Šibenik & Krka

Šibenik might be my favorite coastal city in Croatia, because in comparison with all the other bigger coastal towns, I always feel that here the people really live their own lives while the others are more dominated by tourists. I don't know if this is correct, but somehow it feels like this. Kurt Hielscher made three photos here and two around Krka National Park.

Photo: Kurt Hielscher, 1926.

View on Šibenik with the famous Cathedral on the left. Photo: Casper Molenaar, 30-4-2019.

I have been to Šibenik several times, in good ones but also bad ones. A few months after her first kidneytransplantation in November 2002, my love for life Kim got a severe blood disease and needed blood transfusion every two and a half weeks or so. In between two transfusions, there was enough time to make a road trip to Croatia, we thought. So we did and we had the time of our lives in March 2003. She felt relatively fit. We went to Bled in Slovenia, Senj and via Obrovac, Gračac, Knin, Peruča Jezero and Sinj we went to Trogir where we took the first photos from the book of Kurt Hielscher, that I just received from her as birthday present. In Split, we took more photos, also in the palace of Diocletianus. She rubbed the toe of Grgur Ninski, a statue of Ivan Meštrović, in the expectation that here health condition would improve by doing so. After a night with a beautiful sunset in Makarska, the next morning we drove almost to the top of the Sveti Juraj in Biokovo National Park till we decided that it was better to not challenge the every few meters deepening snow on the road. Later we had the Krka waterfalls nearly for ourselves. The 10th day of our trip we enjoyed Šibenik, but when she walked up the stairs towards the Tvrđava and got out of breath, we knew that this was the sign to go home again. We went back up to the north following the Magistrala road, the highway wasn't there yet in those days, and found an apartment in Crikvenica.

March 2003, the Cathedral as seen from the way towards the uphill situated Tvrđava sv. Mihovila. We did no make it to the castle, because Kim got out of breath, a first sign that we had to go back home. The photo is a photo I recently made from a photoprint in a photoalbum so it lacks quality but it is a stunning view with some islands in the distance. 

After an hour or so Kim was gripped by a high fever. For a transplantation patient it is then needed to go search for medical assistance. I paid half of the costs for our stay in Crikvenica for the inconvenience and we went for a late in the evening drive to the hospital in Rijeka. It turned out the wrong one and then she was transported by an ambulance to the other one. Soon, research showed that there was no rejection of the kidneytransplant and some fluid infusion brought down the fever. She was allowed to leave the hospital at 3.30 a.m., but we had to go to her own hospital in Rotterdam without delay, a demanding challenge for me as driver, because it was still 1350 km far away drive. Kim was received in quarantine because of the risk of the MRSA bacteria from a foreign hospital, but turned out to be fine. A few weeks later they found the cause of her blood aplasia and solved it. After that, Kim was able to live for over 10 years with the kidney she received from her brother without major troubles. We celebrated this 10th anniversary extensively with all of our friends that supported us. Soon after this anniversary however, she lost her transplant kidney, but we are very grateful that in the 10 years she had it, she lived a happy live: we got our kids, she finished her study and we were able to travel so many times to Croatia and the other countries of the former Yugoslavia as we did in the spring of 2019. On our way back to Zadar Airport we had to make the last stop in Šibenik, again, this time with a good ending. Most photos are from that visit in 2019, but I shared some older ones too from 2003, 2009, 2011 and 2018, including some from Krka National Park.  

The Cathedral

The entrance of the Cathedral is situated around the corner of a beautiful square. When it is quiet and there are not so many tourists around, it is a great place to hang for a while, like here in March 2003 (analog shot). On the right one can see the side portal to the Cathedral with the lions of which one is to be seen on Kurt Hiescher's photo. 

Photo: Kurt Hielscher, 1926.

Sideportal of the Cathedral. Photo: Casper Molenaar, 29th of April 2019.

March 2003 with Kurt Hielscher's 1926 photoalbum of Yugoslavia in my hands. I just bought the book and during that trip we made the first few then & now photos in cities like Split and Trogir, next to Šibenik. Photo: Kim van Ierssel. 

