SPELEON – Centre of Subterranean Heritage


Nearly 20 million kuna have been allocated to the Public Institution Barać Caves from the European Cohesion Fund for the Visitor Centre project.

Value of investment: HRK 19,908,960.00 + VAT, of which the non-refundable grants amount to HRK 16,922,616.00 (aid intensity is 85%).


Due to the fact that the Municipality of Rakovica lies on the edge of Plitvice Lakes, a locality visited annually by a huge number of visitors, the area has an excellent potential for tourism. However, its infrastructure for visitors remains underdeveloped. By establishing a visitor centre on the topic of Barać Caves, the area of Rakovica will be given an opportunity for more comprehensive development, while the locality of Barać Caves will gain added value as a jewel of Lika that has, up to now, remained somewhat off the beaten path.


By setting up the visitor centre, the objective is to improve the infrastructure for visitors and to present the cultural and natural values of the locality in a unique, innovative and visually appealing way. Additional objectives include making tours of the locality accessible to disabled visitors, and creating a modern infrastructure for holding various educational and recreational activities and related added values. In addition, this project of the construction of the Visitor Centre will also stimulate an interest in culture and nature among the local population, while also developing awareness of the importance of environmental protection and sustainable interaction between man and nature.


The facility in which the Visitor Centre will be located has been built for this purpose from the very beginning. What’s more, the team of authors had the unique opportunity to design the facility to suit the exhibition, i.e. according to interpretation, rather than, as is usually the case, inserting the exhibition into a structure with set parameters and adapting it accordingly. This allowed for an extremely imaginative approach to design and the creation of units that make logical sense and are logically connected to each other within the facility. The entrance is designed in the form of a large glass wall, imitating the 'opening' of the entrance to the caves. The filigree layout of the perimeter rooms of the exhibition, with a large central hall of polyfunctional character, is also inspired by the interplay between underground cave halls and avenues. The visitor centre is circular in shape, and after the entrance hall that features a reception desk, souvenir shop, café bar, cloakroom and children's playroom, visitors will move into the educational area where topics from the field of speleology are presented. In this section, there are a number of modern, multimedia models of interpretation, such as model displays, LCD screens, smartglass, replicas, animations, multitouch screens and more. A particularly appealing part of the centre are the sensory chambers, where visitors will be able to experience the subterranean world with all their senses. A documentary that will provide a succinct overview of the environment and typical ambience in Barać Caves during the Ice Age will be screened in the main hall. This display will include a convincing animation of all the animals found at the site, first showing Earth, then Europe, then Croatia during the Ice Age, and the animation will present the appearance of the environment characteristic of the period. A special attraction will be located in the central part of the facility where an outdoor exhibition will be set up, i.e. an atrium with replicas of Ice Age animals and plants.


These are the kind of projects that leave a great mark and finally put into function some of our most beautiful and valuable resources, such as natural heritage. It is up to us, those who manage protected areas, to put resources in the function of sustainable development and become a generator of new jobs and economic activity.

I am pleased that the immense potential of our project has been recognised, as this is a big step forward for our community that opens up a number of new opportunities for further growth and development. Because this is something we can do, and must do! All we need is an opportunity and some wind in our sails.

The execution of the project will directly contribute to increasing the number of visitors to the local area, educating the local population and visitors on natural heritage and boosting the distinctiveness of the municipality of Rakovica as a natural heritage destination. Our partner on this project is the Plitvice Lakes National Park Public Institution, and our common goal is to develop joint programmes and facilities that will help improve the management of visitors in our area. By creating new content, we will disperse visitors and, most importantly, directly create the conditions for extending the time that visitors spend at continental destinations. I would like to stress that our partner will help us finance the implementation of the project, while cooperation between the two protected areas represents a true example of synergy in tourism and successful planning of sustainable development.

A destination is made up of all who participate in it, and if there is no synergy and coordination, there is no quality tourist product. What is most important, visitors’ arrivals will not be motivated by accommodation, but by high-quality, varied and authentic content. The one-of-a-kind parks and protected areas of Croatia are our most valuable resource, one that we need to manage responsibly and seriously.

We are pleased that, with this project, we will be taking the first serious step towards achieving our common goals.


FUND: Competitiveness and Cohesion, designation: KK.

CALL: "Promoting sustainable development of natural heritage"

PROJECT NAME: Promoting the Sustainable Development of the Protected Landscape of Barać Caves

PROJECT VALUE: HRK 19,908,960.00 kn + VAT / non-refundable grants in the amount of HRK 16,922,616.00 (aid intensity 85%)

IMPLEMENTATION PERIOD: 15 December 2016 – 15 April 2021

PROJECT HOLDER: Public Institution Barać Caves – Protected Areas Management In the Municipality of Rakovica

PARTNER: Plitvice Lakes National Park Public Institution

PROJECT MANAGER: Tihana Oštrina, e-mail: ravnatelj@baraceve-spilje.hr

IMPLEMENTING AUTHORITY: SAFU - Central Finance and Contracting Agency for European Union Funded Programmes and Projects

More information on EU funds can be found on the website of the Ministry of Regional Development and European Union funds www.strukturnifondovi.hr