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Karlovac ( , , or , ) is a city and municipality in central Croatiamarker. The city proper has a population of 49,082, while the whole municipality has a population of 59,395 inhabitants (2001).

Karlovac is the administrative centre of Karlovac Countymarker. The city is located on the Zagrebmarker-Rijekamarker highway and railway line, 56 km south-west of Zagreb and 130 km from Rijeka.


Karlovac was built from scratch in 1579 in order to strengthen Austriamarker's southern defences against Ottoman encroaches. It was founded as a six-pointed star fortress built on the Zrinski estate near the old town of Dubovac at the confluence of the Kupa and Koranamarker rivers. As the city later expanded, the urban area reached as far as the Mrežnica and Dobramarker rivers. The unique star shape can still be seen around the town. It was originally known as Karlstadt, Carlstadt, or Carlstatt ("Charles's Town" in German), after Archduke Charles II of Austria, upon whose orders construction began on July 13, 1579. The architect of the city was Matija Gambon.

The first church (of the Holy Trinity) was built in the central square in 1580, but all of the city buildings burned down in the fire of 1594. The forces of the Ottoman Empire laid siege to Karlovac seven times, the last time in 1672, but failed to occupy it. The plague epidemic of 1773 was also a notable threat to the city, decimating almost half the population at the time.

As a military outpost of the Habsburg Monarchy, Karlovac was the site of the trial and execution of the best-known leader of the rebel Uskoks from the coastal fort of Senj, Ivan Vlatković. He was executed in Karlovac on 3 July 1612 as an example to his troops who were creating difficulties for the Habsurgs by their piracy against Venetian shipping on the Adriatic Sea, and by marauding raids into the Ottoman hinterland. 1615 their piracy went so far as creating an open war between Venice and Austria. When the Treaty of Madrid was concluded in 1617, bringing an end to the war between Venice and the Habsburgs, under the terms of the treaty the Uskok families were forcibly removed from Senj and disbanded into the hinterland, most notably in the Žumberak hills near Karlovac.

Meanwhile, the fort was becoming too crowded for the city's expanding population and the Military Frontier government could not allow for its further growth. On December 6, 1693 the city received some limited self-government. Queen Maria Theresa, after long insistence from the Croatian Parliamentmarker, restored the towns of Karlovac and Rijekamarker to the Croatian crownland on August 9, 1776. King Joseph II reaffirmed it as a free town with an official charter in 1781, allowing the citizens to expand the city and exploit the potential of being at the crossroads of paths from the Pannonian plains to the Adriatic coastmarker. The town blossomed in the 18th and 19th centuries with the development of roads to the seaside and waterways along the Kupa River.

The town's fortunes declined in the 20th century, though it is currently recovering.

Karlovac suffered much damage during the Croatian War of Independence (1991-1995). The southern sections of the city were close to the front lines between the Republic of Croatia and the rebel Serbs, and the neighborhoods of Turanj, Kamensko as well as parts of Mekušje, Mala Švarča and Logorište were devastated by shelling. The city center, the city hall and numerous other buildings were also damaged.

Until the early 2000s, Karlovac's main industry was its beer "Karlovačko", produced by Karlovačka pivovara. In recent years, the rapidly growing firearms manufacturer HS Produkt has become the city's largest private employer. HS Produkt is best-known as the maker of the HS 2000 pistol, sold in the United Statesmarker as the Springfield Armory XD.


Karlovac is known in Croatia as 'grad parkova' (the city of parks) and 'grad na četiri rijeke' (the town on four rivers) for its numerous green areas and four rivers, of which the Mrežnica, the Koranamarker and the Kupa flow through built-up areas, and the Dobramarker is a few kilometers outside the city centre. A documentary film made by Dušan Vukotić in 1979 on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the founding of the city plays much on that theme, and shows pictures of happy bathers on the Korana's Fogin beach (Foginovo kupalište) in the city centre.

One of the rarer trees found in the parks is the Ginkgo biloba, which primary school children are taken out to see as part of their classes on nature and society. Most of the parks are planted in the former trenches dug around the old military fort that were once filled with water as an added layer of protection from the marauding Ottoman armies. One part of the city centre is still called Šanac ('trench') after those old trenches, which preserve the old hexagonal form of the historic centre.

Some notable residents


Karlovac municipality within Karlovac county
According to the 2001 census, the Karlovac municipality had a total population of 59,395.

50,997 of its citizens are Croats (85.86%), 5,076 are Serbs (8.55%), 186 are Albanians (0.31%), 149 are Bosniaks (0.52%), 71 are ethnic Macedonians (0.12%), 59 are Montenegrins (0.10%), and the rest are other ethnicities.

Population by religion are 49,197 Roman Catholics (82.83%), 4,414 Orthodox Christians (7.43%), 653 Muslims (1.10%), 93 Byzantine Catholics (0.16%) and others.

Much of the population of Karlovac has changed since the beginning of the 1991-95 Croatian War of Independence, with numerous families of Croatian Serbs leaving and being replaced by people who were themselves displaced from parts of Croatia that were held by rebel Serbs during the war (such as from the town of Slunjmarker), as well as by families of Bosnian Croats who started arriving during the war. The migration outflow was mostly towards Serbiamarker, the Republika Srpska enclave in Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker, and to countries of Western Europe, North America and Australia.


The city of Karlovac has memorial-sites dedicated to Croatian veterans of the nation's Homeland War and to the veterans of the Croatian Home Guard.

International relations

Twin towns - sister cities

Karlovac is twinned with:


File:Renaissance star-shaped fortress in Karlovac, Croatia (designed in 1774).jpg|The city of Karlovac emerged around a star-shaped Renaissance fortress built against the Ottomans.File:Zorin dom.jpg|Theatre ("Zorin dom") in KarlovacFile:Building in Karlovac.jpg|Remains of an Orthodox church in the city center. The church was destroyed during the war but has since been reconstructed.


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