Where pearls are easy to find.
Dalmatia - Šibenik
240 beautiful islets and reefs adorn the crystalline waters of the Šibenik region, each of them clamouring for a place on your Adriatic itinerary.
The unspoilt landscapes of the Kornati archipelago or the mind-blowing waterfalls and lakes of Krka are both designated national parks and only two of the unmissable stops on your island-hopping route.
Where to go
The routes of Croatian rulers
From Skradin, a small gem of a town over 6,000 years old, we set off on the river Krka to Skradinski Buk, one of the most famous Croatian natural phenomena. By exploring the interior, you will be rewarded with one more old Croatian capital, the town of Knin, and in its surroundings time will fly during an active holiday that will refresh your body and soul. In Šibenik you will be amazed by the Cathedral of St James, whose dome overlooks medieval stone buildings, and its narrow streets which, in the warm summer evenings, invite you to socialise in the attractive Mediterranean ambience of the town. If, at the end of your trip on the Routes of Croatian Rulers, you are not surprised by Krapanj, the island of sponges which carries three epithets: the smallest, the lowest and the most inhabited island in the Mediterranean, then, by cruising through the Kornati National Park, a famous nautical paradise, you will surely experience complete fulfilment of the soul with positive emotions as you watch the display of many islands, islets and rocks that, like nowhere else, dance before your eyes.
Set amid the wild beauty of white karstic rock and the azure sea, the Šibenik aquatorium is a yachting paradise, boasting as many as 240 isles and reefs, each of which holds an interesting feature or two.
If you want to meet the best known coral hunters in the Adriatic, set sail for Zlarin. If you wish to see the centre of sea sponge harvesting, then Krapanj is your destination. On the other hand, if you seek an experience like no other, then venture into the open sea and discover the Kornati Archipelago. ‘The gods wanted to set a crown upon their work, so on the last day, out of tears, stars and the breath of the sea, they created the Kornati.’ So wrote George Bernard Shaw when reminiscing about this breathtakingly beautiful archipelago. Talking about this incomparable creation of nature, the largest group of islands in the Mediterranean, it suffices to say that the number of these stellar tears petrified in the sea equals the number of days in a year.
Here, the saying ‘an island for each day of the year’ really does apply, and of the 365 strikingly beautiful isles, 150 form a quite special entity: the Kornati National Park. The sight of the lace-like pattern of island cliffs, bleached by the noble salt of the Adriatic and lashed by the fragrance saturated bora, plummeting into the sea, is one that has no equal anywhere else in the world. At the same time, the mellow, tiny ports and hidden beaches are a true paradise for modern day Robinsons seeking unspoiled nature.
From the spectacular falls of the River Krka to Šibenik, Krešimir’s city
If you follow the fairy tale-like paths of the karstic empire of the Krka River to the sea, you are on the path to opening the door to the most protected natural harbour in the central Adriatic and to the proud city of King Krešimir: Šibenik. Along this green route, abounding with the remains of medieval settlements, a wonderful place which provides a habitat for over 222 species of bird and which boasts the only falconry centre in Croatia, beautiful Krka spills her cool waters over seven waterfalls. Between the two most beautiful, Roški slap and Skradinski buk, human hands have enhanced nature with two famous buildings: the Orthodox Christian monastery of The Holy Archangel, and Visovac monastery. Like the mythical Avalon, unparalleled in its location on a tiny isle set in the middle of the emerald green lake formed by the River Krka, Visovac Franciscan monastery houses a valuable library, works of art and numerous precious items, among which is the sword that once belonged to a famous warrior.
Amazing cultural heritage of a millennia old city
First mentioned in 1066 in documents issued by King Petar Krešimir (hence its name: Krešimir’s town), Šibenik was founded over 1000 years ago. Take a stroll through its streets, alleyways and squares and some of the most precious works of art in Dalmatia will appear right before you. Incidentally, if you are there at the right time in summer, those same streets, alleyways and squares become stages for the only International Children’s Festival in the world, for the Evening of Dalmatian Chanson, and for the colourful (Šibenik) Medieval Fair.
Standing proud with its fortifications and towers, Šibenik, the birthplace of Faust Vrančić (inventor of the parachute) is best known for its largest and most precious sacral monument, the Gothic-Renaissance cathedral of St. Jacob (15th and 16th century) whose dome of white stone dominates the city. Its construction took more than a century. It is constructed solely of stone from the islands of Brač and Korčula. The original method of its construction: using large blocks and slabs of stone, has earned it a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Raise your eyes to this audacious edifice, unique in the history of European architecture. While admiring the innovations of the local master builder, Georgius Dalmaticus, try to imagine this: it is the 15th century, there is no sophisticated technology, let alone modern day cranes and hoists. What you are standing beneath is a monumental barrel-vault and a dome that contains no wood or brick, only clean blocks of stone, each weighing several tons, fitted into grooves carved in stone ribs! Impressive, you must admit. If you also take time to wander around the sacristy, which lies like a crypt beneath the cathedral, and view the elegant three-leaved facade and the famous frieze of 88 heads encircling the outer walls of the cathedral apse, you will then understand why St. Jacob’s cathedral is so special. It rightfully carries the appellation of the most beautiful cathedral in Dalmatia and is the most striking sacral building in Croatia.
Discover and savour the magic of Dalmatian cuisine
At the end, taste the Šibenik area cuisine, particularly the famous mussels harvested where the River Krka meets the Adriatic Sea, washed down with a sip or two of Babić from the nearby vineyards of Primošten. Their beauty, unusual geographical location, the sparse soil in which they grow, despite the best efforts of the bora, have made them a monument to the hard work of the diligent hands of the people of this area. The image of those vineyards displayed in the vestibule of the United Nations building tells its story in a hundred languages.