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Create Your Own Custom, Private Signature Tour of Croatia
Visit: SPLIT – TROGIR – SIBENIK – HVAR – VIS – KORCULA – STON – DUBROVNIK
Seeing Croatia for the first time is a life-changing experience. To visit time and again is to re-affirm life. Blessed with magnificent scenery and incredible history and enriched with folk traditions and delicious regional foods and wines, here is a region so divine that it has been named one of the best travel destinations in the world. Mediterranean, European, and Balkan influences have formed an ancient and distinctive culture throughout its pastoral countryside to its shimmering coastlines. Powerful mountain ranges have carved legacies in their midst while fairy tale castles and walled seaside villages stand as a testimony to its tumultuous past. Once the site of one of the bloodiest crossroads between Europe and Asia, it gained international recognition and independence in 1992 and today is a gorgeous and peaceful land that beckons passionate travelers from all over the globe. From its lush national parks teeming with flora and fauna and stunning waterfalls to its glistening chain of lavender and citrus scented islands in the sun-drenched Adriatic Sea, this is truly one of the most beautiful spots on Earth. A journey to Croatia is a lovely and indelible memory that lives with you forever.
Olives, indigenous aromatic plants, brilliancy of white stone against the verdant vegetation and the towering mountain massif of Biokovo whose spurs reach all the way to the sea – yes, this is indeed an exceptional part of the country, and its beauty is made all the more enchanting by numerous historic events and monuments, and cultural manifestations.
When, in the year 305, the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who ruled the entire world at that time, decided to build his leisure time abode – in which he intended to spend the rest of his life – he had no doubt as to exactly where build to it. In the very heart of Dalmatia, in the bay of Aspalathos (Split), well protected from the sea by the islands of the Split archipelago, and defended on its landward side by high mountains, Diocletian created a special point on the map of the Adriatic: the future city of Split.
There’s no doubt Diocletian’s Palace is the top must-see attraction in Croatia’s second biggest city – Split. This UNESCO protected World Heritage Site is actually the heart of the whole city – almost two thousand years old, the enormous palace exists today as a “living monument” – meaning it’s dotted with quaint shops, galleries, cafes, restaurants and people actually live and work within its old walls. And that’s what makes it really special – it’s an ancient Roman palace absolutely integrated into the everyday life and doings of Split and its people.
The Riva, a marble-white and palm-lined connection of Split and the Adriatic is everyone’s favorite spot for socializing, coffee-drinking or just idle sitting on one of the comfy benches which face the sea. Riva is full of life throughout the day, especially during the summer, and you’ll always find people strolling along or sitting in one of the cafes. So, if you want to get a feeling of the local everyday “buzz” be sure to grab your spot and you’ll soon experience first-hand how important and irresistible is the coffee culture in Croatia.
And finally, maybe not the most important but certainly the yummiest must-do activity of all – food! 😉 Split, especially its Old Town, is literally dotted with colorful food stalls, konoba (a type of traditional Dalmatian tavern) and quaint little restaurants. Don’t miss local delicacies, such as fish prepared na gradele and pašticada. Street food culture in Split is also pretty strong and you can never go hungry since there’s always some inviting bite-sized treat waiting for you around the corner.
Trogir, a harmonious stone town on a small island that is connected to the mainland and the island of Čiovo by bridges. The old town, under UNESCO protection, is a treasure trove for lovers of art, Renaissance and Baroque buildings, Romanesque churches…
It is called the town-museum which is visible in the famous portal of Trogir cathedral by the craftsman Radovan in 1240, a Renaissance city lodge, the thousand-year-old Monastery of Sv. Nikola [St. Nicholas] which has the ancient famous relief of Kairos preserved in it from the 4th century BC.
Cathedral of St. Lawrence – During structural repairs to the foundations of the bell tower in 1903, an altar consecrated to Hera was found, which might well warrant the assumption that there was once, on the site of today’s cathedral, a shrine from at least the Greek and Roman period. The new foundations of St Lawrence’ Cathedral were blessed at the beginning of the 13th century, after the old cathedral had been ruined in the Venetian destruction of the city in 1171.
