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Croatia’s top five UNESCO World Heritage Sites

6th April, 2020

Croatia may be a small country, but there’s no shortage of fascinating national parks and historic towns to explore, many of which have been UNESCO-certified World Heritage Sites – here’s our countdown to Croatia’s top five.

5. Plitvice Lakes National Park

The stunning Plitvice Lakes National Park

Plitvice Lakes are a series of 16 beautiful lakes formed by natural dams, and famous for the way they change colour – the result of gypsum and gypsum-depositing plants. Linked by cascading waterfalls, the lakes are regarded by UNESCO as a magnificent natural architectural phenomenon. They can be explored by wooden walkways and trails and the surrounding forest is home to bears, wolves and many rare species of bird.

4. Trogir’s historical centre

A coastal view of Trogir

UNESCO regards Trogir an ‘excellent example of urban continuity’. The original street plan dates back to the ancient Greeks and the town continued to be adorned with exceptional public and private buildings by subsequent rulers. Most notable are the Roman churches, exceptional Renaissance and baroque buildings and Trogir Cathedral, whose Roman and Gothic portal is the best example in Croatia.

3. Stari Grad Plain

An aerial view of Stari Grad

The plain is the best-preserved ancient Greek landscape in the Mediterranean and gained its UNESCO listing in 2008. The recognition comes because its vineyards and olive groves have remained almost unchanged since the land was first colonized by the ancient Greeks in 385 BC. It’s therefore a unique example of land division used in ancient times.

2. Diocletian Palace and Medieval Split

Diocletian Palace in Split

The regional capital of Dalmatia earns its UNESCO listing for the Emperor’s Palace built for Diocletian between 295-305AD. The outer perimeter walls served as fortifications for the medieval city and much of the Roman structure still survives, including the Mausoleum of Diocletian and the Peristyle – an open courtyard surrounded by graceful Corinthian columns. Other highlights of the city include the cathedral built in the Middle Ages using materials from ancient mausoleum, 12th and 13th century churches, medieval forts and Gothic, Renaissance and baroque palaces.

1. Dubrovnik Old Town

The walled city of Dubrovnik

Commonly known as the Pearl of the Adriatic, the city became a major Mediterranean power after the 13th century. The city walls, built between the 8th and 16th centuries, rank among the world’s most imposing and best-preserved medieval fortifications. You can still walk along the two-kilometre-long circumference past 15 towers, five bastions, two corner towers and a fortress. It is these walls which have preserved the original character of the city centre and which earns it a significant place in the history of city planning. Despite a devastating earthquake in 1667 and the ravages of the more recent civil war, careful restoration means visitors can still see Gothic, Renaissance and baroque buildings and a pavement worn smooth through centuries of use.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.