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Nin in Croatia - royal city with the world's smallest cathedral

Nin in Croatia has over 3000 years of history and is also the city where the first Croatian kings lived. Here you will find a Roman temple and the world's smallest cathedral. Nin is also known for its long and beautiful sandy beaches.


Nin in Croatia

The historic little town of Nin in Croatia is located just north of Zadar. We got here by car, and the car journey from Zadar took around 20 minutes.

The city is known for its history as a royal city, but also for its fine sandy beaches. Nin lies in a shallow lagoon and on a small island, just 500 metres wide, is the old town where people have lived for more than 3,000 years. In 2017, the city was hit by a dramatic flood that caused the beautiful old bridges to collapse. Work is still ongoing to repair the damage, but fortunately the city itself is still intact.

Nin är en stad med sandstränder och världens minsta katedral
One of the sandy beaches
Nin i Kroatien, med världens minsta katedral
Welcome to the historic city centre!

Nin - the first capital of Croatia

Nin was an important city in the Middle Ages and the first capital of the Croats. The city served as the capital of several medieval Croatian kings and since the 9th century was a diocese with its own bishop. We took a guided tour of the city, which is highly recommended. Fantastically interesting to hear about all the exciting history!

Nin i Kroatien, staden med världens minsta katedral
Nin i Kroatien, staden med världens minsta katedral
Our enthusiastic guide, who is an archaeologist, tells us about the history of the city.

Gregory of Nin

Gregory of Nin, or Grgur Ninski in Croatian, was a Croatian bishop in the 10th century. He opposed the power of the Pope and advocated the use of Croatian as the language of the church instead of Latin, which at the time was seen by many as outrageous.

Gregory's work contributed to the spread of Christianity in Croatia, and he also played a major role in the development of the Croatian language. Gregory of Nin is now a statue in the town of Nin and, for some reason, touching his big toe is considered lucky. Of course we took the chance!

Gregorius av Nin i Kroatien, bredvid världens minsta katedral
Gregorius av Nin och världens minsta katedral
It is lucky to touch Gregory's big toe.

The world's smallest cathedral

The Church of the Holy Cross (Crkva svetog Križa) is a Roman Catholic church and is considered the smallest cathedral in the world. This special little building once served as both a sundial and a calendar. The cathedral was built in the 8th century and its diocese was once very important. Today the diocese is part of Zadar, which is a much larger city.

världens minsta katedral
Church of the Holy Cross - the world's smallest cathedral

The Roman temple in Nin

Nin in Croatia is also home to the remains of the largest Roman temple on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. Nin is a city with an extreme amount of history in a small area!

Nin sevärdheter, romerskt tenpel och världens minsta katedral

Historical museum in Nin

In Nin there is a small historical museum, which is interesting to look into. Here it becomes clear that people have lived in the area for a very long time. The oldest artefacts found show that people have been living here for at least 3000 years.

Museum i Nin i Kroatien

The most interesting items in the museum are some really old Croatian boats. The two most well-preserved boats are from the 11th century and are called Condura Croatica. The remains of another boat date back to the very first century. Our guide told us that Swedish expertise had to be brought in to work on the preservation of the boats, as this had never been done before.

Gammalt skepp i Nin i Kroatien

Lunch at Sokol restaurant

We had lunch at a restaurant called Sokol, located just inside the city walls. Very nice and very good! We started with a plate of local specialities - olives, cheese from Pag and the meat product called "Sokol". The latter is salted and dried meat from the pig's neck, very tasty!

The waiter then suggested pasta with seabass and prawns, and we were happy to accept that suggestion. Soooo good!

Pasta med fisk och räkor

Visit to the Salt Museum

One of the main attractions of Nin in Croatia is the Salt Museum. Solana Nin. Salt has been extracted from this site since Roman times - with an interruption of around 500 years when the Venetian Empire had a salt monopoly and closed all salt factories in the area except for the largest one on the island of Pag.

We took a guided tour of the salt ponds, which was really interesting. You can learn about the different steps in the process and about the work in the past and present.

Solana Nin i Kroatien

The tour also included more nature than expected. The pools are home to many different birds, such as herons and stilts (pictured), which get their pink legs from eating the tiny crabs that live in the pools.

We also got to taste one of the green plants, which thrives and is edible. It tasted salty (of course!) and was delicious! really good. Apparently a few restaurants have discovered it and more should!

Krabbor i saltbassängen i Nin i Kroatien
Our guide shows you the tiny crabs that live in the salt ponds.

There is also a small shop where you can buy salt and other products like chocolate and soap. And yes, we did some shopping. A jar of truffle salt went home with us!

Queen's Beach in Nin, Croatia

We made a short trip to the beach in Nin called "Queen's beach". Behind the name is a story about Croatia's first king, King Tomislav. Every time the king and queen came to Nin, the queen visited the beach, where she used the healthy mud to make her skin beautiful. King Tomislav told his wife that the beautiful beach would be hers, and since then it is called the Queen's beach.

We can agree with Croatia's first king that the long sandy beach is very beautiful, especially with the blue mountains in the background.

Medical clay

Nin in Croatia is not only known for salt, but also for clay. The clay, called peloidlera, is used to treat a variety of conditions such as rheumatism and skin diseases.

medicinsk lera i Nin i Kroatien
The woman on the right is covered in peloid oil

Zaton holiday resort

Zaton Holiday Resort is a camping and entertainment complex in one, and so big and luxurious that we've written a blog post about it (click on the link). For those who don't want to stay with "extra everything", there are also other campsites and apartment hotels.

Zaton holiday resort

Things to see and do around Nin in Croatia

The area around Nin has many excellent cycle paths, one of which leads to a nearby donkey farm. If you want to make excursions by car, there are also many interesting places to visit nearby:

All our top tips about Croatia. Click on the image!

Facts about Nin in Croatia

  • Country: Croatia
  • Landscape: Dalmatia
  • County: County of Zadar
  • Population: About 4600 (2001)
  • Localities in the municipality: Nin, Zaton, Grbe, Ninski Stanovi, Zereva and Poljica Brig.
  • Nearest major community: Zadar is 17 kilometres south of Nin.
  • Campsites: Camping Nin, Camping Ninska Laguna, Camping Peros and Camping Zaton Holiday Resort
  • Hotels and apartments: There are several apartment hotels, including Condura Croatica and Lekavski. It is also possible to rent private apartments.
  • Museums: The Museum of Nin Antiquities, Solana Nin salt museum
  • Churches: The Church of the Holy Cross (the smallest cathedral in the world), the Church of St Ambrose (13th century) and the Parish Church of St Anselm (5th - 18th century), where the statue of Christ's Mother of Zecevo is preserved. Between Nin and Zaton there is also the church of St Nicholas from the 11th century.
  • Attractions: The statue of Gregory of Nin, the statue of Prince Branimir (a famous ruler during whose time Croatia received its first international recognition), the Roman temple, the remains of the Lower Town Gate, the remains of the wall on the eastern side, a Roman mosaic from the 100th century and the remains of dwellings in the centre of the old town.
  • Read more: You can find more information at Nins tourist information website.

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