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Šibenik

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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. To cap things off, the arrival of the annual Terraneo rock festival, initiated in August 2011 has bestowed the city with a newfound aura of urban cool – a status enhanced by the fact that the Garden Tisno is only a short bus ride away. Šibenik’s only drawback is the relative dearth of accommodation; rooms and apartments are in short supply in the city itself, although there are plenty in Brodarica 7km to the south.

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 decaying 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.

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