We explored some of the Adriatic’s most stunning landscapes today. Our first stop was Krka National Park, where waterfalls tumble through dramatic gorges. At this time of year the water was low; it is more dramatic and forceful after the spring snow melt. Â After a quick orientation at the beginning of the park, we walkedÂ on the trails around the falls and took a boat ride from magnificent Krka Falls to Skradin. The path was crowded with other visitors taking advantage of the warm weather and the outdoor spaces. The boat ride covered a gorgeous view of the the cavern that makes up the park. Â We saw several swans on the lake, and as we approached they dunked their heads and necks under the water to feed on grasses on the bottom and showed us their bottoms! The Krka River forms the basis of this national park. Â It was declared a park in 1985. The travertine that forms the hillsides is worn away by the water that flows and creates the beautiful waterfalls we were able to see.
Our trail through the park took about an hour of walking up and down the slopes of the boardwalk. A tricky proposition for Mike at times. Â But – no falls and no slips! All is good.
We also visited Jurlinovi Dvori, a Dalmatian estate with an ethnographic gallery. The estate is a stone structure nestled into the hillside. The wings/rooms of the structure are arranged in a u-shape around a lovely courtyard covered with a pergola supporting grape vines. We explored the various rooms and structures of his family’s home. TheÂ well was just outside the kitchen door. The dining room was reached from the courtyard and was separate from the kitchen. One area was dedicated to a storage room or workshop, another was sleeping quarters. He shared his story with us. Â He is a priest and has dedicated his life to his religion and his history. He was born in 1942 during Italy’s Facist occupation. The villagers were accused of spying for the Allies, so soldiers rounded up the villagers and started executing them. He lost most of his family, including father and uncles and grandfather. The room where his grandfather died, he has converted to a chapel. There is an adjacent well tended garden, a gentle donkey, and a young woman in traditional dress working on lace, which she offered for sale.
We enjoyed a lovely lunch, typical of the peasants who lived here, prepared with centuries-old local traditional ingredients and homemade products, including BabiÄ‡ wine, derived from Primosten vineyards, strong and dry and like the harsh land it grew on. We were served cheese, ham, and pickles (served family style), bread, and vegetable soup.
Upon returning to Sibenik, we met our local guide on the dock and set off on a one hour walking tour through the ancient steep streets and arched passages. Sibenik thrived under Venetian rule between 1412 and 1797 developing into a lively cultural center. The French took over, then the Austrians until 1917. We saw one of the first electric street light installations implemented by Nikolai Tesla and nearby saw a 150 year old wisteria.Â Then we visited the Cathedral of St. James, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is built of local stone and it has 71 stone heads on its perimeter. Croatian and international experts worked for several years to restore it after it had been shelled in 1991. The dome is built from interlocking slabs of stone. Below the dome is a square structure of stones that are not held together with mortar – they are simply fitted. Construction on the cathedral started in 1432. The baptistry has intricate carvings and was illuminated by natural light. The cathedral itself has a barrel roof of local stone and is a testament to the skill of the stone cutters. The facade includes a rose window and has only one door. The doorway is Gothic, decorated with sculptures of saints ascending the arch.
As we sailed toward Split, we soaked up views of St. Anthony’s Channel and UNESCO-designated St. Nicholas Fortress.