Gačanski park

1. Borna – The Duke of the Guduscani. Until fairly recently, Duke Borna has been seen as a negative historical personality in Croatian historiography. This tendentious interpretation has changed in recent years, and thus Borna's role in the development of Croatian statehood has changed as well. Borna was mentioned in the Royal Frankish Annals in 818, where he was referred to as "dux Guduscanorum," or the Duke of the Guduscani. It is the oldest mention of the ethnonym "Guduscan" in history, albeit in the Latin derivation. Somewhat later, Borna was referred to as "dux Dalmatiae," or the Duke of Dalmatia, which obviously speaks to the fact that he expanded his power to the south. Finally, in 821, he was mentioned as "dux Dalmatiae atque Liburniae," which is to say that he finally reigned over Liburnia as well. Borna was the first Croatian duke to rule the wider Croatian region from the Raša River in Istria to the Cetina River in the south, and to lay the foundations of the first medieval Croatian state. He was obviously chosen by the powerful Francia to establish a vassal state on the eastern Adriatic coast as a counterbalance to the previous Byzantine rule. Together with the delegates of the Guduscani, Borna was received by the emperor Louis the Pious himself in Heristal, which testifies to Borna's position and power. Although no evidence for this exists in the available records, it is assumed that he was baptized (although this cannot be claimed for his subjects). Borna was apparently up to the historical task, and exploited the historical opportunity to establish a medieval Croatian state. The bas-relief sculpture was created by sculptor Mate Čvrljak from Labin, Croatia.

2. Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus – A Byzantine emperor and writer (reigning from 913 to 959). He was the author of a work known under the Latin title De Administrando Imperio ("On the Governance of the Empire"). The work is considered to have been written around 950. Without this work, early Croatian history would be poorer. The horonym Gacka (ΓΟΥΤΖΗΚΑ), which is read as "Gutzeha" in Greek, was mentioned for the first time in history in this work. The title and honor of ban (ΒΟΆΝΟΣ) (viceroy) was also mentioned for the first time in history. It is of particular importance that Constantine VII stated that all Croatian parishes ("krajinas," or regions) were ruled by dukes, except Gacka, Lika (ΛΙΤΖΑ) and Krbava (ΚΡΙΒΑΣΑ), which were ruled by a ban, thus emphasizing the unique character of these parishes. The bas-relief sculpture was created by sculptor Toni Marić from Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

3. Baška tablet – The oldest Croatian written monument, "a precious jewel of the Croatian language." Originally serving as an altar rail in the Church of St. Lucy in Jurandvor near Baška on the island of Krk, Baška tablet is considered to have been carved c. 1100. It is an important monument for Otočac because the last line, written in the old Croatian Chakavian language and the Glagolitic script, says, "I biše v ti dni Mikula v Otočci s svetuju Luciju v jedino." Translated from modern Croatian it reads: "And in those days Nicholas in Otočac was joined with St. Lucia," that is, the abbey of St. Nicholas in Otočac had a "branch" of St. Lucia on the island of Krk. The older abbey in Otočac spread to Krk when the Croatian king Zvonimir took over the island, putting an end to a centuries-old Byzantine rule. As the Byzantine Empire tolerated the use of vernacular languages in the liturgy—while Latin still remained the chief language in the west—obviously, the Old Church Slavonic liturgy and the Glagolitic script were used on Krk (the verb glagolati means "to speak"). When the region was placed under Croatian rule, both state and ecclesiastical administrations spread from the mainland to the island, while the vernacular language and Glagolitsa spread from the island to the mainland. The text of Baška tablet also mentions "Zvonimir Kral Hrvatski," Zvonimir, Croatian king. It is the oldest known record in which the word "Croatian" is recorded in the Croatian language. Through the abbey of St. Nicholas, Otočac had the privilege of being recorded on Baška tablet, the "Croatian birth certificate," and of being written in the Croatian Chakavian language and the Croatian Glagolitic script. The motif was created by sculptor Janko Mošnja from Pula, Croatia.

4. Bernardus de Gecka – A preceptor of Gacka. Brother Bernard (friar Bernardus) was mentioned in 1245 as a preceptor de Gecke, that is, a superior of the Knights Templar within the area of Gacka. Obviously, there was a preceptory in the area of Gacka, but, unfortunately, few historical documents about it have survived to this day. Brother Lampert de Geizka was, however, mentioned before Brother Bernard, in 1217, but nowhere was it stated that he was a preceptor. As the Order of the Knights Templar had a complex hierarchical organization, it is just an assumption and not actual evidence that Bernardus was a preceptor. Preceptors, who belonged to the lower ranks of the Knights Templar hierarchy, were responsible for the organization and management of the Order's affairs in a given geographical area, in this case, Gacka. The Knights Templars were granted possession of Gacka by Andrew II, King of Hungary and Croatia, in 1219. It was given to them in recognition of their participation in the Fifth Crusade of 1217, and they kept it as late as 1268, when, because of many disagreements, the king gave them Dubica instead. Two years later, the king bestowed Gacka upon Dujam II, the Count of Krk. The bas-relief sculpture was created by sculptor Ivan Briski from Zagreb, Croatia.

5. Dujam II Frankopan (also Dujam II of Krk) – This Count was an early member of the illustrious House of Frankopan. He was linked to Charles II, King of Naples, who issued a deed of donation in 1300, bestowing upon Dujam II the county of Gacka and the territory of Otočac (comitatus Gezega; terra Otozaz). This was not the earliest mention of Gacka and Otočac, but it certainly was old and indisputable. Dujam was actively involved in the struggles on the Hungarian throne, and, as a sign of royal gratitude, young King Charles Robert issued a charter, which confirmed to Dujam the possessions of the county of Gacka and Otočac, the latter now a fortified town (castrum Othochach). The Counts of Krk—who later became the Frankopans—ruled Gacka from the abovementioned 1300 until as late as 1469, when their possession was seized by Matthias Corvinus, King of Hungary, who established the military captaincy of Senj as the first establishment of the Military Frontier. The bas-relief sculpture was created by sculptor Janez Pirnat from Ljubljana, Slovenia.

6. Pope Pius II (pope from 1458 to 1644) – He established the Bishopric of Otočac, and was a great supporter of resistance against the Ottomans in Europe. As the Frankopans were in excellent relations with Pius II, this pope issued a papal bull on 5 March 1460, establishing the Bishopric of Otočac, and proclaiming Otočac a town (civitas). But the establishment of the Bishopric of Otočac was not only a reflection of good relations between the pope and the Frankopans, but also a reflection of his policy that the establishment of new dioceses would contribute to the consolidation of the entire region and prevent the Ottoman invasion. He tried to organize a crusade against the Ottomans, and in 1459 convened a meeting of the rulers of Europe in Mantua. The European rulers failed to endorse the crusade, and his desire to get into the war was never realized. He will be remembered as the only pope (ruler) who, in the 15th century, was willing to suppress the Ottomans in their invasion of the west. The bas-relief sculpture was created by sculptor Šime Vidulin from Pula, Croatia.

