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Naturism* History of organised naturist vacations in Croatia goes back in 1930’s. The island of Rab is rightly referred to as the pioneer of naturism on the Adriatic. The month of August 1936 is frequently mentioned as the official beginning of naturism in Rab, i.e. when the English king Edward VIII stayed there and the Rab authorities allowed him and his wife to take a nude swim in the bay of Kandarola. That’s why this bay is nowadays sometimes called " English Beach" or "Engleska plaza". However it is certain that naturism on the island started long before that. The article "Trade in nakedness” published in the Austrian economic journal "Trend" no. 11/83 reports that the naturist beach in Rab was officially opened as early as at the transition to this century and that 50 beds in the hotels were reserved for naturists. The same article mentions that the first naturist beach in Rab was opened personally by Richard Ehrman, the president of the International Naturist Federation from Vienna in 1934. Naturism in Rab is also mentioned in the article of the Czech Josef Herman, in 1907 and of professor Günther in 1912, which proves that the Rab people had understood long ago the bright prospects of this movement which, at that time, was a very bold attitude. Croatia was the first country in Europe to start with the concept of commercial naturist resorts, when in other European countries naturism was limited to member clubs only. Real naturist expansion started in 1960’s when first naturist camps were opened in Istra and Dalmatia . In those days more than 100.000 naturists spent their vacation in Croatia each year. The oldest naturist resort in  Croatia is Koversada and in 2001 celebrated its 40th anniversary. Koversada is in fact a small islet and today it is connected by a small bridge with the mainland. The story says that famous adventurer Giacomo Casanova was the first one who took a nude swim in Koversada. But it was Rudolf Halbig from Germany , owner of Miramare travel agency, who, 200 years later - in 1953, recognized Koversada as a perfect naturist destination. At the beginning naturists put up in the village of Vrsar and went to Koversada islet for swimming and sunbathing. In 1961 Koversada became officially opened for naturist tourists. As Koversada was becoming more popular, the islet became too small and in 1965 resort spread on the near by shore. In 1972 Koversada hosted Naturist World Congress. In the course of years Koversada grew to modern and one of the largest and the most popular naturist resorts in Europe. Soon after Koversada, other resorts opened its doors to naturists as well: Valata naturist resort (opened in 1968), Monsena (in 1988 hosted Naturist World Congress), Solaris and many other. Today Croatia is offering wide range of naturist facilities: beaches, camping, hotels, apartment and bungalow villages. There are more than 20 official naturist resorts that spread on 8.220.000 sq. meters. Naturist resorts offer 46.100 camping units, 5.300 beds in apartments, bungalows or hotels. In addition to that, official naturist beaches (outside of naturist resorts) offer a place under the sun for 20.000 sunbathers. Except of official naturist resorts and beaches, there are also many so called free beaches. Those are unofficial naturist beaches, sometimes. What is naturism? "Naturism is a way of life in harmony with nature, characterized by the practice of communal nudity, with the intention of encouraging respect for oneself, respect for others and for the environment." Naturism is the practice of complete nudity in a communal setting. While this may be its most obvious definition, it is part of a much wider context. The purpose of naturism is to promote wholesomeness and stability of the human body and mind. This comes most easily to those who shed the psychological and social encumbrance of clothing to see and respect the human body as created. Naturism also promotes optimum health through complete contact of the body with the natural elements, e.g. sun, wind, air, water. It is practiced as much as possible in environments free of the pollutants and stressful components of modern society. It is therefore associated with an enlightened, holistic approach to nutrition, physical activity, mental functioning, and social interaction. Naturism is founded on family participation. Children in naturist families learn to appreciate the body as part of their natural environment. They grow up with healthful concepts and accept the physical nature of both sexes and all ages without fear or shame of their own or others’ bodies. Nude living thus removes apprehensions and barriers which have hindered communication between people and appreciation of the environment. It leads to healthier and more humane living: richer and simpler, enlightened by joy and freedom. Short history of naturism Organized naturism was called Freikörperkultur (Free body culture) in Germany, the country of its origin. It first came onto the scene at the beginning of the present century. It was a time of awakening, of shedding stiff collars and the accompanying values; there came a need for lightness, air, a more natural style of living, as well as less restrictive clothing. Neinrich Pudor’s book The Cult of the Nude appeared as a timely beacon. By 1903, Freilichtpark ( Free-Light Park), the first known nudist club, was opened near Hamburg. Shortly after that, Heinrich Ungewitter published Die Nacktheit (Nakedness), a utopia of nude living. It went through several reprints. The naturist movement grew quickly and became quite voluminous, with clusters of clubs close to the big cities. However, when Hitler came to power (1933), all organizations having nothing to do with National Socialism were banned. Naturism in Germany went underground, in much reduced numbers. But by then the idea had caught on and had become international in scope. Jumping to the present, it is satisfying to see that naturist groups are active in most of the countries around the world, as individual as the places they inhabit: some a little stern and austere, some rather low-profile, some quite playful and flamboyant, and so on. The hardiness of early nudism (no smoking or drinking, vegetarianism, and compulsory calisthenics) has given way to the somewhat freer way of being in the late 20th century. Change is the big constant. The general spirit in world naturism is one of optimism and vitality. Some see the lifestyle as a "secret weapon," a solid impediment to the encroaching ills of the present.

 

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