A land whose rich cultural heritage is discovered not only from within the walls of numerous museums, galleries and churches, many of which today, as zero category monuments are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, but also in that magical place on the Mediterranean, where even the shortest stroll becomes a journey down a staircase thousands of years old, which takes one through a history that is at the same time turbulent, exciting and glorious.
With as many as seven cultural phenomena- The Festivity of Saint Blaise, lace-making in Lepoglava, Hvar and Pag, the bell ringers from the Kastav region, the Hvar Procession Za Križem, (‘following the Cross’), two-part singing in the Istrian scale, in Istria and Hrvatsko Primorje, the spring procession of ‘Ljelje’ and traditional manufacture of wooden toys in the Hrvatsko zagorje region, Croatia is among the countries with the most protected intangible cultural heritage elements, recorded on the UNESCO List.
Split: The Emperor’s Palace is one of the most significant works of late-ancient architecture, not just for the preservation of original parts and the whole, but also for a series of original architectural forms announcing the new early-Christian, Byzantine and early-medieval art. The cathedral was built in the Middle Ages by using materials from an ancient mausoleum. Roman churches from the 12th and 13th centuries, medieval forts and gothic, renaissance and baroque palaces are contained within the Roman walls, thus creating a harmonious whole.
Dubrovnik: The Pearl of the Adriatic became a major Mediterranean power after the 13th century. This late-medieval planned city in the south part of the east Adriatic Croatian coast with its historical core situated at the foot of Mount Srđ has preserved the character of a unique urban whole throughout the centuries, defined by the city walls. It has a significant place in the history of city planning. Although severely devastated by the 1667 earthquake, Dubrovnik has managed to preserve its gothic, renaissance and baroque churches, monasteries and fountains.
Porec: The cathedral complex in Poreč was named Euphrasius Basilica after Bishop Euphrasius who thoroughly renovated the cathedral in mid-6th century and decorated it with famous mosaics. Before Euphrasius’ renovation, there were at least two phases of early-Christian buildings in the same place. In Poreč, Christianity was established as early as the 4th century – the basilica, the atrium, the baptistery and the Episcopal palace are remarkable examples of religious architecture, while the basilica itself combines elements of classicism and Byzantine Empire in an exceptional way. The apse is luxuriously decorated with figurative mosaics that are among the most significant examples of its kind in Europe.
Trogir: Trogir is an excellent example of urban continuity. The orthogonal street plan of this island settlement originates from the Hellenic era – consecutive rulers continued to decorate it with exceptional public and residential buildings and forts. Its beautiful roman churches are supplemented with exceptional renaissance and baroque buildings. The most significant building is the Trogir Cathedral with its west portal, a masterpiece of Radovan and the most significant example of roman and gothic art in Croatia.
Plitvice: The beauty of Plitvice and its unsurpassable attractiveness are a result of gypsum and gypsum-depositing plants. Creation of gypsum and rearrangement of the river bed created a string of 16 Plitvice Lakes representing a magnificent natural architectural phenomenon, surrounded by thick forests inhabited by bears, wolves and many other rare animal and plant species.
Sibenik: Built between 1431 and 1535, St. Jacob’s Cathedral witnessed important exchanges in the area of monumental art between North Italy, Dalmatia and Tuscany in the 15th and 16th centuries. Three architects – Francesco di Giacomo, George of Dalmatia and Nicholas of Florence – developed a structure fully made of stone, by using a unique technique for the cathedral’s dome. The result is a harmonious stone whole, arrangement methods and absolute harmony within the cathedral.
Stari Grad: In July of 2008, Starigrad Plain was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. The explanation provided by the World Organization states that the vineyards and olive groves in the Plain have remained practically intact since it was first colonized by the ancient Greeks and that they are a unique example of the geometric land division used in the ancient times.
In the summer of 385 B.C., a group of around a hundred families was sent from the town of Paros on the island of the same name in the Aegean Sea toward the Ionian Bay, as the Greeks referred to the Adriatic Sea, to establish a colony there. Their destination was the island of Hvar, formerly named Fiteja, and they were led by Okist who was, among other things, in charge of proper land division to the settlers in the new settlements. Amidst the plain, in a place from where you can see almost the entire plain, is a marked starting point – omphalos. By using groma, a simple surveying instrument, the plain was surveyed and divided into parcels of 1 x 5 stadia, which is approximately 180 x 900 meters. They also carved boundary stones bearing the names of the parcel owners, but the island and coastal Illyrians did not like such division so they attacked the town in 384 B.C. However, the Greeks defeated the Illyrians, which enabled them to gain control of the entire Starigrad Plain, the largest fertile plain on the Adriatic islands. The settlers soon began to erect ancillary buildings and lodgings in the plain, on their own estates. The luxurious ones date back to the Roman era – so far, they have discovered remains of around sixty of them.
Today, Starigrad Plain represents the best preserved ancient Greek landscape in the Mediterranean.