Šibenik is a beautiful town on the Dalmatian Coast. It’s been in existence since at least 1066 and was the first city along the Adriatic Coast founded by Croats. There is a wealth of history to soak up but there are also lots of great restaurants to try.
St. James’ Cathedral
Šibenik’s St. James’ Cathedral was constructed over a period of a century, and is testimony to the determination, sacrifice and belief of the generations of inhabitants of Šibenik. By many things it is unique not only in Croatian architecture, but in European architecture too: it is entirely built of stone, no other material was used; it is unique in its brave structure of stone slabs and ribs, with no binding material; it is also unique among renaissance churches in its trefoil front facade; finally, it is unique in the harmony of its architecture and the row of 71 realistic sculptural portraits around the apses.
Documents preserved from the time of building the cathedral evidence contributions from the entire community to its construction, not only the many individuals but also including a large number of domestic stone-dressers, builders and artisans. The most important among them was Juraj Matejev Dalmatinac, who came from Zadar and who was commissioned by the town of Šibenik in 1441 to take over the job of proto-master of the cathedral of Šibenik. The cathedral and the nearby renaissance town hall, other churches, palaces, and the Prince’s Palace which currently houses the County Museum, make up probably the most beautiful town square of Croatia’s urban heritage.
During the winter periods the Cathedral remains open every day from 8.30 am- 12 pm and from 4.00 pm – 8.00 pm, whilst in the summer it remains open throughout the day from 8.30 am – 8.00 pm. Ticket price: 15.00 kunas
Mass: every day at 9.30 am, 11 am and 6 pm
St. Michael’s Fortress -Where it all Began
Built on a steep rocky hill above the channel, St. Michael’s Fortress has a dominant view over the scattered islands and the medieval town which has emerged from the Fortress itself and which celebrates its 950th anniversary this year. Throughout its turbulent history, the Fortress served as the main point of the city’s defence system. The oldest preserved parts are from the 13th century, but most of today’s walls and structures date from the 15th and 16th century.
Badly damaged throughout the centuries, the Fortress was renovated in 2014, when a new facility was added, the unique open-air stage. The renewed promenade on the ramparts of the Fortress and spectacular evening events once again made the Fortress a centre of the city of Šibenik and the region.
Enjoy an unforgettable sunset and a view of the Šibenik archipelago, sheltered by St. Michael, the patron of the city.
1 ticket – 2 fortresses ( St. Michael’s Fortress, Barone Fortress )
The Fortress of st. Nicholas
St. Nicholas’ Fortress is located at the entrance to the St. Anthony Channel and was built in the middle of the 16th century as defense from Turkish attacks from the sea. It was built according to the designs of the Venetian military builder, Michele Sammichella. St. Nicholas’ Fortress (having a triangle shape) is one of the strongest forts on our coast.
The Fortress of St. John
St. John’s Fortress is located on a hill 115m high on the northern side of the historic city core. It was erected in 1646 according to a project by Venetian military engineer, Antonio Leni. A year later, in 1647, heavy battles were carried out against the army of the Turkish pasha, Tekeli, who wanted to take over the fortress in order to rule the city.
Barone Fortress – More than Reality
Barone Fortress was built by the citizens of Šibenik in 1646 in less than two months, in the wake of the arrival of the Ottoman army during the Cretan War. The works were supervised and organized by Baron von Degenfeld, the commander of the successful defence of Šibenik, after whom the grateful citizens of Šibenik later named the Fortress. This crucial event in the history of Šibenik can be relived today through digital content unique in this region. The technology of augmented reality on the Barone Fortress brings to life characters, sounds and sights of Šibenik of the 17th century.
The experience of bravery of the historic Šibenik is complemented by rustic, forgotten flavours of times past. Taste the rich regional cuisine in our gastronomic and cultural centre of the Mediterranean type – may your memories of Šibenik be those of authentic products of local family farms.
1 ticket – 2 fortresses ( St. Michael’s Fortress, Barone Fortress )
Walls, towers and city gates
The starting point of the old city walls was St. Michael’s Fortress. In 1864 part of the wall surrounding the city from the north and the south was removed. Today, only the northern side of the wall by Gorica remains, part of the wall through the park towards the shore, a small section of the wall near Poljana, as well as remains of a bulwark from the 17th century behind the Krka Hotel. The best preserved section is the double city wall which slopes from St. Michael’s Fortress towards the shore (Kvartir) and ends with the great Gothic gate. The western wall in Dolac with a city gate, which slopes from the fortress to the sea, was built in the 15th century so that Dolac could be protected from Turkish attacks.
Old city core
Other than a number of religious buildings, the cathedral, palaces (Rossini, Divinić, Gothic palaces, Pellegrin and others) portals, vaulted passages and similar, the old Šibenik core is expressed by the beauty of the central city square (Trg Republike Hrvatske) with City Hall and Dukes Palace.
Central city square (“Trg Republike Hrvatske”) was for a long time known as PLATHEI COMMUNIS and later GOSPODSKI TRG (Gentleman’s Square). On that square, in 1750, Šibenik got its first coffee-house. For centuries this square was the centre of public and social medieval life, as well as a battlefield during the Venetian army attacks in 1378. Located around the square are some of the most representative buildings of Šibenik architecture: the cathedral, City Hall, Mala Lođa, Dukes and Bishops Palaces as well as a complex of patrician stone palaces.
Also interesting in the old city core is the Trg četiri bunara (Square of the Four Wells) which was built in 1451. Since the city lacked water during the Venetian rule, that same authority ordered the city’s duke to begin building a reservoir. That is how Šibenik got its “The Four Wells” reservoir which has been supplying citizens with water for four and a half centuries.
City Hall is located in the central city square (Trg Republike Hrvatske), formerly known as Plathei Communis. It is a very harmonious and airy Renaissance style building built from 1533-1536. The ground floor includes a porch with semi-circular arches supported by columns, which was an access to the former public utilities offices. On the first floor is the representative hall in which city councilmen would meet. In December 1943, during allied air strikes, the City Hall building was completely destroyed and was restored after the war, in its original shape and appearance, and the internal area was organized and equipped in accordance to the needs of new functions.
The Dukes Palace is located on the shore in the old city core. Two wings of this once very large structure have remained, in which the highest representative of the Venetian government in the community, the city duke-captain, lived and worked. Along the middle of the southern wing there is a Gothic style passage with a city gate. In the west wing, turned towards the sacristy of the cathedral, there are two doors with simple stone frames. Completed in 1975, it was an adaptation to the Dukes Palace, which was to be used for functions of the Šibenik Museum.
The Bishops Palace (1439-1441) leans up against St. James Cathedral on the sea side. The Bishops Palace is a Gothic-Renaissance structure from the second half of the 15th century. After a number of interventions, the original look which can be seen in elements stored on the facade and in the courtyard (parts of the arcades, portals, triforium with stone sculpture) were lost. Next to the palace is the old preserved Seagate, which is an entrance to the city from the shore.
In medieval times, due to the numerous sieges and to drought, the Šibenik citizens constructed a public city reservoir. The agreement on construction of four draw-wells was signed by the Municipality of Šibenik and master Jacopo Coterra on 10th January 1446, Surveillance over the construction was confided to Juraj Dalmatinac, a famous architect, builder and sculptor.
This historical location has been rebuilt and today presents a city stage suitable for the organization of a variety of events. There is a terrace with draw-wells paved with red tiles in the shape of a fish bone as was often done in the past.