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Visit to Dubovac Castle and Aquatika Aquarium in Karlovac

Dubovac Castle and Aquatika Aquarium were our choices for this week’s weekend getaway from the hectic everyday life we ​​live in during the week. Dubovac Castle and Aquatika Aquarium are both located in the Croatian town of Karlovac, known as the city on four rivers. Why do they call him that? Precisely because the rivers Mrežnica, Korana, Kupa and Dobra flow through it. The city was founded on July 13, 1579, and was named after its founder, Archduke Charles of Habsburg. If we look at how the city was built in the Renaissance era, we will see that it is a model of Renaissance architecture – it was built geometrically in the form of a six-pointed star. Karlovac is a city located in an extremely good position because it is located near all major European and Croatian cities; it is about 50 kilometers from Zagreb, about 90 kilometers from the main port of Rijeka, 104 kilometers from Ljubljana in Slovenia, 386 km from Sarajevo and about 400 km from Budapest.

Dubovac Castle and Aquatika Aquarium
Dubovac Castle

Since we were driving to Karlovac from Zagreb, the trip was relatively short, about an hour. It was actually a lucky circumstance because just a few days ago the air conditioning in our car broke down, and this weekend was extremely warm, almost as if it was already the middle of summer. Fortunately, the short trip did not tire us despite the great heat, so we arrived at our destination full of energy and motivated to explore. When we entered the city itself we could notice that it is actually a beautiful place to walk because we were surrounded by beautiful restored historic buildings and greenery throughout the ride. It was quite clear to us why the city is considered an example of Renaissance construction.

Dubovac Castle and Aquatika Aquarium 2
Dubovac Castle, tower

First we decided to visit the Old Town of Dubovac and Dubovac Castle

We were a little sorry that we would not be able to walk around the whole city, but we had to stick to the plan to fulfill what we set out to do. However, the ride itself made us happy because we could enjoy the beautiful view, but also agree on where we are going the next time we meet in Karlovac. Once we came to the city, the drive to the Old Town of Dubovac was not long and we soon found ourselves at the foot of the castle located on a hill.

Dubovac Castle is located on a hill
Dubovac Castle is located on a hill

We weren’t the only visitors to the fort this weekend, but we can’t say we met a particular crowd either. The small parking lot can accommodate only about 15 cars, and there may have been 8. Before we headed to the castle, we noticed a yellow house on the other side with the inscription “Petrovac” in large letters. We didn’t know whose house it was or why it had a name, but we decided to get a little closer to it. Since it was surrounded by bushes, we assumed it was someone’s property, so we didn’t want to go into further research. We went a little further to a nearby intersection and saw a wooden wall that was the only thing left of the former wooden house that existed here. We couldn’t resist taking photos next to the wall that still bore the house number. From here we could also see a wooden barn which used to be a common building on every estate.

Petrovac House
Petrovac House

There are wooden stairs leading to the castle on the hill, which are not particularly steep and there are not too many of them, so it is not a problem for anyone to climb them to the fortress. The castle and the city are named after the oak (cro. dub or hrast) that grows on the surrounding slopes. It has changed owners and appearance throughout history depending on current needs and fashion, and today’s look has been given after a complete reconstruction in the mid-20th century. If we talk about the style of construction, it is a Renaissance castle with Gothic elements. The floor plan of the castle is irregular and square. The castle is fortified with corner towers. The defensive tower is square and is two storeys higher than the other three towers, which are round and two-storey. Among the towers are developed wings in which there are defensive, storage and living quarters. Today it is a tourist destination with a lookout point and a permanent museum exhibition on the highest tower.

Dubovac Castle and Aquatika Aquarium
Stairs that lead to the Castle

When you enter the inner part, in the courtyard of the castle, you will notice that the restaurant is located here. The place looks very idyllic and we believe the food is top notch. Still, we didn’t eat at this restaurant because we decided to meet a friend who took us to another one – her favorite restaurant (about that in a few lines!).

After sightseeing the interior of the castle, we headed to the lookout located just a few meters from it. On the elevated part there is a view of the whole of Karlovac and if you have a good sight you can enjoy the beautiful panorama of the city. For all visitors there is a board where you can find information about important places in the city that are numbered in the photo of the panorama.

