The skyline of Sibenik is characterized by the Gothic-Renaissance St. James Cathedral, a masterpiece of Croatian and European architecture featured on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Its beauty, construction and style characteristics make the cathedral not only the largest and most important element in the architectural heritage of Sibenik, but indeed a unique feature in European religious architecture.
After admiring this astonishing monument, a visit is recommended to the Old Town, with its characteristic steep, narrow alleys in the west, overlooked by the fortresses of St. Michael, St. John and Subicevac and St. Nicholas. Here you will find the main historic buildings. The beautiful Renaissance-style City Hall, built between 1533 and 1536, stands in the square in the city center, while on the edge of the central area is the Duke’s Palace. Originally a very large building, today only two wings remain, one of which hosts the museum in which the archeological and the historical heritage of the region is preserved.
Near the fifteenth-century Gothic-Renaissance Bishop’s Palace is the well-preserved Sea Gate, which takes visitors approaching from the sea into the city. In Four Wells Square, built in 1451, visitors can see the wells that have supplied the city with water for four and a half centuries. After visiting the Old Town, a walk up the steep, winding streets to the hilltop fortress of St. Michael, Sibenik’s oldest defense structure, is amply rewarded by the spectacular views out over the city and the sea, particularly at sunset.
The Cathedral of St. James
Imagine yourself living in the 15th century and looking at the outstanding construction made of white stone blocks in the clouds without any supporting part made of wood or any other connecting material – surely it would seem to you as a dream. Today exactly this construction is the most significant one in the area of Sibenik, built up in precisely 105 years in a unique Gothic and Renaissance style with a frieze of 71 human heads in the exterior, and sculptures and mosaics in the interior – the Cathedral of St. James was enlisted in the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2000.
Two National Parks in the Sibenik Region
Gods had mercy as they drew this area; from the Krka National Park, its rocky surroundings, waterfalls and the islet Visovac, on which the Franciscans monastery found its setting, to the canyon of the river Krka, where the oldest orthodox monastery is situated; from the picturesque vineyards of Primosten to the Kornati National park looking like the white tears spread on the blue sea.
Encompasses the area along the course of the Krka River, which flows through a deep and picturesque canyon for over 75 km and creates many roaring waterfalls and among them the fantastic Skradinski buk (Krka falls 46 m), Europe’s largest travertine barrier. There are also two remarkable cultural monuments within the park boundaries: the Franciscan monastery on the island of Visovac and the Krka monastery.
Stands in the middle of a lake-like expansion of the Krka River, where the green waters have created a karst plateau, giving rise to the harmonious coupling of natural and historical heritage. An irresistible, charming crag in the midst of nature, transformed by the monks over centuries of diligent work into an island full of trees, colorful flowers, fruits and vegetables, this island is an eternal sight for tourists. It was first mentioned in the documents in the 14th century. In about 1445, the Franciscans inhabited the island, expanded its area and took up science and education, erecting the church and monastery in 1576. The buildings were later restored in the 18th century.
Due to the extraordinary beauty and fascinating landscape, rugged coast and extremely rich marine ecosystem, the vast maritime zone of the Kornati archipelago was proclaimed a National Park in 1980.This marvelous area that includes 152 islands, islets and rocks and around 238 km of coast, has an inexpressible beauty that vibrates with primordial power. Because of its remarkably clear sea, plenty of sun, numerous coves, bays and small harbours, Kornati are an unavoidable destination for boaters on their wanderings in the Adriatic and a good choice for modern Robinsons. Kornati is a stone oasis in which seekers of the beauties of wild landscapes find beneficial solitude and an authentic Mediterranean ambient. Centuries of work by local laborers, stockbreeders and fishermen from the island of Murter are evident in the regular stone walls, rare parcels of fertile soil and modest stone villages.
Coastal Settlements of the Sibenik Region
The olive growing and viticulture had a leading role in the whole area of Sibenik for centuries, as well as in the surrounding settlements such as Vodice, Skradin and the island of Murter. On the other hand, Primosten has, since its beginning, the most picturesque and the richest vineyards in the whole area, speaking about the human diligence and struggle with the poor soil.
In 2009 the vineyards were presented as the UNESCO candidate for the register of the World cultural heritage, and a picture featuring Primosten’s vineyards is permanently exhibited in the main building of the UN in New York representing the hard human work through the centuries and struggle with the Dalmatian stone. Ethno villages such as Jurlinovi dvori in Primosten or Etnoland Dalmati in Pakovo selo cherish their autochthony, tradition and the original way of life.
