Sibenik Tourist Attractions
Sibenik has a recorded history dating back to the 11th Century, although the old town you see today was mostly built in the 15th and 16th Centuries. It is not often regarded as a tourist destination but is a pleasant city with several notable attractions, particularly the 16th Century Renaissance style Cathedral. Sibenik is also a good base for exploring the nearby parks of Krka National Park and Kornati National Park.The 1990s Patriotic War had a serious impact on the prosperity of Sibenik. Since that time the city has been plagued with economic problems and extremely low employment levels.
Cathedral of St Jacob
The Cathedral of St James (Katedrala Sv Jakova in Sibenik) is one of the highlights of the Dalmatian Coast and a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site. This grand Cathedral took over 100 years to complete in the 15th and 16th Centuries. The construction was begun under the direction of Venetian architect, Antonio Dalle and later passed on to the sculptor Jurac Dalmatinac. Upon his death, the work went to Nikola Firentinac. During the course of construction a variety of styles were incorporated into the Cathedral, including the Gothic lower level and the Renaissance upper level.One of the noteworthy features to take watch for while visiting the Cathedral is the frieze on the outside of the apse, with more than 70 unique faces, representing ordinary citizens from the 15th Century. Also of interest are the script of bishop Sizigoric, the "Gift of the Wise Men" by Ricciardi, and the "Lion's Portal" with figures of Adam and Eve by Dalmatina and Bonino Milano on the north side.
Krka National Park
Established in 1985 the Krka National Park (Nacionalni Park Krka) protects the area around the middle and lower areas of the River Krka. As the river flows down from the upper reaches there are a series of lakes and rapids and the beautiful Roski Slap and Skradinski Buk waterfalls. At the center of the park is Lake Visovac, below the Roski Slap waterfalls. From here the Krka River joins up with the River Cikola, flowing over Skradinski Buk and out to the sea.The park is home to about 200 different bird species, including herons and egrets. It also has some cultural attractions including an Orthodox Krka Monastery (Arandjelovac), dating to the early 15th Century at the north end of the park and Samostan Visovac, the island monastery on Lake Visova.Krka National Park can be accessed from Lozovac, Miljevci, or Skradin. From Skradin boats run upriver to the waterfalls. It is also possible to reach Roski Slap from Miljevci.
The town of Knin, on the road between Zagreb and Split has a long history which has been active right up to the late 20th Century. Built around a hilltop fortress Knin has seen many battles and has changed hands on numerous occasions. The fort dates to the 10th Century, when the town went by the name Ad Tenen. The town fell to the Turks in the 16th Century and then to the Venetians in the 17th Century. In the 1990s war the Serbs used the fort, forcing out the Croats. In 1991 Knin became the self-proclaimed capital of the "Serbian Autonomous Region of Krajina". In 1995 it went back to the Croats.Today the town's economy is in ruin, with mass unemployment and a population made up primarily of refugees. There is little to no infrastructure to support tourism. Considering it is on the main road, the town makes a good day stop.
Not far from Sibenik is the small town of Drnis. At the end of the 15th Century a fort was built here to defend against a Turkish invasion. The fort was eventually captured and Drnis fell to the Turks who expanded on the town, making it one of their outposts. They built a mosque and Turkish baths here. Later, fighting between the Ottomans and the Venetians in the middle of the 16th Century, all but destroyed the town. After the Ottomans departed, the Venetians rebuilt the mosque, turning it into the church of St Anthony.To the east of Drnis is the village of Otavice, where sculptor Ivan Mestrovic built a Mausoleum for himself and his family. He lived in the United States in the latter part of his life but was laid to rest here. It is a simple stone structure with a dome.
Sibenik Count's Palace (Civic Museum)
Behind the Sibenik Cathedral is the late Renaissance Rector's Palace / Count's Palace (Knezeva Palaca). It was originally built to be the governor's residence during the Venetian rule. The name Count's Palace came from Count Niccolo Marcello, the Venetian who had the structure built in the early 1600s. The Palace now houses the Civic Museum (Muzej Grada Sibenika) with archeological artifacts from the Neolithic to Roman times, sculptures, some of which date to the 7th Century, a coin collection, and other miscellaneous items from Sibenik and the surrounding region. While most of the collection is rather uninspiring, the Count's Palace is worth a look.
Church of St Francis
As with many old buildings in Croatia and in Sibenik, the Church of St Francis (Sv Frane) has been rebuilt and altered numerous times over the centuries. The church was originally founded in 1229 but mostly destroyed in the next century. Parts of the original cloisters survived and were incorporated into the rebuilding of the church in the 16th Century. In the 18th Century the Church of St Francis took on a new look, being completely rebuilt in Baroque style, with the interior being completely decorated with paintings. Of note on the interior is a 1762 organ by Petar Nakic.
The Sibenik Town Hall (Gradska vijecnica) is located across the square from the Cathedral of St Jacob. The Renaissance structure boasts beautiful columns and a balustrade, and dates to the middle of the 16th Century. It was built by well known architect Michele Sanmicheli. The Town Hall was largely destroyed during an Allied air strike on Sibenik during the Second World War. Following the war it was completely rebuilt following the original plans.Large columns and arches mark the façade of the lower level of this two-storey structure. The upper level, with a balustrade, is the loggia.
Church of St Barbara
Behind the Cathedral of St James, is the little Church of St Barbara (Sv Barbara), which houses a small but noteworthy collection of sculptures and paintings from the 14th to the 18th Centuries. The church was built in the mid 1600s on the base of one of Sibenik's older buildings. It has a unique façade with irregular shaped openings and a 15th Century statue of St Nicholas by Bonino of Milan. The interior boasts two unique altars, one from the original church and one that was built later but designed to compliment the first.
St Anne's Fortress
St Anne's Fortress (Tvrdava Sv Ana) is Sibenik's oldest defense structure, dating to medieval times. Lightning struck the munitions holding area causing a fire that, for the most part, destroyed the structure. It was rebuilt during the 16th Century although the fort today is more of a ruin than a fort, with crumbling ramparts. The walk up the steep winding streets to this hilltop fortress is well worth it for the spectacular views out over the city and sea. The fort is up above the medieval section of Gradina, in the northeast. It is particularly beautiful at sunset.
About 20km / 12mi southeast of Sibenik, is the beautiful little town of Primosten. This unique town is on an island but connected to the mainland by a bridge. Seen from a distance the old buildings seem to consume every square inch of the island. The medieval streets of the town center and the pebbled beaches that surround the island make this a popular resort town. Primosten is dominated by the 15th Century Church of St George at the top of the town.