Discovering Karlovac’s Hidden Gems
How to read a town?
Just as an interesting text is hidden between a book’s covers, so is the true contents of a town revealed the moment you enter it. How to read a town? The best way to read Karlovac is through every step, sorting through the lines of this unusual book you found yourself in, almost like Alice in Wonderland, becoming its protagonist, if just for a while. You’ll read the town between the lines, through the hidden angles omitted in tourist brochures.
To the locals, the everyday life is business as usual, sometimes even boring. You work, you have an occasional coffee at a nearby café in the park or in the Old Town. There are summer afternoons spent swimming in the rivers, there’s going out for a concert or some live performance, a morning mass at a Baroque church, winter tobogganing at the moat around the Old Town, a play at the Zorin dom theatre, Saturday mornings spent at the town market and the apples… mmm… just picked from a fragrant tree in the orchard.
Our everyday routine might prove to be a great experience to you! Believe in it! Open the Karlovac book that is in front of you and become a part of it. Turn the first page or start from the middle of the book, write whatever you wish, add new characters, make a movie. Enjoy Karlovac!
If you get a feeling you’re being followed along the way, don’t worry, there are no cameras there! The most probable causes: a sleepy owl’s eyes are watching from a linden treetop, or maybe some pigeon’s eyes from a hollow in an old plane tree, or maybe even a squirrel from the Black Promenade.
A Tour of the town’s hidden gems
The starting point to your discovery of the town is your very first step. You can try and start your tour of the town’s hidden gems with the magical triangle at the very entrance of the Old Town (the Star), whose three points are the former town coffee house (the current Papa’s Bar), the frog monument and the Katzler Pavilion. The three town symbols from three different time dimensions. Have you just read the ‘frog monument’? Yes, there’s a frog monument in Karlovac.
It would not feel right if we revealed the complete contents of the book to you now, so we’ll just note the titles of some of the chapters.
The river port on the Kupa bank at Gaza reminds us of the glorious past, of the times when Karlovac was a port town. The archaeological remains of the St. Joseph Chapel at the Strossmayer Square will take you even further to the past. The cross atop the Holy Trinity Church’s spire serves as a barometer, too: it turns and becomes perpendicular to the Radićeva street when the weather is about to change. The mystical passageways in the moat sides are ancient tunnels leading all the way to the well in the Dubovac Castle courtyard. Of course, we cannot vouch for this last piece of information.
While reading the Old Town chapter, you’ll see that all the houses are unique, and that many of them have characteristic dormers. Between the houses, there are narrow passageways, locally known as gasice, aimed at preventing the spreading of possible fires from house to house. If you like movies, you might end up in a famous scene from a Hollywood blockbuster, and that means you are in Karlovac’s Chinatown. From the movie reality, you’ll come to the oldest Karlovac park, near the Polytechnic building and the mound above the last remaining part of the town walls. You’re bound to feel victorious there.
An unusual entrance into the underground realm might bring a smile to your face and during the walk you probably won’t be able to resist descending the ancient steps. This is a public toilet, a part of the Karlovac urban tradition and often the most visited tourist spot in town. So, you’re out now. And you’re smiling, right?
Fridays in Karlovac are also a part of the tradition. It is the market day here. At the flat area in front of the Aquatika aquarium, you’ll find whatever you need, even if you did not know you needed it. This open-air flea market offers used items from all periods of human existence in this region.
And as we said at the very beginning of the story, everyday life here is the usual reality to us. But we prize it very much. And we believe it will be a memorable experience to you: walking over the pontoon Korana bridge, drinking some fresh water at the little spring on the sandy beach, checking out the old hydroelectric power plant at the place where Nikola Tesla got the inspiration for his inventions lighting up our world today. This is also the place where, in summer, the Korana cascade turns into an informal hydro massage rehabilitation spot. (Please, read the instructions carefully before using it. As for the dosage, safety instructions and possible side effects, ask someone more knowledgeable.)
And do not forget: in order to read the town properly, pay attention to the blank lines in the chapters. That is where you’ll write your own text after having met the greatest Karlovac wonder – the locals. They surely deserve a word or two in your book on Karlovac. They have managed to survive all the fateful calamities, floods, fires, plagues, wars and more wars… and are still, maybe even because of that, able to share their smile and help you finish all the remaining chapters of the intriguing Karlovac story.