7. Žikmund Frankopan (1434–1486) – The last Frankopan to have ruled Otočac and Gacka. In 1466, he submitted to the Hungarian and Croatian king, Matthias Corvinus. After Žikmund's death, Corvinus put Gacka and Otočac as well as a number of other noble estates, under his rule, thus establishing a wider territorial unit that was known as the military captaincy of Senj in an attempt to prevent the Ottoman invasion. After the death of his father, Mikula (Nikola), in 1449, Žikmund Frankopan (Sigismundus de Francapanibus) inherited Gacka and the towns of Otočac, Prozor, Dabar, and Vrhovine. He built a castle in Otočac, which was located outside the walls of the fortified town of Otočac, and he was also granted the bishopric from Pope Pius II. The newly acquired bishopric and the right to choose a bishop undoubtedly heightened Žikmund's reputation not only amongst his brothers, but more widely as well. That is why he was generous in handing out benefices to the bishopric. After he died without male heirs, his estates were managed by his brother Martin Frankopan. The bas-relief sculpture was created by sculptor Gabriele Gottoli from Verona, Italy.

8. Vinko de Andreis (Bishop from 1493 to 1520) – One of the five Bishops of Otočac, a great diplomat. He was one of the most prominent and most influential Bishops of Otočac. Born in Trogir, Croatia, in 1441, he studied philosophy and theology in Zadar, Croatia, and in Perugia. Pope Alexander VI appointed him Bishop of Otočac in 1493. He was the first bishop to have his seat in Otočac. Bishop de Andreis was a skillful diplomat in the service of the Frankopans (especially of Bernardin Frankopan), as well as of popes and kings. In 1515 the pope appointed him commissary to Illyricum. That same year he also became commissary to Hungary. As de Andreis was in charge of the Bishopric of Otočac during the times of heavy battles with the Ottomans, he acted as a mediator between Pope Leo X and the Croatian ban and bishop, Petar Berislavić, trying to seek help for invaded Croatia. The pope donated money, grains and weapons. De Andreis also interceded with King Vladislaus II who contributed another 7,000 ducats for the defense of Croatia. The original bishop's seal has been preserved in Otočac parish. The bas-relief sculpture was created by sculptress Sandra Nejašmić from Postira, island of Brač, Croatia.

9. The Borgiano Illirico 6 and 5 – Glagolitic manuscript books originating from Gacka. Medieval Glagolitic literacy in the regions of Gacka, Lika and Krbava was remarkably widespread and important. Numerous missals, breviaries, and miscellanies, as well as a number of other secular writings, originated as manuscripts written in either Croatian or the Croatian recension of Old Church Slavonic. Unfortunately, none of the aforementioned books were preserved in the area where they originated, but were taken away to the Littoral, Krk or Istria. The reason for this were the unstable times of war and the increasing penetration of the Ottomans into the west. Borgiano Illirico 6 is a breviary written in the vicinity of Dabar in 1387, which is kept in the Vatican Apostolic Library. The writer Fabian writes, "A tada biše knez Anž gospodin Krku i Gacki i Senju i veće" ("Count Anž [Ivan Frankopan] was then the Lord of Krk and Gacka and Senj and many more.") Borgiano Illirico 5 is a breviary completed in 1379. It is also kept in the Vatican Apostolic Library. The last page contains a note saying that the breviary got into the hands of the Turks through negligence of a certain priest by the name of Radoš, and that the villagers were raising ransom money to bring the breviary back. The transcript of the comment on the raising of money for the release of the breviary was placed in the foundations of the new building of the National and University Library in Zagreb. The author of the initials is sculptor Marčelo Starčić from Kanfanar, Croatia.

10. The Dabar Breviary – An important manuscript book of undisputed domestic origin, from the region of Gacka, from Dabar, dated to 1486. At that time, Dabar was obviously a Glagolitic hotspot, and Borgiano Illirico 6 and 5 were also connected to this locality. The Dabar Breviary was written at the very end of the period of handwritten books; within a couple of decades, the printing press took over from the laborious handwriting. The breviary originates from Dabar, as can be seen in the following quote written in the Glagolitic script, "And this was written by me, priest Stipan, and the costs were agreed upon with my brethren Nikolaus Beroić and Ivan Tomšić, and they are of the tribes of the Dabrans and Zagoracs, and there were many more of our brethren, and this was a time of great difficulty and hardship because of the Turks, and this breviary at the Church of St Cosmas and Damian at Dabar." The breviary, which is decorated with numerous beautiful initials (the best known is the letter V), is kept in the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts as one of the most important medieval Glagolitic codices. The motif of the initial was created by sculptor Marčelo Starčić from Kanfanar, Croatia.

11. The Kolunić Miscellany – A Glagolitic manuscript book, modestly decorated, but written in the beautiful and easily legible Croatian Glagolitic script. Some sort of dedication, which was written by the Vicar of Gacka, Levnardo (Leonardo), who indicated that the transcription was completed on 7 July 1486, comprises an exceptionally powerful maxim, which reads: "[...] that it is hard to get books, and one who does respect the books is respected by the books in return." The miscellany was named after its transcriptionist, Broz Kolunić, who did this job in the village of Kneža Vas in the vicinity of Otočac. The language of The Kolunić Miscellany is a true struggle between the Chakavian vernacular and the extinct Croatian liturgical language. The Kolunić Miscellany is part of the very rich miscellany literature of Croatian medievalism that perfectly preserved the connection with European literary developments of the time. The motif of the initials was created by Mexican sculptor Carlos Carlos Roberto Monge Sanchez.

12. Urban of Otočac – A canon and printer from the town of Senj who worked in the printing press of Blaž Baromić. His last name is unknown, but it is evident from his attribute, "of Otočac," that he originally came from Otočac. It is not known when he was born, how he spent his life, or when he died. But what distinguishes him in the field of the Croatian Glagolitic script is the fact that he was a printer of various Glagolitic editions. In 1507/08 he was recorded among the diligent producers of first editions printed in the Glagolitic script. The imprint of the "Naručnik plebanušev" (The Manual of the Curate) reads: "Which books were compiled and bound by Master Urban of Otočac and by Tomas, Deacons and Canons of the Senj Church...;" the imprint of the "Tranzit sv. Jeronima" (The Transit of St. Jerome) reads: "Compiled and bound by Urban and Tomas, Canons of the Senj Church;" while the imprint of the "Korizmenjak fratra Ruperta" (Lenten Season Calendar of Friar Rupert) reads: "And these books were compiled and bound by Master Urban and by Tomas Katridarić, Canons of the said Senj Church." The bas-relief sculpture was created by sculptor Šime Vidulin from Pula, Croatia.

13. The Otočac Captaincy (1540–1746) – Established in the 16th century, though the exact date of its establishment is unknown. Developed under the auspices of the Maritime Frontier, it comprised the region of Gacka, exclusive of the area of Brinje. The Otočac Captaincy existed during the struggle against the Ottomans, as late as 1746, when the Otočac Regiment was established as part of the reorganization of the Military Frontier. The motif of the medieval Otočac, a town on water, is symbolic for the Otočac Captaincy, and was created by sculptor Janko Mošnja from Pula, Croatia.

