Sibenik (Croatia)

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Sibenik, Croatian Šibenik, is a beautiful coastal town in central Dalmatia, Croatia. It is the third largest city in the region after Split and Zadar. The city is known for its stunning historical sights, breathtaking beaches and clear waters. This article is about the history, culture and tourism in Sibenik.Right in the Moravia from Sibenik is the famous Krka National Park (about 15 km).

>>>  Tip: Book day tours by bus and hikes in Krka National Park with Getyourguide

The center of Sibenik, photo from the sea

Overview and orientation Sibenik

The Zagreb – Split highway runs a few kilometers inland beyond Sibenik. Just take the “Sibenik” exit.

The city center is right by the sea. The few free parking spaces on the street by the sea are mostly occupied. You usually have a better chance of finding a free parking space at a paid parking lot (only 1 euro per hour) in the center by the sea.

The Sibenik bus station is also on the seaside road not far from the center of Sibenik.

The important sights are in the old town. This goes steeply up from the sea. There are many stairs and steps in the old town of Sibenik. A visit to the old part of the city is worth it. It’s a beautiful old town.

In the old town of Sibenik, built on a hillside, there are many stairs, nothing for those with walking difficulties

The most important building in Sibenik is the amazing cathedral (see below). This is not far from Uferstrasse in the old town. It is the center of the city.

Down on the Uferstrasse and in the old town there are many restaurants and also some fast food shops. The prices in Sibenik are ok. It is a city with many tourists, but it does not only live from tourism.

On the promenade in Sibenik city center

There are many beaches in Sibenik, almost in the city center and also outside the city center.

The main tourist attraction in the area is the Krka National Park with the famous waterfalls. Almost every tourist in Sibenik also visits this park. It is about 10 km inland from Sibenik and can be reached by car, bus or with an organized bus tour.

>>>  Tip: Book day tours by bus and hikes in Krka National Park with Getyourguide

With almost exactly 50,000 inhabitants, Sibenik is the number 11 city in Croatia and has more inhabitants than, for example, Dubrovnik.

History of Sibenik

Sibenik dates back to the 11th century and was founded by the Croatian king Petar Kresimir IV. Thanks to its strategic location on the Adriatic coast, the city soon developed into an important trading centre. Over the centuries, Sibenik was ruled by several empires and kingdoms, including the Venetian, Austro-Hungarian and Yugoslavian kingdoms.

In the Middle Ages, Sibenik played an important role in defending the Dalmatian coast against Ottoman invasions. In 1431, the city successfully repelled a major Ottoman siege with the construction of the fortress of St. Nicholas, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In the 16th century, Sibenik was under Venetian rule and experienced a period of prosperity and cultural growth. Many of the city’s most famous landmarks were built during this period, including the Cathedral of St. James, considered one of Croatia’s most important Renaissance buildings.

Culture Sibenik

Sibenik has a rich cultural heritage reflected in its architecture, music and cuisine. The city is known for its traditional Dalmatian cuisine prepared with local ingredients, such as grilled fish, octopus salad and black risotto.

The Sibenik International Children’s Festival, held every year in June and July, is one of the most popular cultural events in Croatia. The festival offers a variety of activities for children of all ages, including plays, art exhibitions and workshops.

Another important cultural event in Sibenik is the Medieval Market in September, which celebrates the city’s rich history and medieval heritage. The market includes re-enactments, craft workshops, medieval games and entertainment.

Sibenik Sights

Sibenik is a popular tourist destination thanks to its beautiful beaches, crystal clear waters and historical sights. The city has many beautiful beaches, such as Bani Beach, Solaris Beach and Yadrija Beach, which invite you to relax and sunbathe.

One of the main attractions of Sibenik is the Cathedral of St. James, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Croatia and is considered one of the most important Renaissance buildings in Croatia. The cathedral features ornate stonework, beautiful rose windows and a magnificent dome with panoramic views over the city.

The St. Nicholas Fortress is also a must-see in Sibenik. Built in the 16th century to protect the city from Ottoman attacks, the fortress is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and offers visitors an insight into the city’s fascinating history.

Sibenik is a beautiful coastal town with a rich cultural heritage and fascinating history. The beautiful beaches, crystal clear waters and historic buildings make it a popular destination that attracts visitors from all over the world.

>>>  Tip: Book day tours by bus and hikes in Krka National Park with Getyourguide

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Sibenik Geography

Sibenik is a town on the central coast of Croatia, on the east coast of the Adriatic Sea. The city is located in the province of Sibenik Knin, the third largest province in Croatia.

The city has an area of 51.47 square kilometres and about 46,000 inhabitants. The town lies at the mouth of the Krka River, which flows into the Adriatic Sea. The river is known for its waterfalls, which are popular tourist attractions. Šibenik is surrounded by numerous islands, including Zlarin, Prvic and Zillier, which are popular destinations for excursions. The city’s coastline is characterised by a rugged and rocky landscape with numerous small bays and inlets.

The historic centre of the city, the so-called Old Town, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is characterised by narrow streets, picturesque squares and historic buildings. The city’s most famous landmark is the St. James Cathedral from the 15th and 16th centuries, which is considered one of the finest examples of Croatian Renaissance architecture.

Sibenik has a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot summers. The average temperature in January is 8 °C and 25 °C in August. The city is also known for its strong winds, especially the bura, a cold north wind that blows in the winter months.

With several airports and seaports nearby, Sibenik is well connected to Croatia and the rest of Europe. The city also has a well-developed road network with several major motorways running through the area.

We have written a separate article about the nearby Krka National Park, one of the biggest sights in Croatia: click here

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Sibenik Cathedral

St. James Cathedral in the heart of the historic old town of Sibenik, Croatia, is considered one of the most important Renaissance buildings in the country. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the cathedral is known for its ornate stonework, beautiful rose windows and magnificent dome with panoramic views of the city.

