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Brioni or Brijuni are a group of twelve small islands in the Northern Adriatic Sea, off the west coast of the Istrian peninsula in Croatia. The Brioni Islands are separated from the Pula on the peninsula by the narrow Fazana Strait (Italian Canale di Fasana, German Strasse von Fasana). The largest island is Veli Brijun (Brion) at 5.6 km² and lies 2 km off the coast. The Brioni Islands are a famous for its scenic beauty; The islands are a holiday resort and a Croatian National Park.

The Brioni Islands had some Ancient Roman settlements, but up to the late 19th century the islands were mainly used for their quarries, which have been worked on for centuries. The islands belonged to Venice from the middle ages, and stone from the islands was used to build the palaces and bridges of the city. The islands were part of Napoleon's Illyrian Provinces after Napoleon's brief annexation.

BrioniThe islands are made of horizontal or slightly inclined layers of limestone from the Cretaceous, on which in places there are layers of carbonated brown or red soil. The stone that belongs to that formation is white in colour, easily breakable, of marble structure and is abundant in clay and flint. Therefore it is very solid and is an excellent building material. Roman builders appreciated the listed qualities of these stones and it was used to build many towns on the Adriatic.

In 1815 the islands became part of the Austrian Empire, which later became Austria-Hungary. During this period the islands' quarries first supplied stone to Vienna and Berlin. With the erection of a naval base in the harbour of Pula, the Austrians erected a strong fortress on Brioni Island, together with minor fortifications on some of the others.

The Austro-Hungarian Navy abandoned the fortress and in 1893 the Viennese business magnate Paul Kupelwieser bought the whole archipelago and created an exclusive beach resort.

The estate was supplemented with first class hotels, restaurants, beach resorts, a casino and a yacht harbor and became a focal point in social life on the Austrian Riviera. Kupelwieser also established a sailing regatta, a golf course and due to the flourish of Austrian Culture various music concert and literature events. The islands became popular as a vacation for the Viennese upper class and were visited by members of the Imerial family and wealthy European elites and aristocrats.

In 1918 after World War I Brioni became part of Italy and got separated from its Austrian hinterland. Karl Kupelwieser, the son of the founder of the estate tried to maintain the former splendor but after the economic crisis following Black Friday, the estate went bankrupt and Karl committed suicide. By 1930 the islands were acquired by the Italian state.

Brioni Safari ParkIn 1945 after World War II Brioni became part of Yugoslavia and communist state leader Josip Broz Tito made Brioni Islands his personal State Summer Residence. Slovene architect Jože Plečnik designed a pavillion for Tito. Almost 100 foreign heads of state visited Tito on his islands, along with film stars including Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Sophia Loren, Carlo Ponti, and Gina Lollobrigida. Tito died in 1980, and by 1983 the islands were declared a National Park of Yugoslavia.

In 1991 Croatia gained independence and made Brioni Islands an International Conference Center. Four hotels on Veli Brijun were re-opened, as well as a Safari Park, which holds animals given to Tito. The International Polo Tournament, dating back to Karl Kupelwieser's Austro-Italian Brioni in 1924, has been re-continued since 2004.

Another characteristic that makes Brioni even more valuable in relation to other areas of this climate is its vegetation. On Veliki Brijun an extraordinary unity of natural elements and anthropogenesis has been achieved. By taking up the farmlands and by clearing the forests and transforming them into landscape parks with vast meadows, a unique landscape on the Croatian Adriatic coast has been created.

The majority of the flora on the archipelago of Brioni has the typical Mediterranean characteristics. The most important plant associations of Veliki Brijun are:
Macchia 261 ha
Meadows 124 ha
Parks 118 ha
Holm oak forests 68 ha
Holm oak and laurel forests 48 ha
Conifers 18 ha

It is interesting to point out that on the islands there are some plant species that are among the endangered plant species of Istria (marine poppy, wild cucumber, some grass species etc.), but on the islands they are quite widespread and develop freely.

Having a mild Mediterranean climate, lots of sun and warm weather, plenty of humidity creating a rich vegetation, the islands guarantee an extremely pleasant stay. The average air temperature in winter is 6,3°C., in spring 12,2°C., summer 22,2°C. and autumn 14,8°C. The sea temperature in summer is from 22 to 25°C.
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