Before we make a real journey through Gacka, its attractions and history, it should be said that Gacka the region has regained its historic and territorial integrity, being one of the oldest Croatian regions.
It is extremely interesting to get acquainted with Gacka, because of the abundance it offers. The roots reaching to the times of Iapodes and turbulent history documented by the remains from the Roman times make Gacka a distinctive item in the Croatian heritage.
In all the four seasons of the year Gacka offers something new and unique, so much more different from urban everyday life. Equally interesting to every visitor, Gacka is a good choice and suitable destination, fulfilling the wishes for rest, recreation, fun and direct contact with nature. Contemporary Robinsons, anglers and hikers, nature lovers, athletes and recreationalists, can find their spot of the world here.
Excellent possibilities for a pleasant rest from the everyday chaotic life are garanted by the healthy climate, virgin nature, clean water and rich hunting grounds, and are a good reason to revisit the place. Equally delightful are its karst field, river valley, pits and caves, and the Velebit range, separating it from the sea. An unsurpassed natural phenomenon is River Gacka, along which interesting and rare specimen of the plant and animal worlds can be found.
This idyll within the reach of the sea, unforgettable for the intense experience of nature, is at the same time an anteroom of the most beautiful pieces of art made by nature playing with water and rock four thousand years ago.
When You are in Gacka...
... make the most of the moment and choose from the rich and diverse offer something for yourself, try its cuisine and take souvenirs back with you that shall remind you, until your next meeting, of the Gacka you met and got fond of.
Rare are those who have never heard of the River Gacka, its phenomenon; rare are passionate anglers who have not visited this river at least once, but that is not all. Gacka still stores some rarities slowly falling to oblivion. For it is barely known that here the grain is milled into flour in the water mills at the very spring of the river, and that cloth is being felted in autochtonous mills. It is also almost unknown that there are several God Mithras sanctuaries here and that this region was settled already in the late Bronze Age.
Gacka is still hiding many things that have not been discovered yet, unknown yet genuine, and offers the opportunity to spend a dynamic holiday in a slightly different way.
It is those who come to visit Gacka, that shall be the truest and most successful tourist representatives, who shall testify to the potential and value, to the beauty and uniqueness as well as to the hospitality that they met here, having a sound reason to come again.
THE GACKA REGION
A unique subregion of Gacka, gravitating to the river of the same name, is a kind of oasis of nature, culture and folk customs that have been quite forgotten in most other parts of Croatia. To discover that idyllic corner in the heart of the Croatian mountain region therefore means not only to get to know the balance of natural and cultural sights, but to experience its rare and still undisturbed harmony of people and nature. A compound of tradition and contemporary achievements, the preserved condition and rarity of natural beauties of the Gacka River are some of its comparative advantages that offer future prospects, qualifying the Gacka Region among the rare environmentally unique European regions.
The impressive Velebit Massif separates the Gacka Region from the sea in the southwest while in the northeast it is defined by the slopes of Mala and Velika Kapela. The Lika Region defines Gacka in the south, and the Krbava River in the southeast. Its river valley, karst valleys and caves are worth seeing.
Located between the famous Plitvice National Park and the North Velebit National Park, in the vicinity of the botanical garden of Zavizan, and the well-known sanctuary of Our Lady in Krasno, the traffic position of the Gacka Region is highly interesting and favourable. The road to Gacka from the Croatian Littoral and Senj leads across Mount Velebit , Croatia's largest mountain. In the north the road leads from Ogulin and the Gorski Kotar Region, in the east from the Plitvice Lakes and the Krbava River , while in the south it leads from Gospic and the Lika Region.
If you travel by rail you can discover the representative value of the region – the place of origin of the Gacka River. Its two sources fit harmoniously into the traditional architecture and the peaceful atmosphere of old water mills, which grind grain and roll cloth this very day, withstanding time and oblivion.
The Gacka Region still offers many undiscovered and unknown, and yet primeval values. If you choose to take your vacations here, it will be a dynamic, new, and slightly different experience.
When in Gacka take the opportunity and choose something for yourself from its rich and diverse tourist attractions. Taste the specialties of the local cuisine, and take along a handful of memories that will remind you of Gacka you got to know and to like until your next visit.
O T O C A C
This border fort of Otocac lies on the Gacka water; and this part, in which the captain with the majority of garrison live, is encircled by a wall with several towers where there is the church of Our Lady and the chapel of Saints Fabian and Sebastian. Other soldiers and the majority of inhabitants live outside the fortification but in the middle of the water, where they bolted thick piles into water and built houses on them plastered all over the mud. These houses stand beautifully one beside another; and look like a town, having paths and streets in which they can drive in boats. But the houses do not stand exactly one beside the other; but each of them stands freely in the water, so that a neighbour must use his boat if he wants to visit another neighbour.
