When you think of Croatia, what comes to mind? Which towns or sights do you think of? There are several iconic views that define Croatia – here are just five.
Dubrovnik from above
It would be hard to find any travel feature or guidebook on Croatia that doesn’t include a photo of Dubrovnik – the so-called pearl of the Adriatic – from above. Completely encircled by majestic city walls, Dubrovnik’s picturesque old town (think red tile roofs and tiny passageways) curls around a sparkling blue bay. Just south sits the small, forested island of Lokrum.
The panorama is nothing if not photogenic, and professional photographers and tourists alike come from miles around to catch this breathtaking view themselves. For the best vantage point, hitch a ride on the cable car to the top of mount Srd, or make your way to Orsula Park, a couple of kilometers south of the city.
St. Mark’s Church
No mention of Zagreb would be complete without a photograph of St. Mark’s Church in Upper Town. One of the oldest buildings in Zagreb, the Church of St. Mark was built in the 13th century and mentioned for the first time on a list of parish churches in 1334. Of the original Romanesque structure, only a window in the south wall and the foundation of the bell tower remain.
During the 14th century its Gothic south portal was built and adorned with statues, and during the 19th and 20th centuries, the church underwent extensive reconstruction. Artist Jozo Kljakovic is responsible for repainting its walls, and Ivan Mestrovic created sculptures for the altar. Over the centuries, the church, with its characteristic tile roof illustrating the coats of arms of Zagreb and of the Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia, and Dalmatia, has become a symbol of Croatia’s capital city.
Rovinj’s old town
Rovinj’s characteristic skyline is one of the most recognizable (and likely most photographed) in Istria. St. Euphemia’s single bell tower crowns the top of a small hill, rising majestically over the old town just beneath it, creating a lovely silhouette evocative of the Italian coast. The similarity wasn’t lost on George Lucas, who featured aerial shots of Rovinj in his film Red Tails, set in southern Italy.
For a great view of Rovinj’s old town, walk outside the center toward the public parking lots, or head the opposite direction, along the water, to Hotel Lone.
One of the most famous monuments in Croatia and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Diocletian’s palace in Split is also one of the most iconic locations in Croatia, thanks to its remarkable architecture, which spans centuries. The hub of the palace is the peristyle, framed by the imperial apartments to the south and Diocletian’s mausoleum (now the Cathedral of Saint Dominus) on the east. While Diocletian’s mausoleum was built at the end of the third century, the striking cathedral bell tower was built in 1100.
Get great views of the bell tower from Split’s Riva, just outside the palace, or from the peristyle, just inside the old palace walls.
The medieval town of Motovun is yet another iconic Croatian town located in Istria. Like something out of a fairytale or fantasy film, the weathered stone houses of Motovun tumble down the side of a lush, green hill in the truffle-rich Mirna River valley. Apart from the week of the Motovun Film Festival, when thousands of fans flock to the tiny medieval town, Motovun is a calm and quiet refuge, easily accessible only by car.
The best views of Motovun are from the valley below or from a nearby hilltop town, like Groznjan. You’re especially lucky if you’re traveling on a foggy day, when the old town of Motovun rises just above a thick blanket of mist.