Croatia – Mljet National Park
First of all, it is necessary to start with the fact that Mljet Park occupies the first place among the National Parks on the Adriatic coast. It is located in the northwestern part of the island with a total of 5375 hectares – a protected coast and a nearby water area.
History of Mljet
This area was pronounced a national park, in November, 1960. Joining of the marine part to the park occurred in 1997. The main attractions of the park are saltwater lakes. These lakes are called Small and Big. Acquisition of the status of the national park was due to the fact that the park has a unique cultural and historical heritage, which takes its roots from the Illyrian period, the Roman Empire, the times of the Dubrovnik Republic.
Especially worth noting are: salt-freshwater lakes, flora, uniqueness of the panoramic view of the coast, reefs. The park is rich in reefs, sea rocks, numerous islets and a diverse evergreen vegetation of the mountains.
Salt lakes of the park
The island of Mljet has a special system of salt lakes. They have a unique geological and oceanographic phenomenon of karst, which is significant in the world. Big and Small Lake are famous for their beauty and lots of secrets, over which scientists are still puzzling. A large lake is created thanks to the inconspicuous canal – Soline, which ensures the passage of the sea into the lake. This is how the Big Lake is formed. And with the help of another channel, the Small Lake is formed. Despite the fact that the lakes are formed by sea water, in appearance they completely resemble lakes. Based on external signs, the local population gave them names – lakes.
Attractions of the park
The uniqueness of the park is also emphasized by a huge number of forests. Almost the entire territory, 90 percent of the park is covered by forests. This number of plantings gave the island its name – “green island”. The forests consist of Aleppo pine trees, which are considered the best preserved and beautiful forests among the entire Mediterranean.
The large lake contains one more attraction in the form of a picturesque island of St. Mary, on which there is a church and the Benedictine monastery. Date of its construction – 12 century. The island has an exceptional aesthetic appearance. It has a great spiritual and cultural power, which is a kind of symbol of the island and the entire park as a whole. The locals, call the island Melita. They call it that way because of the hotel and restaurant of the same name, which functioned in the monastery until recently.
The Mediterranean monk seal, which lives here, loves the island’s water. About forty years ago, the famous oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, declared the local waters the purest in the world. He had first-hand experience of their purity, diving.
The island itself
Unique vegetation covers the island of Mljet. This truly natural miracle is considered the most beautiful island in the Adriatic Sea. The island was located between Dubrovnik and island of Korcula. Many tourists do not want to visit the island because of its location. Yes, Mljet belongs to those islands that are lost in the abyss of the sea. However, do not pay attention to this. For the sake of Mljet’s landscapes, which were mentioned in the stories about Odysseus, in the parables that tell of the monks from the Benedictine monastery, it is worth visiting Mljet for everyone.
Mljet is an elongated island, with a width of three kilometers and a length of 37 kilometers. The island is primarily known for its lush vegetation, there grow about five different types of forests. In addition to forests, the island is interesting with coastal dunes, steep and high cliffs, sea ridges. Specific feature of the island – there are no poisonous snakes. The Indian mongoose is responsible for this. Mljet inhabits different types of snakes and lizards, that feed the largest predator on the island – the snake eagle.
Development of the island
- There were traces of presence of the Illyrian tribes in a form of stone buildings and burials.
- The island is mention in some documents from the time of the Roman Empire. The most valuable evidence is the remains of a Roman palace of the first century, basilica and fortification objects.
- The next stage is the middle of the 12th century. Monks-Benediktans erected the monastery and the church that are located on the Great Lake.
- 1375 is significant for the agreement, according to which the inhabitants of Mljet were exempted from work on estates, but they had to pay money in return.
From these times the monastery began to develop. It was a cultural, religious and political center. As for the modern park, the settlement was resolved only in the 19th century. At that time the first settlement of Govedara was formed. Its name indicates the main occupation of the first inhabitants – these were cows.
Unfortunately, after the fire in 1917, most of the forests were destroyed.
A lot of time passed by to their recovery. Modern inhabitants are engaged in agriculture, grow grapes and olives.