Monday, December 31, 2018
Castles and Coastlines: Croatia Up Close
If you haven’t made your way to Croatia, now is the time to make the leap. With the sapphire-blue waters of the Adriatic Sea, picturesque red roofs lining the coast and fresh seafood galore, this 2018 World Cup finalist has just about everything you could want in a Euro trip. Did we mention Dubrovnik is also the real-life set for King’s Landing in Game of Thrones?
On top of visiting the “Iron Throne” in Dubrovnik, you’ll be wowed by fortresses and palaces in Split and a magical (and musical!) coastline in Zadar.
The towering castles along the coast of Dubrovnik are impossible to miss. Take a stroll back in time along the walls of the medieval city (remember to pack comfortable shoes), or cross a stone bridge to Pile Gate, which dates back to the 14th century.
You also can cruise the city’s riviera to get up close to the impressive fortress surrounding the city, before spending time inside the walls to walk the cobblestoned streets of the Old Town, and then head to the incredibly clear waters of Sveti Jakov beach to swim and sunbathe. Looking to explore more? Opt for a cable car ride to the top of Srd Hill for unbeatable panoramic views of the coast and red-roofed buildings below.
Fancy yourself a lord or lady of Westeros? The Game of Thrones tour will take you inside Lovrijenac fortress, known as King’s Landing, and teach you the fascinating history of this landmark that helped defend against Venetian rule.
Zadar, Croatia offers a storied history that predates the Roman Empire. Explore the medieval ramparts of the nearby island of Pag as you visit an old Franciscan monastery and the famous, Romanesque Church of St. Mary. The village of Kolan has its own history—cheese making, and you can sample this delicious tradition at a local factory.
Local architect Nikola Bašić brought striking designs to the region when he created the famous Sea Organ on Zadar’s coast, which uses the ocean’s tides to “play” a series of steps with hidden pipes to generate eerie music near the city’s center. Sun Salutation, another innovative Bašić work, is a ground installation that captures solar energy and then releases it for an all-night light show seen through 300 glass plates!
Nature has also bestowed its own wonders on Zadar, like Paklenica National Park, providing adventurers with breathtaking mountains, caves, and rivers. Experience the countryside by boat as you canoe the Zrmanja River, where you’ll see canyons and forests as you approach the rushing waterfalls. Then take a dip!
Between the beauty of Dubrovnik and Zadar lies the gem of Split, with its own lovely streets, palaces, town square—and, of course, familiar spots from Game of Thrones. To start, head to Klis fortress to learn about this stronghold’s millennia-spanning backstory (GOT fans will also recognize it as the city of Mereen). Then, a visit to Diocletian’s Palace will reveal some of the best-preserved residences of the ancient Romans. This UNESCO World Heritage Site also houses the underground cellars where Queen Daenerys “Stormborn” Targaryen (Breaker of Chains, Mother of Dragons) prepared to unleash her army on foes.
The nearby towns of Salona and Trogir offer their own historic temples, amphitheaters, fortresses and churches. While there, glimpse traditional Croatian village life in the charming town of Burni as you sample local wine.
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