Monday, May 28, 2012

Zagreb Mosque and Islamic Centre - Zagreb, Croatia

Zagreb mosque today- built in connection of tradition and modernity 
In the Second World War, the mufti of Zagreb, Ismet Muftic was executed by the Partisan in 1945. The establishment of communism after the war had huge implication on the political and social changes which also impacted the Zagreb Muslim community. In 1948, the old Zagreb Mosque was demolished and since then, restoring the Muslim institution is difficult under unfavorable circumstances. The foundation stone of the new Zagreb Mosque was laid in 1981 in the suburb of Zagreb and finally, the present Zagreb Mosque and Islamic Centre was completed and opened to public in 1987 (www.islamska-zajednica.hr)

The mosque was built by the Zagreb builders “Tehnika” and the architect, Džemal Čelić is a Professor at Sarajevo University, Bosnia and Herzegovina. His design was co-authored by Mirza Gološ, an architect from Sarajevo, while Ešref Kovačević, the best known Bosnian calligrapher of the time, took charge of the calligraphy (www.islamska-zajednica.hr).

We went to the tourist information centre in Galvni Kolodvor but the direction given wasn't very clear. We tried to ask people we met at the tram station but not all knew where the place is. Finally, after a long walk we did find the mosque and we had a wonderful lunch at the restaurant in the mosque. Most people in the mosque were very friendly but we were not able to ask much question due to language barrier.

How to go to the mosque?
Take tram no 6, from the tram station in front of Galvni Kolodvor. You can actually take several trams; number 6, 7, 14 and 8 to reach the mosque. But we took tram line number 6 in front of Galvni Kolodvor (the main train station).  Stopped at the Folnegovićevo naselje station and walked about 15 minutes passing the residential flats and once you get on the main road with traffic lights at the junction, the minaret is visible from a distance.

The address of the mosque:

Zagreb Mosque and Islamic Centre
Medžlis of the Islamic community
Gavellina 40
Croatia 10000

The whole complex is 10,000 square meter
Part of the complex
Another view of the mosque
42meters high minaret
The domes resemble shells
Ceramic calligraphy constitutes surah Yassin
The interior of Zagred mosque portrays simplicity 
The first floor is the ladies' hall
The ladies' hall
The main prayer hall
The entrance
The Mihrab is adorned with the calligraphy from Ayatul Kursi
Mimbar where the Imam preaches
Remains from the fence of the old mosque's Mimbar
The mimbar of the old Zagreb mosque 
The remains of the old mosque mihrab exhibited

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Can't Take My Eyes Off You - Plitvice, Croatia

Turquoise blue lake
After the brief stop in Slunj, we continued our journey to Plitvice Lakes National Park which was granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 1979. The 300 square kilometers of National Park has 12 upper lakes and 4 lower lakes join together over a distance of 8km. As a group, we from Malezija, vowed to reach the upper lake, Lake Proscansko at 636meter above sea level and 37meter deep.
Fish in crystal clear water

Bought our tickets for Kuna 110 per person and at 9.51am we started our journey from Entrance 2. Seeing Plitvice for the first time just sway me away. I remember the title of a song - Can’t take my eyes off you, Plitvice! On our way, we were walking through natural woodland sprinkled with waterfalls all over. The sound of drizzling water and colors of the surrounding produce a harmonizing lively effects that evoke our emotions.

Shimmering Lake Proscansko
The chain of unbroken waterfalls laced the lakes, connecting each lake with the others. Every corner, every space of Plitvice would give us a different view with the changing colors of the water from bluish to greenish, depending on several factors such as; day light, brightness of the sky and weather.

We chose trail C which was supposed to take us about 4 to 6 hours of walking but in the end we did trail K for 8 hours plus getting lost in the park on the way back. Plitvice trails are not that demanding but you just have to endure the long hours of walking to explore its beauty. Some of the climb made us breathless but worth it. 
Every station we arrived is sign-posted

On that day, we actually walked about 10 km on the wooden planks and climbed narrow trails on higher ground for the best view. We finally did arrive at the shimmering Lake Proscansko, parading the beautiful reflection of the forest on its greenish water. Absolutely awesome! I don’t think my pictures have done justice to Plitvice. Plitvice, I’m lost for words to describe your stunning beauty.

We met Mirano at Entrance 1 and he was smiling broadly, looking at us and our dirty shoes and attires. On our way back to Zagreb, we fell flat on the bus…terribly exhausted with aching feet and legs. The charming Mirano never give up on us as he pointed towards the burial ground of the war’s first casualty, Josip Jovic, the park police officer who was shot by the Serbs. Our concentration was fading but the day in Plitvice is an unforgettable moment in Croatia.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Hidden Paradise - Slunj, Rastoke, Croatia

Personally, the trip to Plitvice is the highlight of this journey. I have always wanted to see Lake Plitvice for many years. During the 1991-1995 war, the area became inaccessible but just about a decade after the war, the country becomes a popular tourist destination once again and picturesque photos of Plitvice splash all over the internet alluring me. 

Mirano appeared at our hotel for the arranged pick-up to Plitvice. We were lucky to be driven by him. Not only he speaks English very well but to hear the history, economy, culture, war and everything about Croatia from a well-articulated Croatian is a blessing. “Croatia has a very small population…a bit more than 4 million” Mirano told us. “The majority is Croats, some Serbs and less than 1 million Bosniaks (Muslims)” he continued. Once we get out of Zagreb, it is quiet visible that Croatia is not densely populated.

We passed a town which was once heavily attacked by the Serbs during the war. Almost the whole town was destroyed and rebuilt. Mirano showed us houses full of bullets marks on their walls. “It must be a painful memory” I commented. “Well, we try not to think too much of it” he said and “life goes on” he added. The fact that the bullet marks on the walls of houses in the village were left there even they were rebuilt clearly tell us that every dent speaks for itself!

Suddenly, Mirano shifted our conversation on Rastoke. He said that tourists always by-pass this little village, Slunj, on the way to Plitvice. It is such a beautiful place and he proposed that we walked from the main road, down to the village crossing the wooden bridge. Trusting he knows his country well, we gladly accepted his suggestion for a detour. 

How true, we found Slunj so beautifully charming, green and refreshing. Set on the river Slunjcica, the river branches forming waterfall flowing into the Korana River. We walked towards a few houses on the river and visited the old little corn mill operating with the water power. The warm and hospitable villagers offered us some corn bread and as I peeked into their garden surrounded by water, I imagined this beautiful place can be dangerous J. On a much higher and firmer ground of the village, there are accommodations available and I think a one night stay here can be exciting.

Some houses in the village
Decorating the corn mill
The old corn mill operates by the waterfall power below it
She is in charge of the little corn mill
The backyard surrounded with water
Hard Corn Bread
Beautiful surrounding

River Slunjcica