WHS: Cathedral of St James in Šibenik, Croatia

Heading up the Croatian coast from Trogir, the next place we come to on our Game of Thrones location tour — er, excuse us, our World Heritage tour, but in Croatia they’re turning out to be pretty much the same thing, aren’t they? — is what you’ve seen on screen as the City of Braavos, the Mereen fighting pits, and the building of the Iron Bank in particular is today’s World Heritage Site:

The Cathedral of St James in Šibenik

Cathedral of St James in Šibenik, Croatia

The Cathedral of St James in Šibenik (1431-1535), on the Dalmatian coast, bears witness to the considerable exchanges in the field of monumental arts between Northern Italy, Dalmatia and Tuscany in the 15th and 16th centuries. The three architects who succeeded one another in the construction of the Cathedral – Francesco di Giacomo, Georgius Mathei Dalmaticus and Niccolò di Giovanni Fiorentino – developed a structure built entirely from stone and using unique construction techniques for the vaulting and the dome of the Cathedral. The form and the decorative elements of the Cathedral, such as a remarkable frieze decorated with 71 sculptured faces of men, women, and children, also illustrate the successful fusion of Gothic and Renaissance art.

And by “entirely of stone” they mean exactly that — no mortar, cement, or any other kind of binding agent, just self-supporting stone slabs!

Another unusual feature is the perimeter of 70+ heads, sculptured by Giorgio da Sebenico during his 32-year run as master architect:

Cathedral of St James in Šibenik

No one seems to be quite sure who these faces represent, strangely enough — you’d think if it was benefactors or political sponsors the reasoning would be easy to come by, but that’s not so. An appropriate air of Iron Bank mystery, indeed!

The rest of Šibenik Old Town is charmingly preserved as well, and doesn’t have the crush of tourists that characterizes the better known cities of the Croatian coast, so if you like your vacations a bit quieter it’d make an excellent stay —

— and in particular, we skipped visiting the local fortresses, and what do you know, at the next opportunity one of them was newly inscribed as another World Heritage Site:

Venetian Works of Defence between the 16th and 17th Centuries: Stato da Terra – Western Stato da Mar

St. Nicholas Fortress, Šibenik, Croatia


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That’s St. Nicholas Fortress at the entrance of St Anthony’s Channel that leads to Šibenik; it’s not currently open to the public, but reports are it will be at some point, “by the end of 2018” we read on one site. So check that out on your next Croatian tour!

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