Cultural Corridors of South East Europe

Heritage by Country / Croatia

Plitvice Lakes National Park

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Plitvice Lakes National Park

About the site

Corridor: Diagonal Road
Country: Croatia, Bihac
Type: Cultural Landscape
World Heritage: Natural Heritage
Cultural LandscapeNatural Heritage

The waters flowing over the limestone and chalk have, over thousands of years, deposited travertine barriers, creating natural dams which in turn have created a series of beautiful lakes, caves and waterfalls. These geological processes continue today. The forests in the park are home to bears, wolves and many rare bird species.


The total area of the Plitvice Lakes National Park is 29.482 ha. The crucial element in the formation of the lakes is travertine and travertine-forming plants, which give the lakes their beauty and unsurpassable attractiveness. The formation of travertine and of the barriers in the river bed has produced a chain of 16 cascading lakes of extraordinary beauty. The entire national park area may be roughly divided into three parts: the catchments area of the limestone-dolomite system in the south-western and north-western part of the park, the north –eastern part of the limestone system and the central part of dolomite system. The permeable catchment area abounds with subterranean forms-caves and pits, and surface karst phenomena-potholes and fields. However, the area is poor in water courses. The limestone peaks arise precisely in this area, including the highest of them all - Seliski (1279 m). Sources appear at contact points with impermeable dolomite, forming numerous streams that feed the lakes. At the bottom of the lower lakes, the water of Plitvice stream cascades over the 78-metre high rock, is forming the Great Cascade, the highest waterfall in Croatia. In the relatively small area, 1267 plant species were found, classified into 112 families. Twenty – two plant species protected by the Croatian Law on the Protection of Nature have their habitat in the park. As far as the animal world of the Plitvice Lakes is concerned, the first animal that comes to mind is the bear, the trademark of the park. But in fact, the wealth of the fauna of the national park is much greater than the reputation of its most attractive representative. A specific feature are travertine caves within travertine barriers. About thirty caves have so far been located in the park. In addition to the caves, various other subterranean forms have developed – pits, sinkholes and ice-pits.

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