Plitvice Lakes National Park is the oldest national park in Southeast Europe and the largest national park in Croatia. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful natural sights in Europe. Due to its natural beauty and significance, this system of 16 interlinked lakes and a large forest complex around it were set aside as a national park in 1949. In 1979, Plitvice Lakes National Park was added to the UNESCO World Heritage register among the first natural sites worldwide.
The Plitvice Lakes had became a major tourist attraction in the late 19th century. The first hotel was built there in 1896, and as early as 1893 it already had a conservation committee. In 1949 the communist government of Yugoslavia nationalized the lakes and made them a national park. The park soon became one of Yugoslavia’s most popular tourist attractions.
The lakes are renowned for their distinctive colours, ranging from azure to green, grey or blue. The colours change constantly depending on the quantity of minerals or organisms in the water and the angle of sunlight. The lakes are divided into the 12 Upper Lakes and the 4 Lower Lakes.
The Plitvice Lakes national park is heavily forested, mainly with beech, spruce, and fir trees, and features a mixture of Alpine and Mediterranean vegetation. It has a notably wide variety of plant communities, due to its range of microclimates, differing soils and varying levels of altitude.
The area is also home to an extremely wide variety of animal and bird species. Rare fauna such as the European brown bear, wolf, eagle, owl, lynx, wild cat and capercaillie can be found there, along with many more common species. At least 126 species of birds have been recorded there, of which 70 have been recorded as breeding there.