Visiting ancient cities in Dalmatia

Visiting ancient cities in Dalmatia

Dalmatia is a region located in the southern part of Croatia’s coast, ideal for your next vacation. Apart from some amazing islands, crystal-clear sea and plenty of natural beauty, this part of Europe is absolutely brimming with cultural heritage. People have been living here for thousands of years, but what is probably going to impress every visitor the most are the remains of ancient Roman architecture. Even without that, though, there is a lot for tourists to enjoy, even if you’re not a history buff. Still, if you are interested in that, here’s a short overview of the best spots to visit.

Zadar

A great thing about Dalmatia is that it’s very well connected via a great motorway, so you can actually visit all three cities we mention here in a single day if you so desire. Just rent a car in Split with Lutar and take off!
Zadar is the first on our list, and its amazing Forum is the place you should visit first. This public square is more than 2000 years old and is the largest Roman forum on the eastern side of the Adriatic. Right next to it, you will see the Church of St. Donatus, a symbol of Zadar, and just behind it is the Zadar cathedral. Therefore, you have a lot of architecture to enjoy. Oh, and if you have the time, do go and visit Monument to the Sun and the Sea Organ, two fascinating modern art pieces that wow tourists every year.

Šibenik

Šibenik is less than an hour away if you take the motorway, but you can also opt for the Adriatic highway if you want a more scenic ride. Either way, you should be in Šibenik reasonably quickly.
Now, Šibenik is much younger than Zadar since it was founded in the mid-11th century. However, what makes it special is that it was actually founded by Croats, not Romans or Greeks or even Illyrians, who lived here much before Croats arrived.
Nevertheless, the city has quite a lot to offer, with two UNESCO World Heritage Sites you can explore. One of them is the Šibenik cathedral, a masterpiece made entirely of stone that took more than a century to complete. The other is the majestic Fortress of St. Nicholas which guards the city from the sea. There are actually three more fortresses you can explore, each still in use to this day.

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Split

Finally, slightly more to the south, and you will arrive in Split, Dalmatia’s largest city and the second-largest city in Croatia.
Now, this city has quite a pedigree, given that it was founded by a Roman emperor himself! You see, at the end of the third century AD, emperor Diocletian decided to build himself a palace where he could retire, and that palace is today the very heart of Split. But don’t think of this palace as a singular building – it is a complete Roman town along with walls and everything!
Over the centuries, many wonderful pieces of architecture have been created inside the palace’s walls, and stepping inside is like stepping into an architecture textbook. Sit down for a drink or even lunch and try to imagine what the place was like when Roman royalty walked its streets.

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