From this part of the Croatian coast, the islands beckon.
There’s the large island of Hvar, with its charming towns and ancient Stari Grad Plain; and there’s also a plethora of smaller ones easily accessible from Split, with gorgeous beaches and welcoming landscapes.
But there’s only one island here that is covered entirely by a historic town, a town so significant that it has been designated as a World Heritage Site.
I’m talking about Trogir: the best preserved medieval town on the east coast of the Adriatic!
The historic part of Trogir that covers the island is small – just 500 metres long and about 200 metres wide. But don’t let its size fool you.
The cultural and economic significance of Trogir vastly outweighs its tiny space. Over the millennia that it’s been here, it’s been one of the most important Adriatic towns, influencing the history of the region.
A brief history of Trogir
It all started in the 3rd century BC when Greek colonists settled here, founding a city that they called Tragurion (which means ‘island of goats’).
They laid out the urban plan in a grid pattern surrounded by megalithic walls shaped like an oval.
The Romans came next, and the town flourished during that period, eventually being extended and refortified in the Late Roman Era. Two large basilicas were built – on the sites that now hold the cathedral and the Church of St John the Baptist.
Over the centuries, Trogir passed hands (as cities in this part of the world are wont to do), from the Byzantines to the Venetians, then the Hungarians, back to the Venetians, then the Austro-Hungarians.
Over this time, successive rulers did significant remodelling, and you can see the renaissance designs in the main town square, and the baroque elements in the fortifications.
It’s the blend of all of these styles, these little vignettes of the historical record, that make visiting Trogir so special today.
It doesn’t take me long to walk from one end of Trogir to the other.
What takes longer is winding my way through the criss-cross of streets in the town’s grid.
And what takes even longer than that is stopping to look at all the attractions in Trogir, so many pieces of heritage densely packed into this small island.
From the walls of Kamerlengo Castle, you can look out to see the perfectly balanced relationship of stylistic formations, all those historic eras playing their part in the overall vista.
But up close, on the streets, there are so…