Must-See Cities in Dalmatia
Rich cultural-historical heritage as evidenced by several landmarks on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list, breathtaking sea and nature along the highly indented coast, one of the healthiest cuisines worldwide, open and friendly people - to name but a few assets of Dalmatia, one the most popular regions in Croatia. The following cities are the heart and soul of northern and southern Dalmatia, each very special in its own way.
With a history full of up and downs, Zadar today is a modern city that venerates its past but is directed towards the future. Mixture of traditional and modern is visible on every corner: from historical sights such as St Donatus Church, St Anastasia’s Cathedral with the adjacent bell-tower (excellent viewpoint!), remains of Forum Romanum, the oldest street Kalelarga (officially Široka ulica) and People’s Square (Narodni trg) to modern installations such as the Sea Organ and Greetings to the Sun, which have become two of Zadar’s most visited landmarks; from festivals celebrating tradition and customs to modern events such as the Millennium Jump. The city is easy to reach by air and road due to its proximity to the airport and motorway.
Šibenik is sometimes unrightfully overshadowed by Zadar and Split, but it’s a city of undisputed relevance throughout history and nowadays. Its fortifications are not only great viewpoints, but also testify to its turbulent past and strategical importance. St Michael’s fortress has recently been renovated and it gives the visitors a unique experience particularly if given the opportunity to attend a concert or a play. Šibenik is, however, most famous for St James’ Cathedral - a unique religious monument entirely made of stone without a match in Europe. The city is easily accessed by motorway and is situated close to National Park Krka.
A somewhat biased description of Split says that it’s the most beautiful city in the world, but it’s not that far from the truth. Split used to be one of the most important centres during the Roman Empire when Diocletian built his palace there. With its walls and substructures, Gates, the Peristyle, Jupiter’s Temple, Cathedral of St Domnius with its bell-tower (outstanding view of the city from the top!) it has remained the heart of the city and the region. Another place for a great view is the Marjan hill referred to as ‘the lungs of the city’. As the largest city on the Croatian coast, Split is also an important port, while the motorway and airport guarantee an equally simple arrival by road or air.
The southernmost of the four cities, it’s renowned worldwide and one of the most visited Croatian destinations. A place of glorious history, literature and culture, it’s a true gem of the Mediterranean. The view of the city is best from the Lovrijenac Fort or the Mount Srđ, but the real feel of its proud history visitors can experience by visiting its walls and strolling along its central promenade Stradun with numerous sights. Dubrovnik is a regular stop for cruise ships, even though arriving by plane is the most convenient.
The great four
Zadar, Šibenik, Split and Dubrovnik are not only the largest cities in Dalmatia but also places of great historical and cultural significance in Croatia and wider. Combined with wonderful sea and coast, they really are absolute must-see cities in Dalmatia.