Cultural and historical heritage
Hotel Plitvice was designed by architect Marijan Haberle and associates, and was constructed in the period from 1954 to 1958 on the Velika Poljana plateau. The hotel design is that of a letter T, with multiple floors, and consists of the hotel accommodation section, and the excursion hospitality section, which are united into a single building. The hotel form follows the layers of the landscape, to ensure that it is maximally adapted to the existing depressions and forest environment. In 1977, the hotel was adapted, again based on Haberle’s designs, which saw the main entrance moved into the hotel lobby, with a new reception area, and all rooms were fitted with washrooms. The newest adaptation in 1997 reduced the number of total rooms from 70 to 51, however, no renovations were made to the excursion hospitality section, and this is currently not in operation. The hotel is a protected cultural building and is considered the best Croatian architectural accomplishment in the post-war period following World War II.
To meet the needs of the forestry service, in 1954 three forest lodges were constructed in the park area, though ten lodges were originally planned to be built. The best preserved lodge is situated in Čorkova uvala, while the Poljanak lodge burned down during the Homeland War, and the lodge at Prijeboj is in a dire state of neglect. The Čorkova uvala lodge was designed by architect Ivan Vitić, while the Prijeboj lodge, designed by Zvonimir Marohnić has been protected as a cultural monument. These are small structures with a basement, and residential and commercial premises on the ground floor. Traditional materials, such as stone and wood, were used for their construction, while the roof is shingled. A project to reconstruct the hut at Čorkova uvala has been prepared, and plans are in place to refurbish it to its original condition, though with a somewhat altered organisation of the interior space.
In 1954, four houses to house park staff were constructed based on designs by Lavoslav Horvat in the settlement of Mukinje. The houses were built at the highest part of the settlement as low houses, with a steep gabled roof, such that two flats were on the ground floor, and two in the attic. The main construction materials were stone and wood. All four houses have protected cultural status.
In the same settlement, Horvat designed several structures to turn this area into the administrative and tourism centre of the Plitvice Lakes. The most important of these buildings were the local office (later the post office) and the restaurant with food shop. The buildings have an elongated rectangular form, with steep hip roof and residence areas in the attic space. The buildings were constructed of reinforced concrete, with carved stone used for wall facings. The roof was covered with grey fibre cement panels to imitate wooden shingles, while wooden boards were used on the exposed side surfaces of the roof. Both buildings are protected cultural monuments. The settlement Mukinje is a planned settlement, in which the commercial structures are found at lower elevations, the administrative structure in the middle of the settlement, while the residential structures are on the highest ground.
In the village of Korana, along the northern border of the Plitvice Lakes National Park, there is a water mill and water-driven saw mill. These are among the rare examples of preserved traditional construction and the use of the energy potential of water.
Part of the Korana River has been rerouted to the mill. As the water falls onto the wooden ‘spoons’ of the mill wheel, the axis is turned, which is connected inside the mill to the millstone that turns and grinds the wheat. There are three millstones in the mill, and the miller’s room. The mill once operated such that all the residents in the surrounding settlements had their turn (a specific day in the week) for milling their wheat. This mill was damaged during the Homeland War, but was rebuilt in 2002 to serve as a demonstration for tourists.
The sawmill is about 50 metres from the mill and was constructed in 1922, and also refurbished in 2004. Water power was used to turn the wheel, which then drove the mechanism to operate the vertical saw, while also moving the logs forward on the rack. Side cutting was performed manually to reach the desired thickness of the boards or beams. The sawmill and watermill are both protected cultural monuments.
The Burget hydroelectric plant is situated in the cave next to Burget Lake. It was constructed in 1936 to supply Hotel Plitvice with electricity. This is a small hydroelectric plant with a sluice on Burget Lake, while the plant containing the turbine and generator was housed in a concrete structure and in the cave next to the lake. Unfortunately, due to ill repair, the hydropower plant is not operational, nor is it open to visitors. It is a protected cultural monument, as it represents a valuable example of industrial architecture of the first half of the 20th century.
In several of the settlements in the Plitvice Lakes National Park area, it is possible to examples of the traditional architecture and way of life. The most prominent are the villages of Korana, Gornji Babin Potok, Donji Babin Potok and Vrelo Koreničko. The population primarily works in agriculture and tourism, and it is possible to purchase homemade products such as cheese, spirits, honey and liqueur in most of these villages. These settlements, and many others within the park boundaries, are part of the protected cultural landscape of the Plitvice Lakes National Park.