Nikola Tesla was and still is a big deal in this part of the world. Tesla was born in Smiljan, Croatia which is less than 100 miles from the Krka Waterfalls, a fact that will figure in this post. We had read about the falls and thought it would be worth leaving the coastal highway for a bit to go and explore. Because it was off-season, there were few people and the little bus that takes you down the serpentine road into the canyon below was nearly empty.

The falls are nothing like Niagara. They are not massive and awe-inspiring. Instead, they are charming and delightful. Little pathways wind their way among the dozens of little cataracts that make up the system of falls that drain the Krka River to the Adriatic some 50 miles away. The eddies and inlets are graced with swans and ducks bobbing for the bugs that cling to the mosses that line the riverbeds, and the trees bend over the river forming archways of dappled light.

There area around the falls has been home to a settlement for many years. Nearby is a Franciscan monastery that dates from 1465 and the old watermills that were the heart of this settlement have been grinding flour from the early Middle Ages. However, it was not until Tesla began working on a design for the world’s first hydroelectric plant at Niagara for Westinghouse that local engineers began working on a similar plan – using Tesla’s design – for Krka. The powerplant at Krka went online two days after the plant at Niagara, making it the second oldest in the world. However, the nearby town of Sibenik was the first in the world to use this power to light up their city streets.

The settlement and the powerhouse at Krka have been well maintained by the Croatian authorities and the place was a delight to wander around. Apparently in the summer the falls are thick with bathers, but in early April, it was virtually deserted. It would have been an ideal place for a picnic had we thought ahead, but as it was, we had to make do with a most pleasant walk around the myriad terraced falls and a short bus ride back to our car. The historic town of Split was not far down the road and we were eager to see what many think is the prettiest town in Croatia.