Very much the surprise package of middle Dalmatia, ŠIBENIK offers the blend of Mediterranean architecture, island beaches and festival culture that better publicized cities like Split and Dubrovnik have long regarded their exclusive preserve. The city’s maze-like medieval centre is as evocative as any on the Adriatic, and the cathedral is one of the finest architectural monuments in southeastern Europe. Islands Zlarin and Prvić (both easy day-trips by ferry) are among Dalmatia’s most enchanting offshore destinations, and the fabulous waterfalls of the Krka National Park lie just inland. The transformation of St Michael’s Fortress into a concert venue, used by, among others, alternative rock festival SuperUho, has bestowed the city with a newfound aura of urban cool – enhanced by the fact that the Garden organization’s festival site at Tisno is only a short bus ride away.
Šibenik began life as an eleventh-century Croatian fortress, falling under Venetians in the fifteenth century, when it became an important strongpoint in their struggles against the Ottomans. Relics of this era, notably the huge fortresses that hover above the town centre, are well worth exploring.
Clinging to the side of a hill, Šibenik’s ancient centre is a steep tangle of alleys, steps and arches bisected by two main arteries, Zagrebačka and Kralja Tomislava (the latter popularly known as Kalelarga), which run northwest from the main square, Poljana.