Radovan’s portal – A genuine trademark of Trogir sculpting is Master Radovan, the most important sculptor of Croatian medieval art. He signed his name on the main portal in an inscription that runs under the lunette and reliefs of the Annunciation at the side, where he is celebrated as “the best of all in this art” (cunctis hac arte preclarum). In the center of the upper zone of the portal is a lunette in which Radovan managed to link into a united composition the scenes of Nativity, the Journey of the Magi and the Adoration of the Shepherds.
The main city square – The program of designing the appearance of the main city square in Trogir, at the site of the Roman forum, started in the 1300 with the construction of the commune’s loggia and the council chamber. The square acquired its final shape in a number of operations in the mid-15th century, at a time when the city really was renovated.
The large Cipiko palace – Father and son, Petar and Koriolan Cipiko, managed, clearly according to a certain family program and with strategic marriages, to occupy the whole western side of the main square with their two palaces – opposite the council chamber, the cathedral and the other public buildings.
A coastal city that has endured nearly a millennium of scorching temperatures, sustaining a few wars, being beaten by the waves, and whipped by relentless winds, Šibenik remains as vibrant as ever. Šibenik consists of stone buildings, stone stairways, rock cliffs, cobbled streets, and stone arches. It is built on rocks and constructed with rocks.
Šibenik is a city of sun, sea, and stone, a unique combination of characteristics that make this a city unlike any other in Croatia.
Additionally, this proud city is the only one on the Croatian coast that was built by Croats—Split and Dubrovnik, for example, were founded by other cultures.
As the third-largest city in Dalmatia, Šibenik makes for a strongly recommended destination on this spectacular stretch of the Adriatic coastline. This city is filled with amazing historic sites, beautiful seaside hang-outs, and quaint alleys and squares—just what you may expect from a medieval coastal city in Croatia.
City Hall – A strikingly harmonious Renaissance building situated on the medieval Square of the Republic of Croatia in the very heart of the city, the City Hall of Šibenik was constructed between 1533 and 1546. Its beautiful façade is made up of columns and arches, a balustrade, and a balcony. The ground floor is home to a wonderful local restaurant, the outside terrace of which provides an extraordinary view of the Cathedral of St. James. Although the City Hall was entirely leveled during an allied air raid in 1943, it was meticulously rebuilt and now looks exactly like it did before the Second World War.
Stone Streets and Quaint Squares – A fun thing to do in Šibenik is walking around aimlessly. Its medieval heart is completely car-free—the streets and alleys are simply too narrow for car traffic—and allows people to explore, discover, and wander at their leisure. The historic city center is made up of a few different areas, known as Grad, Dolac and Gorica, which all neighbor one another.
These areas are chock-full with historic sites, ranging from ancient churches to palaces and mansions to townhouses. Everything, of course, is made from stone. A maze of paved and cobbled streets connects all these attractions; sometimes the streets pass underneath a beautiful arch or even through a tunnel. Because the city was built on a rocky coastal area, there are some elevation changes as well, which are conquered by—you guessed it—stone stairways.
Four Fortresses – Šibenik has always had a strategic position in the Adriatic Sea. This military advantage made it a much-desired city by the larger Mediterranean powers. The rulers of the city anticipated that and erected a number of mighty fortresses, built fortified city walls, and constructed commanding towers. Nowadays, the fortresses are the best-preserved remains of this once-mighty fortification system.
There are four fortresses in the city of Šibenik—the Fortresses of St. Nicholas, St. John and St. Michael, and the Fortress Šubićevac—all of which were built between the 15th and 17th centuries. While they are all definitely worth visiting, the Fortress of St. Michael is particularly interesting because it houses a concert and theater venue at its top. Overlooking Šibenik and the islands in the Adriatic Sea, it is one of the most scenic places to attend a performance in Croatia.
Cathedral of St. James – The number one attraction in Šibenik is the Cathedral of St. James. A stunning and stylish building, this magnificent cathedral was built in the 15th and 16th centuries and can be said to be one of the most significant monumental cathedrals in Europe. It wouldn’t be Šibenik if its cathedral weren’t built entirely from stone—in fact, it is the only cathedral in all of Europe that has been constructed with only stone.