The Cathedral of St James (sv. Jakov) in Šibenik has been built in a timespan of over a century or to more exact from 1431 till 1535. One of its characteristics, nect to its dome, that has been damaged during the war in the '90s but well restored after, are the 71 faces of people, men, women and children, who lived in Šibenik during its time of reconstruction. The Cathedral's is built entirely from stone and is on UNESCO's World Heritage List. On the photos below the Cathedral and a close up during golden hour on the 26th of June 2009. Photos: Casper Molenaar

In the summer of 2011, we went again to Šibenik. Here some photos from different angles and some close-ups from the characteristic faces. Photos: Kim van Ierssel & Casper Molenaar, 24th of July 2011.

And some photos from 29th of April 2019, with our youngest son trying to rephotograph Kurt Hielscher's photo and Kim making a photo from him.

The Orthodox Church

In the summer of 2018 we made a quick stop at the Orthodox Church in Šibenik, that I never visited before. It was quite hot, but I knew where it was situated. I found a place nearby to stop the campervan. It was not relly a parking ot though. Actually, it was more like at the side of a road. I left the family, but it turned out quite a longer walk than expected ànd the church did not look like the one on the photo at all. So, I made a few photos and hurried back to wife and kids and continued our journey. There must be another Orthodox Church in Šibenik.

Above a few photos from the Orthodox Church, situated at the Ulica Svetog Spasa in Šibenik and its graveyard surrounding the church that turned out not the one in Kurt Hielscher's book, 6th of August 2018.

A year later I found the right one at the crossing of Zagrebačka Ulica and Ulica Božidara Petranović. Next challenge was to get into the opposite building and on the right floor. We, my youngest son and I, rang all the bells there were and somebody let us in. We went up to the 4th floor, but an old man opened, and though I did practice some sentences in Croatian to explain why I was there and what I wanted, I don't think he understood me. I gave up, went down, and studied the building from the inside and outside again and when I got out I realized it must have been the 3rd floor from "Two Bells Apartment", but there was nobody there.

So, I didn't find acces to the  building from which Kurt Hielscher made his photo from the Crkva Uspenie Bogomatere in 1926. When we left I saw a small delegation with a priest getting into the church and I took my chances, explained again and we were invited in. Though I did not make the exact photo, I did get the chance to see the church from the inside, and like other Orthodox Churches, also this one made a big impression. Later I found pictures with the churchview out of the window of Two Bells Apartment on its Facebookpage and reservation sites, but now I think Kurt Hielscher took his photo probably from the fourth floor in the end. Anyway, next time I will try again.

Crkva Uspenie Bogomatere, 1926.  Photo: Kurt Hielscher.

Photo: Casper Molenaar, 29th of April 2019.

Interior of the the Crkva Uspenie Bogomatere, the Orthodox Church in Šibenik.

Modern Šibenik, at the market, 30st of April 2019.

Photo: Kurt Hielscher, 1926

Šibenik after sunset. Photo: Casper Molenaar, 29th of April 2019.


Driving the Magistrala, the long coastal road from the north all the way to Dubrovnik in the south, one will pass the Šibenski Most with a stunning view over the Krka river and one will know that a visit to Krka National Park is a must. I visited the park twice in 2003 and again in 2009. From the bridge it is only a five minute drive to the outskirts of Šibenik.

Krka, 1926. Photo: Kurt Hielscher.

View on the Krka when descending to the entrance of the park. Not  exactly the same place, but close. It would have been a lucky shot, because I did not try to rephotograph Kurt Hielscher's photo at the time. Photo: Casper Molenaar, 26th of June 2009.

Krka in full glory, 1926. Photo: Kurt Hielscher.

Krka, also close to from where Kurt Hielscher made his photo to find out later that he made photos here too. I just did not check the book close enough and focussed only on a few cities: Split, Trogir and Šibenik. Photos from March 2003 by both Kim van Ierssel and Casper Molenaar.

Kim, me and my oldest son Bouke, the youngest yet to be born, 26th of June 2009. Photo by Kim's parents. At the time they were camping in Biograd na Moru and we came to Croatia by ferryboat from Ancona in Italy to Split. We showed them around in the region and also visited an almost empty of tourists Krka National Park. The photo is made just after a heavy thunderstorm when the sun returned treating us with a beautiful rainbow. 

Rainbow after a thunderstorm over the Krka waterfalls, 26th of June 2019.

Below: View on the Riva in Šibenik.

In the footsteps of  Kurt Hielscher