Currently on a huge European tour to promote their new album released this month, Stories To Tell, US rockers The Hangmen look like they do have a few tales to impart since starting out nearly 40 years ago. It’s a narrative littered with false dawns and enthusiastic restarts, from sharing the same label as Nirvana in 1989 to a near fatal disappearance the following decade, from finding a cult following in Finland to the current release that took 18 months, several studios and no few producers to make. Through it all, frontman Bryan Small has continued to write melodic rock numbers in the classic vein. Choosing to cover Sinister Purpose by Creedence Clearwater Revival on the new album speaks volumes about their heritage. The band appears at Zagreb’s Hard Place (ulica Hrvatske bratske zajednice 4) on Tuesday, October 3. See here for the Facebook event page and tickets.
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The London-based artist Vlatka Horvat will represent Croatia at the Venice Biennale in 2024, it has just been announced. Her project, By the Means at Hand, will tie in with the overall theme of next year’s event, which is ‘Foreigners Everywhere’. Horvat will be exploring the informal ways around Croatia and the world that people manage to deliver mail and money, via friends, family or whatever means available. Given Horvat’s itinerant lifestyle typical of many contemporary artists, this is something close to home – wherever home may be. Born in Čakovec, Croatia, in 1974, Horvat spent her formative years in America. She currently lives in London’s East End, where her first solo show, By Hand, on Foot, was shown in 2022. Working in photography, performance, video, sculpture, painting and installation, to name but a few forms, Horvat has exhibited around the world. She is expected to live in residence during the 2024 Biennale, which takes place from April 20 to November 24.
One of the world’s largest container terminal operators, APM, has just announced a major expansion worth €380 million of the Rijeka waterfront, Croatia’s main commercial outlet to the Adriatic. The so-called Rijeka Gateway will be built in two phases, with more than €200m invested in the first two years and another €180m over the next ten years. The terminal will serve as a main entry point to destinations and markets in the hinterland. It is envisaged that by the time the project is complete, Rijeka will be able to accommodate more than a million units every year, up from 650,000 in the initial stage. APM is linked to Maersk, the main Danish shipping company. Construction will begin in 2025. Right in the middle of the Bay of Kvarner, Rijeka has long been a hub for national ferry carrier Jadrolinija and the main Croatian bus company arriva (formerly Autotrans), as well as an international railway destination with summer services from Prague and Budapest.
The historic seat of the noble Pejačević family, set between Osijek and Kutjevo in Našice, Slavonia, will soon reopen its doors after its major conversion to a five-floor museum and wine bar. Pejačević Palace was built in 1812 for the dynasty that produced two Croatian bans or viceroys, and Croatia’s first female composer, Dora Pejačević, whose mortal remains lie in the crypt of the family chapel here following her death after giving birth in 1923. The grand property is still referred to the Big Palace to distinguish it from the little one, also belonging to the Pejačević family in the same grounds. After World War II, it passed into state hands but the interior remained richly furnished, its art collection intact. Davor Javorovic/PIXSELL In 2015, the City of Našice settled legalties with the heirs of the Pejačević family to became the property owners, and initiated the procedure for its protection and restoration. Receiving financing of more than €11 million from the EU Regional Development Fund, the City was able to raise the €13.3 million necessary to carry out the conversion of the palace to a museum. A permanent exhibition will focus on the Pejačević heritage, particularly the life and work of Dora, and the property will also serve as the headquarters for various cultural institutions. Activities can take place on all five floors, from a large multifunctional hall of 100-seat capacity, to the basement earmarked as a wine bar. Paula Bosančić/PIXSELL
A new series of aerial photographs taken by PIXSELL’s S Šime Zelić has revived the mystery of a ship that sank near the lighthouse at Veli Rat exactly 40 years ago. The Italian cargo ship Michelle, which was carrying fertiliser, ran aground in a storm in May 1983 just off the north-western cape of Dugi Otok, a two-hour ferry journey from Zadar. According to testimony from the lighthouse keeper at the time, the savvy sailors took advantage of the conditions and deliberately diverted the ship into the shallows to claim insurance money for the ageing vessel. If they did, it was a rash move, for local residents of Veli Rat had to come to the rescue of the ailing crew. Sime Zelic/PIXSELL While the Italians unloaded the cargo from the stranded ship and left it at the mercy of the sea, the event proved a turning point. After the Michelle disaster, a law was passed to force ship owners to retrieve their own wrecks from the sea. Nevertheless, the Michelle stayed where she was, exposed for four decades to the waves and the weather. The hull remains surprisingly well preserved, the portholes of the lower deck still visible, as well as the mast – as photos show from recent aerial footage. Only one question still hangs over from 1983: who will come and take away Michelle – and who will pay for it?
