Along the Croatian Adriatic coast cities small and big unique for their architecture and heritage are anything but rare.Fortresses, city walls, centuries-old churches and buildings, many of them harboring masterpieces listed on the UNESCO World heritage list.
roatian cultural heritage is not as well known as the cultural heritage of some large and powerful countries. It has no magnificent monuments, such as for example the Egyptian pyramids, the Pompeii in Italy or the castle Neuschwanstein in the German Alps. Croatia was not the centre of the great empires of the past and will surprise many visitors in that, in proportion to its surface, there are more sites of cultural heritage under UNESCO protection in Croatia than for example in France or Germany. Croatia has many other valuable cultural monuments which would also be able to find a place on UNESCO’s list.
ne reason for this wealth of tangible and intangible cultural heritage is the outstanding position of Croatia on important traffic routes and at the crossroads of great civilizations, each wanting to leave their mark. Therefore, Croatia is characterised by exceptional diversity of cultural heritage on a small surface and the presence of monuments from all periods of civilization, from Ancient History to recent times. Thus, in Croatia, we can find monuments from ancient Greece, ancient Rome, early medieval monuments, Mediterranean Renaissance, Middle European Baroque and Modern secessionist heritage.
World heritage sites protected by UNESCO
- The Old City of Dubrovnik
- A historic complex in
Split with Diocletian’s Palace
- The historic town of Trogir
- Euphrasius’ basilica in Poreč
- The Cathedral of St. James in Šibenik
- Starogradsko polje on the island of Hvar
The Old City of Dubrovnik
The city of Dubrovnik, once the only eastern Adriatic city-state to rival Venice, although clearly smaller than Florence or Venice, offers the same Euro-Mediterranean atmosphere, same level of culture and civilization. For almost a thousand years this city was an enclave of European culture in the heart of the Byzantine Empire, so it is little wonder that the city archive offers invaluable insight into the history of the entire Mediterranean and Southeastern Europe. Late Gothic palace Knežev dvor, renaissance tower Minčeta, the cloister of the Franciscan monastery with it’s pharmacy, among the first in Europe, the complex of the Dominican monastery, the baroque church of the city’s patron saint St. Blaise, the cathedral whose square hosts every year the celebration of St. Blaise’s Day (also on the UNESCO list) and the city synagogue with its priceless art collection all are unique ‘points’ on the cultural map of Europe.
A historic complex in
Split with Diocletian’s Palace
The city of Split lies twenty miles up north, and is the largest and most important city on this part of the coast, build aroundthe central palace of Roman emperor Diocletian. The city has three impressive churches and many smaller, the most popular being the Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary whose bell tower is dedicated to the city patron St. Dujam, whose day is the most festive day of the year, celebrated on May 7. The cathedral was built on the ruins of the mausoleum of Emperor Diocletian and its 188 ft. high bell tower is the most recognizable image of the city, but probably more impressive are its doors with 28 images from the life of Jesus carved in wood in 1214 by Andrija Buvina. Another monuments of Christianity include the Church of St. Anthony, and hermit’s caves on the slopes of Mount Marjan and the nearby church whose altar was carved in marble by 15th century sculptor Andrija Aleči and with a 1480bas-relief showing St. Jerome.
The historic town of Trogir
Just outside Split is the city of Trogir, a historic town whose cathedral dedicated to St. Lawrence from the 13th century with the portal of Master Radovan is the most significant piece of its kind in the Adriatic. The portal is decorated with images of the birth of Jesus, floral ornaments and images of Adam and Eve. The four stories of the bell tower all date from different periods and are representative of Gothic, Venetian floral Gothic, Renaissance and Mannerism styles.
The Cathedral of St. James in Šibenik
The city of Šibenik is the only eastern Adriatic city not built on Roman ruins. Once a fisherman colony, the city developed steadily through centuries, investing its considerable riches into architecture and arts, so today it boasts the most important work of church architecture in Croatia – the Cathedral of St. James, decorated and built by the most distinguished artists of the 15th century, including Giorgio da Sebenico. The three-nave cathedral built in Gothic and renaissance style has unique apses decorated with portraits of important contemporaries and generous locals who paid for the construction of the cathedral. This cathedral is the only in Croatia without a bell tower, but its dome and roof are unique – built with stone plates only, without any binding material.
Euphrasius’ basilica in Poreč
The basilica is named after Bishop Euphrasius, in whose time it was built on the foundations of an even older basilica.It is the period of the basilica’s construction that is one of the main reasons for its value, as from that early period of Christian history, there are almost no completely preserved monuments. It is unique and special in its style of construction and a splendid example of early Byzantine art of the 6th century, which is rarely found so far to the West, the result of a well organized government of the famous Byzantine Emperor Justinian, who was ruler at the time of restored power, after the fall of the Roman Empire.The Basilica is almost invisible from the outside because it blends into the urban structure of the old city centre of Poreč . Yet if we enter into its interior, we will immediately be impressed by the uniqueness of its structure , and in particular the splendor and uniqueness of the altar . Like other Byzantine churches of that era, it is embellished with rich mosaïcs, and the best preserved are on the apse of the church and in a special collection in the whole complex of the basilica. Among them, the most famous is the mosaïc of the fish , a historical symbol of Christ, which serves as a sort of symbol of Poreč, which is therefore sometimes called the city of mosaïcs.
Starogradsko polje on the island of Hvar
In recent times the island of Hvar is most famous for the Old Town, the former Antique Pharos, after which the entire island was named. Specifically, this land remained untouched since the ancient Hellenistic times, the reason for which Starogradsko polje was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2008. In the Museum of the Old Town, formerly the main settlement of the island, there is a special collection dedicated to ancient Pharos. In addition to the collection, the museum has a special maritime and ethnographic collection and a gallery of”Juraj Plančić” paintings, named after the famous Croatian painter, originally from the Old Town. The Old Town also attracts visitors with its primordial atmosphere of the Mediterranean coast and streets . The most valuable part of the cultural heritage of the Old Town is Tvrdalj, a fortified Renaissance castle from the middle of the 16th century, which was built and occupied by the great Croatian poet Petar Hektorović.