Croatia's World Heritage Sites by Owen Lipsett
Historical Complex of Split with the Palace of Diocletian
Split literally grew out of the palace that the Roman Emperor Diocletian (245-312), a native of the nearby city of Salona, built as what may have been history’s first retirement home. Much of the original structure still remains – both in the form of the original walls and the various buildings constructed out of stone pilfered from it in Split’s Old Town, which the walls encompass. Interestingly, although Diocletian was notorious for his persecution of Christians, the complex includes world’s oldest Cathedral, dedicated to St. Dominius.
Its bell-tower offers wonderful views both over the Old Town and the Adriatic, which once came up to the walls of the palace.Old City of Dubrovnik
(Inscribed 1979, Inscription Extended in 1994)
Not only is Dubrovnik one of the world’s most attractive cities – both in its appearance and its location, it’s probably Europe’s best-preserved historic city. It’s entirely pedestrianized and a local ordinance prohibiting signs anywhere but on lanterns outside of shops means that strolling through it on a quiet night you could be forgiven for believing you’d literally been transported back in time. The two kilometers of city walls that enclose it repulsed invaders during the city’s four centuries as an independent republic and again when it came under attack during the early 1990s – today they offer a pleasant means for coming to appreciate this city, the beauty of whose buildings is only matched by that of its location.
Plitvice Lakes National Park
(Inscribed 1979, Inscription Extended in 2000)
Most visitors to Croatia head for the coast, but if you’re traveling by bus from Zagreb to Split (or even if you’re not) be sure to break up your journey at this system of sixteen interlinked lakes and the park that surrounds them. You can tour the lakes by boat or walk alongside them (which takes anything from five hours to a full day, depending on your level of fitness). The park itself is home to a diverse collection of alpine flora and fauna and is open year-round.
Episcopal Complex of the Euphrasian Basilica in the Historic Centre of Porec
Protected by UNESCO on the basis of its status as the most complete surviving episcopal complex of its type, the sixth century Euphrasian Basilica boasts some of the Europe’s finest mosaics, matched only by their counterparts in Ravenna, which were executed by many of the same artisans. As well as their degree of artistry and preservation, these masterworks are highly enjoyable for their small touches – including the presence of an eavesdropping servant in the mosaic on the right side of the altar and the portrait of the eponymous Bishop Euphrasius himself, believed to be one of the earliest depictions of a living figure in sacred art.
Historic City of Trogir
Poised delicately between mainland Dalmatia and the much larger island of Čiovo, Trogir is either a natural or artificial island, depending on who you ask. What’s not in dispute is that it’s one of Europe’s most tastefully planned towns, adhering to a grid-plan first drawn up by the ancient Greeks and substantially unchanged since then. It’s not just Trogir’s streets that have been preserved, the buildings lining them have in many cases been left undisturbed for centuries, although quite of few of them contain some of Dalmatia’s finest seafood restaurants. In addition to its inherent charms, Trogir also offers visitors in a hurry mainland Croatian’s closet counterpart to the wonderfully laid-back island towns of the Dalmatian islands.
The Cathedral of St James in Sibenik
It’s appropriate that this Cathedral (built between 1431-1535) should be selected to represent "the considerable exchanges in the field of monumental arts between Northern Italy, Dalmatia and Tuscany in the 15th and 16th centuries" since Croatia as a whole has for so long served as a crossroads of cultures. The building itself illustrates the fusion between the Renaissance and Gothic styles under a series of architects, but it’s most famous for its remarkable frieze featuring 71 sculptured faces of men, women, and children. Legend has it that the extent to which these depictions flatter the local notables they’re intended to represent depends entirely on whether these individuals contributed to the building’s construction!
About the Author:
Owen Lipsett, IgoUgo's 2005 Member of the Year, is a contributing writer to http://www.travel-2-croatia.com.
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