Now moving to the Old Tobacco Factory in Rovinj at a prominent location overlooking the Adriatic, the second annual GinIstra festival will showcase dozens of the most interesting producers of gin from across the region and beyond, as well as two nights of live music. The event takes place over the weekend of October 6 and 7, with tickets already going fast. Manufacturers from Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia and Italy will include award-winning Old Pilot’s Gin by Duh i Boci, GinFinity from Belgrave, Australia, and Suza, produced at an old family farm of beekeepers in the hills overlooking Opatija. Davor Puklavec/PIXSELLUrban&4 Popular Croatian rock band Vatra perform on the first night and Rijeka’s alt-rock Urban&4, featuring acclaimed singer-songwriter Damir Urban, on the Saturday. The tobacco factory was built in 1872, producing cigars for officers of the Austro-Hungarian Army. Part of the Italian tobacco network between the war, the plant was nationalised after 1945 and was responsible for the Ronhill cigarette brand, popular across the former Eastern bloc. After production facilities moved to Kanfanar near Rovinj, the old factory has been used to stage showcase events such as Ginistra. GinIstra, Bivša tvornica duhana, Obala Vladimira Nazora, Rovinj. October 6-7. Tickets include consumption of three gin & tonics, your own glass and admission to the live shows.
One of the more unusual attractions in the Croatian capital, the Chocolate Museum Zagreb tells the story of everybody’s favourite delicacy from the exotic jungles of Mesoamerica right through to Willy Wonka. Also focusing on revered domestic brands and the invention of rice chocolate by pioneering confectioners Zvečevo in Požega, the permanent exhibition here touches on the Baroque royal courts of Europe and the labour-intensive factories of England after the industrial revolution. Hour-long guided tours in English and German are a treat for the senses, bookended by a chocolate tasting. The museum hosts workshops and themed events, and contains Zagreb’s only chocolate boutique. Chocolate Museum Zagreb, Varšavska 5 (+385 1 209 2966, firstname.lastname@example.org). Open Tue-Sat 10am-8pm, Sun 10am-7pm.
Dubrovnik-based Embassy Films, responsible for many episodes of hit series Game of Thrones, is currently looking for extras in Zagreb, Rijeka, Pag and Zadar to be part of a major feature film starring Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne. Production starts in Zagreb on September 27 and will also take place in Dubrovnik and Istria. The original cinematic version of Frederick Forsyth’s classic spy novel The Day of the Jackal, involving a plot to kill the president of France, was produced 50 years ago starring Edward Fox. Now London-born Redmayne, who won an Oscar in 2015 for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, will play the lead. Croatia is becoming an increasingly popular location for major film productions, with Kate Beckinsale seen around the streets of Zagreb while shooting Canary Black and Kate Winslet in Dubrovnik for Lee in recent months.
The main connection between Istria and the rest of Croatia, the Učka Tunnel will soon be doubling its capacity thanks to the opening of a new second tube in 2024. Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and other high-ranking officials were on hand to welcome the breakthrough of the new passage, which will allow twice as many drivers to use this vital link below the Učka mountain range that forms Istria’s eastern border. Unveiled in 1981, the Učka Tunnel currently consists of a single tube with two lanes of traffic in each direction and has long been a topic of intense debate over its capacity and safety. A budget of €200 million has been set aside for the completion of an extra tube, expected to open in June 2024.
Croatia can now add a third UNESCO World Geopark to its roster after the inclusion of Biokovo-Imotski Lakes was recently agreed at the council’s annual meeting. The central Dalmatian region rich in natural variety will now be officially added as a Global Geoparks in the spring of 2024, joining the Papuk Nature Park in Slavonia and the Vis Archipelago off the coast of Dalmatia. Overall, there are around 100 UNESCO Global Geoparks in Europe, part of a worldwide network set up to conserve Earth’s geological heritage and promote sustainable research. Overlooking the Makarska Riviera, the Biokovo Nature Park is a long ridge lined with nature trails offering insight into millennia of geological formations and incredible views of the Adriatic beyond. Natural features in the region also include the picturesque Red and Blue Lakes at Imotski, whose water levels rise and fall with the seasons. Biokovo has man-made attractions, too, such as the glass Skywalk installed at Ravna Vlaska in 2020.
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