I have a very important announcement: I went to Croatia! Sorry about not telling you beforehand, but I thought I’d write a new post about my trip to “Hrvatska” as a surprise. My parents were planning to go to Croatia and I managed to take a week off from school, so I happily joined them on their trip. I was incredibly excited to go to Croatia, (1) because I was being suffocated by a prolonged exposure to the Dutch weather and flat landscapes, and (2) because I had never been to Southeast Europe. Travelling to a new place means I don’t know what to expect, which always makes the trip twice as enjoyable.
The historic town of Šibenik is going to be first on my list of upcoming posts. Šibenik is a city in central Dalmatia and the oldest native Croatian town on the eastern shores of the Adriatic. The town’s present name was first mentioned in documents in 1066 and at one point Šibenik even served as the seat of the Croation King. Šibenik evidently has a rich history, also having experienced various conquest by the likes of the Republic of Venice, Byzantine Empire, Kingdom of Hungary, and Kingdom Bosnia through the centuries. During World War II, the town was occupied by Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, after which became a part of the SFR Yugoslavia until Croatia declared independence in 1991. It was heavily attacked during the ensuing War of Independence (1991–1995), but the Croatian Army and citizens of Šibenik defended the city. Any damage to the historic centre has since then been restored.
The Medieval Monastery Mediterranean Garden of St Lawrence (Srednjovjekovni samostanski mediteranski vrt sv. Lovre) is situated up the stairs above St Lawrence’s church and “was restored and opened on 6th November 2007 after being forgotten about for a hundred years.” This type of garden is very rare throughout Europe and can be distinguished by its medieval design with a pathway shaped like a cross. It was a hot day when we visited Šibenik, so my parents and I took a break to have some refreshing drinks at the cafe in the garden.
The St. Lawrence Church was completed during the 18th century by the Franciscan Order. The monastery was already an important centre of philosophy and theology since 1669. Just before the entrance of the church is an (artificial) Our Lady of Lourdes cave or grotto, built in imitation of the cave in France where the Virgin is said to have appeared to a local girl in 1858. I remember visiting Lourdes in France with my parents and siblings when I was much younger, so it was really interesting to suddenly see such a similar scene appear within the narrow streets of historic Šibenik.
Saint Ana Cemetary
You can climb the Saint Ana Fortress and get an amazing view of the city of Šibenik, but visiting the tranquil Saint Ana’s Cemetary (Grobilje Sv. Ana) outside the Fortress also gives you some nice vistas of the surrounding town. In the second photo you can see the Šibenik bridge over the Krka river in the distance. One thing I noticed about Croatian cemeteries is that they are always full of vases with (fake and real) flowers and the graves seemed very well maintained.
Cathedral of Saint James
The Cathedral of Saint James (Katedrala sv. Jakova) is a Renaissance basilica with a quite an impressive 32 m high dome. Construction started in 1431 and lasted until 1536, although there were already plans for the church during 13th century. The resulting architecture is proof of the cultural interaction between the regions of northern Italy, Dalmatia and Tuscany during the 15th and 16th centuries. Since 2000, the Cathedral has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List. I paid a small fee to view the cathedral from the inside, but unfortunately much of it was still in scaffolding. Photography and filming inside the church was not allowed.
Across the cathedral lies the Šibenik loggia or town house, also stemming from the Renaissance period (1534-1547). It replaced the older, more modest loggia from the early 14th century. The Renaissance loggia was actually largely destroyed in a 1943 bombing raid, but was rebuilt from 1949 to 1960 . That guy you see there waving at you was actually a fellow tourist I ran into that day. When he noticed me taking pictures he gave a friendly wave!
I hoped you liked reading/looking at this post as much as I enjoyed exploring, researching and writing about Šibenik. There are actually a few more historic cities like Šibenik across the Dalmatian coasts, like Zadar and Split, which I also visited. Keep an eye out for more posts about Croatia coming soon!