The settlement of Betina on the island of Murter is known for the building of wooden ships, the settlement of Murter for the fishing tradition, the islet of Krapanj – the lowest Croatian island and the smallest inhabited island on the Adriatic coast is known for the sponge fishing tradition, the island of Zlarin next to it for the coral fishing tradition, and the island of Prvic making a line with Zlarin and Krapanj is known as the island of innovations thanks to Faust Vrancic – inventor of the first usable parachute in the human history, who spent his childhood on the island, and was buried here as well according to his wish. The construction of the Memorial park dedicated to this great Croat is in the progress. Only a few meters away from the grave of Faust it is possible to visit the exhibition of the handmade models of inventions of Faust Vrancic described and represented in his book “Macchinae novae”.
Dubrava Falconry Centre
Only 7 km from Sibenik, can rightly claim to be a unique attraction in the in Croatia, as it is the only center where one can see such a wide variety of birds of prey A special programme has been arranged to allow visitors to experience the thrill of seeing falcons in flight, and the awe of coming face to face with these remarkable hunters of the skies.
Two National Parks in the Vicinity Of the Sibenik Region
- Plitvice Lakes National Park
This national park is one of the greatest natural wonders of Europe. Due to their natural diversity, they are part of the UNESCO World Heritage List. There are sixteen blue-green lakes connected to each other by a series of waterfalls, all surrounded with greenery of the forests and meadows and embraced by high mountains. These forests, which in some places seem almost primeval, contain a wealth and variety of animal and plant life. Over the millennia, waters of these lakes have dissolved the limestone rock and carved out the valley in which they now lie. Each of the four seasons has its own little story of different colours and sounds.
Paklenica is the combined name for two canyons (Velika and Mala Paklenica – the most beautiful part of the Velebit massif, which UNESCO has declared a part of the World Biosphere Reserve) with cliffs up to 400m high, rising sharply from the sea to just below the highest peaks and extending vertically in the direction of the mountain.
There are numerous interesting and unusual natural phenomena where the mountains meet the sea, in the steep-sided, deep canyons of the piedmont valley that follows the line of the main ridge of Velebit. The primordial nature arouses people’s curiosity and inspires visitors. Paklenica National Park is Croatia’s most famous alpine centre and is well-known even abroad.
Sibenik is a town which combines famous history, tradition, beautiful nature and hospitality where you will always have something to do.
The city is especially renowned for the International Children’s Festival, held here for 50 years. This unique event, unrivalled worldwide, takes place during the second half of June, and presents a huge range of children’s creations.
Dalmatian Chanson Evenings is a two-day festival in August, presenting original Dalmatian music.
Visitors will have the chance to see the barrels of the famous cannons on the Sibenik waterfront smoking anew during the International Medieval Fair, when the locals offer guests a demonstration of the town’s rich cultural and historical heritage. During this three-day event in September, people in traditional clothes, jugglers, clowns, archers, knights, organists and many others invade the streets, and the craftsmen of Sibenik demonstrate the traditional techniques for shaping wood, metal and stone.
There are several diving clubs organizing diving courses and underwater photo-safari, or try bungee-jumping. Yes, you can jump from the 40-meter high bridge and yet stay alive and kicking. Bridge is set over the beautiful Channel and invites you to experience a magic of free fall.
City Tour – walk ( length: 2-3 h)
The sightseeing tour of old city of Sibenik includes visit of Gothic-Renaissance St. James Cathedral, built by famous Dalmatians stone sculptor Juraj Dalmatinac, Bishop’s Palace, monument of Juraj Dalmatinac, Town Hall and walking tour through the narrow, stone cobbled streets of Sibenik.
Krka Tours by bus, bus+boat – ( length: 4-7 hours)
Just 20 km from Sibenik, the Krka National Park encompasses the area along the course of the Krka River, which penetrates two deep canyons guarded by the silent ruins of medieval fortified cities in its brief path toward the sea. The Krka creates myriad cascades and waterfalls, of which the most famous is Skradinski Buk, the tallest limestone barrier in Europe, 46 m in height. Here is also the center of the Krka National Park, one of the most prized ecosystems in Europe by virtue of the wealth and specificity of the endemic communities of flora and fauna. With its seven cascades and total fall of 242 m, the Krka is a natural karst phenomenon.
Kornati Tour by boat – ( length: 6h)
National park Kornati is the tickest archipelago on the entire Mediterrenien sea, a unique cluster of 152 islands, islets and cliffs spread over the central part of the Adriatic Sea. It is the bluest corner of the Adriatic where the blue colour of sea stands out even more in contrast with white-greyish rocky ground which prevails on the islands. One of the most impressing natural phenomena on Kornati are cliffs on the stretch of islands of Donji Kornati, which are facing open sea.
Since ancient times cliffs have been called crowns (crown – korona) and that is probably the etymology of the name Kornati. With its exceptionally clear sea, torrents of sunshine, numerous inlets, bays and small ports Kornati are a must destination for boaters on their wanderings over the Adriatic. Since 1980 NP Kornati protects and guards the prettiest part of Croatian Adriatic Sea from the man and for humanity.
