Things to Do in Dalmatia - page 2
Flanked by two Corinthian colonnades, Peristyle Square (Peristil) is the central plaza of the town of Split and part of Diocletian's Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. An 187-feet (57-meter) eye-catching belfry towers above the square; climb to the top for a stellar view of the sea.
Dubrovnik’s 15-century, Gothic-Renaissance–style Rector's Palace (Knezev Dvor) contains the rector’s office and private chambers as well as public halls, courtrooms, and a former dungeon. Interestingly, the rector’s term was for only one month, during which time he was confined to the palace and allowed to leave only on official republic business.
Stretching from Old Town’s western entrance at the Pile Gate to the harbor in the east, the Stradun (or Placa) was once a shallow sea channel that divided the small island on which Dubrovnik was built from the Republic of Ragusa on the mainland. In the 12th century, the Stradun was filled to create the main street in Dubrovnik’s Old Town.
Dotted with pine trees and Mediterranean shrubs, Marjan is a hilly peninsula jutting out into the Adriatic Sea. A beautiful nature reserve in Croatia, some of Split's best beaches are here, along with important museums, such as Mestrovic Gallery and Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments.
Zlatni Rat Beach (Golden Horn or Golden Cape) is one of Croatia’s most beautiful and unique beaches. Located on the southern end of Brac Island, this narrow sliver of land juts out into the azure sea. Pebble beaches on both sides of this V-shaped promontory are perfect for swimming and snorkeling, and afternoon westerly winds make it a premiere windsurfing spot.
Named after the patron saint and protector of Dubrovnik, the Church of St. Blaise (Crkva Sv. Vlaha) is one of the most beautiful—and locally beloved—buildings in Old Town. Venetian architect Marino Gropelli built the present-day baroque-style church in 1715, after the original was significantly damaged in the massive earthquake of 1667.
Flowing for more than 60 miles (96 kilometers) from its source at Dinara on the Croatia–Bosnia and Herzegovina border all the way to the Adriatic Sea near Split, the Cetina River is a main player in Dalmatia’s adventure-sports scene. Its rushing rapids, waterfalls, and tunnels make it ideal for rafting and canyoning excursions.
Ivan Meštrović’s iconic Gregory of Nin (Grgur Ninski) statue is one of Split’s most popular attractions. Originally erected in 1929, the 27-foot (8.5-meter) sculpture commemorates the medieval bishop and advocate of Croatia’s national language. Today, his bronze toe has been rubbed clean by countless visitors seeking good luck.
The Franciscan Church and Monastery is one of the few buildings in Dubrovnik that survived the devastating earthquake of 1667. Bordered by late-Romanesque arcades, the monastery’s inner courtyard provides a quiet reprieve from Dubrovnik’s bustling Old Town. The monastery houses a small religious museum as well as one of Europe’s oldest working pharmacies.
Travelers who are looking for the perfect way to spend an afternoon soaking up the beauty of Croatia’s idyllic coastline will find exactly what they’re after on the Riva Promenade or Riva Split Waterfront. This incredible stretch of walkway runs the entire length of the old town and offers up incredible views of the surrounding harbor, European-style apartments and remote island’s are some of the city’s most picturesque.
Visitors will find some of Split’s best restaurants, cafes and nightlife along the promenade, which is also near to the city’s largest port. The famed walkway is flanked by towering palms and lined with glazed white tiles that lend some serious European-flare to this coastal destination.
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Located inside the gates of Diocletian’s Palace, the Cathedral of St. Domnius ((Katedrala Svetog Duje) is a massive octagonal cathedral built in Roman times as the Mausoleum of Diocletian. The structure was converted to a church in the 7th century and mass is still held here today, making it one of the oldest Catholic cathedrals in the world still in use in its original structure.
Dedicated to the Ancient Roman king of gods, the Temple of Jupiter was constructed in the 3rd century as part of Diocletian's Palace and is considered to be one of the most well-preserved Roman temples in the world. Diocletian believed he was the reincarnation of Jupiter, who was highly worshipped until the Roman Empire was taken over by Christian rule.
Built by nobles in the late 15th century, this verdant arboretum is one of Dubrovnik’s top tourist attractions. In addition to plants sourced from the four corners of the globe, the garden also has a 50-foot-long (15 meter) aqueduct used for irrigation purposes, a baroque Neptune fountain, and a pavilion overlooking the Adriatic.
Built into the eastern flank of Dubrovnik’s fortified walls adjacent to Fort Revelin, the 14th-century Dominican Monastery is designed in a combination of Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance architecture that is seen in several of the city’s palaces and churches.
The monastery’s church was rebuilt several times over the centuries and was used as an army depot during Napoleon’s occupation of Dubrovnik in the late 18th century; today its single nave features a massive painted Gothic cross by Paolo Veneziano, dating from around 1384,St Dominic by 19th century painter Vlaho Bukovac — widely regarded as Croatia’s finest artist — and sparkling contemporary stained glass in the apse.
The elaborate 15th-century Gothic cloister of the monastery surrounds a shady garden that was used as stabling for French army horses and their troughs can still be seen between the cloister’s pillars. The well in the garden provided water for Dubrovnik’s residents when the city was under siege in 1991. An important collection of religious art hangs in the museum, including Titian’s sublime Mary Magdalene; other paintings of note are Nikola Božidarević’s altarpieces and triptych plus Lovro Dobričević’s bloodthirsty St Peter the Martyr, which portrays the saint with a hatchet in his head. The monastery can be visited when touring Dubrovnik’s defence walls and is included on several museum tours of the city.