14. The Battle near Jurjeve Stijene (16 October 1663) – The first more significant victory over the Ottomans until the defeat at the Battle of Krbava Field. The Battle near Jurjeve Stijene remained in the historical shadow, even though it was in every aspect comparable to the Battle of Krbava Field, the latter being a defeat, and the first a victory for the Croatians. The bas-relief depicts Petar Zrinski, the commander of this battle, while above the bas-relief stands his motto, "Vincere aut mori." Petar Zrinski (6 June 1621 – 30 April 1671) became Croatian ban in 1668, after the death of Nikola Zrinski. He was a great soldier, and made a name for himself in many battles against the Ottomans, especially when he and his 300 Croatian soldiers thoroughly defeated Deli-Pasha Badanjković and his 1,400 troops, or when he and his 2,000 soldiers defeated Ali-Pasha Čengić and his 8,000 troops at the Battle near Jurjeve Stijene in the vicinity of Otočac. He was a superb soldier and a great hero, which is best illustrated by the fact that the King called Petar, "the shield of Christianity and the horror of the Turks." He was executed in Wiener Neustadt, Austria, in 1671. The bas-relief sculpture was created by Gabriele Gottoli from Verona, Italy.

15. The Battle near Jurjeve Stijene – Fran Krsto Frankopan (4 March 1643 – 30 April 1671) – As a young man, together with his brother-in-law Petar Zrinski, he co-commanded the Croatian troops at the Battle near Jurjeve Stijene. As the Ogulin Captain, he distinguished himself in battles against the Ottomans. He was executed in Wiener Neustadt, Austria, in 1671, and his death extinguished the famous linage of the Frankopans. He was known for his motto, "Navik on živi ki zgine pošteno" (He who dies honestly, lives forever), which was carved above the bas-relief sculpture of him. Educated in his homeland of Croatia, in Austria and in Italy, he was a man of great learning for his time. He spoke several languages and wrote poems in Croatian and Latin. The bas-relief sculpture was created by Gabriele Gottoli from Verona, Italy.

16. Ivan Dominik Vukasović (1737–1799) – A priest and a writer, born in Senj, Croatia. An eminent figure in clerical circles, he was also well liked by the common people to whom he served as pastor. In 1744 Vukasović was transferred from the town of Perušić to the region of Gacka, and appointed parish priest in the parish of Otočac (there was only Otočac parish at that time, while all the surrounding parishes that are today independent were its chaplaincies). He remained in Otočac for full eighteen years, until as late as 1792, when he was transferred to the diocese of Zagreb, where he was appointed canon. He was a builder and renovator of many church buildings, notably the Chapel of the Annunciation of Mary in Poljica. His most significant work was written in German in 1777, and was titled, "Geographical and Historical New Description of the Karlovac Generalate in the Kingdom of Croatia." The bas-relief sculpture was created by Rumanian sculptor George Dan Istrate.

17. The Otochaner – The bas-relief sculpture of the Otochaner (Ototschaner) is a symbolic depiction of the Otočac Regiment (1746–1881). The Otočac Regiment (German: Ototschaner Regiment No° 2) was established on 4 August 1746, as part of the effort of reforming the Military Frontier during the rule of Maria Theresa. It extended from the Adriatic Sea (exclusive of Senj) all the way to the border with Bosnia, encompassing roughly the northern half of the present-day Lika-Senj County. The Regiment's base was in Otočac, which, built as its center, assumed all urban and economic functions for the entire territory in its vicinity. The Otočac Regiment was officially abolished in 1881, when the Military Frontier was demilitarized. The bas-relief sculpture of the Otochaner was created by German sculptor Korbinian Huber.

18. Nikola Maštrović (1791–1851) – A soldier, born in Makarska, Croatia. In 1843 he was appointed brigadier of the Otočac Regiment. Maštrović did not stay long in Otočac, only from 1843 to 1849. Even during this short time, he was remembered as the "father of the region" for his goodness toward the poor frontier population. He took care about the overall spiritual and economic development of the regions of Gacka and Krbava, as well as of part of Lika and Podgorje. He encouraged the development of the school system and the building and fitting out of schools in Otočac. He was also a builder of roads, and sought to take care of rational forest management and watercourses. He promoted the building of churches in the localities where there were none, while those that were built but neglected he sought to renew and supply with the necessary church inventory. During his service in the Otočac Regiment not one person died of starvation. He helped the sick and the infirm, and, in 1845 and 1846, used his own money to buy grains for frontier guards in dire need. In 1845, he printed a little book titled, "A Book by Mister Oberstar Maštrović to His Otochaners." In early 1844, he organized a theater group in Otočac that gave performances in Croatian, much earlier than such performances were given in Zagreb. The bas-relief sculpture was created by Mexican sculptor Carlos Roberto Monge Sanchez.

19. Nikola Mašić (1852–1902) – A painter, born in the town of Otočac in 1852, into a wealthy merchant family. He was interested in painting, and went abroad, attempting to study painting in Vienna, but was unable to pursue his studies due to poor health. He later continued his studies in Graz, and finally graduated from painting in Munich. In 1880 he returned to Croatia and created his famous Posavina paintings. In 1884, he was appointed a teacher at the newly-founded Royal Crafts School, and was chosen as the teacher of drawing at Croatian University. In 1888, he was appointed Director of the Strossmayer Gallery of Old Masters by the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts, a position which lasted until his death. Croatia gave full credit to Mašić: while he was still living he was included in the Album of Meritorious Croats of the 19th Century. In his time, he was much more appreciated abroad than he was in his homeland. He is the greatest painter from Gacka. The town of Otočac paid him tribute by naming a street after him. The bas-relief sculpture was created by Montenegrin sculptor Saša Stanišić.

20. Stjepan Sarkotić (1858–1939) – A soldier, born in the village of Sinac, Croatia, into a military family. He graduated from the Military Academy in Wiener Neustadt and he also finished the War College. His military career was on a meteoric rise, and he was promoted to submarshal in 1911, and in 1912, having succeeded Svetozar Borojević von Bojna as Commander in Chief of the VI Royal Hungarian Honvéd District, he actually commanded the Croatian-Slavonian Home Guard headquartered in Zagreb. In 1914, Emperor Franz Joseph appointed Sarkotić commanding general in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Dalmatia with the responsibility of military governor. With this appointment, Sarkotić had the power of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Dalmatia in his hands. The most glorious moment of Sarkotić's military and political career was the time when he was the last Governor of Bosnia and Herzegovina and military commander of Dalmatia and of defeated Montenegro. He handed over this high official duty on 3 November 1918 to the Central Committee of the National Council of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes for Bosnia and Herzegovina, fighting until his very last breath for the interests of Croats in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Sarkotić was one of the strongest proponents of a tripartite monarchy. He proposed that the Emperor should incorporate Bosnia and Herzegovina into Croatia. Having finished his military career, Sarkotić never took a passive role. He lived in Croatia for a brief period of time, but he settled permanently in Vienna, where he also died and was buried. The bas-relief sculpture was created by Janko Mošnja, a sculptor from Pula, Croatia.

21. Vladimir Varićak (1885–1942) – A mathematician, born in the village of Švica, Croatia, in 1865. He graduated in mathematics and physics from the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb. At first he worked as a secondary school teacher across Croatia, and then in 1891 he received a PhD from the same faculty in Zagreb. He was the head of the Mathematics Department from 1889 to 1942, and, from 1925 to 1928, the head of the Geometric Seminar at the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb. He was a member of the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts (today the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts) since 1903, and he was also a member of the Czech Academy of Sciences and Arts as well as of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts. He contributed to the Encyclopaedia Croatica. His personal scientific preoccupation was non-Euclidean geometry and its application to Einstein’s theory of relativity. He was in correspondence with Einstein from 1909 to 1913, and he was also among the first to study the work of Ruđer Bošković, thus considerably contributing to the analysis of Bošković’s mathematical work. His works in the field of non-Euclidean geometry and the theory of relativity greatly resonated with international scientific circles, and he was widely quoted on his works on the theory of relativity. Dr Vladimir Varićak was a renowned scholar of world reputation, one of the leading European specialists in Einstein’s theory of relativity. The bas-relief sculpture was created by Ljubo de Karina, a sculptor from Brseč, Croatia.

