St Nicholas’ Fortress - Šibenik, Croatia

Component part of the Venetian Works of Defence between the 16th and 17th Centuries: Stato da Terra – Western Stato da Mar

By UNESCO World Heritage

Venetian Works of Defence between the 16th and 17th Centuries: Stato da Terra – Western Stato da Mar (2017) by Venetian Works of Defence between the 16th and 17th Centuries: Stato da Terra – Western Stato da MarUNESCO World Heritage

St Nicholas’ Fortress, located in Croatia, Šibenik, at the entrance to the St Anthony’s Channel, as a unique construction of the Venetian Renaissance fortification architecture, represents a monument of World Heritage in the Mediterranean. The fortress is the only Venetian military fortification completely surrounded by the sea. It was built in the 16th century on the islet of Ljuljevac at the site of the former Benedictine Monastery of St Nicholas, from which it took its name.

A Serial Transnational Site (2017) by St Nicholas’ Fortress - Venetian Works of Defence between the 16th and 17th Centuries: Stato da Terra – Western Stato da MarUNESCO World Heritage

In 2017 St Nicholas’ Fortress was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as part of a transnational nomination entitled Venetian Works of Defence between the 16th and 17th Centuries: Stato da Terra – Western Stato da Mar, which also includes the Defensive System of Zadar, Fortified City of Bergamo, Fortified City of Peschiera del Garda, City Fortress of Palmanova in Italy and Fortified City of Kotor in Montenegro.

St Anthony’s Channel (2017) by St Nicholas’ Fortress - Venetian Works of Defence between the 16th and 17th Centuries: Stato da Terra – Western Stato da MarUNESCO World Heritage

The St Anthony’s Channel with the Krka estuary, rich in flora and fauna, belongs to the ecological network Natura 2000 Krka estuary, which covers an area from the Skradin Bridge to the fortress at the exit of the channel. As a natural protected area, the St Anthony’s Channel is part of the significant landscape Channel-Port in Šibenik, within which cultural and natural heritage are combined in a synergistic manner. The buffer zone of St Nicholas' Fortress does not divide the city of Šibenik and its port from this exceptional monument under the UNESCO protection; rather, it creates a connection between them thanks to the natural and cultural sights located in the St Anthony's Channel. This protected area is managed by the Public Institution Nature of the Šibenik-Knin County.

St Nicholas’ Fortress - part of a six Venetian defence fortifications (2017) by Venetian Works of Defence between the 16th and 17th Centuries: Stato da Terra – Western Stato da MarUNESCO World Heritage

St Nicholas' Fortress was built in the mid-16th century to protect the city of Šibenik and its port, including the Krka estuary and the city of Skradin against sea-based attacks.
The fortress is part of a line comprising six Venetian defence fortifications, which extends as far as 1,000 kilometres, from the Italian region of Lombardy, along the Adriatic coast of Croatia, all the way to Montenegro. The fortifications throughout the Stato da Terra protected the Venetian Republic and its landlocked hinterland, while those of the Stato da Mar protected the sea routes and ports in the Adriatic Sea to the Levant.

Gian Girolamo San Micheli’s design (2017) by St Nicholas’ Fortress - Venetian Works of Defence between the 16th and 17th Centuries: Stato da Terra – Western Stato da MarUNESCO World Heritage

The construction of a fortress, based on Gian Girolamo San Micheli’s design (Verona, 1513 – Famagusta, 1558), commenced in 1540, and in 1544 it was sent the first crew members, which emphasized its importance to the Venetian Republic.

Defence from the Venetian Republic (2017) by St Nicholas’ Fortress - Venetian Works of Defence between the 16th and 17th Centuries: Stato da Terra – Western Stato da MarUNESCO World Heritage

The fortress used only to be accessible by sea. Due to the entrance being elevated, an access construction was built with a bridge leading to the fortress through an impressive Renaissance portal. The entrance to the fortress is its most valuable architectural and sculptural detail. The construction of the gate was entrusted to the Croatian masters, Dujam Rudičić from Split and Frano Dismanić from Šibenik. A sculpture of the Venetian lion, symbol of Venice, was placed in the entablature, but was later removed.

Military techniques and architecture (2017) by St Nicholas’ Fortress - Venetian Works of Defence between the 16th and 17th Centuries: Stato da Terra – Western Stato da MarUNESCO World Heritage

The fortress has a triangular layout, which is rarely found in fortification architecture. In the north part of the triangle there is a mushroom-like extended area called torrione. At sea level and on the superstructure the torrione has a series of cannon openings.

Alla moderna fortified system (2017) by St Nicholas’ Fortress - Venetian Works of Defence between the 16th and 17th Centuries: Stato da Terra – Western Stato da MarUNESCO World Heritage

The space comprises three levels that are connected to the central gate by a transfer ramp: the lower level, a 12-metre-high barrel vaulted underground space that is perfectly ventilated and illuminated thanks to a double row of openings; the middle level, an entrance vestibule enabling insight into the arrangement of the structure. And finally, there is a terrace with large openings that face in different directions, with a central section where a chapel and then barracks were built. A watchtower was located on the eastern battlement, while some walled storage tanks were situated in the southern sector.

The chapel (2017) by St Nicholas’ Fortress - Venetian Works of Defence between the 16th and 17th Centuries: Stato da Terra – Western Stato da MarUNESCO World Heritage

The fortress is on the site a former abbey with the church of St. Nicholas. In order to preserve the memory of the demolished religious structures, the fortress was named after that patron saint and a chapel was built on the terrace of the fortress. The chapel remained on the terrace until the beginning of the 19th century. Today its clearly visible outline on the ground is all that is left.

Defence of Šibenik (2017) by St Nicholas’ Fortress - Venetian Works of Defence between the 16th and 17th Centuries: Stato da Terra – Western Stato da MarUNESCO World Heritage

St Nicholas’ Fortress, impressive and intimidating at the same time, has defended Šibenik throughout the centuries; the city has never witnessed a sea-based attack and no significant naval battles have been recorded in this area. The fortress was abandoned when the Austro-Hungarian army left at the beginning of the 20th century. Only the crew manning the signal station remained there in order to control the passage of the ships through the narrow St Anthony’s Channel.

Credits: Story

This exhibit was created by the Public Institution Nature of Šibenik-Knin County and Šibenik Tourist Board: www.sibenik-tourism.hr/en/

www.kanal-svetog-ante.com/en

priroda-skz.com/en/home/

More on Venetian Works of Defence between the 16th and 17th Centuries: Stato da Terra – Western Stato da Mar and World Heritage: whc.unesco.org/en/list/963

Photos: Public Institution Nature of Šibenik-Knin County

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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