Everything you need for a perfect summer day lies in this small town in the heart of central Dalmatia.
What do you think of when you hear about a royal town situated on an islet only 500 metres in diameter and connected to the mainland by two stone bridges? Although it sounds like a town from Game of Thrones, we’re talking about Nin, Croatia, a small town in a lagoon on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea.
A small town with a big impact
Built 3000 years ago, Nin is one of the oldest towns on the eastern Adriatic. But, it holds another important title — that of the oldest royal town in Croatia. The Croats who colonized it in the 7th century decided Nin’s walls were worthy of the king’s throne and some of the country’s most famous kings, like king Tomislav and king Zvonimir, ruled from there.
Later on, it became a centre of a medieval Christian Bishopric, which means it was the centre of the autonomous Croatian branch of the Church. Bishops from Nin played a big role in the country’s religious, cultural and political growth, with the most important bishop being Gregory of Nin. Because of him, religious services started being held in Croatian language, instead of Latin, so they were finally understandable to everyone.
Rub the thumb of Gregory of Nin for good luck
Things to do in Nin, Croatia
Nin was almost destroyed twice due to political quarrels in 16th and 17th century, but the town survived it all. If you think you’ll see the signs of previous battles when coming to Nin, you’re wrong. Most battle wounds are healed and recently many monuments have been restored.
So what should you see and do in Nin to make the most out of your day? Begin with visiting the church of the Holy Cross, the smallest cathedral in the world built in the 9th century. Or go see the remains of old Roman homes and imagine how their family life looked like.
If you’re more interested in pleasing your taste buds, you should visit “Šokolijada”. This festival held in July is dedicated to šokol — quality pork which is kept in Nin’s sea salt for a few days, then submerged in red wine, seasoned with spices and dried in “bura”, a strong northeasterly wind. Nin’s salt is famous on its own and you can learn all about its traditional gathering process by taking the tour of the saltworks.
For a more hands-on experience, you could cover yourself in mud on the famous Queen’s Beach! This is not a typical beach in Croatia — it’s rich with medicinal mud that can help you alleviate many health problems. Of course, bathing in mud is not the only activity available in Nin. Favourable winds make Nin’s lagoon ideal for windsurfing and paragliding, so it’s almost impossible to enter the town and not see a few paragliders flying above the saltworks.
Church of St. Nicholas in the field of Prahulje
If you look up Nin on the Croatian map you’ll see that Zadar is only 15 kilometres away. Finish up your trip by checking out the church of St. Donatus and listening to the Sea Organ.
And there you have it — everything you need to know about this charming town that played a huge role in Croatian history. Now you can start working on your “to see” list and book your stay at Šimuni.