22. Jucci Kellerman (1921–1993) – An actress and producer, born in the village of Švica, Croatia, in 1921. Her real name was Julka Kellerman (her father was of German origin), but her life's path took a turn and she went to Italy where she carved out a career as a film actress, under the artistic name Jucci Kellerman. In Italy she collaborated with distinguished directors and actors such as Roberto Rossellini, Anna Magnani, Federico Fellini, Marcello Paglieri, Massimo Girotti, Carlo Ninchi, Vittorio De Sica, and Mario Soldati. During her ten-year-long career she shot nine remarkable films. Her marriage to Mario Soldati, a famous Italian writer and film director, marked the end of her career. She retreated from acting, but was still involved in film and television production. Jucci Kellerman is the only person in the world of acting who was born in the Gacka region (which she would frequently return to) and whose international film career was successful (this particularly refers to the films Desiderio and L'amore). The bas-relief sculpture was created by sculptress Jasna Šimunović from Zagreb.

23. Alfons Dalma (1919–1999) – A journalist and publicist, born in the town of Otočac under the real name Stjepan Tomičić. When he was only 17 years old he went to Zagreb where he worked as a freelance journalist for the Catholic magazine Hrvatska straža. He began his work as a translator at the Croatian Agency for Journalists. He was also a Paris correspondent. In 1939 he switched to the Catholic magazine Hrvatski glas. After the Independent State of Croatia had been established and the aforementioned magazine had been banned, Tomičić went to work for the newspaper agency Croatia. In 1945 he got through to Vienna and immediately afterwards to Salzburg, where he changed his name to Alfons Dalma. Apart from writing and editing several distinguished magazines in the German language, he reached the peak of his journalistic career when he was named editor-in-chief of Austrian public service broadcaster, the Österreichischer Rundfunk – ORF. For his work, Dalma received several prestigious European awards. In addition to being a journalist, Dalma was a publicist and translator. He published a total of eleven books, most of which deal with political life. Apart from his work as a publicist, Dalma engaged in the translation of Giovannino Guareschi's work "Don Camillo e Peppone" into German ("Don Camillo und Peppone"). The bas-relief sculpture was created by Spanish sculptor Amancio Gonzales Andres.

24. Karlo Mirth (1917–2013) – A publicist, born in Otočac. In Zagreb, he graduated in forestry. While still in secondary school, Mirth published articles in the magazines Lička sloga, Hrvatski dnevnik and Hrvatski narod. In 1945 he emigrated to Italy, where he went to a refugee camp. At the University of Rome, he studied journalism, in Spain he studied Spanish language and culture, while in the USA he studied and earned a MA in both library science and computer science. He initiated the famous magazine Croatia Press, thus spreading truth about Croatia. He was president of the Croatian Academy of America ten times, and in 1993 he was declared Honorary President for Life of the aforementioned institution. In 1958 Mirth initiated the scholarly Journal of Croatian Studies, to which subscribed renowned American and world universities such as Harvard, Yale, Columbia, the libraries of Stanford and Berkeley, numerous universities in Canada, Western Europe, and Australia, in Eastern Europe the universities of Poland, those in the former Czechoslovakia, and Hungary. In the forty years since it was first published, the Journal of Croatian Studies has become the greatest Croatian journal in America. Karlo Mirth, a publicist, editor, polyglot, publisher and essayist, was the leading intellectual figure of the Croatian diaspora in its fight for Croatian national interests in America in the second half of the 20th century. The bas-relief sculpture was created by Marčelo Starčić, a sculptor from Kanfanar, Croatia.

25. Josip Barković (1918–2011) – A writer, born in Otočac. He finished primary school and four years of grammar school in the town of Otočac, and school for teachers in Gospić and Karlovac. He studied at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb, but the war prevented him from graduating. In 1945 he became an editor of informative and cultural programs on the Radio Zagreb. He worked on the editorial board of the weekly Naprijed, and he was also an editor of the cultural section of the same journal. He was an editor of the journals Izvor and Krugovi and editor-in-chief of the cultural section of Vjesnik, a daily newspaper. From 1976 to 1978 he was president of the Association of Writers of Croatia. Barković was a prolific, engaged and self-effacing writer, well-known to a wide circle of book lovers for his novels "Sinovi slobode" (Sons of Freedom) and "Dolina djetinjstva" (The Valley of Childhood), for seven psychological novels which examine social themes and the individual's fate, and also for six collections of stories, one of which is also "Zeleni dječak" (Green Boy), intended for the youngest readers, and particularly for his anthological story "Jabuka" (Apple), without which one could not imagine a good anthology of contemporary Croatian prose. The bas-relief sculpture was created by Canadian sculptor Vincent Di Vincenzo.

26. Zlatko Šimunović (1936–1995) – A painter, born in the town of Otočac. In 1962 he graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in the class of Professor Marino Tartaglia. After that he worked in the Master’s Workshop of Professor Krsto Hegedušić. He was famous across the globe for his mobiles and transformobiles, various spatial forms which were modifiable. In 1970, Šimunović was included in the two-volumed work "Art and Artistic Form," published by Larousse, as one of some twenty artists from the former Yugoslavia who belonged to the Constructivist movement, i.e., geometrism. His art solutions are based on the basic geometric shapes that are transformed and separated with mathematical precision. In 1979 Morton Davis used one of his constructions as an illustration of his work "Mathematically Speaking." He was involved in design and television set design, illustrations and caricature, interior furnishings and other applied tasks, but he devoted much of his oeuvre to obsessional visions of the beyond, precise structures of polymorphic takes, and ludic inventions. The bas-relief sculpture was created by Gabriele Gottoli, a sculptor from Verona, Italy.

27. Aurel Kostelić (1933–1996) – Full professor at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture, born in the town of Otočac. He graduated from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture in Zagreb, where he also received his PhD in 1975. He introduced a number of new subjects in the classroom: Application of Electronic Computers, Product Design, Computer Design, Engineering Science, Informatics and Modeling, and Product Theory. He was the initiator of the idea of establishing the Computer Building Design Practice Course at the Faculty. He was a guest scholar at foreign universities (Houston, Los Angeles, Rome, Milan), the postgraduate study at the European Center for Peace and Development (ECPD) of the United Nations, and participated in the founding of graduate studies in Electrical Engineering at the University of Osijek. In international scholarly circles Professor Kostelić is recognizable as the founder of the Theory of the Product, which he developed as a member of the WDK (Workshop Design Konstruction), The International Society for Design Science, and as a member of the International Editorial Board of the Journal of Engineering Design. Kostelić was also a talented musician, had a pleasant baritone voice and sang for some time in the Ivan Goran Kovačić Academic Choir. The bas-relief sculpture was created by Russian sculptor Nikolay Borisovich Burtasenkov.