Panorama of Karlovac
Panorama of Karlovac

While we were enjoying the view of the whole city we got a call from our friend who said she was headed to the Kvaka restaurant where they will be waiting for us to have something to eat together. We were already quite hungry, so the invitation made us very happy. When we got to the restaurant we realized why this particular restaurant is her favorite. The restaurant is located along the river and has an interior and a terrace with a fence. 

Kvaka restaurant
Kvaka restaurant

Of course, we chose to sit on the terrace right next to the fence where we could enjoy the view of the river Kupa. In addition, the tables and benches themselves are decorated in a somewhat cottagecore style, they are white, and everything is decorated with flowers – from coasters to walls and bouquets on the tables. If you come here in a fluttery summer dress, you will completely fit into the decor!

Dubovac Castle and Aquatika Aquarium 3

The menu was already set on the table so we immediately threw ourselves into deciding. The restaurant offers a rich selection of different fish dishes; trout, perch, gilthead sea bream, sprats and squid. Of course, there are also meat dishes for all those who do not enjoy fish specialties. This time we opted for squid, fried and grilled and we have to tell you that we were not disappointed because the portions were really big and the prices affordable. I have to admit that because of the amount I barely ate what was on my plate…

Food was great!
Food was great!

Visiting the Aquatika Aquarium was an unforgettable experience

After the meal, we sat in the restaurant for a while to make everything settle down, and then we headed to the Aquatika Aquarium, which we were really looking forward to because it is an aquarium with fish from rivers and lakes that we have never been to. We were also happy to know that the aquarium was renovated not so long ago and we knew that a beautiful exhibition space awaits us. The aquarium has its own large parking lot so you can get here by car without worrying about where to park. Parking is, of course, free for all aquarium visitors. 

Entrance to Aquarium
Entrance to Aquarium

At the entrance to the aquarium, the view first falls on the yard where there is a cafe where you can relax before or after visiting the aquarium. We didn’t do it this time because we wanted to get inside as soon as possible. As soon as you find yourself in the aquarium area the first thing you will notice is that it is quite darkened to make the fish feel more comfortable. The first fish we had a chance to see were barbel, roach, podust and nosara. The latter is perhaps the most interesting because, as its name suggests, you will recognize it by its specific nose. With each aquarium we could see tiles with basic information about the fish we see, but also an unusual curiosity about one of the species, so we learned that the male roach gets spawning nodules on his body during spawning to make contact with the female as easy as possible. After that, we had a chance to see pike, catfish and chub and we found out that pike have more than 700 teeth in their mouths! Imagine eating with so many teeth in your jaw…

Aquarium is very dark
Aquarium is very dark
Pike
Pike

The part of the aquarium where only endemic species appear was definitely the most interesting of all. Endemics are species that occur only in a certain area and are impossible to find anywhere else in the world. Croatia is known as a country full of endemic plant and animal species, so we were not surprised how many fish live only in our country and nowhere else in the world! Croatia ranks second in Europe in the number of freshwater fish species, and as many as 4 endemic species live only in Croatia. We had the opportunity to see endemics: masnica, freshwater head, pijor, Zrmanja maple, barbel, coastal uklija, basak, Neretva uklija and many others.

Endemic species
Endemic species
Dubovac Castle and Aquatika Aquarium 4

After looking at the endemic species, you come to one room where there is a podium for children that changes colors and shapes depending on where the child steps. In addition, there is an art installation called “Monument to Man”, with whose symbolism the author invites each of us to question personal responsibility in preserving the environment. After passing through this room, we came to an area where we had the opportunity to see fish that live in stagnant waters and sturgeon habitat. At the end of our tour of the aquarium, we entered a room that enchanted us with beautiful photos of the Speleological Association of Croatia. Here we could enjoy enchanting photos from caves all over Croatia. In the presence of such scenes we were aware of our smallness and the greatness of nature.

Photos from speleological researches
Photos from speleological researches

Dubovac Castle and Aquatika Aquarium is an experience we will be happy to repeat

This short day trip to Dubovac Castle and Aquatika Aquarium in Karlovac was a fantastic experience for us. In addition to meeting a friend we haven’t seen in a long time and eating at a top restaurant with a beautiful view of the Kupa river, we saw a piece of ancient history visiting Dubovac Castle and the beautiful natural diversity of our waters. Should you visit Karlovac, Dubovac Castle and Aquatika Aquarium? Definitely!

Your CTC Team, A. M.

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