Dalmatia – the true experience of the Mediterranean

Heart shaped Galešnjak island

Dalmatia is the region of historical towns,  picturesque islands, beautiful beaches , excellent food and superb wines. The region of extraordinary beauty with its crown jewels - the towns of Zadar, Šibenik, Trogir, Split, Dubrovnik, Hvar, Korčula and many more. Hundreds of islands of intoxicating beauty and thousands of beaches with turquoise blue waters in the shadow of centuries old pine trees.

You can experience it best wandering the cobbled streets of Diocletian's Palace in Split, exploring the city walls of Dubrovnik,  listening to the Sea Organs in the town of Zadar, dining in centuries old Trogir with the view of the historical city walls, old sailing ships and modern yachts in the port. You can experience Dalmatia  best enjoying the sunset from the top of Hvar`s old fortress, sailing among its many islands, swimming under the beautiful natural waterfalls in the  Krka National park, enjoying breathtaking beaches of the islands of Korčula, Hvar and Mljet. Driving along the Makarska riviera, paddling the beautiful green rivers of Cetina and Neretva and finally, maybe enjoying a glass of the world class wine Dingač in the vineyards of Pelješac. Dalmatia really has it all.

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Regions, geography and climate

Dalmatia can be divided into three main regions: North Dalmatia with centers in Zadar and Šibenik, Central Dalmatia, with capital Split and South Dalmatia with center in Dubrovnik.

Dalmatia`s inland is mostly covered by Dinaric Alps mountains running from north-west to south-east. On the coasts the climate is Mediterranean, while farther inland it is moderate Mediterranean. In the mountains, winters are frosty and snowy, while summers are hot and dry. To the south winters are milder. Over the centuries many forests have been cut down and replaced with bush and brush. There is evergreen vegetation on the coast and islands. 

The largest Dalmatian islands are Brač, Korčula, Dugi Otok, Mljet, Vis, Hvar, Pag and Pašman. The major rivers are Zrmanja, Krka, Cetina and Neretva. The highest mountains are Velebit and Biokovo.

The most famous natural atractions are national parks:  Krka, Kornati, Paklenica, Mljet and nature parks: Velebit, Vrana lake, Telašćica and Lastovo islands.

History

The first recorded inhabitants of Dalmatia were Illyrians (the name Dalmatia probably comes from the name of an Illyrian tribe, the Delmata, an Indo-European people who overran the northwestern part of the Balkan Peninsula beginning about 1000 bce). The Greeks began to settle there from the 4th century, founding a number of colonies on the islands, the most famous of which were Issa (Vis), Pharos (Hvar), and Corcyra Melaina (Korčula), and a few towns on the mainland coast, one of which is Salona (Solin), near modern Split. The Greeks, opposed by the Illyrians, appealed to the Romans for help, and a long series of Roman-Illyrian wars began in 229. The fall of the Dalmatian capital, Delminium, in 155 brought Roman civilization to the country. On the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, Dalmatia fell under the power of Odoacer in 481 ce and later under that of Theodoric, to become a battlefield during the wars between the Goths and the Byzantine emperor Justinian I.

By the time permanent Venetian rule had been established (1420), Dalmatia had passed through about 30 changes of sovereignty. Byzantines, Greeks, Magyars, Tatars, Croatian and Serbian princes, Venetians, Sicilians, and Normans were among its conquerors. The Croatian kings and the Venetian doges were the only rulers who held power long enough to leave a permanent mark on Dalmatian character and consciousness.

Venetian rule, established in 1420 when the king of Croatia, Ladislas of Naples, ceded the country to the Venetian republic, ended in 1797. This period was marked by Venetian warfare against the Turks. When the French gave Venice to Austria under the Treaty of Campo Formio (1797), Dalmatia became Austrian also; but in 1805, under the Treaty of Pressburg, Austria had to cede Dalmatia to Napoleon. It was returned to Austria after Napoleon’s fall and remained an Austrian crownland until 1918.

During World War I, by the secret Treaty of London (1915), the Allies had promised large territories, including northern Dalmatia, to the Italians in return for their support. This treaty embittered negotiations for a peace settlement. Finally, the Treaty of Rapallo (November 12, 1920) between Italy and Yugoslavia gave all Dalmatia to the Yugoslavs except the mainland Zadar (Italian: Zara) enclave and the coastal islands of Cres, Lošinj (Lussino), and Lastovo. The Palagruza islands, in the mid-Adriatic, also passed to Italy. During World War II, when Yugoslavia was partitioned by the Axis powers, Dalmatia was annexed by Italy, but it passed to Yugoslavia in its entirety in 1947 as part of the Croatian republic (independent from 1992), with the city of Split serving as provincial capital.

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