28. Slavica Maras-Mikulandra (1933 - 2010) – A Croatian film, stage and television actress and poet, born in the town of Otočac ("Croatian, born in Otočac" – as she would proudly emphasize). She attended the Zagreb Academy of Dramatic Arts in Zagreb, and graduated in the class of Professors Branko Gavella and Georgij Paro. With her husband Marko Mikulandra, she founded and was in charge of the OFF Theater Bagatella, a cult theatre in Zagreb. It was the first off-theatre in Croatia, the exact opposite of great, traditional theatres with a classical repertoire. The launch of the first independent theatre academy, The Off Theatre Bagatella Academy, from which many theatre and film stars have emerged, was also due to the efforts of Slavica Maras. She was a versatile personality. She published several collections of poems: "Konstatacija jedne mačke" (The Constatation of a Cat), "Tragovi krokodila" (Crocodile Tracks), "Četiri zida života" (The Four Walls of Life), and "Mom stoljeću" (To My Century). She also released vinyl records and CDs with chansons which are sung and recited. The bas-relief sculpture was created by Mexican sculptor Carlos Roberto Monge Gonzales.

29. The 133rd Brigade of the City of Otočac – The official order to establish the 133rd Brigade (The Brigade of the City of Otočac) of the Croatian National Guard was issued on 19 October 1991. Its beginnings date back to the middle of July 1991. Owing to the weapons which were confiscated when the barracks of the City of Otočac were captured, the 133rd Brigade of the City of Otočac, together with the special police units of the Croatian Ministry of the Interior, started military operations for the liberation of the villages of Brlog, Rapain Klanac, Rapain Dol, Ponori, Gorići, Prokika, and Hrvatsko Polje. Following these successes, in November, together with some segments of the 111th Brigade of the City of Rijeka and the First Brigade, the 133rd Brigade of the City of Otočac captured the villages of Drenov Klanac and Staro Selo. These were followed by the villages of Tukljace and Novo Selo. Together with the 111th Brigade, it captured the village of Čanak. In the autumn, the 133rd Brigade of the City of Otočac of the Croatian National Guard changed its name to the 133rd Brigade of the City of Otočac of the Croatian Army. In 1994 the Brigade was restructured into the 133rd Domestic Regiment, and this unit was permanently disbanded in 1995. It is to the 133rd Brigade of the City of Otočac of the Croatian National Guard, and later the 133rd Brigade of the City of Otočac of the Croatian Army, in other words, to its members, who were predominantly the native people from the Gacka region, that we should thank for the defense of the City of Otočac and the surrounding places with the predominant Croatian population. It is them that we should thank for preventing the penetration of the so-called Yugoslav People’s Army and the Chetniks. It is owing to this brigade that the number of the native Croatian people who were displaced was very small. The emblem of the 133rd Brigade (The Brigade of the City of Otočac) of the Croatian National Guard was created by Janko Mošnja, a sculptor from Pula, Croatia.

30. Egon Matijević (1922 –2016) – A chemical engineer, a scholar of world reputation, born in the town of Otočac (which he regularly emphasized in his biographies). He went to secondary school in Osijek, Croatia, and graduated from the Faculty of Technology in Zagreb, where he also obtained his PhD in 1948. As a scholar, he began his work at the Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb. In 1956, he went to Cambridge University, and then to Clarkson University, Potsdam, USA, where he remained for the rest of his life. His scholarly work mostly focused on colloidal particles, particles which are largely used today in the pharmaceutical industry, the paper industry, in detergents, artificial ceramic substances, etc. Matijević's scholarly oeuvre includes some five hundred works. He was the recipient of numerous awards and accolades, among which four honorary doctorates occupy a special place. In 2002, The Egon Matijević Award in Chemistry was established by Clarkson University. In the circle of US intellectuals of Croatian origin, his involvement in the struggle to recognize Croatia as a sovereign and independent state was particularly noticeable. The bas-relief sculpture was created by Ivan Briski, a sculptor from Zagreb.

31. Dražen Bobinac (1953–2010) – A politician, born in the town of Otočac. He became known to a wider public through his political career, his engagement in the Croatian Democratic Union at the beginning of the democratic changes. In January 1990, he is one of the founders of the first committee of the Croatian Democratic Union for the regions of Gacka, Lika, and Krbava. In the first democratic elections he was elected a representative in the Council of Municipalities. He was the Croatian representative in the Council of Republics and Provinces of the then Yugoslavia. In the elections that followed he was elected a representative in the Croatian National Parliament for three more terms in office. He was actively involved in the defense of his homeland in the Gacka region, which earned him the rank of colonel. In 1993 he was elected the first Mayor of the City of Otočac. He performed the duty of the Mayor and served three terms in office. The bas-relief sculpture was created by both Šime Vidulin, a sculptor from Pula, Croatia, and Ivan Briski, a sculptor from Zagreb.

32. The City of Otočac – The City of Otočac was founded by the Law on Local Government and Self-Government in 1992. The constitution of the City of Otočac was completed on 10 April 1993. Over the course of its history the City of Otočac has acquired the status of city three times. In the Gacka Park of Croatian Memory, the date of 5 March 1460 is engraved on a single cube. This is precisely the date when the City of Otočac was declared civitas, the city, by Pope Pius II so that the City of Otočac could be the seat of the diocese. Otočac was declared a city (military community) again during the 18th century at the time of the Military Frontier and the Second Otočac Regiment. Finally, Otočac was proclaimed city in 1993. The name of Otočac also appeared on Baška tablet ("And in those days Nicholas in Otočac was joined with St. Lucia") at the very end of the 11th century, and then it reappeared during the Middle Ages in a number of charters. At the beginning of the 14th century, once it even appeared as terra Otozaz, while later it became a fortified town (castrum Othochach). Its existence, as a settlement, has certainly been unquestionable. Recent archeological research shows that the archaeological remains found on the islet on which the fortified burg (the town) of Otočac was built, are a testimony to a prehistoric layer. Thus, the existence of settlements can be dated back to more than a thousand years earlier. Thus, the settlement implies several thousand years of uninterrupted history and the continuity of life. The coat of arms of the City of Otočac was created by sculptor Marčelo Starčić from Kanfanar, Croatia.


KUU Gacka

Ličko Lešće lies on the left bank of the river Gacka along the Otočac-Gospić road. There is also a railroad through the village. Lešće is located in the Gacka valley between the slopes of Kapela and Velebit mountains, surrounded by a mountain range on three sides.

The evidence of human habitation in this area can be traced back to the Middle Stone Age with the earliest finds, as old as 10000 - 4000 B.C. discovered in the Pećine cave site.  Numerous charred remains of animal bones and bones with clear traces of stone tools indicate the presence of a Middle Stone Age material culture. In the Late Bronze Age, Lešće was inhabited by Iapodes tribes as confirmed by ceramic fragments found in the Pećine cave. There is also evidence of Roman and ancient Croatian settlers. From the ancient Roman period there are two limestone bases with inscribed texts in honour of the Roman emperors Augustus and Trajan. In the Pećine cave there is a clean and clear stream called Kostelka   (Tepli potok) and a number of smaller streams suitable for fishing.

In the village centre there is a Baroque church devoted to St. Mary of the Rosary (popularly known as St. Rosary) originally built in 1700 and rebuilt in 1786. The church has Rococo altars, pulpit, baptismal font and well-preserved liturgical vessels. There is also a small church dating back to 1721, the St. Francis, with walls built from stones of the ruined ancient Roman Arupium with fragments of Latin texts.
With the arrival of the Croatian settlers Ličko Lešće embraced a new culture and new customs. Cultural life was vibrant among the population. However, no written records are available to tells us about the life of the villagers and their customs of song, music and dance.

