Immerse Yourself in Croatia's History and Culture
Through the centuries, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Venetians and the Austro-Hungarians have all left their mark on Croatian art and architecture. You could include one or more of the following mainland port cities in your sailing itinerary, or arrange sail and stay holiday, combining a week of sailing with a week of cultural sightseeing.
Known as the independent Republic of Ragusa until 1808, Dubrovnik's wealth was based in seafaring. Refined and sophisticated, the city was contained within sturdy medieval fortifications, which protected its noble Baroque palazzi, churches and monasteries. Today the old town and walls are Unesco-listed. Each summer it stages the Dubrovnik Summer Festival, with world-class classical music and theatre performances. On a contemporary note, check out War Photo Ltd and several small galleries selling works by local artists.
Founded by Roman Emperor Diocletian, as his retirement home, Split's historic centre lies within the ancient walls of Diocletin's Palace, today Unesco-listed. Diocletian's octagonal mausoleum is now the cathedral - the elegant bell-tower was added later, as were the Venetian-era buildings that line the stone-paved alleys and squares of the old town. Here you'll find several little boutiques selling clothing by a number of up-and-coming young Croatian designers.
The slavs founded Sibenik in 1066. Built into a hillside overlooking a sheltered sea channel. Pride of place is taken by the Unesco-listed white marble Gothic-Renaissance cathedral. Above town, the recently-renovated St Michael's Fortress makes a stunning venue for open-air concerts. Bryan Ferry will sing here this summer.
Founded by the Romans as ladera. Zadar's old town sits compact on a fortified peninsula. Within its walls, you'll find half-a-dozen remarkable Romanesque churches, and on the waterfront, two contemporary installations, the Sea Organ and the Greeting To The Sun. Also visit the Gold and Silver of Zadar, in the Benedictine convent, and attend a glass-blowing demonstration at the Museum of Ancient Glass.
This Istrian port city was founded by Romans as Pola. Its centrepiece is the Arena, a monumental Roman amphitheatre, which now hosts open-air concerts - Kraftwerk will play there this summer. Pula's ship-building industry is celebrated at sunset, when the Lighting Giants installation sees eight huge cranes in the Uljanik ship-yard bathed in coloured light.