J. W. Valvasor, Die Ehre der Herzogthmus Craina, 1689.
Otocac is the centre of the whole Gacka province and the centre of the Town of Otocac. This is the one of the oldest settlements of Croatian population. It was mentioned for the first time on the BASCANSKA PLOCA (BASKA TABLET) in 1100 at the time of the Benedictine monastery of St. Lucy (sv. Lucija) on the island of Krk . However, historians consider Otocac to be much older and that Prince Borna probably had one of his seats in Otocac at the beginning of the 9th century.
The name of Otocac derives from the Croatian word for “small island”, which was the site of the fortified town in the middle of the Gacka river. The Gacka river also enabled Otocac to survive. It could be approached only by boat, which made it unconquerable so that it has never been occupied in its long history. There are traces of life in old times on the town territory. The Japodes lived in stone dwellings (“gradine”) on Umac and Vinica.
The first known deed of gift dates from 1300, when the Neapolitan King Karlo II donated the land and the town of Otocac to Prince Dujam II of Krk. The Krk princes, later called the Frankopans, had the town fortified, built churches and encouraged culture and literacy. The Krk princes stayed in Otocac for three centuries: Dujam III, Zigmund (Sigismund) and Martin Frankopan. Otocac flourished during the time of Zigmund. Pope Pio II established the Otocac diocese on March 5th 1460, and transformed the collegiate church of St. Nicholas into the cathedral, giving Otocac the status of a city (civitas) by papal charter.
The Krajina military administration built Fort Fortica in 1619 on the hill above Otocac of the same name thus preventing the Turks from occupation and penetration on towards Primorje and Senj. Otocac began to develop outside its town walls in the middle of the 18th century, when Turkish danger decreased finally and when Otocac bacame the seat of the regiment of Otocac. Empress Maria Theresa transformed Otocac into a big market-town in 1746. She founded there a folk school in 1727, and the main school of Krajina in 1782. In 1870 the school for small boys was transformed into a secondary school. The Croatian general Nikola Mastrovic founded the teathre in 1844 which performed both in German and Croatian. The peoples' reading room was established in 1873 and it is still open. It was supported by the great Croatian Maecenas, and the Bosnian-Srijem bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer.
The Gacka river divides the town into the Upper and Central Towns. The seat of the Upper Town is the church of Holy Trinity, a large one-aisle building with a rounded altar area and with three side chapels on each side. There were seven late Baroque classicist altars, a pulpit, a font and sepulchral slabs from the 18th centrury (of the Degoricija family). The Crucifixion by M. Schieder from 1867 is especially valuable among altar paintings. This church was mentioned in 1684 but it is probably much older.
It is supposed to have been built on the remnants of the previous Benedictine church of St . Nicholas, which was the cathedral church of the Otocac diocese. The seal of the Otocac bishop Petar Andreis is kept in the Otocac parish, as well as the mitre of Otocac bishops from the 15th century and feudal legal book from the beginning of the 18th century.
The one-aisle chapel of Our Blessed Virgin Mary was built in the Lower town at Poljice in 1723. The polygonal chapel of Seven Griefs of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Mount Fortica from 1725 is much smaller.
The Gacka Museum in Otocac holds exhibits of broader surroundings as well. It is placed in the Memorial Home to the 1st ZAVNOH conference (a monument of the grade I category). The Museum has been an active cultural institution for many decades and its task it to collect, keep, arrange, study, present and publish valuable cultural and historical materials of the whole of Gacka. Four permanent exhibitions hold the archeological finds from Pecina in Lesce (mesolithic), the finds from cave of Bezdanjaca near Vrhovine (1400 B.C.) and a rich Japodian collection of bronze, glass and amber jewellery. Also here is the greatest collection of paintings by the painter Stojan Aralica who was born in Otocac. The collection of documents “Otocac Through The Centuries” and the exhibition of the 133rd Otocac brigade from the Croat National War (1991 – 1995) speak about the history of Otocac and its surrundings. The Museum also has an ethnological collection of valuable objects and also the collection of eighty odd aristocratic coats of arms from Gacka. The stone bridge on the Gacka river from 1876 is an interesting attraction of Otocac as well as the facades of civic buildings from the period of the Military Border (the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries).
OTOCAC TOURIST BOARD
Trg dr. Franje Tudmana bb