The first organized cultural group emerged in 1928 as the peasant culture association "Seljačka sloga" (Peasant Unity) Ličko Lešće.

A tamburitza ensemble called "Javor" (Maple) was set up. The initiator of the group was Delko Bogdanić, the son of Ilija Bogdanić, one of Lika’s biggest entrepreneurs. The Bogdanić family paid for all the instruments for the group. Taught by Delko Bogdanić himself, the young and talented tamburitza players, all of them working in a sawmill in Lešće owned by the Bogdanić family, soon developed into a very good vocal tamburitza ensemble. Among them: Frane Marić (Đukan), Mate Vašarević (Mrka, Golubica, singer), Mate Vašarević (Šajan), Ivan Marić (Starešina), Tomo Orešković (Tomac), Dragan Ostović (Babić), Stjepan Ostović, Dragan’s brother, Marko Babić (Markus), Frane Kovačić (Dancik), Nikola Dujmović (Knez), Joso Ladišić (Šnjapar), and Stjepan Orešković (Stipurina, singer).
The ensemble had its first performances in Ličko Lešće, Sinac and other villages in the Sinac municipality, and later performed in Otočac, Perušić, Gospić and Senj municipalities. “Javor” also participated in the Zagreb Folk Festival with one of the ensemble members attracting special attention both with his singing skills and his rugged highlander physique – Stjepan Orešković (Stipurina). A photo of this hero from Ličko Lešće has for many years appeared on the cover of the Croatian Cultural Heritage, a publication issued in Zagreb. The name written under the photo said Mane from Popina, a false name used to conceal the identity of Stjepan Orešković from Ličko Lešće during the dictatorship of King Alexander.
In 1936, a Community Centre was set up in Vrilo, providing the two culture groups with better conditions for practice. After a local shop owner, Perica Pleša, who built the building for his shop (today housing a post office) had gone bankrupt a few year later, the building was put up for auction and bought by Seljačka Sloga as a venue for cultural events in Lešće. Javor continued in existence until the Second World War. As almost all ensemble members were employed with Ilija Bodganić, his son Delko was able to take them off work and pay them their daily allowances for the interests of the ensemble, thus promoting the culture of the village of Lešće in other parts of Croatia. The 1930s were a period of national awakening in Croatia, a movement lead by Vlatko Maček which resulting in the Cvetković-Maček Agreement and the creation of the Banate of Croatia.
After the Second World War, when the tamburitza ensemble and all other forms of cultural activity came to a standstill, teachers Milan and Mandica Sabljak revived the cultural life in the village by forming youth folk and drama groups. Rehearsals were held in the school next to the church. They were soon joined by tamburitza players Franjo Marić (Đukan), Ivan Marić (Starešina), Tomo Orešković (Tomac), Stjepan Kolak (Žiža), Dane Kovačić (Trapan), Dragan Ostović and others. Collective folk dance Kolo, singing with tamburitza accompaniment and male a cappella singing were rehearsed in preparation for the first Folk Festival in Zagreb in 1947. Stjepan Kolak (Kekljin) was then in charge of the culture group.
Among the outstanding members of the male singing group were: Franjo Orešković (Stipurina), Stjepan Orešković (Stipurina), Dane Kovačić (Trapan), Jure Marković (Bracan), Milan Jakšić (Jovan), Ivan Jakšić. At the Folk Festival in Zagreb they performed the song "Oj Livado zelena bujado" (Oh Meadow, Green Ferns), and Dane Kovačić (Trapan) had a solo performance with the song "Čuvam ovce i sjedim u ladu i studiram za koga da me dadu" (I Tend to My Sheep, Sitting in the Shadow, Musing about Whom to Marry). The folk group performed the collective folk dance Ličko Kolo and the tamburitza ensemble played the song "Junak sam iz Like ja" (I’m a Hero from Lika). The prominent members of the folk group included: Manda Kolak (Rođina), Francika Kolak, Kata Kolak, Mandica Orešković, Luca Orešković. Parallel to the formation of peasant cooperatives in Yugoslavia, community centres began to be built in villages throughout the country. With the construction of a Community Centre in Ličko Lešće in 1949, even better conditions were created for further development of the already vivid cultural life in the village.

When the teacher Milan Sabljak left Lešće to move to Zagreb, a great vacuum was created in the cultural life of the village, however, thanks to a group of young enthusiasts, among them Dane Orešković (Tomac), Tomo Orešković (Tomac), Milan Kolak (Nanika), Ivan Marić (Miloš) and others, a dance group met each Sunday in the Community Centre in Ličko Lešće. Though not a formally organized group, they worked on their own initiative until arrival of Stevica Uzelac as school headmaster and Mandica Šerić as teacher of music and traditional Lika dance. Under the guidance of Mandica Šerić, school children from Ličko Lešće took part in a festival (Slet) in Otočac which was taking place on a football pitch. The students of the elementary school in Ličko Lešće performed a Kolo dance "Ej mati, mati" (My Mother)  in the Open University Community Centre.
In the early 1960s, Željko Pavelić (Buban), a teacher from Otočac, moved to Lešće. He immediately started teaching children how to play tamburitza and founded a large student tamburizta ensemble. This ensemble yielded a number of important tamburitza players who diligently practiced the tamburizta until the foundation of the Arts and Culture Society (KUD) “Ružica Brkljačić”. There was also a drama group under the guidance of Stevica Uzelac and  Mandica Šerić as well as a folk and tamburitza groups. The drama group had many notable performances with the play "Klupko" (Hank) by Pero Budak accompanied with folk and tamburitza performances. Notable members of the drama group include: Manda Kolak Ćuić, Stjepan Kolak, Nikola Bodlović (Režo), Katica Uzelac (teacher), Ankica Vukmanić (teacher). They held performances in Lešće at all major events (Labour Day, New Year’s Day, Women’s Day). They also had performances in Donje Kosinje, Švica and Sinac. Towards the end of the 1960s, the cultural activity in the village became almost extinct save for some school activities thanks to the efforts of Mandica Šerić. In 1972, following the reconstruction of the Community Centre, the Scout Association of Croatia launched a project "Ništa nas ne smije iznenaditi" (Nothing Can Surprise Us) in the village. On this occasion,  Branko Ćuić, Živko Marić, Joso Marić, Dane Čop, Tomo Kolak, and Tomo Grčević and some other enthusiasts started collecting the surviving violins and organizing tamburitza dance events. With the money raised they bought new tamburitzas from the artisan tamburitza maker "Stjepan Gilg" in Sisak. The revival of the tamburitza ensemble gave new hope for the rejuvenation of cultural life in the village. A new seed was planted and nurtured by Joso Marić (Đukan) until the foundation of the KUD "Ružica Brkljačić".

