After our first week in Zadar we arrived in paradise. A small city named Šibenik. The city where Borko spent most of his childhood running through the hundreds of alleys playing hide and seek. A city filled with bitter sweet memories.
Šibenik is located in central Dalmatia where the river Krka flows into the Adriatic Sea and is the oldest native Croatian town on the shores of the sea. Unlike other touristic city’s filled with hotspots like Zadar and Split, Šibenik itself is the sight.
Šibenik is a magical Mediterranean city. It doesn’t exactly occupy a prominent spot on the map of the most popular tourist destinations in Croatia. But it definitely should. The city is built on a steep rocky coast, protected by stone walls and consists only of stone buildings and squares. The famous St. James cathedral (constructed between 1431 and 1536) is of monumental grace and has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Across the same square you will also find the old City Hall, as gracious as the cathedral with her solid stone pillars. Game of Thrones fans (like myself) might recognise this square as the square where Arya encounters Meryn Trant in Braavos!
Wherever you go, all you see is connected by hundreds of ancient cobbled streets and stairways. This medieval maze of streets is the enchanting core of Šibenik. In addition to all the historical buildings in the city of Šibenik you can enjoy the Mediterranean sun in one of the wonderful city parks as well. Make sure to see the lovely turtle fountain that provides a new home for all abandoned pets.
If you have the chance, you should take a day to visit all four fortresses of Šibenik. Start your tour at Tvrđava Barone and have yourself an augmented reality tour through Šibeniks’ moving history. Do keep in mind that it’s quite a walk up hill, combined with a lot of stairways. The Adriatic sun won’t stop burning, so make sure to cover your head and to bring enough water.
Let’s not forget that this hidden gem is located at the bay. Enjoy a glass of domestic wine on one of the many sea-side terraces and eat your mussels straight from the sea. If you have the opportunity to hop on a boat to visit the Kornati islands you definitely should. There are several diving possibilities as well. It might not be the Atlantic, but no fervent diver would miss the chance of a proper dip! Roughly 18 kilometres north of the city you will find Krka National Park, renowned for it’s many waterfalls, flora, fauna and historical and archaeological remains.
But most important is to simply get lost. Lose yourself in the maze of alleys and stairways. Discover new scents and colors with every street corner you pass. Let yourself go in the Mediterranean lifestyle and be amazed by the city that will give you the welcoming feeling of a home away from home.
If you do ever visit Šibenik, enjoy yourself. But please do take a moment to remember all that happened in this wonderful city. A city which protected herself from the attacks of the Turks to later on start a war against her own. Many Serbian Croats have been chased out of their once peaceful homes in the city of Šibenik, for nothing less than a brutal ethnic cleansing. Family homes burned to the ground to make sure none would return. Torn away from family, friends and a city they once called home.
The years have passed but the war never ends. The stories repeating, the judgement poisoning and the war as ever living. Living as an eternal flame in the hearts of the many scorned.