Today Kornati are not permanently inhabited, but fishermen houses spread on the well sheltered bays give away a presence of their owners. These houses, turned into restaurants and accommodation objects, became a favourite destinations of sailors, divers and other tourists who want to enjoy the pure magnificent nature. There are numerous bays with stone and pebble beaches on Kornati islands.
Plitvice Lakes Tour by bus – ( length: 8h)
The Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia’s most popular tourist attraction, is also considered to be one of the most beautiful natural sights in Europe. Due to its natural beauty and significance, this system of 16 interlinked lakes and large forest complex around it were given a permanent status of a national Park in 1949. In 1979. the Park was granted UNESCO World Heritage status.
The National Park covers a total area of 300 square kilometers and total surface of all lakes is approximately 2 square kilometers. In places, the forest, with its great trees, takes on jungle forms and in addition to this splendour of nature there is the corresponding variety of plant and animal life.
It’s a stunning place to visit any time of year as the different seasons sea the Park take on different hues.
Island of Krapanj – Island of Zlarin Tour by boat – ( length: 8h)
After arrival on Krapanj visit the Franciscan monastery, tour of the museum of sea treasure (amphora, sponges, old diving equipment, shells…). Continuing navigation towards Zlarin. Visiting museum and coral manual processing workshop. Free time for swimming and walk through the island.
Dubrava Falconry Centre Tour by bus or van – ( length: 3-4 h)
This is specific centre and not only for Sibenik region but also for Croatia because it is the only centre to provide birdwatching of all kinds of birds of prey.Located in the heart of the Mediterranean wildness and at the same time just 7 km far away from Sibenik it presents a place which must be visited if you want to taste little bit of wildness and adventure.
There is a special program during which visitors can come face to face with these incredible sky hunters.
For several years now, the centre has been cultivating a variety of species of birds of prey which were on the way to extintion due to the cruel development of „civilisation“. A special place is given to the station for injured, sick or just hungry birds which need help in order to survive in the wild.
Etnoland Dalmati Tour by bus – (length: 4 hours)
Let the paths lead you to the theme park in the Sibenik’s hinterland – the only museum of the Dalmatian tradition in Croatia – in Pakovo selo (15 km from Sibenik), where you can get to know better the Dalmatian way of living, and as it used to be, visit the workshop of the traditional crafts, and find out how people used to live. Discover for yourself why ETNOLAND Dalmati is declared as the best tourist attraction/offer in continental Croatia in 2012!
Take a trip to:
Primosten – 25 km from Sibenik. Once an island, Primosten has preserved the atmosphere and all the architectural features of a medieval Mediterranean fishing village. Departing from Primosten, tourists can reach the Jurlina Courts. Jurlina Courts is a traditional hamlet, restored by an enthusiastic priest, Don Stipe Perkov. It was formerly home to all the generations (16 people). The bedroom, kitchen, communal room, hangars, cellar and even the chapel can be seen. An ideal spot to taste the local wine, babic, and other local delicacies. It is Heritage under the protection of Croatian Ministry of Culture.
Skradin – 20 km from Sibenik. On the right bank of the Krka River lies Skradin, a peaceful little town with narrow streets, superb food and the famous Debit white wine, guaranteed to satisfy even the most demanding palate. There are also some fine beaches and playgrounds nearby for families.
Due to its strategic position it has been the central town of the entire area for almost 6000 years. There are few archaeological sites which offer a view of such clear and richly intertwined layers of turbulent history.
Vodice – 11 km from Sibenik. Its lively atmosphere day and night offers something new and unusual all year round, as well as its beaches and parks. A fascinating little town, located in a picturesque bay surrounded by numerous islands and islets. Especially interesting are the traditional folk festivals, the Easter and Christmas customs, cultural and entertainment events, festivals, a cappella Dalmatian song evenings and sports competitions.
Paklenica National Park – 90 km from Sibenik. The National Park Paklenica covers a surface of 3617 hectares and is a magnificent rocky phenomenon. Paklenica is just one small part of Croatia’s most fascinating mountain, Velebit, yet it is one of the most important and the richest in natural characteristics. In 1949, the area was declared a national park. Its most striking features are two forbidding gorges – Velika and Mala Paklenica.
The park abounds with peculiar karstic forms, caves and other natural features, while due to its climate conditions, lush variety of flora and fauna has been preserved. Today, Paklenica National Park is one of the most attractive natural, scientific and tourist regions in the north-eastern Mediterranean. The rich and diverse array of flora and fauna (with many endemic species, like the Griffon vulture), the numerous karst phenomena, as well as the wide range of sporting activities (free-climbing, trekking, picnicking day trips to the Lugarnica forest hut, a tour of a mill and learning about how it works) attract all sorts of visitors.
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Tourist office details
Tourist Office County of Sibenik and Knin Tourist Board
Tourist Office Sibenik Tourist Board
Tourist Office Tourist Information Centre
Tourist Office Association of Tourist Guides “Mihovil” Sibenik