Zadar’s Church of St. Donatus is a sight to behold, its towering circular walls rising out of a plaza scattered with Roman ruins. Commissioned by Donatus of Zadar (the church’s namesake come the 13th century), the Pre-Romanesque building dates back to the 9th century, and now stands as a classic representation of Byzantine Dalmatia architecture.
With a captivating and grand exterior, the interior might seem relatively austere. But there’s more here than just a humble church: given that it is built atop the Roman forum, you can still pick out ancient remnants from those times, including two preserved columns, and even a sacrificial altar. Moreover, St. Donatus is especially loved for its impressive tower-top views — that stretch across the city to the sea and islands beyond — and as a concert hall, for which it is used given its phenomenal acoustics.
Built in the early 16th century as the Republic of Ragusa customs house, Dubrovnik’s Sponza Palace (Palaca Sponza) was one of the few buildings not leveled by the devastating 1667 earthquake. It’s architecturally stunning, with a Renaissance portico, late-Gothic windows, inner courtyards, and an alcove containing a statue of St. Blaise, the city’s patron saint.
Bisected by the wide turquoise ribbon of the Cetina River, the steep cliffs of Cetina Canyon form a striking landscape just a short drive outside of Split, Croatia’s 2nd-largest city. In a country lush with stunning nature, Cetina Canyon is one of the easiest to reach and offers many opportunities for hiking and adventure sports.
Mljet Island is Croatia’s most lush, forested island in the Adriatic Sea. The western cape contains Mljet National Park, where pine forests and spectacular saltwater lakes offer incredible natural scenery. On the nearby tiny island of St. Mary, not far from the southern shore of Veliko Jezero, there is a Benedictine monastery and St. Mary’s church.
Standing on Luza Square among some of Dubrovnik’s most impressive architecture, including St Blaise Church and the lovely Sponza Palace with its appealing mixture of Gothic and Renaissance architecture, Orlando's Column (Orlandov Stup) was erected in 1418 at what remains the political and social heart of the city. Here public meetings and executions were held on the small stone platform guarded by wrought-iron railings that tops the column. The stone carvings adorning the four sides of the column were created by master craftsman Antun Dubrovcanin and represent the heroic knight Orlando, who was the nephew of Frankish Emperor Charlemagne; according to legend he was credited with saving Dubrovnik from Saracen pirates in the eighth century and here he is depicted surrounded by figures of minstrels and balladeers. As well as the length of Orlando’s arm becoming a common measurement in the city, the column has come to represent the freedom of Dubrovnik and the white flag of the Republic always flies above it on public occasions, including the opening of the annual Dubrovnik Summer Festival in July.
Part of a quintet of civic museums in Dubrovnik, the Ethnographic Museum (also known as the Rupe Museum) celebrates life in a Croatia fast disappearing. In a former life, its present home was a three-story, brick-built 16th-century granary used for storing grain for the residents of the city, but since 1980 the city’s collection of local memorabilia and decorative arts has been beautifully displayed in its spacious galleries. Three of the granary’s grain silos have been opened up and incorporated into the exhibition of tools and household implements on the ground floor.
The museum showcases traditional methods of grape harvesting, wine making, fishing and weaving alongside displays of storage bags made of hide and hand-painted Easter eggs. Highlights of the exhibition on the second floor trace rural life in the Dalmatia region, with displays of colorful peasant costumes, embroidered textiles and hand-made lace shawls.
Revered for its endless beaches, idyllic coves, scenic valleys, fine wines, and seafood, Croatia’s Pelješac Peninsula juts out of the center of southern Dalmatia. Without the tourist-oriented resorts and the crowds of other coastal Dalmatian destinations, the Pelješac Peninsula is the perfect spot for a relaxing holiday.
The heart of Split, the 2nd-largest city in Croatia, and its main gathering place is Prokurative, also known as Republic Square. With architecture inspired heavily by St. Mark’s Square in Venice and easy access to the nearby Riva Promenade, the square is a popular place for concerts, performances, and people-watching.
As a revered local monument and protected heritage site, Poljud Stadium (Stadion Poljud) is on the itinerary for most sightseeing tours of Split and is just north of the city’s historic UNESCO World Heritage-listed center. It was built in 1979 for the Mediterranean Games and was opened by then-President of former Yugoslavia, Marshall Tito. Designed as a multi-purpose facility by Croatian architect Boris Magaš, the stadium’s main function today is as the beloved home of Hajduk Split football team, which plays in the European Champions League and is followed by avid fans across the region.
The stadium is a seafront landmark that appears at its most beautiful when illuminated by hundreds of floodlights by night. Constructed with two stands forming an arched, shell-like layered concrete exterior, Poljud has a seating capacity of 35,000 and among other events, hosts athletics matches and music festivals, including August’s annual Ultra Europe dance-music extravaganza.
Fruit’s Square (Trg Brace Radic) is named after the busy fruit market once held in the square; considered one of the most beautiful squares in Split, Fruit’s Square today is home to a number of historic landmarks, bars, restaurants and shops. On one side of the square is a Venetiancastello, or castle.Visitors should look for an arched passageway in the structure that features two etched Christian crosses—legend says that anyone who points their fingers at the points of the cross and makes a love-related wish while closing their eyes will see that wish come true.
On the other side is the 17th-century Milesi Palace, one of the most impressive examples of Baroque architecture in the Dalmatian region. Known for its arch-shaped windows on the ground level, the palace today hosts lectures and cultural events. In front of the palace is a statue of Marko Marulic, a 15th-century poet who is considered the father of Croatian literature.
Fruit's Square can be visited as part of a city walking tour of Split including stops at the Roman Emperor Diocletian's Palace and the local markets, as well as a walk along the Riva promenade.
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