If you travel from the west cost of the Istrian peninsula in Croatia, you will find the Brioni Islands, an archipelago of twelve islands. The Brioni Islands are located very close to the Pula and are only separated by the Fazana Strait. Brioni’s largest island, Veli Brijun, is 5.6 square kilometers and only a short 2 kilometers off the coast of Croatia. These islands are famous for their beauty, and they are one of Croatia’s national parks. Each year hundreds of visitors travel from Croatia to these islands to holiday in their resorts.
Before they became a vacation spot, the Brioni Islands were used as quarries, which were worked for many centuries. There are a few ancient Roman settlements on the islands as well. In the middle ages, the Brioni Islands belonged to the city of Venice. Today, you can see stone from Brioni in the bridges that span Venice. The stone is mainly white limestone and layered throughout with brown and red soil. The stones, with clay and flint running through them, are excellent for building, and all across the Adriatic region, ancient Roman builders used the Brioni stones in their towns.
The islands became part of Austria Hungary in the 1800s. At this time, Vienna and Berlin began to use the stone from Brioni in their constructions. When Pula harbor built a naval base not far from the islands, the Austrians reacted by building a fortress on the main island, Brioni Island, and minor forts on the other islands. These forts were eventually abandoned by Austria-Hungary.
In 1893, a Viennese businessman named Paul Kupelwieser, envisioning beach resorts, bought all of the Brioni Islands. He proceeded to construct luxurious hotels, excellent restaurants, and stunning beachside resorts. He also built a casino and a harbor for the rich to dock their yachts. This resort area became the destination of choice for the upper class of Austria and specifically those from Vienna. Even the Imperial family of Austria made Brioni their vacation destination of choice. All across Europe, the rich and well off traveled to Kupelwieser’s luxurious resorts.
World War I caused the islands to change hands again, and they became part of the country of Italy. During the depression that followed the infamous Black Friday, the Kupelwieser estate went bankrupt, and the heir to the fortune and the resort, Karl Kupelwieser, committed suicide. The islands became the property of the government of Italy.
Another World War caused another change of hands. After World War II, the islands became the property of Yugoslavia. Their leader, Josip Broz Tito, used the islands as his personal vacation destination. He hired architect Joze Plecnik to design an ornate pavilion for him to use to entertain the many heads of state from around Europe. When Tito died in 1980, the islands were declared a national park for Yugoslavia.
In 1991 when Croatia gained their independence, they retained the Brioni Islands and made the area into an international conference center. The country of Croatia rebuilt the islands into a resort location and today, tourists enjoy luxury hotels and a Safari Park that holds animals that once belonged to Tito.
The climate and vegetation of Brioni are what make it so popular and famous. They have plants that are typical to the Mediterranean regions, including Holm oak forests, laurel forests, meadows, and macchia. The Croatian government has cleared several areas of farmland to create beautiful parks and meadows. The climate of the area guarantees that the visitors will have a pleasant stay. In winter, the temperature is around 6 degrees Celsius, and in the summer it is 22 degrees.