National symbols of Croatia

All countries have national symbols of pride. These symbols represent a country’s culture to the international community. They can vary from colors to foods to plants to animals to coats of arms and even patron saints.

Croatia has several national symbols that represent the country’s faith, nature, and culture. Let’s learn about Croatia’s national symbols along with their history and importance.

In this article, we cover:

The facts are these…

What are the national symbols of Croatia?

#1 Patron saint: Saint Joseph (Sveti Josip)

Saint Joseph, Image by Alex Muzzi from Pixabay
Image by Alex Muzzi from Pixabay

Most cities and villages in Croatia have their own patron saint, sometimes even more than one. But, did you know that Croatia as a country has a patron saint?

Sveti Josip (Saint Joseph) has been the protector of the Croatian homeland since 1687. He was named “patron saint” by Hrvatski sabor (Croatian parliament) with the encouragement of the Bishop of Zagreb Martin Borković.

Sveti Josip was proclaimed the patron saint of Hrvatsko kraljevstvo (Croatian kingdom) at a parliamentary session by unanimous decision. In 2008, a relief of Sveti Josip was placed at the entrance to Sabor. It was created by Croatian sculptor Šime Vulas to memorialize the proclamation.

#2 National flower: Iris croatica (Hrvatska perunika)

Hrvatska perunika (Iris croatica)
Hrvatska perunika (Iris croatica)

Hrvatska perunika (Iris croatica) has been the national flower of Croatia since 2000. It was first promoted with this designation at the world flower exhibition Japan Flora 2000.

During preparations for the exhibition, it was noticed that Croatia didn’t yet have a national flower. Hrvatska perunika was proposed by Andrija-Željko Lovrić, Croatian biologist and ecologist from the Ruđer Bošković Institute.

In response, Hrvatska akademija znanosti i umjetnosti – HAZU (Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts) declared it as a national flower.

The Croatian iris is an endemic species that lives in light forests of hrast medunac (downy oak) and crni grab (hop-hornbeam) in continental Croatia. More specifically, it can be found at Nature Park Medvednica, Strahinjčica, Nature Park Samoborsko gorje and Ogulinsko zagorje.

Hrvatska perunika has a gentle brightly colored flower and tall pointed leaves. The plant is about 1 meter high.

It usually comes in different shades of blue, but it can also be white, purple, yellow, and red. The darker the color, the more intense the scent.

#3 Cultural symbol: Croatian interlace (Hrvatski pleter)

Hrvatski pleter
Image by Roberta F.

Hrvatski pleter or hrvatski troplet (Croatian interlace or wattle) is a 3-ribbon geometric ornament inherent in old Croatian culture. It is found mostly in pre-Romanesque Croatian art.

The pleter can be found throughout the country as a decoration, but it is most predominantly displayed on churches and monasteries built between the 9th and 12th centuries.

Some of the most famous monuments decorated with hrvatski pleter are Bašćanska ploča, Višeslavova krstionica (one of the most significant monuments of Croatian culture), and Branimirov natpis (considered a cornerstone of Croatian archeology).

#4 Old Slavic letter: Glagolitic script (Glagoljica)

Bašćanska ploča
Image by

Glagoljica (Glagolitic script) is the oldest known Slavic alphabet. It was created in the middle of the 9th century and was used until the 19th century. The author of glagoljica was Sveti Ćiril (Saint Cyril) who was a Byzantine monk from Solun.

The Glagolitic alphabet consists of 38 graphemes while today’s Latin alphabet has only 30. The letter includes the following 2 types:

  • obla glagoljica (rounded Glagolitic script)
  • uglata glagoljica (angular Glagolitic script).

Some of the most important inscriptions written in glagoljica are on the monument Bašćanska ploča from 1100, Vinodolski zakonik from 1288 (one of the oldest law texts written in Chakavian dialect), and Misal po zakonu rimskoga dvora from 1483 (the first printed Croatian book).

[Read: The 3 Croatian dialects: Što, Kaj, and Ča]

#5 National animal: European pine marten (Kuna zlatica)

Kuna Zlatica (Marten)
Image by Ludens media

Kuna zlatica (European pine marten) is the national animal of Croatia. It is a strictly protected and endangered animal known for its thick luxurious fur and long tail.

[Read: Endangered animals you might see in Croatia]

Croatian currency (the kuna), which is not in use as of January 2023, was named after this animal due to the important role of its fur in Croatian monetary history. Kuna fur was used as a means of payment for the tax called “kunovina”.

[Read: Croatian transition from kuna to euro]

The kuna usually lives in the forest treetops on the island of Brač as well as in Papuk Nature Park, Plitvice Lakes National Park, and Velebit Nature Park.

[Read: Visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park]

It rests during the day and hunts rabbits, mice, squirrels, and other tiny mammals during the night. The kuna is a rare animal that often hunts just for fun.

#6 National tree: Slavonian oak (Slavonski hrast)

Slavonski hrast - Slavonian oak in Croatia
Image by

Slavonski hrast or Hrast lužnjak (Slavonian oak or Common oak) is the national tree of Croatia.

It is a deciduous tree that can grow up to 40 to 50 meters in height and reach 500 to 800 years of age. Certain oaks can live up to 1500 years. Its crown is broad, irregular, and very branched.

Slavonian oak is a hardwood, ideal for processing. It is used both in construction and interior design, and it is also a good firewood.

Wine barrels are commonly made of Slavonian oak for the purpose of aging and storing premium wines. The oak’s acorns can be fried and used as a coffee substitute.

Slavonian oak grows in Slavonija and Posavina.

Other Croatian national symbols

Here are even more Croatian national symbols:

  • Coat of arms of the Republic of Croatia (Grb Republike Hrvatske)
  • Flag of Croatia (Zastava Republike Hrvatske) – view a guide here
  • Croatian national anthem: Lijepa naša domovino – view a guide here
  • Old Croatian crown or Crown of Zvonimir (Starohrvatska kruna or Tomislavova kruna or Zvonimirova kruna)
  • Croatian Cyrillic letter (Hrvatska ćirilica or bosančica)

People also ask…

What is the national flower of Croatia? The national flower of Croatia is Hrvatska perunika (Iris croatica).

Does Croatia have a patron saint? Sveti Josip (Saint Joseph) has been the protector of the Croatian homeland since 1687. He was named “patron saint” by Hrvatski sabor (Croatian parliament) with the encouragement of the Bishop of Zagreb Martin Borković.

What is the national animal of Croatia? The kuna zlatica (European pine marten) is the national animal of Croatia.

What is the national tree of Croatia? Slavonski hrast or Hrast lužnjak (Slavonian oak or Common oak) is the national tree of Croatia.

View our other related articles

Please note: Information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. Croatian laws and bureaucratic rules often change, and each personal case is individual, so different rules may apply. For legal advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant.

Sharing is Caring:

We only send one email a week on Tuesdays. And no spam, we don't like that either!

Subscribe to the Expat in Croatia Newsletter and get our FREE Croatia Starter Kit.
I'm already subscribed.