Additionally, it was also the very first structure in Europe to be constructed with inter-grooved stones. And that’s not all. The Cathedral of St. James is also the only European building of which the interior shape corresponds entirely with its exterior features. It would by no means be a stretch to state that the Cathedral of St. James can be considered to be the most important Renaissance building in Croatia.
It is truly an absolutely extraordinary building, a vast stone monument, that is one of the top sights on the entire Dalmatian coast. UNESCO recognized the cultural, architectural and historical significance of this cathedral when it declared it World Heritage in 2000.
The largest part of this amazing river’s course is the national park, which in addition to its natural phenomena abounds with cultural and historical monuments. The most outstanding of these is the Franciscan monastery on the tiny island of Visovac, set in the middle of the lake widening in the river like a precious stone.
Within the monastery, there is a picture gallery and a church, origins of which are traced back to the 14th century. In the middle of the canyon, upstream of the river, is an interesting Krka Orthodox monastery; while on the high ground above the river several old ruins sit. The old mills, which have been transformed into small ethnographic museums where one can see how wheat was ground in the olden days, are a popular attraction for visitors.
Heritage interpreters are dressed in traditional folk costumes, which is particularly interesting and entertaining for children, who are frequent visitors to the park. However, the main attraction of Krka National Park lies in its seven waterfalls. The widest of these is Roški slap, although Skradinski Buk is the biggest and most well-known.
St. Stephen’s Square – The center of town is this rectangular square, which was formed by filling in an inlet that once stretched out from the bay. At 4500 sq. meters, it’s one of the largest old squares in Dalmatia. The town first developed in the 13th century to the north of the square and later spread south in the 15th century. Notice the well at the square’s northern end, which was built in 1520 and has a wrought-iron grill dating from 1780.
Cathedral of St Stephen – The cathedral forms a stunning backdrop to the square. The bell tower rises four levels, each more elaborate than the last. The cathedral was built in the 16th and 17th centuries at the height of the Dalmatian Renaissance on the site of a cathedral destroyed by the Turks. Parts of the older cathedral are visible in the nave and in the carved 15thcentury choir stalls.
Renaissance Theater – Built in 1612, this theatre is reportedly the first theatre in Europe open to plebeians and aristocrats alike. It remained a regional cultural center throughout the centuries. Plays were still staged here right up until 2008. Although much of the theatre is still under renovation, you can wander around the atmospheric interior and take in the faded frescoes and baroque loggias.
Franciscan Monastery & Museum – This 15th-century monastery overlooks a shady cove. The elegant bell tower was built in the 16th century by a well-known family of stonemasons from Korčula. The Renaissance cloister leads to a refectory containing lace, coins, nautical charts and valuable documents, such as an edition of Ptolemy’s Atlas, printed in 1524.
Your eye will immediately be struck by The Last Supper, an 8m by 2.5m work by the Venetian Matteo Ingoli dating from the end of the 16th century. The cypress in the cloister garden is said to be more than 300 years old. The adjoining church, named Our Lady of Charity, contains more fine paintings such as the three politics created by Francesco da Santacroce in 1583, which represent the summit of this painter’s work.
Fortica – Through the network of tiny streets northwest of St Stephen’s Square, climb up through a park to the citadel built on the site of a medieval castle to defend the town from the Turks. The Venetians strengthened it in 1557 and then the Austrians renovated it in the 19th century by adding barracks. Inside is a tiny collection of ancient amphorae recovered from the seabed. The view over the harbor is magnificent, and there’s a lovely cafe at the top.
Arsenal – On the southern side of St Stephen’s Square, the Arsenal was built in 1611 to replace a building destroyed by the Ottomans. Mentioned in Venetian documents as ‘the most beautiful and the most useful building in the whole of Dalmatia’, the Arsenal once served as a repair and refitting station for war galleons.