During the periods when the ensemble was inactive, some enthusiast players continued to play at wool spinning and down plucking gatherings, allowing the tradition to be preserved. After the Second World War, until KUD "Ružica Brkljačić" was set up, the cultural activities in the village were organized under the auspices of the Ličko Lešće Elementary School. The school teachers played an important role as instigators of all cultural life activities. The young people of Lešće were also active in the public and cultural life of the village through the youth organization. Despite the fact that they were sometimes quite inactive, the Youth Organization has still made a significant contribution to the preservation of the traditional heritage and encouragement of cultural life in the village. In 1980, the need arose for setting up an art and culture society (KUD – Kullturno-Umjetničko Društvo). Housed in the Ličko Lešće Elementary School, the KUD came about on 20th April 1980 through the initiative of a group of enthusiasts. On 20th April 1980, the following villagers met with the aim to set up the KUD: Mićo Orlović, Dragan Orešković (Paja), Dragan Orešković (Belaš), Luka Orešković, Dane Čop, Tomislav Madžar, Tomislav Jergović (Trumba), Franjo (Mićo) Rupčić, Orešković Ivan (Buco). Dragan Orešković (Paja) was elected the first president by the constituent assembly, with Tomislav Madžar elected as secretary and Branko Vašarević as treasurer of the organization. All the villagers who could play the tamburitza and all men and women who could sing well joined the society. Housed in the premises of the Elementary School, the KUD practiced songs which they would soon perform throughout Lika and other parts of Croatia, but also abroad where they presented their local customs to Croatian workers temporarily employed outside the country. The tamburizta ensemble was made up of the following members: Frane Marić (Đukan), Joso Marić, Mate Kolak (Žiža), Dragan Orešković (Belaš), Tomislav Jergović (Trumba), Mile Polić, Tomo Kolak (Žiža), Mile Vuić, Dane Čop, Jurica Ostović, Ivan Orešković (Šinđa), Josip Žanić (Čiko), Biserka Tonković, Nevenka Bobinac, Ružica Marić Mandica Šerić, Ana Čop, Nada Kraljić, Ivan Orešković (Buco), Milan Jakšić, Milan Orešković, Drago Adamović, Josip Žanić (Čikin), Anka Kolak (Žižina), Jadranka Gomerčić, Janja Kraljić Franjo Rubčić, Nikola Kraljić, Tomica Kraljić, Ankica Dujmović (Vidova).

The first record with authentic traditional songs of Ličko Lešće was recorded in 1982. A second audio cassette was recorded in 1984. The KUD had two performances in Switzerland, in addition to performances in Otočac, Gospić, Pašman, Ogulin and other towns in Croatia. In 1986, the  KUD took part in the TV show "Lički divani" (Lika Coversations) made by the Zagreb TV.  In 1986, the first video recording showing a down plucking gathering with the songs "Oj livado zelena bujado" (Oh Meadow, Green Ferns), "Oj medvjede gorska životinjo" (Bear, the Animal form the Mountain) and others. In the same year, the KUD appeared on the TV show "Oj slobodo bistra vodo" (Freedom, You Are  Clear as Water). Dragan Belaš founded a tamburitza school to teach the young generations of elementary school children how to play tamburitza. In 1994, Mato Čop, the managing director of "Industrogradnja" from Zagreb reconstructed the Community Centre in Vrilo, originally built in 1936 by Seljačka Sloga.  Following its reconstruction the Community Centre became the property of the KUD. For unknown reasons, the Community Centre in Lešće was registered as property of the Agricultural Cooperative in Otočac. Towards the end of the 1990s, the Otočac Agricultural Cooperative suffered the same fate as the rest of production facilities in the town of Otočac region and was dissolved. The Community Centre was built by the villagers who contributed both labour and financial donations.

Thanks to Mato Čop, the rebuilt Community Centre is Vrilo is now available to the inhabitants and the KUD as a place where they can get together for meetings and other activities. Since the founding of the KUD in 1980, Mate Čop has been the principal sponsor of all major performances, audio and video recordings. Mato Čop remained the honorary president of the KUD until his death. During the recent independence war in Croatia, KUD’s activities waned as most members of the KUD were actively involved in the defence of the village and the country. In 1994, the KUD members gathered again and resumed their activities. At the assembly meeting the KUD changed its name from KUD "Ružica Brkljačić" to Arts and Culture Association (KUU) "Gacka" Ličko Lešće. The elected presidents of the KUU were: Franjo Rubčić, Milan Matasić (Prća), Ivan Orešković (Šinđa), Darko Orešković (Mićanov), Tomo Jagodić (Tule), Julica Banić (Brižanova), Tomislav Jergović (Trumba), Tomo Jagodić (Tule) – elected for two terms, and the current president Đurđa Orešković (since 2009). Todays president is Ivan Marković.

The KUD had notable performances at the following events: County Folk Festival in Otočac, Bread Festival in Gospić, the Feast of Our Lady of Carmel in Kuterevo, Vinkovci Autumn Festival (twice), Zagreb Folk Festival in 1998, Regional Folk Festival in Gradiška, Lika Evening in Slavonski Brod in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, Spring Festivities (Prošarica) in Slavonski Brod in 2003 and 2006, Male A Cappella Singing Groups in Ivanić Grad, performances in Otočac at the Town of Otočac Day festivities, Folk Festival in Perušić "Ide jesen, ide ličko prelo" (Autumn Comes, the Wool is Spun), Ostrovački Lišani, Šibenik, Mirlović Zagora, the Lace Festival  “Šlingani Dani" in Jalžabet, performances in Switzerland (twice), and Stuttgart.

Also, the KUD has regular performances in Ličko Lešće at religious events and festive liturgies, and in Sinac.
Tomo Jagodić – Tule started the initiative, through the Ministry of Culture, to protect “ojkanje” and “rozganje” singing as intangible cultural heritage. The proposal sent by the Ministry to UNESCO was accepted and KUU Gacka received the UNESCO Cultural Heritage Charter (Bear, the Animal from the Mountain). The Croatian Prime Minister Ms  Jadranka Kosor handed over the Charter to Tomo Jagodić – Tula on 20th February 2011.

This history is based on memories of the children of the oldest members of the Society who have long been dead, the memories of the author based on the stories of these people, and based on the memories of individual members of the KUD. Those who have read this text, and can provide information about the KUD, which they have obtained from their cousins, fathers, grandfathers or neighbours, are invited to submit their remarks and suggestions for improvement of this text to the e-mail address of the Lika-Senj County Association of the Blind and Vision Impaired or the address of KUU Gacka in Ličko Lešće. After we collect the required data, we will try and write a book about the KUD, which would be the first book ever to be written about Ličko Lešće by the people of Lešće themselves.

Address: KUU "Gacka"
53224 Ličko Lešće
IBAN-HR 30 2402006 1100132554
Account No.: 2402006-1100132554


Family farms in Otočac



Luka 2, Otočac


Prerađevine od voća ( pekmezi, sokovi, džemovi)



Ivana Mažuranića 10, Otočac

med -053-773-191



Kuterevo 21a




KUD Lipa

Cheese dairy in Otočac



Špilnički odvojak 5, 53220 Otočac

Phone +385 53 771 177,


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M. Krleže 21. 53220 Otočac

Phone./Fax. 053 / 772 581 Mob. 098 / 768 220


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The springs of the Gacka river

During the 20th century about sixty water mills were operating on the Gacka river and its tributaries. Today only a few water mills at the river springs in Sinac are still used for grinding grain in the traditional way using the river’s water power. Continuing in harmony and collusion between man and nature, as objects signifying their accord and cooperation, the water mills safeguard the memory of old, extinct trades.

