Croatians settled in the present-day Republic of Croatia in the beginning of the 7th century. Leading numerous defensive wars, in the early Middle Ages, Croatia was on the boundary of civilizations. Its territory passed through the boundary between the Byzantine and Frank Empire in the 9th century, between the Orthodox and Catholic Church in the 11th century, and between Christianity and Ottoman Islamism from the 15th to 19th centuries. Armed conflicts with Turks, Byzantines and Venice forced the Croats into closer ties with the Hungarian and Austrian dynasties which resulted in new battles for territorial sovereignty and independence. Croatia gained full national independence in 1991.
The powerful empires and countries, which governed in these parts, left their visible marks on some distinct cultural heritage monuments. Cities on the coast are mostly from the Ancient Times and Middle Ages. The city of Pula has one of the biggest monuments of ancient culture on the Croatian coast, well-preserved roman amphitheatre, Temple of Augustus and Arch of the Sergians. Split has the Roman Emperor Diocletian's Palace from the 4th century which is under UNESCO protection and also one of the biggest monuments of ancient culture.
The most beautiful, preserved early byzantine art on the Mediterranean, built in the 6th century, is the Basilica of Euphresias in Poreč, which was also declared a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage in 1997. Along with the San Vitale in Ravenna, it is the most significant example of mozaic art in all of Europe.
Krk, Rab and Trogir characterize the Romanesque Period. Trogir, with Medieval nucleus containing well-preserved castles, towers, buildings and palaces from the Gothic, Renaissance, Roman and Baroque periods, is the best-preserved Romanesque-Gothic town in Central Europe. Its most important building is Trogir's Cathedral, a masterpiece by the master mason Radovan, with its portal from 1240.
Dubrovnik, Šibenik, Korčula, Hvar, Pag and Osor characterize the Renaissance. The city of Dubrovnik was built in the 13th century and is recognized by the best preserved renaissance walls and towers, churches, palaces and renaissance summer homes of the nobility. Today the whole city is under UNESCO protection.
Nowadays, the historical, architectural and cultural heritage is related with contemporary art. In traditional festivals and international plays, squares, atriums and palaces become stages: Pula's Film Festival, Days of Croatian Theatre, Dubrovnik's Summer Festival and many more. Along Croatian coast, you can enjoy a Dalmatian vocal tradition “klapa”, which represent traditional music and world-class trained vocalists.