Dalmatia (Croatia)

southernmost region of Croatia

Dalmatia in Croatia and beyond is becoming a symbol of comfort and peace. It begins with the touch of barefoot on the soil of the island or coast, filling your heart with joy and happiness. Dalmatia is a definition of life, planetary, and self-importance. Poetry and creativity here take place in the narrative of nature. No wonder Dalmatia has a complex history. Who would not want to live in one of the most beautiful places on Earth, where bright stars still shine on hazy nights. Besides the sun and the sea, Dalmatia offers cultural, nautical, and active tourism. It is based on a rich gastro-oenological tradition.

NAME & DEFINITION

The earliest evidence of the human presence in Dalmatia dates to 50,000 BC. The findings reveal that during the Copper and Bronze Ages, the Adriatic coast and Dalmatia were related to other regions and cultures in the Mediterranean. Thousand years before Christ, Illyrian tribes lived and ruled in this area. Dalmatia was named after the Illyrian tribe Delmati. The rich cultural heritage of Dalmatia includes the historical complex of Split and Diocletian's Palace, the Old Town of Dubrovnik, the Historic Town of Trogir, the Old Town Field, parts of Zadar and Šibenik. The feast of St. Blaise in Dubrovnik, the procession on the island of Hvar, Sinjska Alka, and many others made Dalmatia a place packed with a rich cultural-historic heritage.

GEOGRAPHY

Dalmatia is a geographical and historical region in southern Croatia. As a geographical region, it is also called the Southern Croatian Littoral. It covers four counties: Zadar, Šibenik-Knin, Split-Dalmatia, and Dubrovnik-Neretva (850,000 inhabitants, area 1,960 km²). It stretches for about 400 km along the Adriatic Sea and up to 70 km inland. Together with Istria and Kvarner, Dalmatia is the leading tourist region. The Dalmatian type of coastline is rare, which means that the islands run parallel to the shore, and the structure and relief of the coast and the islands coincide.

Southern part of Croatia presenting Dalmatia and divided into four areas with Zadar, Split, Šibenik and Dubrovnik marked on the map.

WEATHER

The Dalmatian coast has a typical Mediterranean climate with hot and dry summers and Mediterranean vegetation. The sunniest places are the islands of Brač and Hvar. However, in the hinterland, further from the sea, the climate is moderately warm and humid, with warm summers. The climate is perfect for the traditional cultivation and processing of vines, olives, other Mediterranean crops, cattle breeding, and fish processing.

SUB REGIONS

Dalmatia is divided into three sub-regions. Although they share some similarities, each region is unique and holds some parts of history differently.

Most of the people live around large regional hubs. Zadar and Šibenik are municipalities in the northern Dalmatia, Split and its wider coastal area are in the central Dalmatia, which dominates the entire Dalmatian area after the Second World War. In the southern Dalmatia, there is Dubrovnik as the regional center.

NORTHERN DALMATIA

Zadar is a city, the economic, cultural, educational, and tourist center of Northern Dalmatia. Zadar was an Illyrian settlement from the 7th century BC. In the city center there are the remains of the Roman forum, the largest forum on this side of the Adriatic. 

Northern Dalmatia has four national parks - Kornati, Krka, Velebit, and Paklenica. The islands around Zadar, such as Ugljan, Pašman, Iž, Molat, and Silba are well connected to the mainland. In Nin, the former Roman city of Aenona, four statues of Roman emperors were found, which are now exhibited in the Archaeological Museum in Zadar.

The most significant monument in northern Dalmatia is the cathedral of St. Jakov in Šibenik. That is a work created by three great artists in three phases of construction over 100 years. It is under the protection of UNESCO. Interestingly, this is a cathedral built without any binding material. They used the prefab technique of building with large stone blocks.The town of Šibenik has four forts around the center - the most beautiful is Saint Nicholas, built on an islet in front of the city. The Šibenik archipelago is a good choice for a summer break with a calm Mediterranean vibe not far from the mainland. The islands of Zlarin and Prvić are 30 minutes away by ferry - no cars, few people, few tourists, locals and one bar. Zlarin is known for its corals.

CENTRAL DALMATIA

What was once just someone's home is now a living city named Split. This is a rare place where you can rent an apartment within the Roman Emperor’s Palace, a 1700-year-old palace. Imagine that. Split, formerly Aspalathos, home of great Croatian artists and athletes, has that arrogance that drives you crazy and drives locals towards success, like in Naples.

In addition to Split, this region has islands that are an exceptional piece of nature, where people live spontaneously, unaware of the beauty of their birthplace. Let's name a few: Hvar, Vis, Brač, Šolta. You'd be crazy to skip them. Hollywood movies took place here for a reason.

On top of that, Biokovo, 36 km long mountain, belongs to central Dalmatia. The best view you can get is when sailing between Hvar and Brač, and you can see this 1,700m high mountain. Below all that karst is the town of Makarska.

One thing you should always pay attention to in Dalmatia is churches, especially the portals of the churches. All the best artists from the Renaissance till today have left their mark on the churches. Number one is the medieval Radovan portal on the cathedral in Trogir. It was made in 1240 by the artist Radovan.

SOUTH DALMATIA

In southern Dalmatia, you'll find a town with stone walls from the 13th century, which surround Gothic-Renaissance architecture from the 15th and 16th centuries. This is Dubrovnik, the most popular city in Dalmatia. During summer, Dubrovnik is home to the best cultural events in Croatia. For centuries Dubrovnik was its own republic, which explains the rich stone houses with relief decorations and rich sacral architecture.

The Dubrovnik nobility had their summer houses on the nearby island of Šipan - a small island with 42 summer houses and 34 churches. Apart from the lively old town, South Dalmatia has many secluded islands like Lastovo, Mljet, and the Elafite Islands. If you want to escape from the busy world, this is the place to go. On the Pelješac peninsula you will find plenty of wine cellars and fresh oysters.

DALMATIA TODAY

Today, Dalmatia is oriented towards tourism and is better integrated with the rest of Europe. Its complete transport integration with the continental part of Croatia and international transport corridors has become an imperative since the independence of Croatia. We should mention the highway that connects Dalmatia, via Zagreb, with other European regions.

This region was important during the Roman Empire and later had its kingdom. For centuries, European forces like the Republic of Venice (today's Italy), the French, the Austrians, the Ottoman Empire (Turkey), etc., tried to keep their foot here. Nevertheless, Croatian people preserved their heritage, language, tradition, culture, and identity. See for yourself.

Dalmatia is unique because we live within our legacy, we live in a Roman palace, we drink coffee on the remains of Egyptian columns, we live in Renaissance villas, we gossip in marble streets, and children jump on the sphinx from the 14th century BC.

Dalmatia has sea, sand, sun, Roman ruins, tree-lined beaches, fresh food and engraved art in churches, squares and buildings. In life you usually have to choose one or the other, but not with this destination - Dalmatia has it all.

FAQs

What is Dalmatia known for?
Dalmatia, Croatia is known for its beautiful coastline, crystal-clear waters, charming historic towns, rich cultural heritage, stunning nature and delicious local cuisine. 

What to do in Dalmatia?

There are many things you can do in Dalmatia. Here is the list of 10 things:

1. Discover UNESCO sites
2. Explore charming historic cities
3. Visit museums and galleries
4. Visit stunning nature and national parks
5. Enjoy the weather and beach
6. Try local cuisine
7. Sail the islands
8. Attend festivals and events
9. Take outdoor activities
10. Try local wines and olive oil.