The town of Trogir is located on the historic Dalmatian Coast of Croatia, not too far from Split (and in actual fact, closer to Split airport than Split itself is), and although it’s a place I’d never heard of until I arrived in the beautiful Balkan country, I was so glad that we decided to visit. We headed there by bus one very hot day in July, and after a couple of crowded days in the busy city of Split, it was a nice relief to get out into the countryside and the slower pace of life of the far smaller town of Trogir, connected to the mainland by a series of bridges.
We were dropped off close to the market located on the mainland, packed to the brim with colourful fruit and vegetables that smelt downright delicious in the midday sun, and from there we headed across a little bridge onto the island of Trogir itself, a UNESCO World Heritage Site set within Medieval walls. And obviously as it’s completely enclosed within these stone walls, this means that no cars can get to the heart of it, making the whole place seem as if it’s inside some kind of bubble of a time capsule- narrow stone alleyways, Venetian palaces and all. The only kind of vehicle that we did see, was the odd moped that came winding its way through the quiet alleyways, disturbing the shady silence.
This pretty town has been continuously inhabited for over 2300 years; first by the Greeks and Romans, and then as part of the Venetian empire, and the Venetian influence can be felt throughout every cobbled street of the old town; windows of the various palaces and grander homes that line the main square wouldn’t look out of place amongst the canals of Venice, and it turns out Trogir has been used as a filming location for TV and films set in the beaut Italian city. Makes sense you know- I’d imagine Trogir is far less crowded and far cheaper to film in than the Tourist Central Station of Venezia.
The winged lions of St. Mark- the symbol of Venice- that used to adorn many a wall around the town, were destroyed after the fall of the Venetian Empire, and nowadays there’s only one left, inside the courtyard of the Garagnin-Fanfogna Palace. It’s not too hard to spot the odd smashed lion, or the faded ghostly marks impressed on the walls where a lion once stood, and it’s pretty strange to think of the amount of massive changes throughout Trogir’s history every time it was run by a new bunch of people. After the Venetians came the Austro-Hungarians, then eventually it was part of Yugoslavia, and now at long last Croatia is just simply Croatia, all by itself (although don’t get me wrong, I did overhear a deceptively knowledgeable-sounding English guy informing his girlfriend that Croatia is actually run these days by President Putin of Russia, which is clearly a massive lie).
On the opposite side of the island to the mainland, is a beautiful waterfront walkway, with what looks like a small stone house nestling against the outside of the town wall. I thought it looked like the ideal kind of size for me! But alas, it’s not a house at all but a shelter for everyone who didn’t make it to Trogir before the gates closed at 11pm, so they’d still have somewhere to rest their weary heads before the morning came. What a thoughtful old town! Although these days it’s used as a place to sell souvenirs, as the gates are open at all times of the day and night. As we strolled along by the seafront, a man who looked a lot like a traditionally-dressed drunken sailor sat twanging an out of tune guitar and yelling what may or may not have been Croatian sea-shanties at the top of his lungs. It really only added to the whole experience. What a gem.
We wandered our way through the winding back streets of the town, past stone steps leading up to mysterious-looking doors, and lines of washing swaying ever-so-slightly in the breeze. After stopping for an ice cream and to sample rafioli- an unsweetened and very dry-tasting pastry filled with almond paste that’s apparently traditional round these parts- we headed back to the main square, with the tower of the St Lawrence Cathedral standing upright in the middle. After my brush with death whilst climbing the very similar-looking bell tower of the Saint Domnius Cathedral in the Diocletian’s Palace, I decided today was not the day for another tower-climbing shenanigan, and we headed back to Split feeling pretty satisfied at having had a rather chilled out exploration of this beautiful little place. Although there are plenty of things to see and do here if you want to, it feels so much like a living, breathing museum, that just strolling around and soaking in the atmosphere is all we really needed.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE YOU VISIT TROGIR
- We got to Trogir on the Split City Sightseeing bus’s Blue Line, which for €20 took us to Klis Fortress- an Ancient hilltop fortress where some of Game of Thrones was filmed, the remains of a Roman city called Salona, and finally onwards to Trogir itself. Considering we hadn’t done a lot of research into the area it was a good way to see several places in one day…
- …however, it’s fully possible to see most of these places under your own steam, for far cheaper.
- By road it takes around 30 minutes and the equivalent of €3 to get from Split to Trogir, and there are regular buses between the two towns. Go to buscroatia.com for bus times.