I know you. You are reading this in one of Sibenik’s internet cafes. You are here for the famous Terraneo Festival, but came a little early to see the city and meet the people. Or even have a cup of coffee at famous Giro Espresso. Now you’re asking yourself, where to start? There are so many things to do and see. Well, don’t worry. Here’s a short guide to Sibenik’s cultural sights and entertainment for you to follow. Oh, and in case you are reading this at home, far away from Dalmatian summer events, read it anyway. You never know when the road could lead you to Sibenik.
Cathedral of St. James
So many things can be said about this gothic architectural giant. Just the fact that its construction lasted for more than a century (from 1431 to 1536) proves how unique and special this church really is. It is completely made of stone, without any other building materials. Also, there’s nothing binding the blocks together, meaning stability is achieved only by gravity and the stones themselves. The cathedral is an official Unesco World Heritage Site.
Although the city is beautiful, it has had a rough history. From ferocious battles with Venice to fighting off Turkish invaders, Sibenik had to stand its ground the hard way. This is why Croats of the past had to construct a powerful defensive grid of forts and walls, in order to keep the enemy at bay. Well, actually, over the bay. In any case, today these structures are beautiful sights of history and natural beauty. Apart from the city walls themselves, you can visit the forts of St. Michael, St. John and Subicevac. There is one more, called St. Nicholas, which is a perfect spot for romantic proposals.
St. Lawrence Monastery Garden
The only one of its kind in Croatia, and one of very few in Eastern Europe in general, this garden is special because of its unique medieval design. A small fountain sits at the intersection of two pathways surrounded by colorful plant life, from roses to medical herbs. Another interesting tidbit is that capers were planted in the gaps and cracks of the stone walls in honor of Juraj Dalmatinac, a famous architect who worked on the Cathedral of St. Jacob, mentioned above. According to legend, he brought the small plant to Sibenik. While visiting this sacred site, you might also tour Our Lady’s Grotto, the Church of St. Lawrence, and the Monastery itself. There is also a cafe, a restaurant and a souvenir shop for your liking. The Monastery also organizes Medieval Evenings, when you can enjoy traditional cuisine served by costumed staff.
Old Church Organs
Sibenik is known to have a rich collection of old church organs. Some of these grandiose musical instruments date up to the 17th century, and are operational or being restored as we speak. Or while we write and you read. Yeah, you get the point. Now, each of them has its own story, specific design and recognizable yet unique sound that will make music enthusiasts (and casual visitors) shiver. If you are one of them and would like to know more, you can attend Summer Organ School and learn how to play these magnificent instruments.
Sibenik is the heart of the region, but that doesn’t mean its surroundings are lame. In close proximity of the city and accessible by car, bus or boat, are small villages waiting to be discovered. For example, the settlement of Jadrtovac is only 11 kilometers away from Sibenik, and apart from beaches and small castles (“kastels”) it also has mud with positive dermatological effects. Raslina is known for its fish specialities and homemade wine, while Zaton is a good place for rowing and nature walking.
As you can see, Terraneo is not the only reason you should check out Sibenik. It is a city of joyous festivals and rich culture, as well as charming people and places you will remember all your life.