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Religious Tourism

Posted in Croatia for body and soul

Aljmas, with the famous shrine of Our Lady of Sanctuary, or Our Lady of Aljmas, is situated on the tri-border area of Slavonia, Backa and Baranja, where the River Drava flows into the River Danube.
Pilgrimages attracting the greatest numbers occur on the occasions of Assumption Day and the Nativity of the Virgin Mary.

Biskupija near Knin

The shrine of Our Lady of Biskupija, or St. Mary of Croatia, is situated in the village of Biskupija, 5 km southeast of Knin, the former church and cultural centre of the Croatian state in the Middle Ages.
The main pilgrimage occurs on the last Sunday in September, when the Holy Virgin’s name is honoured.


In Karlovac, founded in 1579 and which became an important cultural, commercial and industrial centre and whose parish was first mentioned in 1334, among its sacral buildings (including the early Baroque church of the Holy Trinity) the national shrine of St. Joseph on Dubovac is of particular interest. This modern church began to be built in 1968 and was consecrated in 1975.
The most important pilgrimage occurs on 19th March, St. Joseph’s Day.


Ludbreg, a small town in Podravina, 25 km southeast of Varazdin, mentioned in written documents for the first time in 1320, is particularly famous for the unique shrine of the Precious Blood of Jesus.
The main pilgrimage takes place on the first Sunday in September.

Marija Bistrica

The greatest Marian shrine, officially proclaimed a national Marian shrine in 1971, is situated forty km northwest of Zagreb, in Marija Bistrica, first mentioned in written documents in 1209.
Today, this shrine has a beautiful basilica - officially named by Pope Pius XI - and a votive altar which the Croatian Parliament commissioned in 1715. The shrine has been constantly modernised and its ongoing, present-day improvement is a direct result of the visit made by Pope John Paul II on 3rd October 1998. The shrine in Marija Bistrica is the site of the greatest and the most important events in the church calendar, and is visited each year by between 500 and 800 thousand pilgrims. The shrine is open to pilgrims from early spring until late autumn.

Miraculous Statue
At the beginning of the 16th century an unknown local artisan carved a statue in black wood that was placed in a chapel on the nearby hill of Vinski vrh. In 1545, Turks attacked the area and the parish priest concealed the statue within the wall of a church in Bistrica. The priest died shortly afterwards and took the secret of the statue’s hiding place to the grave with him. After a miraculous vision in 1588 the statue was found and restored, only to be secreted once again, in 1650. Finally, the statue was restored on 15th July 1684 and on the very next day a series of miraculous healings and fulfilment of prayers began. Since that day, endless processions of pilgrims have visited Marija Bistrica.

Pilgrimages have been made to Marija Bistrica for 314 years. Every year up to 500,000 believers gather to participate in about fifty regular pilgrimages, which take place between Whit Sunday and Thanksgiving Sunday, at the end of October. The more important pilgrimages have traditional names: Whitsun, Votive of the City of Varazdin, Votive of the City of Zagreb, St. Margaret's, St. Anne's, the Transfiguration of Our Lord, Assumption Day, St. Bartholomew's, the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, and Thanksgiving. The hospitable people of Bistrica ensure that pilgrims are well looked after. Church festivals reflect the traditional customs of the Zagorje region. Masses of people, colourful stands offering hand-made souvenirs, delicious homemade food and drinks, and not least the beautiful surroundings, combine to guarantee an enjoyable stay in Marija Bistrica.


The Sinj shrine is famous all around the world, wherever there are Croats. Numerous pilgrims come here to receive Holy Mary’s mercy and blessing.
Miraculous painting of the Madona of Sinj

In Sinj, the centre of the area of Cetina in the south of Croatia, is situated the shrine of Our Lady of Sinj, the greatest Marian site, and where a great fair is held. In 1715, about 700 people of Cetina, together with a number of Franciscan monks bearing a picture of the Mother of Grace, took refuge in Grad, the fortress above the present town, from an Ottoman army comprising ten thousand soldiers, who began a ferocious attack on 14 August. After three hours of furious assault, during which the Franciscans and the people prayed before the picture of the Mother of Grace, the all-conquering Turkish army suddenly and inexplicably took flight. The last Ottoman soldiers left the Cetina area on 15th August. Witnesses said that a white lady illuminated by a vast light had appeared before the besieging soldiers.

It is believed to this day that Our Lady achieved a great victory over the invading hordes. In honour of that great and miraculous triumph, a famous and unique knightly game, the Sinjska alka, (tilting at the ring) is held every year. The shrine of Our Lady of Sinj was renovated in 1721 and its present form dates from 1771, after it was restored following an earthquake. Four chapels were built on the lateral sides of church which are connected to the shrine via three doors, where believers make confession. Next to the shrine there is a 43.5 metre-high steeple, built between 1896 and 1927. In the shrine, next to which there is a Franciscan monastery housing a Classical Grammar school, there are many valuable works of art produced by Croatian visual artists. The most important pilgrimage occurs on Assumption Day, when many people arrive on foot, some even travelling barefoot. This is why in the town of Sinj, the feast day of the Great Lady Mary (Velika Gospa) on 15th August, is always particularly cherished and celebrated. So many cases have been reported of people receiving succour from the Madonna of Sinj (Sinjske Gospe), and many people suffering from various diseases have been miraculously healed. The people of Sinj and the Cetina district have presented a wreath comprising 12 silver stars to their patroness as a token of their gratitude and love.


In Solin, the greatest centre of Roman and old Christian antiquities in Croatia, veneration of Our Lady dates back to the 6th century and it is a known fact that in the 10th century St. Mary's church (23 x 10 m) existed there.
The shrine was visited by Pope John Paul II on 4 October, 1998. The most important pilgrimage of the year occurs on the Nativity of the Virgin Mary.


In Rijeka, on Trsat, 135 m above sea level, from where there is a magnificent view of the Croatian Adriatic, of the islands and of Istria, with Ucka, there stands the ancient shrine of Our Mother of Grace, Our Lady of Trsat.
Seamen and other pilgrims arrive at the shrine at any time, but particularly on Marian feast days.

Vepric – Makarska

Croatian Our Lady of the Lourdes shrine was founded in 1908 by the bishop Dr. Juraj Carić. The natural cave and the entire landscape of small hills, vegetation and a stream is reminiscent of the Lourdes, where in 1858, the Blessed Virgin Mary revealed herself to Bernardici Soubirous 18 times.
Chapel with a sacristy, an altar, confession rooms, stations of the Cross, a retreat centre and procession paths were erected at the shrine. Due to its natural splendour and serenity, this shrine is well visited throughout the year and especially during the pilgrimage days: 11.02, 25.03, 15.08, and 8.09.


The parish of Vocin, mentioned in documents for the first time in 1334, is situated on the north of Mount Papuk, its highest peak being 953m.
The greatest children’s pilgrimage is held in Vocin and other great pilgrimages also occur on Assumption Day and on the occasion of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary.ccasion of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary.

More images in Photo galeries

Fort Bokar, DubrovnikMotovun, IstriaDrašnice, Makarska RivieraKrk, island KrkThe Church of St. Donatus, ZadarSunsetOld town Dubovac, Karlovac

AdmirorGallery 4.5.0, author/s Vasiljevski & Kekeljevic.