World Cup Fascinating Facts Fever 2018!

Ahead of tonight’s World Cup semi-final between England and Croatia, we’ve been fielding phone calls and emails from people asking for quotes and wanting to know more about Croatia (and its wine as well as its football! – so in haste we’ve put together some of our FASCINATING FACTS about Croatia alongside some stunning photos we’ve taken of this beautiful country around our travels. Hopefully these will help your pre-match drinks go down smoothly…

Of football, we know precious little but we have 1 interesting fact:

Zadar, birthplace of Croatian football superstar Luka Modric, has a singing sea organ concealed under steps down to the sea, made of tubes, which sing as the tide washes in and out!

Now, here are our other fascinating facts to get you in the mood for football fever:-

Croatia’s geography

Croatia is shaped like a croissant – or a boomerang

Croatia has 1,777 kilometres of coastline and more than 1,000 islands on the Adriatic sea – it has the most indented coastline in the Mediterranean!

Croatia’s size – lucky 26?

Out of all the European countries it is 26th with respect to its population, and 26th with respect to its size.

There are 9,000,000 Croatians world-wide but only 4,500,000 live in Croatia (one third of the population of London incidentally).  BUT 4,500,000 Croatians live abroad! This means that Croatia has the greatest emigration rate in the world, after Ireland.

The population of capital Zagreb is 800,00, the same population as the whole of West Sussex.

Croatia is 56,000 square kilometres (127th largest country in the world). Putting that into perspective the UK is approximately 250,000 square kilometres, so Croatia could go into the UK around five times!

3 Nobel Prize winners and 1 Nobel Prize refusal

There have been 3 Croatian Nobel prize winners (Ivo Andric – Literature 1961, Lavoslav Ruzicka – Organic chemistry 1939, Vladimir Prelog – Organic chemistry 1975)

1 potential Nobel prize winner refused to accept his Nobel prize – his name was Nikola Tesla! He was offered a Nobel prize but turned it down as he was to share it with his great adversary, Thomas Edison.

Shakespeare talked about it

Shakespeare mentioned Illyria (part of modern-day Dalmatia) ten times directly, basing Twelfth Night there.  He also made other references to its coast, its sailors and pirates (!), its tall people and its “robust” wines.

Mother Teresa talked it

Mother Teresa spoke and wrote excellent Croatian, having been influenced greatly in her spiritual development by Croatian Jesuits as a young girl.

Money Money Money

The Croatian monetary unit is the KUNA.  Kuna means a “pine marten”, and their pelts were used as a unit in trade.  A marten still appears on the backs of some of the coins.

The Roman influence

The amphitheatre at Pula was the 6th largest built by the Romans in the world at one time seating 20,000 people (almost the same as Reading Football Club’s stadium and 2/3rd the capacity of Brighton’s Amex). It is now the 3rd largest surviving amphitheatre and is used today as an arena for concerts and theatre – from Elton John and Sting to one of Pavarotti’s last concerts.

Casanova drank its wines

Casanova’s favourite wine was said to be the red wine of Istria. Depending on the soil it’s grown on Istrian red wine is full of iron from the rich red clay soil.  Casanova believed that drinking these reds gave him the “vigour” and energy that he required for his main hobby!

The tie originated in Croatia

During the Thirty Years War (1618–1648) the legendary Croatian light cavalry were employed.  As part of their traditional national costume, Croats wore lively coloured scarves (cravats) tied around their necks, and these scarves made them stand out on a battlefield. When the Croatian cavalry reached Paris during the reign of Louis XIV, the Parisians loved these Croatian scarves so much that they started to adopt them as a fashion accessory worn “in the Croatian way”.

So this is how the cravat entered fashion – as a tie, the French word for tie being cravate!  The Croatians say a man wears his tie near his heart, between shirt and coat, and so it embraces him around the neck like a dear friend.

Films you may not have known were shot in Croatia

We all know Game of Thrones was shot widely around Dubrovnik and the islands. You can’t walk down a street there without being sold a T shirt or GoT ‘experience’! There are so many others to choose from but here are 5 more that you may not know:-

The Vikings – 1958 epic starring Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis – no, it’s not all Scandinavia, some was shot on the Lim Canal in Istria and the island of Kornati

Mamma Mia 2 – not the Greek islands, but the island of Vis

Fiddler on the Roof – yup, Pinewood and Croatia!

Kelly’s Heroes, 1970 American film packed with American film heroes from Clint Eastwood to Telly Savalas to Donald Sutherland was shot around Vižinada near Poreč Istria!

Robin Hood – not out until November 2018, this is Leonardo DiCaprio’s blockbuster production (still not quite sure that Dubrovnik looks anything like Nottingham though…)

And we don’t forget grand old Orson Welles who returned after filming ‘Austerlitz’ to produce his own film ‘The Trial’ in Zagreb, staying often at the splendid Regent Esplanade Hotel (of course!). And turning it round to football… another guest at the Regent Esplanade Hotel in more recent years has been Pele.

OK, here’s 1 WINE FACT (we’ll not bore you with more)

Istria and Slavonia are both located on the 45th parallel (think Bordeaux…)

So that’s it, our speedy roundup of Croatian fascinating facts.

In the last World Cup we were invited to take part in a Croatia / Brazil blind wine tasting and we’re delighted to say that Croatia won that wine round!  Obviously, the wine world was just too scared to ask us to repeat the challenge this year.  Well – there’s no competition wine-wise!

We wish both teams good luck for the match tonight and if you wish to celebrate or drown your sorrows with some Croatian wine from tomorrow, or are planning your own Croatian trip to go and see what all the fuss is about, just get in touch!

© Pacta Connect 11 July 2018