Dalmatia, a southern coastal region located in Croatia, is divided into three sub regions: Northern Dalmatia, Central Dalmatia and Southern Dalmatia. Here are some of the highlights these three very different regions offer to its visitors.
Northern Dalmatia’s beauty rests on some of the most picturesque sceneries in Croatia, some amazing National Parks, lovely islands and cities of great historical significance. One of these cities is Zadar. Experience sunset in Zadar by visiting the Greeting to the Sun or Pozdrav Suncu situated just right next to the Sea Organ. Music and light display accompanying the setting of the sun sounds fantastic. Sea Organ is a man-made organ made of 35 pipes that create music through the motion of the waves while the Greeting to the Sun are 22-meter high glass plates that produce the impressive bursts of lights during sunset. Both designed by local architect Nikola Basic, these two are favorites among locals and tourists alike.
There are numerous old churches you can stop by while in the vicinity. One of the most notable, and also considered the symbol of Zadar, is St. Donat’s Church or Crkva sv. Donata. This massive cylindrical structure is the most remarkable early Byzantine church in Croatia. It is also one of the most well-preserved pre-Romanesque buildings in the world, and Zadar’s main attraction. St. Anastasia’s Cathedral or Katedrala sv. Stosije is the largest basilica in Dalmatia while St. Simeon’s Church or Sv. Sime is the oldest. Zadar’s Archeological Museum or Arheoloski musej is one of the oldest museums in this region in Europe. It holds various collections of artifacts that reflect the rich history of Zadar. To observe Zadar’s present, take a stroll along the ruins of the Roman Forum. It is a favorite spot for locals to enjoy the day.
One of the most famous tourist destinations in Croatia, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, can be found in the city of Sibenik, the birthplace of parachute inventor Faust Vrancic. St. James Cathedral is the most important Renaissance architectural monument in the country. The dome and the carvings of 72 human heads that belong to random and unknown individuals who posed during the construction of the cathedral are worth seeing.
Central Dalmatia is more mountainous than Northern Dalmatia. Its natural wonders range from rough limestone peaks to emerald-blue waters to numbers of unspoiled islands. Krka National Park or Nacionalni Park Krka offers one of the most majestic views in this part of the region, the Skradinski buk. It is a vast natural pool of pristine waters formed by the lowest of the three waterfalls in Krka River. The park is home to various species of birds such as osprey, Peregrine Falcon and Golden Eagle; of fish, namely brown trout and Dalmatian Barbelgudgeon; and of mammals such as the European Otter. You can also explore the Kornati National Park, the largest archipelago in the Adriatic. It is widely known for its more than 100 islands.
The Cathedral of St. Lawrence or Katedrala Sveti Lovrijenac in Trogir is another remarkable Romanesque architecture you should check out. Its captivating sculpture by Croatian master Radovan, its bell tower of Gothic (first two stories) and Renaissance (the third story) style and the statues of saints and apostles are reasons enough to pay this site a visit. Kamerlengo Castle or Gradina Kamerlengo is another point of interest. It is a preserved fortress made of limestone that is currently used as a venue for performances and other events. Another UNESCO World Heritage Site is located in the historic city of Split, the Diocletian’s Palace. This ancient palace features elaborate architecture from the Gothic to the Renaissance. It features Roman stone pavement, two 3500-year-old Egyptian granite sphinxes sitting on the Peristyle Square and in front of Jupiter’s Temple, an underground complex and garden. Its main square, the Peristil or Peristyle, is a major public meeting place. The spacious courtyard acts as a venue for live concerts nowadays.
For a relaxing and stress-free experience, why not go to Marjan? It is a hill atop the peninsula of Split. Covered with Mediterranean pine forest, surrounded by the city and the sea, it is a favorite destination for tourists who wish to spend the holiday sitting and enjoying the panoramic views of Split, breathing the fresh air by the beach or following some trails of natural wonders. It is referred to as the lungs of Split.
Dubrovnik is undoubtedly Southern Dalmatia’s highlight. This stunning walled city is another UNESCO Heritage Site in Croatia. Become acquainted with this ancient city by following the walls surrounding the old town. The Dubrovnik City Walls is a world-famous structure. Wander the streets of Placa Stradun while admiring the Baroque-style houses. Stop over at the Big Onforio’s Fountain to refresh or the Bell Tower to see the renowned Zelenci. Or go to the Old Port to wait for some cruise ships to dock. There are several ways to spend a day in Dubrovnik.