Secret Dalmatia Blog - Travel Experiences in Croatia

The dawn of the Solstice 2011 in Nin – Secret Dalmatia

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It’s been a while since I wanted to do this: wait for the first ray of Sun on the Solstice right next to the beautiful Sv. Kriz church in Nin – World’s smallest cathedral as it is usually called.
So, this past Tuesday, I got up at 4 AM and drove to Nin.

Nin still sleeping
Nin still sleeping

The town was still asleep, of course and there was no one on the streets. I did, foolishly, expect to see at least someone at the church as this is a very special place connected with lost architectural traditions, solstice and ancient knowledge… But this is not Stonehenge where 18 000 people gathered to witness the sunrise.

Sv Kriz, Nin - IX ct
Sv Kriz, Nin - IX ct

So what’s so special about this church?
According to the late art historian Mr. Mladen Pejaković, this church is a very elaborate calendar as well, with sun rays falling on very specific places within the structure on specific dates and times. That enabled the people who lived here to know when the important dates are, to be able to organize their work and their religious ceremonies as well. Mr. Pejakovic confirmed all this through a series of measurings and experiments. The church was built at the time of the firts Croatian independence and it was used as a royal chapel of the duke’s court that was located nearby. The church is of a central type and, although looks rugged, it is a very sophisticated structure!

Theodolite measurements of the church
Theodolite measurements of the church

Here are also more technical details taken with Theodolite HD app for iPad for those who are interested in more information.

So, I spent an early morning enjoying the silence and the architecture of this sacred place. My only company were the birds in and out of the church.


And then the dawn of the solstice came with first rays of sun breaking over Velebit lightning the entire scene. The dawn was at 05:10 AM but it takes the Sun some time to get over the mountain. It is actually at 33 degrees above the horizon at the moment when the first rays shine on the building. Interestingly enough (and that is not the coincidence!), the entire structure is slanted at a 33 degree angle. Numerous more details make this small building a very unique place!

The dawn light on Sv Kriz
The dawn light on Sv Kriz

The tourist board of Nin celebrates the solstice with series of activities that include several lectures and activities for the young ones. This year the solstice came in the afternoon and they did not have any early morning activities but still, the waiting for the dawn at this place is truly spectacular!

The beautiful shapes!
The beautiful shapes!

This can be a first class attraction for everyone coming to Croatia but it should be promoted on a wider scale and not only locally. Combined with the Illyrian mysteries, this is already a great multi day tour. But, most of the travelers coming here are not aware of the riches and interesting curiosities we can show.

First sun rays on the church
First sun rays on the church

Next year I hope to have more time to visit at the time of the lectures as the TZ Nin usually gets some pretty interesting folks! And, of course, there is always a winter solstice as well 😉

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