History Sibenik Cathedral:

Construction of St James’ Cathedral began in 1431 under the direction of the famous Croatian architect and sculptor Julai Darmatinak. The cathedral was built in the Gothic style and later added Renaissance additions. It took more than a century for it to be completed in 1536.

The cathedral was built to replace an earlier church that had been destroyed by the Venetians during the occupation. The construction of the cathedral was financed by the rich merchant Ivan Paližna from Šibenik.

Architecture Sibenik Cathedral:

St. James Cathedral is a unique example of Croatian Renaissance architecture, a mixture of Gothic and Renaissance styles. The façade of the cathedral is made of white limestone and is decorated with a variety of intricate stone engravings, including biblical scenes and images of saints and apostles.

The interior of the cathedral is equally impressive, with a magnificent marble altar, ornate frescoes and beautiful rose windows that let in a multitude of coloured lights. The most striking feature of the cathedral, however, is its imposing dome, which offers a panoramic view of the city and the Adriatic Sea. Consisting of 32 panels, the dome is supported by four large pillars and features an intricate system of ribs and arches. The dome was designed by the Venetian architect Nicolas Firerentinac, who was commissioned to build the cathedral in the early 16th century.

The cathedral also has a unique system of stone heads carved by Julai Dalmatinac and his workshop. The heads, which are placed on the columns and arches of the cathedral, represent a range of human emotions and expressions and are considered one of the most striking features of the cathedral.

Restorations Sibenik Cathedral:

St James’ Cathedral has been restored several times over the centuries, most recently during the Croatian War of Independence in the early 1990s. The restoration was carried out by a team of Croatian and international experts with the aim of preserving the historical and cultural significance of the cathedral.

During the restoration, the stone façade of the cathedral was cleaned and repaired, and the dome roof was replaced with new tiles. The restoration also included the installation of a new lighting system that showcases the cathedral’s intricate stone engravings and frescoes.

Fortress of St. Nicholas Sibenik

St. Nicholas Fortress, also known as Sibenik Fortress, is a medieval fortress located on a small island at the entrance to the Strait of Sibenik in Croatia. The 16th century fortress is considered one of the most important examples of Renaissance military architecture in Croatia and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

History Fortress of St. Nicholas Sibenik:

The Fortress of St Nicholas was built between 1540 and 1546 under the direction of the Venetian architect Hieronymus di San Micaela. This fortress was built to protect the city of Sibenik and its surroundings from Ottoman attacks.

Strategically located on a small island at the entrance to the Sibenik Strait, the fortress was able to control the flow of ships entering the city’s harbour. The fortress played an important role in the defence of the city and withstood several Ottoman sieges in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Architecture Fortress of St Nicholas Sibenik:

St Nicholas Fortress is a unique example of Renaissance military architecture in Croatia. The fortress consists of three storeys with a large round tower at the top, which offers a panoramic view of the surrounding area.

The façade of the fortress is made of white limestone and is decorated with various decorative elements, including numerous intricate stone engravings. The fort is also surrounded by a moat filled with sea water, which forms an additional layer of defence. Inside the fort there are numerous rooms and corridors, including a chapel, barracks and a reservoir that supplies the fort with fresh water. The fort also includes a large garden that is used for military training and exercises.

St Nicholas Fortress Sibenik Restoration:

The Fortress of St Nicholas underwent a major restoration at the beginning of the 21st century, which began in 2014 and was completed in 2018. The restoration, carried out by a team of Croatian and international experts, focused on preserving the historical and cultural significance of the fortress.

During the restoration, the stone façade of the fortress was cleaned and restored, and the interior of the fortress was renovated to improve access and visibility. The restoration also included the installation of new lighting that highlights the intricate stonework and architectural features of the fortress.

St Nicholas Fortress is a remarkable example of Renaissance military architecture and a testament to the city’s rich cultural heritage.

Beaches Sibenik

Sibenik is a popular tourist destination in Croatia, known for its beautiful coastline and crystal clear waters. The town has many beautiful beaches, each with its own character and charm. Here are some of the best beaches in Sibenik.

Bunji beach: Bunj beach, located a few minutes’ walk from the city centre, is the most popular beach in Sibenik. It is a long pebble and concrete beach with crystal clear water and a breathtaking view of the Old Town and St. Anthony’s Canal. The beach has showers, changing rooms and sun loungers, and there are several cafés and restaurants nearby. Solaris beach:

Solaris beach is located about 6 km from the town centre and consists of a long strip of sand surrounded by pine trees and crystal clear water. The beach is part of the Solaris Beach Resort and has a variety of facilities including a water park, spa and several restaurants and cafes.

Jadriya Beach, about 11 kilometres from the city centre, is a small pebble beach surrounded by pine trees and crystal clear waters. Popular with locals, this beach is known for its relaxed, laid-back atmosphere.

Zabolik beach, about 12 kilometres from the city centre, is a long pebble beach surrounded by crystal clear water and offers a beautiful view of the nearby islands. The beach has showers, changing rooms and deckchairs, and there are several cafés and restaurants nearby.

Srima beach: Located about 6 km from the city centre, Srima beach is a long pebble and concrete beach surrounded by crystal clear waters and offers spectacular views of the nearby islands. The beach has showers, changing rooms and sun loungers, and there are several cafés and restaurants nearby.

In addition to these beaches, there are also several secluded bays that can be reached by boat or on foot. Overall, Sibenik is a great destination for beach lovers, with a variety of beautiful beaches, each with its own character and charm.

Close by: 

Krka National Park, a world-famous national park in Croatia

Trogir, one of the most beautiful old towns in Croatia

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