The lovely Croatia has more than just Game Of Thrones tours and beach resorts on the Adriatic coastline. It’s a country with rich and varied history, colorful culture and plenty of sites to explore. If you’re a history buff or just a fan of ancient archaeology findings and remnants of the old days, you should definitely include these places on your bucket list.
Often regarded as the Croatian Colosseum, the amphitheater in Pula is a better destination than the one in Rome for two main reasons. The first one is that Pula Arena is the one and only ancient amphitheater, which still has all of its original architectural orders and four side towers. The second reason is that you’d be able to actually see the arena, unlike the one in Rome, which is so overcrowded that you wouldn’t be able to see anything but the sky above your head. Equipped with an underground arena, a 29.4 meter high enclosure and lots of well-preserved décor, Pula Arena is splendid any time of year.
Contrary to its name, the palace is actually a full-blown complex, which takes up most of Split’s Old Town. Remains from the original structures are scattered all over the town with the most famous being the courtyard’s peristyle, the Temple of Jupiter and the Golden Gate. Adorned with mystical sphynxes, marble quarries, granite columns and exquisite stonework, the complex used to house more than 9,000 people on its grounds.
Walls of Ston
As far as historical findings go, the Walls of Ston are still holding the spot for the second-longest fortification system on Earth after the Great Wall of China, hence their nickname “the European Wall of China”. Dating back to the 14th century the limestone walls once spanned over 7 kilometers in length. Due to being demolished and damaged during wars and invasions on numerous occasions throughout the years, their total length has been shortened to nearly 5.5 kilometers. The walls used to be additionally fortified with 40 towers, half of which are preserved today, several fortresses and guarded by thousands of Dalmatian soldiers.
A stećak is a type of monumental inscribed tombstone from medieval times. These tomstones are scattered on numerous sites in Croatia. They were enlisted as official World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 2016. Cista Velika and Dubravka are the two main necropolis sites with stećak tombstone concentration. The stećak movement kicked off at some point during the 12th century and reached its peak around the 15th, being denounced shortly afterwards during Ottoman rule.
Fortress of Klis
Initially built by Illyrians and later developed into a fortress with royal residential quarters, the Fortress of Klis has served quite a few kings throughout the history of Croatia while guarding crucial routes of economic and military importance. Albeit mostly ruined, what’s left of the once glorious royal castle and the fortification system is still open to the public. Battle reenactments are organized from time to time and if you happen to miss them, you can still see authentic armory and medieval uniforms on display at the fortress’ museum.
City ruins of Salona
Ancient Salona, now known as Solin, was one of the capitals of Dalmatia. After being occupied by Croats it became a vital political center in the medieval Kingdom of Croatia. Nowadays Solin is just a tiny fraction of land and a rather scarce outskirt of the larger Split conurbation. The ruins of the city of Salona are still standing and fortunately, they don’t get overcrowded with curious tourists. A pagan necropolis, amphitheater, chapel, fortified walls, public baths and remains of other constructions can be seen across the archaeological park.