UNESCO World Heritage Sites To Visit In Croatia

updated on
May 21, 2023
UNESCO World Heritage Sites To Visit In Croatia

Croatia is the most travelled to tourist destination. It proudly boasts ten UNESCO World Heritage Sites from its culture and rich history. This is despite the country only being 56,542 km². These sites have gained popularity and are the go-to UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In this article, readers get to discover the best sightseeing heritage sites that the beautiful country of Croatia has to offer.

The 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Croatia

1. Historical Complex of Split with the Palace of Diocletian (1979)

Unesco world heritage sites in Croatia

The historical complex of Split was identified as a heritage in 1979. This second-largest city in Croatia hosts the Historical Complex containing 38,500 square meters of monuments of the Romans with 220 buildings. At the centerpiece is the Diocletian's Palace. The Roman Emperor built the complex in 300AD as a retirement place. It has amongst the best-preserved Roman architectural monuments.

It is interesting to know that the ruins take up a bisection of the Old Town of Split. Currently, the streets are lively with amenities such as bars and restaurants where people gather.

2. The Old City of Dubrovnik (1979)

The Old City of Dubrovnik

Many refer to this city as the Pearl of the Adriatic. It was acknowledged as a UNESCO World Heritage centre in 1979. The majestic city is on the Dalmatian coast in the south of Croatia. It supersedes all visitors' sightseeing escapades. Iconic ancient walls built in the 16th Century encompass the city. It gained prominence as a center for maritime trade. Dubrovnik was also the capital of the Republic of Ragusa which had remarkable economic and maritime capacity. Its power was so significant that it rivaled Venice.

The city of Dubrovnik is currently representative of its culture and rich history. It has well-preserved buildings with unique architecture.

The architecture took inspiration from Baroque, Gothic, and Renaissance styles. The monumental Gothic-Renaissance Sponza Palace and the Rector’s Palace have grown popular from their feature in the famous Game of Thrones series.

3. Plitvice Lakes National Park (1979)

Plitvice Lakes National Park

The idyllic Plitvice Lakes is amongst the most visited tourist attractions in Croatia. It is one of the natural UNESCO World Heritage sites after being enrolled in 1979 due to its marvellous beauty.

The park contains 16 interconnected terraced lakes and 90 gushing waterfalls.

It boasts impressive flora and fauna that is home to deers, bears, wolves, and precious birds. The National Park is the largest in Croatia.

4. Historic City of Trogir (1997)

Historic City of Trogir

Another city that is remarkable due to Roman architecture is Tigor. The city is nearby Split on the Adriatic coast. It enrolled as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. The medieval architecture in Tigor is considered to be amongst the best.

It boasts beautiful churches and palaces. The Cathedral of St. Lawrence is an astonishing example.

The cultural city aligns with the design of a Hellenistic and Roman city with well-preserved buildings.

5.  Episcopal Complex of the Euphrasian Basilica in the Historic Centre of Poreč (1997)

Episcopal Complex of the Euphrasian Basilica in the Historic Centre of Poreč

The small ancient Roman town of Poreč is almost two millenniums old and hosts the Episcopal Complex of the Euphrasian Basilica. The Basilica was input as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997.

It portrays the best of classical and Byzantine architecture. Its religious monuments feature a church, baptistery, bell tower of the archbishops' palace, atrium, and sacristy.

Its most inspiring feature is the mosaic illustrations that glow in the candlelight.

6. The Cathedral of St James in Šibenik (2000)

The Cathedral of St James in Šibenik

The city of Sibenik hosts One of the largest Gothic-Renaissance cathedrals.

The St James Cathedral is amongst the UNESCO World Heritage sites since 2000. It is built entirely of stone sourced in Krk, Brač, Rab, and Korčula.

It contains 71 individualised exterior friezes.

These are of men, women, and children as in the 15th Century with a beautifully carved ceiling of the baptistery.

7. Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe (2007)

Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe

The Ancient beech Forest is not exclusively a Croatian UNESCO Heritage Site.

In 2017, UNESCO approved it to extend across 12 countries covering over 40% of Europe. These countries include:

Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Italy, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Ukraine.

It is the largest UNESCO Heritage Site in Europe. The flexibility and tolerance of the beech tree allow it to spread from a few refuges with the process still ongoing.

Three UNESCO Croatia sites still have the Beech Forests of the Carpathians and other regions of Europe. These are located in:

  • Hajdučki I Rožanski kukovi in the Velebit National Park
  • Suva Draga-Klimenta in Paklenica National Park
  • Oglavinovac-Javornik in the Paklenica National Park.

8. Stari Grad Plain (2008)

 Stari Grad Plain

The Stari Grad is on the Island of Hvar. It is the oldest town in Croatia. It lies on an outstanding agricultural system that the Greeks built from the 4th Century. The Greeks named it Pharos. The land became a UNESCO World Heritage in 2008 as it maintained its original form.

It still has the grape and olives stretched over the plain.

The Greeks divided the land into parcels known as Chora separated by ancient stone walls that are still in use.

9. Stećci Medieval Tombstones Graveyards (2016)

Stećci Medieval Tombstones Graveyards

The medieval tombstones graveyards, known as Stecci, are spread across Bosnia and Herzegovina, western Serbia, western Montenegro, and central and southern Croatia. The sites contain UNESCO monuments from the 12th up to the 16th Century.

There are two sites in Croatia in which we visited the Radimlja Necropils close to Mostar.  

It has well preserved Stecci with a wide range of decorated motifs from the 1480s and 16th centuries.

10. Venetian Works of Defence between the 16th and 17th Centuries:
Stato da Terra – Western Stato da Mar (2017)

the fort of st nikola croatia

In 2017, UNESCO added the Venetian Works of Defence to UNESCO World Heritage Sites. They can be found in Italy, Montenegro, and Croatia over six cities. It included the following:

  • Peschiera del Garda and Bergamo
  • The City Fortress of Palmanova
  • The defensive system of Zadar
  • The Fort of St Nikola
  • Šibenik-Knin County in Croatia
  • The Fortified City of Kotor in Montenegro.

These forts are historic from the Republic of Venice where they formed a defense line. This secured territories and routes to the East.

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