The millstones on the Sinac scaffolds were grinding away incessantly, day and night, throughout the year, accompanied by the roar and murmur of water. In times of big floods or low water levels of the river Lika, people would travel for hours from the remote parts of the Krbava and Lika regions to grind their grains during the peak period from threshing season to late autumn. Grain was transported on oxcarts or packsaddles, or on sledges in winter, horse-drawn carts still being a rarity. The place was bustling with movement, with life and people;  on some days as many as twenty cart-loads were brought, with villagers waiting in a queue for their turn to mill the grain. It is hard to imagine that this dying village was ones a prosperous milling community. The centuries-old tradition of milling has been preserved not only as an important commercial activity, but also as a way to exchange knowledge and experience, to make important bonds and friendships and converse with others with plenty of jokes and laughter.
As they had to wait for their turn, the peasants brought food and hay for the cattle.  Sometimes they had to wait two or three days until it was their turn in the milling queue, in which case the miller provided them with food and accommodation as well as hay for the cattle. The mill owner had to make sure that enough bread was baked each day. Besides, he had to take care of his reputation, secure the grain and make sure the grain is always finely ground. On the other hand, some millers were only interested in the millstone turning and in the milling being finished quickly so as increase the profits from their service. The milling trade was therefore considered an easy way to earn money and a secure source of income. However, the millstones required maintenance. They had to be removed every couple of days, depending on the amount of grain processed, and had to be sharpened.Only the most skilled millers knew how to chisel the stone, place it in circular wood forms and cover it with resin, and after the resin had hardened, nail it with brass rings.

A single water mill had more than one owner with each of them entitled to use a single millstone according to a predefined schedule. They were "holders of the line", a right acquired by inheritance, donation or acquisition of shares. Even women were entitled to it through dowry.
Today, at the beginning of a new century, the water mills at the springs of Gacka are still standing as monuments of traditional architecture, with the clatter of millstones.
Visit us and experience the centennial peace of old water mills, either on your own or in a group. For sightseeing tours and demonstration of the grain milling process, cloth fulling and wool rug weaving,  please announce your visit directly to:

Jure Majer, the Miller
Phone:  +385 92-105-1466

Jure Kolaković, the Miller
Phone: +385 99-571-6940


KUD Dangubice Kuterevo

08.10.2011.godine. was founded with the desire to preserve traditions and customs, songs and dances of his village and the whole Kutereva based. What we want to preserve them from oblivion is playing the tamburitza-dangubica or as it is called more and kuterevka original speech of his village. They were named after Kuterevskoj tamburitza called kuterevka or dangubuci that the original instrument Kutereva village and which is still made in Kuterevo with family Šporčić, everywhere-in the act about 50 members of different ages. The CAS operates in several sections as Dangubaška groups, drama, folklore ..

We played at various festivals and events, "Kuterevska evening" in Zagreb, on 14 and 15 Festival Lika-in Otocac, the feast of St. Elijah in Sinac, 11.Međunarodnoj festival of original folklore titled "The old chest open," the Husband and the 47th Vinkovci Autumn, 5 Evenings songs of folklore and old customs in Zemunik, the ninth Angel folklore festival in Vidusevac and many hot events and events ..

Bank account: HR9524020061100621989


Head of the company's : Matej Šporčić; vice president: Mandica Marinić, secretary: Lucija Šporčić i treasurer Mirjana Malčić.

You can contact us at the number : 385 99 590 7787

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facebook page: KUD "Dangubice" Kuterevo

Velebit Bear Orphanage

The village of Kuterevo is situated at the north-east slope of the Mount Velebit along the border of the Velebit Nature Park. Apart from forestry, the people of Kuterevo are still  engaged in the old craft of woodworking. Kuterevo lies in the proximity of the Senj - Otočac – Plitvice road, with the Otočac - Krasno - Sv. Juraj road running along the west fringes of the Kuterevo valley.

Owing to its geographic location in North Velebit in the vicinity of an area densely populated by bear habitats, Kuterevo has become home to the first Bear Orphanage in Croatia, providing shelter to young, abandoned bears.

The bear orphanage project (popularly known as: The Velebit Bear) has been initiated by the Croatian Centre "Knowledge for Environment" and is implemented on site by the Velebit association Kuterevo – VUK. The project is aimed to build and establish the first bear orphanage in Croatia in order to help efficiently protect the brown bear species and to contribute, through education of the local population and visitors, to a better awareness of the valuable biodiversity in the Velebit Nature Park area and the need for its preservation.

The Kuterevo Orphanage is run by a team of nature lovers composed of biology and environmental protection experts and layman volunteers who are motivated by their great love of bears. They all selflessly care for the bear inhabitants of Kuterevo and are anxious to provide the young animals with a safer future and the living conditions as similar as possible to their original habitat.

The Velebit Bear Orphanage in Kuterevo will serve as part of the visitor centre as well as being an attractive site for the promotion of the Velebit Nature Park.

The first inhabitants of the Orphanage: the bear couple Mrnjo Brundo and Janja Zora.

To visit the Orphanage, please make an appointment at:
Fax: +385 53 799 600
Phone. +385 53 799 222
Mobile: + 385 91 583 54 12
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Activities Coordinator: Ivan Crnković – Pavenka
Project Manager: Vladimir Lay, D.Sc.

Professional Guidance: Prof. Đuro Huber, D.Sc.

FD Otočac

Folklore Society "Otocac" established by the decision of the Governing Council of 15 September 1998, under the name of Folklore Society "Gacko Valley", and renamed its present name in 2000. It brings together about 70 members of all ages and it tamburica, original, folk and children's section. Nurture chakavian dialect, folk customs and dances Gacka and other Croatian regions.

The success of his work was confirmed by a series of performances at home and abroad. They participated in numerous folklore festivals, occasional events and all-night cultural programs, a record participation in the shooting of documentaries on traditional heritage and in the series "A lovely our". Folklore Society "Otocac" He has made the album titled "River Gacka, you are our pride."


Head of the Folklore Society Otočac: Vera Dasović
phone: +385 98 948 0481
e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Croatian Centre for Indigenous Water Fish and Crawfish Species

The Croatian Centre for Indigenous Karst Water Fish and Crawfish Species was set up in Otočac in 2006. The founders are the Town of Otočac, the Croatian Chamber of Economy, the Ruđer Bošković Institute and the company Gacka d.o.o. The Centre operates as an independent association of legal entities.

•    Scientific research of indigenous karst water fish and crawfish species, with emphasis on their genetic profile and spawning
•    breeding fry for karst water restocking
•    development of projects and programmes for commercial breeding of indigenous karst water fish and crawfish species  
•    branding

The highest managing body of the Centre is the Council and the Centre manager is responsible to the Council. Each of the founders of the Centre has one member appointed in the Centre Council. The relationships and mutual rights and obligations of each founder are regulated in an organisational plan. Promotion and market presence are defined in the marketing plan through the marketing mix (production, price, distribution and promotion).

The project was developed over a period of three months for the EU Phare 2005 BRI programme. The project applicant is the Town of Otočac with partners: Croatian Chamber of Economy, Otočac County Chamber, Gacka d.o.o., Tourist Board Otočac and associated partner IRB, Zagreb. The project was submitted in February 2007 with an initial project value of EUR 722,389.00. In October 2007, the project went through two evaluation phases. After two month’s negations the total project value was reduced to EUR 630,222.85 (75% EU, 25% applicant and partners), cutting back on 2 technical assistance funds, staff allowances, vehicle maintenance, etc. The co-funding agreement was signed on 29 October 2007.

The Centre was officially opened on 28 November 2008.

Turistička zajednica Grada Otočca

Kralja Zvonimira 17, 53220 Otočac
Fax: +385 (0)53 - 771 603
Tel: +385 (0)53 - 771 603

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