Fortresses, storks, and some rural villages are the area's main attractions, and each is spectacular in its own way.

Smoke & Mirrors

If you look carefully at storks nesting on top of the wooden houses in Cigoc, you'll notice that the houses have no chimneys and the birds have built their nests on roofs. Without chimneys, the structures' fireplaces are vented into the attic area, where the smoke collects and seeps out gradually. Because Croats waste nothing -- not even smoke. Residents use the area under the roof as a smokehouse where they cure ham, sausages, and some cheeses.


A line of Hansel-and-Gretel Posavina houses made of 200-year-old lowland oak timbers comprise Cigoc, but the entrancing village is best known for the dozens of white storks that descend there in early spring to lay their eggs. Just 30km (19 miles) south of Sisak, Cigoc also is noteworthy as a historic military village where Austro-Hungarian troops set up a frontier against the Turkish invasion in the 17th century. However, it is the storks in their enormous nests atop the village's thatched roofs that entice most visitors to stop here and at a string of similar nearby villages (Muzilovcica, Lonja, and Krapje). Bird-watching, hiking in the forest, and communing with nature are the primary activities at Lonsko Polje Nature Park.

Lonjsko Polje Nature Park 

The Lonjsko Polje is Europe's largest wetland nature park, stretching across more than 1,165 sq. km (450 sq. miles) and covering the area southeast from Sisak to Jasenovac, ending at the border with Bosnia. About 25% of this area is protected. Lonjsko Polje is a combination of forests and flatlands that are flooded half the year (approx. Nov-Apr.) The other half of the year, part of Lonjsko Polje is a pasture that supports a herd of indigenous horses known as Posavinas (Posavina is translated as "the area around the Sava River"). The Posavina horses are a protected species of husky wild equines that roam this bio-diverse acreage when the waters recede from the pastureland. Besides Posavina horses, the park is home to 238 bird species and 550 plant species. The area is 40% water and 60% woods and the largest protected wetland in the Danube Basin, Cigoc, is part of this ecological area. If you go, you might run into a member of the environmental group Friends of Lonjsko Polje. They will explain environmental threats to this wetland area to anyone who will listen. The group has launched an initiative promoting rural tourism aimed at allowing area citizens to prosper without ruining Lonjsko Polje's environmental balance.


Sisak  is a sleepy river town about 48km (30 miles) southeast of Zagreb and 23km (14 miles) west of the autocesta from the Popovaca exit. Sisak is a good starting point for a tour of Croatia's eastern and southeastern cities as well as for the Lonjsko Polje (translation: field surrounding the Lonja) wetlands. It's worth a short walkabout, though not much more. Situated near the confluence of the Sava, Odra, and Kupa rivers, Sisak has been a strategic site since Roman times. In fact, the remains of a Roman wall are preserved in front of the St. Cross church on Trg Bana Josip Jelicica in the center of town. Sisak has played a long and storied role in Croatian history. It is famous for a June 22, 1593, battle that ended in a Christian victory preventing the Turks from advancing on Zagreb. Besides its war record, Baroque buildings, and St. Cross church, Sisak is known for an annual Knightly Tournament held in June that includes a couple of days of feasting, jousting, and other colorful exhibitions and competitions to commemorate the 1593 victory.


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