St. Nicholas fortress is an amazing fortification building located at the entrance of St. Anthony channel in Sibenik. The fortress was officially opened for visitors on June 15, 2019. The only way to get to the fortress in 2023 is to take the boat tour from Sibenik Riva.
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Boat line schedule and ticket price
The boat line from Sibenik Riva to St. Nicholas fortress operates 4-5 a day during the summer season. The boat departs from Riva, just near hotel Bellevue and a gas station called Ina. The total duration of the trip, including boat tour and sightseeing, is 2 hours. Check exact boat schedule and timetable
The boat features a WC, which can be used during the ride and sightseeing of the fortress.
The ticket price is 130 kuna (around 18 euros) per person. You can buy a ticket online at official St. Anthony's channel page, or at the ticket shop which is located next to the pier at Šibenik Riva.
Boat tour to St. Nicholas fortress
I decided to take the tour that was scheduled for 11 am. While I was walking to the pier, it started to rain a little bit. I was worried that bad weather may spoil my tour experience but luckily, the weather soon cleared. But even if there was rain, I believe that experience would be still good, because the best part of the tour is sightseeing of the fortress's interior.
When I entered the boat, the tour guide gave me headphones and a tablet with an installed official tour app. The app contains voice guides for each of the places of interest that could be seen during the boat ride and sightseeing of the fortress.
After a few minutes, the guide gave us basic info and warnings about the tour: we were expected to follow the rules and take care of the tablet and headset that were given to us during the tour. Then the boat tour started.
It took us around twenty minutes to arrive at the fortress. We were travelling through the St. Anthony's channel, one of the most beautiful natural attractions of Sibenik. While riding the boat, we could see the so-called Hitler's eyes, a shelter for ships in World War II. Another attraction of the channel was St. Anthony's Cave, where a small church was found. The last attraction was, of course, the fortress of St. Nicholas. You will notice at first sight how astonishing the fortress really is.
About St. Nicholas fortress
St. Nicholas fortress was built in the 16th century for the purpose of defence against the Osman Empire, which at that time, was harassing Europe. Its main role was to defend Sibenik and its sea entrance. It was built in Renaissance style. Today it is considered to be, not only a great military fort but also a masterpiece of urban architecture. That's why the fortress was added to the UNESCO protected heritage list as a part of Venetian's work of defence between the 15th and 17th centuries. It was built by Venice which at that time ruled Sibenik and Dalmatia.
The only way to visit the fortress in 2022 is by boat line from Sibenik Riva. The entrance from the land side is not yet available for visitors, but it should be constructed in the upcoming years. Much of the work will be carried out in the near future on the fortress and nearby area for the purpose of preservation and improved tourist offer. It is easy to notice that fortress is currently devastated with the need for a full reconstruction.
Tour around the fortress
After the boat arrived, it was time for us to take a tour around the fortress. I had a choice to take the tour by myself using the tablet and headphones or to follow the official guide. I decided to take the latter option because the guide seemed to be good. And even after she finished the tour, there was half an hour left for me to additionally explore parts of the fortress which I liked most by myself.
One of the first things that can be noticed at the fortress entrance is coats of arms. They represent families which took part in fortress construction during history.
After entering the fortress, the first room to explore was cannon storage. That's the place where the cannons fired at the enemies. We could enjoy the masterpiece architecture of the room. It is said that many Venetians have blamed the fortress architect for paying too much attention to the aesthetic part of the architecture, and not enough for its military purpose.
The next place of interest was the former bathroom of the fortress. Outside the bathroom, there was a tank that was used for sewerage.
The next room that the guide showed us was the fortress prison.
The last part of the visit was sightseeing on the fortress terrace. We were climbing to the terrace using the stairs where one of the episodes of the famous Game Of Thrones series took part.
The terrace featured a panoramic view of the St. Anthony's channel and island Zlarin.
Conclusion of my visit
After visiting St. Nicholas fortress, I could say I was really impressed. The building is really amazing and unique masterpiece of Croatia tourism. I hope it will not sound strange if I say that the fortress of St. Nicholas is more fascinating to me than Dubrovnik forts (Take into account the fact that I am biased because I was born in Sibenik). Its location and architecture left me breathless. If you find yourself somewhere in Dalmatia, then consider visiting this place. The only real drawback is the high price of the ticket. I believe the price will be cheaper after the landing entrance is arranged.