition “Tito on Brijuni”.
Along the western Istrian coast there are several island groups among which the most interesting, the largest and most indented is the Brijuni island group with its 14 islands and islets covering and area of 7.42km2.
The present day boundaries of the National Park were set in 1999 and comprise the land, the surrounding sea with the seabed and cover an area of 33.9km2. The length of the coastline of all the islands is 46.8 km. The most indented islands are Veliki Brijun (25.9km) and Mali Brijun (8.3km). The shores are mostly low and rocky but easily accessible due to the horizontal stratification of the rocks, and in some bays pebbles and sand can be found.
The National Park of Brijuni includes the following islands: Veliki Brijun, Mali Brijun, St. Mark, Gaz, Okrugljak, Supin, Supinić, Galija, Grunj, Vanga (Krasnica), Pusti (Madona), Vrsar, St. Jerome and Kozada. (Krasnica), Pusti (Madona), Vrsar, Sv.Jerolim i Kozada. Geologically and geo-morphologically Brijuni are the continuation of western Istria, the so-called “Red Istria”. Since the depth of the channel of Fažana is just 12m, Brijuni were until some 10,000 years ago an integral part of Istria.
The islands are made of horizontal or slightly inclined layers of limestone from the Cretaceous, on which in places there are layers of carbonated brown or red soil. The stone that belongs to that formation is white in colour, easily breakable, of marble structure and is abundant in clay and flint. Therefore it is very solid and is an excellent building material. Roman builders appreciated the listed qualities of these stones and it was used to build many towns on the Adriatic.
Climatically Brijuni are part of the northern Mediterranean type of climate and have all the qualities of the western Istrian coast with a relatively high value of dampness in the air (76%). The average yearly temperature is 13.9C, the precipitation average is 817mm, while the level of insolation is 2350 hours per year.
The main characteristic of the Brijuni archipelago is the extraordinary biological diversity given thanks to its geographical location, its geological base and geomorphology, its diversity of the habitat and its island isolation.
The natural biological diversity was enriched by men’s traditional husbandry. Veliki Brijun, as the largest island of the archipelago, which was cultivated into a harmonious landscape of meadows and parks, has along with the rich remnants of architectural heritage also the preserved vegetation types typical for the western Istrian climate. It is important to underline that the sea forms 80% of the protected area of the National Park and has almost all the elements of the marine eco-system of the Adriatic
Historical and cultural heritage
“When on the Istrian island of Brijuni all the yet unexplored and mostly inaccessible monuments from all ages, from the early periods of the pre-Roman Istria until the 16th century, will be discovered and made accessible to research then this beautiful island will be a unique museum rich in architectonic inventory of high artistic and historic importance. To all the cultures, which settled through history on the northern Adriatic coast, will be possible to ascribe at least one monument of architectonic heritage or some other artefact witnessing its presence.”
A. Gnirs, 1911.
The archipelago of Brijuni is an extraordinary blend of natural, historical and cultural heritage. The mild climate and the favourable geographical conditions, deep retracted bays and easily defendable elevated fortifications, have secured a continuum in the human activity on the island from a pre-historic age until the present day. On a relatively small archipelago, of an area of around 7km2, have been registered some hundred sites and buildings of archaeological and cultural-historical value and which comprise the period from the first Neolithic settlements, the dugouts in the bay of Soline, until the creation of an elite summer and health resort at the beginning of the last century and the presidential residency visited by statesmen from one third of the world’s countries in its 25 years of existence (1954-1979).
This concise curriculum vitae of the island, which carefully preserves the traces of 5000 years of human history, makes the legend of its creation even more real and when arriving to the island a part of Heaven discloses in front of our eyes in the unique harmony of the island’s flora, fauna and heritage. A unique bland of the green islands sank into the turquoise-blue sea whose bays and hills are laced with the white Istrian rocks.