Vis – the furthest island of the central Dalmatian archipelago. It is especially well known for its cultural and historical heritage, but also for its natural beauties. Even the Greek writer Agatharchides in his scripts praised wines from Vis as being the best he had ever tasted, in comparison to other sorts he had tried. Their most autochthonous wine is most certainly Vugava which you can try in numerous restaurants and cellars all around the island.
We recommend you try their autochthonous Viška pogača which will definitively go well with their wines.
Vis is also known as one of “the forbidden islands” during the communistic era. It was the center of the Yugoslav navy and therefore was forbidden to tourists. Even today there are many hidden tunnels all around the island that testify to that fact. Some of them are now tourist attractions and others are used by the Croatian navy.
Korčula was first mentioned as early as the 10th c. in works of Byzantine historians under the name “Stone Town”. It flourished under the Venetian government and later on it spread around the town walls. But in spite of all that, it is still the most famous as the birthplace of Marco Polo who was probably born here in 1254, and reminders of him can be seen all around the town, including the extremely interesting Marco Polo Museum which is something you definitively don`t want to miss when visiting this beautiful Dalmatian town.
Today it`s a town where you can vividly feel the Mediterranean spirit of people who live and work in this mixture of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture.
Ston is a small Mediterranean town situated on the Pelješac Peninsula, with a history that reaches back as far as the 14th century. It is a small town with the longest stone wall in Europe(5,5km), with narrow quiet streets, noble ancient houses, and traces of ancient cultures. Its former value as a “salt city” gets confirmed even today in the plants of the oldest active salt-works in the world. These saltworks have remained faithful to the tradition and to the natural way of salt production which has not changed since remote ages.
The town is best known for its oyster and mussel beds, and during your tour, you will not only participate in oyster harvesting but also be served fabulous versions of these shellfish along with traditional dish buzara for light lunch.
Pelješac peninsula is renowned for its spectacular coastline and historic towns and wine production. Enjoy the magnificent peninsula scenery and picturesque vineyards. You can start this tour with a visit to Ston, a town famous for its 5 km long defensive wall, the second largest in the world, right after the Chinese wall, and finish in Mali Ston, the center of oyster production in Croatia.
Dubrovnik is a medieval city on the Croatian side of the Adriatic coastline and treasure trove of cultural, historical monuments that were created throughout its thousand-year existence.
In the past, it was a City-Republic, and alongside Venice one of the most famous cultural-economic centers on the Mediterranean.
In more recent times, it has become the center of modern cultural and tourist events: a city of summer festivals – an international parade of top musical and theatrical achievements, a city of museums and galleries. These values have turned Dubrovnik into a place that offers a rich selection of various experiences and excitement, but also a complete holiday in a quiet and calming, mild Mediterranean ambiance, and wonderful seaside landscapes.
Stradun – the main street of Dubrovnik where everyone’s walked and also the busiest street where you stroll over marble tiles. Stradun is a great place for everyone where all the shopping can be done, cafes and restaurants are on the streets and many wonderful shops.
Onofrio’s Fountain – this drinking fountain is located just at the beginning of Stradun, the main street of the old town. The structure was named after its builder, the Italian Onofrio de la Cava, dates from 1440 and includes 16 sides. The concept is part of the water supply system of the city and brings water from the well in Rijeka Dubrovacka, at more than 20 km away, to the heart of the city. Before that this interest was, therefore, more than a masterpiece of architectural sophistication. Originally the fountain was decorated with a sculpture, which was destroyed in the earthquake of 1667, the Remaining 16 stone masks from which the water flows into a lake.
The Clock Tower was built in the 15th Century right at the other end of the Placa (the main thoroughfare) and represented alongside nearby buildings a free city-state. The tower is approximately 31 meters in height and built by Grubacevic, Utisenovic, and Radoncic, local masters. Following an earthquake, the structure of the Clock Tower lost its structure and leaned. In order for it not to fall the Clock Tower was rebuilt in 1929.
Orlando’s column was built in 1418, then it was the focal point of the city and Government ordinances and punishment carried out. A flag flies above the statue with the ‘Libertas’ motto.
The medieval cult of Orlando (Roland) started here in the 12th century based upon the epic poem ‘Song of Roland.’