Kornati Archipelago

On the last day of the Creation God desired to crown His work and thus created Kornati Islands out of tears, stars and breath

George Bernard Shaw


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The largest part of my trip through the Adriatic, I will be sailing the Kornati Achipel. It is the central part of croatian Adriatic Sea, about 15 Nm to the west from Sibenik town, 7 Nm to the southwest from Murter, or 15 Nm to the south from Zadar town.

The beauty and singularity of the archipelago moved authorities in 1980 to proclaim a bigger part of that area a national park. Since then certain modifications of its borders were made, so that nowadays Kornati National Park occupies the area of about 220 km2. There are 89 islands, islets and reefs within the area of Kornati National Park (238 km of the coastline), what makes it the most indented group of islands in the Mediterranean.

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The land part of Kornati National Park covers less than 1/4 of its total area, but the values of its landscapes, the “crowns” (cliffs) on the islands facing the open sea, and interesting relief structures, make this part of Kornati National Park unique. Besides, the Kornati submarine area, whose biocenosis are considered to be the richest in the Adriatic Sea, and also the magnificent geomorphology of the sea bed attracts divers from all over Europe to come and enjoy in unforgettable submarine adventures.

Visual Impressions

The internet is crowded with pictures of the Kornati, and not without reason. Below some pictures I found around and thought worth presenting.

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The islands range in colour from stony white to to pale ochre or green, sometimes mottled with patches of low shrub and hardy sage. They were once covered in forest until it was burned down to make pasture for sheep, who proceeded to eat everything in sight. the dry stone walls ursed to pen them in are still visible today. The sheep are no more.

My own explanation of the disappearing is more dramatic as it was one of the reasons of the decline of the Venetian Empire around 1750. It is well known that this decline was due to the shortage in supply of wood. This not so handy for a seafaring nation. Well say no more, my guess is therefore that all the wood on the Kornati Islands has been used by Marco Polo and his friends to plunder the world.

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The islands were orignally owned by the nobles of Zadar, who allowed the peasants of Murter to raise flocks and grow olives on the islands in return for a share in the cheese and oil thus produced. When the Zadar nobility fell on hard ties in the nineteenth century, the islands were sold to the Murterians – and their descendants (the Kurnatari) remain the owners of most of the land on the Kornati to this day.

Cities Around

Besides the beautifull nature around the Kornati Islands, this area provides also some beauties of cities like Zadar, Sibenik, Skradin and Trogir.

The Forum of Zadar

The ancient capital of Dalmatia was Zadar, currently a bustling town of around 100,000 people. Long held by the Venetians (who called it Zara) it was for centuries a italian-speaking city. Zadar’s main square is the Forum, which is currently amessy expanse with a gravelly parking lot. Two eryecatchers on the Forum, the first is the ninth-century St Donat’s Church, hulking cylinder of stone built by St Donat himself, an Irishman who was bishop here for a time. The other is the St. Mary’s Church, which dates from 1066.

Sibenik is founded around the 11th century around an old Croat fortress. This is different compared to most cities around, as they have a Greco-Roman heritage. It fell under control of the Venetians around the fifteenth century, becoming an important stronghold in their struggles against the Ottomans. The mazelike mediaeval centre is good for idle wandering and the cathedral (orignal plans from 1402 AD) is one of the finest architectural monuments on the coast.

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More to the inland there is also the place Skradin. This city is especially known for the waterfalls of the Krka National Park and worth a visit.

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God the Creator

God the Creator from St. Johns of Trogir's Chapel

More to the south of Sibenik lies Trogir and this city is one of the most seductive towns on the Dalmatian coast. A compact brown-beige welter of palaces, jutting belfries and shambling streets fanning out from an antque central square. Founded by the Greeks from Vis in the 3rd century BC, Trogir can compare with any of the towns in terms of historic sights. Its cathedral is one of the finest in the Adriatic (remember, the cathdral from Sibenik was one of the finest of the coast, this one just of the Adriatic). The eyecatcher of the cathedral is the St. John of Trogir’s Chapel and made by Nikola Firentinac ad the sculptor Ivan Duknovic. God the Creator is pictured at the centre of the barrel-vaulted ceiling, from which hundred of angels gaze down

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In my “Circle du Adriatic” I will sail here quite often. For more information have a look at the crew.ancientcoasts.com.

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