What to see in Sibenik

Sibenik is a city in Croatia, which was first mentioned in 1066 in the statute of king Petar Kresimir IV. Unlike other Dalmatian cities established by Illyrians, Greeks or Romans, Sibenik is the oldest birth town of the Croatians at the eastern coast of the Adriatic. Similarly to other parts of Dalmatia, this city resisted Venice until 1412.

Here is some information about several of the greatest attractions in Sibenik:

Cathedral of st. Jakoc – this is the most significant achievement of Croatian architecture from from the 15th and 16th centuries.

The construction of the new cathedral was supposed to allow Sibenik to become independent from the Trogir diocese. The new church would allow the city to gain communal autonomy.

The idea of constructing a large cathedral dates all the way back to 1298, when Sibenik received its own dioceseand the title of a city. Although the decision of beginning the preparatory works was made in 1402, the construction did not begin until 1431, and it lasted intermittently until 1536.

The first period of construction began in 1428, after the city council decided that the new cathedral should be built in a more suitable place, in the norther part of the city. The first project of the cathedral was created by Bonino da Milano, but becuase of his death, he only managed to complete part of the scultpural parts of the main portal.

Since the 16th century, the cathedral went through countless minor repairs, mostly because of water leaks. In the second half of the 19th century, thanks to the efforts of architrct Paolo Bioni from Sibenik and the suppory of the Austrian government, a thorough restoration took place between 1843 and 1860.

The Barone Fortress – this is an early modern fortress, constructed in 1646 on the Vidakusa hill above the city of Sibenik. Along with the other three city fortresses it is part of the Sibenik fortification system. Ths fortress played a crucial role in the city’s defense from the Ottomans during the Cretan War.

Since the mid-16th century, the rectors and envoys of the city have accentuated the need for the construction of fortification objects on the hils in the north of the city. In the sprinf of 1646, one year after the breakout of the Cretan War between the Venetians and the Ottomans, the Bosnian pasha decided to attack Dalmatia. At the same time, a German nobleman named

Baron Christoph Martin von Degenfeld took over the defense of the city. When the people of Sibenik sent another request for protection, the Venetians refused to give them mmoney once again, but the citizens were not clearly forbidden to build their own fortifications, so they took the matter into their own hands. The construction of the Barone Fortress began on August 1st 1646, and was completed in just 58 days.

At the beginning, the Barone Fortress looked slightly different than today, because it was most likely hurriedly constructed in the dry-stone technique. In 1659, the Venetian administrator Antonio Bernardo initialized the construction works and transformed the fortress into an object, that would meet the standards of contemporary military architecture.

St. John’s Fortress – this is a Croatian fortress in Sibenik, located on a hill to the north from the city’s historical center.

When the Cretan War began, the city of Sibenik urgently needed additional fortifications. In the spring of 1646, a Genoese engineer named Father Antonio Leni designed a basic symmetric fort with its front hornwork and two flanking demi-bastions on the side towards the city. The groundwork was finished on August 1st 1646. Despite being constructed in a hurry and lacking certain elements, St. John’s Fortress played a crucial role in the defense of the city against the Ottomans in October of 1646.

As the most modern, highest and strongest fortification, St. John’s Fortress assumed the central role of the defense of Sibenik. The basic form and structures of the fortress have remained undisturbed until the present times. This fact is evidenced by countless graphic depictions throughout the last three centuries.

The City Hall in Sibenik – this building is located on the northern side of the old main town square, in front of the northern facade of the renowned Cathedral of st. Jacob.

The City Hall was undoubtedly the most prestigious civilian building in medieval Sibenik, and todat it is still one of the most famous cultural monuments in the Kresimir city. Many people consider this building one of the most gorgeous city halls in all of Croatia. It was constructed between 1533 and 1546, in the style of High Renaissance, and is characterized by a distinct harmony. The building consists of the ground floor and the first floor. In the past, the ground floor was the location of the city administration offices. The front of the floor is divided by pillars and is decorated in the lower part with a balustrade and a richly ornamented balcony. To the left of the town hall is a small bell tower, whose bells invited the city’s nobles to a council.