Here are four attractions you probably didn’t expect to see or experience in Croatia. This beautiful European country has a lot of surprises to offer to its curious visitors!

1. Sphinx

When one thinks of a sphinx, it is usually Egypt that comes to mind. However, visitors can see sphinxes in both Split and Zadar in Croatia!

The sphinx in Split is located at the very centre of the city, at the Peristyle and below the Cathedral of St. Domnius. It dates back to the rule of Pharaoh Thutmose III, and is 3500 years old. It is an androsphinx, a creature with the body of a lion and the head of a human. The sphinx in Split is interesting because the limbs end in human arms, instead of the claws of the king among animals. Her arrival was enabled by Roman emperor Diocletian, who also built a palace and his own mausoleum in Split.

The sphinx in Split

The sphinx in Split

The sphinx in Split

The sphinx in Split – a closer look : )

The sphinx in Zadar has a very interesting story of its own. It is a sculpture made of stone and concrete built in the first half of the 20th century (probably 1918) in the park of Villa Attilia, located not that far from the city center of Zadar. The construction of the sculpture is attributed to Giovanni Smirich who built it in honor of his wife who passed away. This sphinx is surrounded by a little bit of mystery and legends. It is believed to make love wished come true. Also, rumor had it there is a treasure under the sphinx.

The sphinx in Zadar

The sphinx in Zadar is a curious site

2. Dinosaur footprints

National Park Brijuni is a group of 14 small islands, located very close to Pula and famous for the dinosaur footprints discovered on the island of Veliki Brijun. This national park is also a holiday resort with several hotels available and regular ferry connections. It is popular among local and foreign tourists.

Back in 1925, more than 200 dinosaur footprints were discovered at Veliki Brijun and the islands Vanga, Galija and Vrsar. Visitors can see tracks on the island of Veliki Brijun, as well as on Cape Ploče and Cape Vrbanj. The Brijuni dinosaurs date back to the Cretaceous period (145 to 65 million years ago). Children who like dinosaurs will love a trip to Brijuni for sure!

Dinosaurs footprints Brijuni

Dinosaurs are not the first thing to come to your mind when you think of Croatia, right?

3. Colosseum-like Roman Amphitheater

The amphitheater in Pula is the absolute must-see of the city. This amazing Roman monument dates back from 1 century AD and is the only remaining such construction to have its four side towers with all three Roman architectural orders entirely preserved. Don’t skip getting inside the arena, because it is definitely worth visiting. In a way it is similar to visiting the Colosseum in Rome. Still, this arena is smaller and not so full of tourists. Nevertheless, it is inevitable to start imagining what would it be to travel back in time and see a show here. You’ll be able to walk around, sit on the original banks and enjoy the place.

Pula Arena from inside

The impressive Pula Arena from inside

Another cool thing about the arena is that it still serves as a stage for different occasions – concerts, theater and cinema festivals, etc. Make sure you check in advance if there are events taking place here, because the location is hot and tickets are usually gone pretty fast. Robbie Williams and Florence and the Machine are among the musicians who will perform at Pula Arena in 2023.

4. Leaning tower

Everyone has heard about the leaning tower of Pisa but actually, there are plenty of leaning towers in and around Italy, usually built by Italians. I guess they were not that good at building towers! The leaning tower in Rijeka was built in 1377 and it is the bell tower of the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The tower tilted by almost 40 centimeters from its standing axis. It is not as spectacular or popular as the famous one in Pisa, but still – did you expect to see a leaning tower in Croatia?

The Leaning tower in Rijeka

The Leaning tower in Rijeka

Do you know about other curious attractions in Croatia? Let me know!