Notable dates in Croatian history (September)

Rujanski Rat
Image by Primosten Plus

Most of us learn our country’s history when we’re kids in school. For those of us that didn’t grow up in Croatia and moved here later in life, it can be pretty hard to learn this country’s history.

To help educate foreigners on Croatia’s past, we’ve started a new series to draw attention to notable dates in Croatian history, month by month.

In this post, we’ll cover the following important dates from Croatian history, that all occurred during the month of September including:

Let’s get started…

September 9, 1876 – Dan hrvatskih voda (Croatian waters day)

Dan hrvatskih voda has been celebrated since 1876. On September 9, 1876, Croatia began organized water management.

Zadruga za regulaciju rijeke Vuke (Cooperative for the regulation of the river Vuka) was formed led by Josip Juraj Strossmayer, a Bishop of Đakovo.

In Roman times, the first channels and dams were built on the river Vuka, a tributary of the Danube. They were used for the diversion of natural water sources, the support the development of society. 


September 10 and September 11, 1994 – Pope John Paul II’s first visit to Croatia

Pope John Paul II arrived at Zagreb’s airport Pleso on September 10, 1994. He was greeted by the former president Franjo Tuđman and Zagreb cardinal Franjo Kuharić.

After a speech at the airport, the Pope visited the Cathedral of Zagreb. The citizens came out to greet him along his route to the cathedral.

On the 12th, he held a mass at the Zagreb hippodrome. Nearly 1 million people attended the mass. It was the most visited mass in the Croatian history.

The Pope spoke specifically to youth to encourage them to fight against violence and build their future based on dialog and cooperation. He invited everyone to have the courage to forgive and accept others, and free their hearts from hate and revenge.


September 16, 1991 – The Battle of Šibenik

The Battle of Šibenik was part of the Croatian War of Independence. This battle is also referred to as Rujanski rat (September War). The battle started on September 16 and ended on September 23.

During this battle, the Croatian army defended the Šibenik bridge, the city of Šibenik and locations along the Adriatic highway from the Serbian army.

If the Serbian army had taken possession of any of these locations, southern Croatia would have been cut into several parts making it much more difficult to defend the territory.

This battle initiated the formation of the modern Croatian navy and cemented the successful control of Croatia’s access to the Adriatic sea.

Rujanski rat was crucial in defending Croatia. After Rujanski rat, Yugoslavia ceased to be recognized and Croatia was then recognized as an independent nation.


September 18, 887 – Dan hrvatske ratne mornarice (Croatian Navy Day)

Dan hrvatske ratne mornarice is celebrated on September 18, in memory of when the navy (called “Hrvatska ratna mornarica”) defeated the Venetians at Makarska. At the time, Croatia was ruled by the knez (duke) Branimir. This was the first-recorded Croatian naval victory.

This day has been celebrated since 1993, when former Croatian president Franjo Tuđman made the decision to recognize it officially.

On this day, there are ship parades in coastal cities. Concerts of the orchestra of the Croatian Armed Forces Band and Klapa Sveti Juraj of the Croatian Navy are also held.

There is also a commemoration to the fallen members of the Croatian Navy and its first commander Sveto Letica.


September 19, 1991 – Gospić is defended

Gospić was attacked by the JNA army during the Domovniski Rat (Homeland war). Gospić was defended by Zagreb volunteers from Lika, police officers from Rijeka, Senj and Kvarner, HOS and others.

JNA planes rocketed the entire area. When the JNA forces were defeated, the attacking army in Lika was broken. Gospić was defended, but it suffered a lot of damage making it the 2nd most damaged city in Croatia right after Vukovar.

JNA stands for “Jugoslavenska narodna armija (Yugoslav People’s Army)”, which was the military of Yugoslavia from 1945 to 1992.


September 25, 1943 – Istria, Rijeka, Zadar and islands join Croatia

September 25 is a memorial on preserving the uniqueness of Croatian territory. On this day in 1943, it was decided to merge Istria, Rijeka, Zadar and islands with the rest of Croatia. Prior to this day, these areas were controlled by Italy.

A council of Istrian representatives was held in Pazin. They accepted the statement of Narodnooslobodilaački odbor of Istria on the unification of Istria with Croatia from September 13. They also accepted the Decision of ZAVNOH on the unification of Istria, Rijeka, Zadar, and other occupied territories with Croatia from September 20.

After the agreements were finalized, these territories were returned to Croatia. It serves as a significant milestone in Croatian history.

The official capitulation of Italy happened on September 8, 1943 based on an agreement between Italy and the Allies of World War II.

After the capitulation, a mass rebellion started in the territory of Croatian Istria on September 9. Istrians began to remove the fascist symbols from public buildings. Over the course of a few days, approximately 8600 Italian soldiers were disarmed.

Although the decision to join these areas was made in 1943, they did not officially join Yugoslavia until 1947 after a peace agreement was signed in Paris between Italy and Yugoslavia.

If there any significant events you’d like to see us cover in the future, let us know in the comments.

Learn about other notable dates from Croatian history

Please note: All information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. For legal advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant. We can recommend one if you contact us.

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