UNESCO Sites on the Adriatic Coast
The Adriatic was a main thoroughfare for Greeks, Romans, and Venetians, so no wonder that a wealth of UNESCO World Heritage sites rims the shores of Italy, San Marino, Slovenia, Croatia, and Montenegro.
New: Discover the UNESCO sites of the Adriatic with our interactive map!
San Marino has remained a free republic since it was established in the 13th century as a city-state. Thanks to a protected position atop Mount Titano, San Marino has escaped extensive modernization. Its political longevity and architectural integrity have earned it a World Heritage inscription. A walk through the city is a walk through history as you view the medieval fortifications, city gates and convents, the 18th century Titano Theatre, and the 19th-century neo-classical basilica and Palazzo Publico. Commanding a gorgeous, deep, natural harbor in Montenegro is Kotor, one of the best-preserved Mediterranean cities from the Middle Ages. It was a busy commercial and artistic center, with well-known schools of masonry and iconography. Enjoy exploring its winding, narrow streets and many squares in search of the Romanesque churches and views of the town walls; many have been restored with UNESCO’s assistance. The environs are of such scenic beauty that the not only the city but the entire surrounding landscape are included in the inscription.
Croatia counts among its several UNESCO listed cities a gem called Trogir, situated on a tiny island between the mainland and the island of Čiovo, to which it is connected by bridges. This is a place where the medieval constructions are the new kids on the block, since it began as a Hellenistic settlement. In fact, the symbol of Trogir is a 3rd century B.C. Greek relief featuring Karios, the Greek God of what we might call “that magic moment”.
One of Italy’s most renowned UNESCO World Heritage listings is the Early Christian Monuments of Ravenna. A collection of eight different monuments display rich, colorful, gold-adorned mosaics; this extravagant decoration befitted the city’s position as seat of the Roman Empire in the 5th century and the Italian capital of Byzantium until the 8th century. In addition to their beauty, the mosaics present an important juxtaposition of east and west in the blend of Greco-Roman and Christian symbols that the inspired artists used.
Not just another pretty place
The beauties of the Adriatic are not limited to man-made ones. Two parks have earned a place on the World Heritage list too, and for good reason.
Durmitor National Park in Montenegro has gorgeous mountainous terrain polka-dotted with glacial lakes. What makes it World Heritage-special? 500-year old forests, a river gorge second only to the Grand Canyon in depth and length, the Ice Cave with it’s year-round ice stalagmites and stalactites, and 27 peaks over 2200 meters in elevation. The park is also home to many endemic species of plants and animals, and is a well-loved destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
A string of blue lakes dripping along a wooded descent is the essence of Plitvice National Park in Croatia. This mesmerizing landscape is the result of hundreds of years of water coursing over karst geology; the lime deposits have created dams, so the flowing water has to slow down and become a lake for a while before coursing down to the next pool below. The park shelters many species of rare bird as well as bears, wolves, and delighted human visitors.