Nature park Vrana lake is located near Vrana lake with surface of 57 square kilometers in Zadar and Šibenik-Knin County.
It is the biggest natural lake in Croatia and it’s mostly made of karst fields filled with water. This makes Nature Park Vrana lake a rare example of kryptodepresion. The surface of the lake is 2 meters above the sea level, while the bottom is 4 meters below the sea level and the size of it is 30, 16 square kilometers. Depths of the lake are different, from 2 to 5 meters. Because the bottom of the lake is below the sea level and because the sea is close to the lake, the salt water penetrates through underground reefs and makes the lake water brackish. The water level of the lake varies from 1 to 2 meters. The highest water level is in spring and the lowest in summer. During winter, the surface of the lake freezes. Most of rivers and streams from Ravni kotari accumulate in the lake.
The flora of Nature park Vrana lake consists mostly of water and swamp habitats. There are pinewood forest, shrubbery and fields. Around 34% of plants live in swamp and watery areas. Two are endangered species: Divided sedge and Lesser Tussock-sedge. There are also six other protected species: Bolboschoenus maritimus, Rye ergot, Lax-flowered orchid, Orchis palustris and Iris illyrica which is an endem.
In the elevated parts of the park, forests of Holm oak can be found.
In the North-West part of Nature park Vrana lake is an ornithological reserve founded in 1983. There are over 235 species of birds (mostly swamp birds), from which 102 birds nest there (Heron, Pygmy cormorant), while to the rest, the lake is where they rest during migration. During migration, about 20.000-200.000 birds can be found at the lake.
In the lake there are both sea and fresh water fish. Only two species are native to the lake (Eel, Freshwater blenny), while other were brought for breeding or accidentally.
Of amphibians, most common is the Big green frog, European tree frog, Green and Brown Toad. Fire salamander and Yellow-bellied toad are rare and all of the 19 species of reptiles that live here are protected. There are about 40 species of mammals in the nature park.
Beside the many animal and plant species, in the park, there are also remains of culturally-historical heritage. One of the oldest buildings is the Osridak tower (late antic) from 14th century. Mletak tower Oridak is also situated there from 15th century, sentry tower Babin škoj (16th century) and a sentry box in Prosika valley. Kurjaković family has, in 14th century, built the Kličevica tower to defend themselves from the Turks.
The biggest religious object is the Old town Vrana (9th century). It was a Benedictine monastery and later the seat of the Templars and Ivan’s. In Banjevci, there is Saint Ivan Krstitelj church that dates back to 12th century. The Mašković Han monument is one of the most wests that Turks have left in Europe (17th century).
In Nature park Vrana lake there is the Baldin pit, caving place where a human skeleton, 6000 years, has been found.
The most popular activity on the lake is sport fishing. You can come to the park by a bicycle because, in the park, there are around 50 kilometres of bicycle roads. There are a lot of educational trails too. You can also observe birds with an educated guide. The bird’s habitats can be visited on foot or by boat. On the peak Kamenjak, there is a vantage point from where you can see the whole lake and Kornat islands.
You might also find the following links useful:
NP Vrana lake – official page