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Vrani Kamen (Croatia) Designated as International Dark Sky Park

Milky way over Peter's peak. Photo: Dunja Županić.


It is our great honour and pleasure to announce that Vrani kamen park has become the first International Dark Sky Park in Croatia to have earned a Gold Tier designation, according to strict criteria of the International Dark-Sky Association – IDA, an American non-profit organization, whose task is to preserve and protect the nocturnal environment and the heritage of the natural night sky through quality exterior lighting, with the aim to preserve this natural treasure and great potential of unpolluted night landscape and almost unspoilt nature.

The International Dark Sky Park designation promotes education based on science and astronomy, at the same time improving energy efficiency and reducing costs through improved public lighting, which in turn creates economic opportunities for the development of astro-tourism. 

Vrani kamen park is located in the territory of the Republic of Croatia, in the vicinity of the town of Daruvar, and it stretches across 8 000 hectares of the western part of the Papuk mountain. For the most part it is managed by the Croatian Forests, while the area of Petrov vrh mountain peak is managed by Daruvar authorities.

Vrani kamen Dark Sky Park stretches from Daruvarski Vinogradi settlement in the west, to the border of the Voćin Forestry Unit in the east, and from the Stančevac stream canyon in the north, almost to the villages of Koreničani, Potočani, Katinac and Đulovac in the south. It covers the northern ridge of Western Papuk and its highest peaks of Vrani kamen (832 m.a.s.l.) and Crni vrh (863 m.a.s.l.). 90% of this area is at an altitude of 250 – 700 m.a.s.l., and 10% at an altitude of between 700 and 863 m.a.s.l. The highest parts, at an altitude of 750 m.a.s.l. and higher, make up about 2% of the territory at most and are located on the peaks of Dujanova kosa ridge, which connects the peaks of Vrani kamen and Crni vrh. This is the area of the Economic Unit Vrani kamen managed by the Daruvar and Đulovac Forestry Units. The eastern border of the International Dark Sky Park is actually the administrative border of the Voćin Forestry Unit, while in the south it borders the administrative area of the Sirač Forestry Unit. 

Beside rich flora and fauna, Vrani kamen park is an excellent place for astronomers and astrophotographers, who can enjoy observing and taking photographs of nocturnal starry sky. For many years, astronomers have been using this pearl of nature and the fact that it has been preserved from unnecessary light pollution. Observations of the area have been actively conducted and photographs of the night sky and space objects have been taken.

The most frequently visited site is Petrov vrh, nine kilometres away from the Daruvar town centre. In the mountain lodge all nature lovers and astronomy enthusiasts can find refuge and refreshment, and even spend the night if needed. The location of the Petrov vrh lodge is convenient because of the vicinity of a night observation site, and it also provides electricity necessary for operating astronomical equipment.

One of extremely important activities of Vrani kamen International Dark Sky Park is to raise awareness about light pollution and need for protection of exceptional night landscapes for future generations, as well as to improve the quality of life through educations that should inspire and empower our community.

Turn off the lights, turn on the stars – this is an important step towards a quality night sky which has been recognized by Daruvar authorities, who are investing great efforts into replacing old and worn out public lighting with new lighting that meets all environmental standards. That way the quality of the night sky is further improved, and the town indeed becomes a health zone.

Vrani kamen International Dark Sky Park and the town of Daruvar, with their natural and cultural sights and resources, are suitable for the development of astro and scientific tourism. In addition to the potential of unpolluted night sky, Daruvar offers an array of catering and tourist facilities for everyone’s taste. The entire area discreetly blends into nature, at the very source of medicinal thermal water and mineral mud.

Daruvar is a city that loves life, and all the amenities it offers certainly confirm that. Daruvar is a place people come to in order to refresh their body, their soul, but also their mind, to relieve stress, but also to stir imagination and enjoy the travel into infinite space from Vrani kamen International Dark Sky Park.