Monday, January 29, 2007

Sibenik - Dalmatian Coast, UNESCO

We arrived in Sibenik from Zadar, stopping off and on. There is a motorway, but we avoided it. We took the coast old road instead, small towns with fine food, go slow around the curves, cliff-sides, maybe not guardrails, but people are careful. Have to be.

Sibenik, Cathedral of St. James, Croatia. Adam and Eve.

Sibenik is a walled city. The Cathedral of St. James. Adam and Eve flank a side doorway.

The ring of faces. There are over 70 sculptured faces on the cornice going around the Cathedral of St. James, faces of ordinary folk - not saints, not famous civil officials, just people - expressing every emotion. Sibenik was heavily damaged, as were most coastal cities, during the Croat-Serbian-Bosnian wars. For more on Sibenik's history:
See Balkan history: at We hear so much of Balkan turmoil. A less explored idea, in connection with that, is where it came from; what role did the Balkans play in buffering against Ottoman and other invasions so that Venice and the rest of Europe could continue its marketing. . Location, location.

The Balkans were the first stop for the Ottoman Empire expansion, The Balkans had to be the buffer for violence for centuries, enabling Venice, Austria, Hungary, France, Germany to develop at least without that threat on their doorsteps. The Balkans absorbed it. Albania has never recovered from the conqueror doing what conquerors do - exploit. The upending of the religious and political landscape. Bosnia, Serbia, Herzegovina, all part of that heritage. Need more research here.

Cathedral of St. James, Sibenik, Croatia. Ring of stone faces.

Croatia has a history of valuing common people.

It is the country where the people's language was used by Bishop Gregory in the 10th Century, until he was stopped by Rome and compelled to use Latin, that the people could not understand. See post on Nin. So, seeing a veneration for common men and women as shown on this Cathedreal, and for their lives, was not as jarring here, as it would be in Rome. The Cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage site. See http://www/

Flower market, Sibenik, Croatia

This was flower market day in Sibenik. Other days focus on meats, produce, or goods.

Books read on the way and after home:

Black Lamb, Grey Falcon: A Journey Through Yugoslavia, by Rebecca West (1939). This is so big as a paperback that I sliced it in half, used heavy cellophane on each as a new cover, and then could read it. Old, but no comparison as to history, philosophy, geography, social customs, all in pre-WWII.

Cafe Europa: Life After Communism, by Slavenka Drakulic, 1st American ed.

Balkan Ghosts: A Journey Through History, by Robert D. Kaplan, St. Martin's Press 1993

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