A touch of culture in Croatia
Croatia is known for its pin-up good looks – islands cloaked in pine forests, pebbled beaches lapped by gin-clear waters, buildings of buttery stone with painted shutters. But look beyond the glossy cover and you’ll find that Croatia’s brimming with culture and history, too. Ancient Roman palaces, colossal cathedrals, fascinating museums and hushed monasteries are all present and correct.
Where should you start? We’ve rounded up some of our favourite cultural experiences – scroll down for details of the what, where and why, plus details of which of our Croatia holidays will take you there.
Diocletian’s Palace, Split
What is it? This World Heritage Site was built by the Roman Emperor Diocletian as a villa-slash-fortified stronghold. It was crafted from Mediterranean marble and gleaming white stone quarried from Brac, with chunky protective walls, two main streets and a jumble of narrow lanes and tucked-away courtyards.
Where can I find it? By the waterfront in Split, the country’s second-biggest city and one of the best holiday destinations in Croatia. Split’s prime location makes it an ideal starting point for Croatian cruises around the islands of Dalmatia.
Why should I visit? It’s a living, breathing museum – many of the ancient buildings have been converted into shops, restaurants and bars. For from being a display of don’t-touch exhibits, it’s the beating heart of Split.
Cathedral of St James, Šibenik
What is it? A 15th-century cathedral that masterfully mixes Gothic with Renaissance to create one of Croatia’s most impressive buildings. The dome was inspired by Brunelleschi’s in Florence, the baptistery boasts a beautifully carved ceiling, and the entire structure was constructed from limestone and marble shipped over from nearby islands. It even had a supporting role in series 5 of ‘Game of Thrones’!
Where can I find it? In historic Šibenik, nestled on the Dalmatian coast. It sits roughly midway between Zadar and Split, so it makes a great stop off on a tour of Croatia.
Why should I visit? It’s a bit of an architectural icon, thanks to its trio of designers and 100-plus years of construction. Be sure to check out the quirky frieze round the back, where you’ll see life-sized sculptures of 71 faces.
Dubrovnik old town
What is it? One of the best preserved medieval old towns in the world. Enveloped within 13th-century walls you’ll find baroque churches, Renaissance fountains, a 17th-century cathedral, the Gothic façade of the Sponzo Palace, an imposing Franciscan monastery with a Romanesque cloister and 700-year-old pharmacy, and plenty more besides.
Where can I find it? Dubrovnik sits right down in the south of Croatia. It’s close to the Montenegrin border, so combining the two makes a fantastic holiday.
Why should I visit? Make a list of the most popular Croatia holiday destinations and Dubrovnik will likely feature near the top – and rightly so. The old town is incredibly beautiful and packs so much culture and history into a small, easy-to-explore space.
Hvar Theatre, Hvar
What is it? Hiding inside Hvar’s historic Arsenal building is a beautiful little theatre that holds the record as the oldest public theatre in Europe. First built in 1612, it’s been lovingly restored in recent years and showcases a slice of little-known local history. The Arsenal also plays host to a contemporary art gallery, which is worth a visit if you have time.
Where can I find it? Just off the Riva in Hvar Town’s yacht-dotted harbour. The island itself lies just off the Dalmatian Coast, close to Split.
Why should I visit? It’s a wonderfully quiet spot in tourist-packed Hvar Town. Read up on the recent restoration efforts, peer at the original fresco on the back stage wall, and enjoy the views from one of the 200-year-old box seats.
Which Titan holiday can I see it on? We enjoy a tour of Hvar Town on our Croatia cruise, Dalmatian Island Explorer.
Find out more about our Croatia tours and cruises, or give our travel advisors a call for information and recommendations.
Ting has a serious case of wanderlust. Having travelled to over 40 countries, it’s her mission in life to make her way through her ever-growing list. Her two young sons have also caught the travel bug, and recent trips have seen them making snow angels in Iceland while watching the Northern Lights, as well as walking alongside elephants in South Africa.
Ting | About the author
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