Wandering around the coastal town of Makarska in Croatia is a real treat. Its architecture is varied and interesting, reflecting the region’s turbulent past, and the scenery is stunning. Located at the base of Biokovo Mountain, the town is protected from harsh weather in the winter and benefits from a delicious cool breeze in the summer.
When you are strolling around the town take a second look at some of the buildings. Two of the must-see museums are housed within a couple of the town’s most interesting buildings.
Top Tip: I love Croatia – it has so much to offer. Why not check out this alternative guide to Split, add a few days on to your holiday and visit this vibrant town?
Makarska’s Ancient History
Experts believe that humans have inhabited the area around Makarska since 1500 BC. They think that thousands of years ago the Cretans used the area as a natural harbour. However, the region’s first proper inhabitants didn’t settle until the fourth century. They were Illyrians and constructed the Muccurum settlement on Biokovo Mountain.
The seventh century brought the Slavs to the region and they founded the Neretva Principality with Mokro – now Makarska – at its heart. The Slavs were brilliant fishermen and dangerous pirates. They attacked foreign ships that sailed nearby.
The area has been under Napoleon’s rule, as well as Turkish and Venetian control. The architecture and local customs reflect this diversity of influences. The unmissable baroque magnificence of the old town dates from the Venetian period. Those taking a walk by the seafront may stumble across the Franciscan Monastery – you should definitely go inside.
The Franciscan Monastery
Franciscan monks arriving from Bosnia began building the Franciscan Monastery in 1502. Their work was often interrupted by everything from political resistance to invasions to a serious earthquake. However, the complex was eventually completed. It has a cloistered courtyard with a well in the centre, a charming church and a bell tower.
Since the sixteenth century, the complex has been used as a centre for religious studies and became part of the Zagreb Theological Seminary in 1971. The monks studied natural science, as well as religion. Dr. Jure Radic, a friar with a passion for biology, set up the Institute of the Sea and Mountains in the monastery and its collection, the Malacological Museum, is housed there today.
The Malacological Museum is a museum of shells. Its impressive collection of shellfish and sea snails reveals the wonders and colours of the ocean. Marvel at the intricacy and variety of the shells on display – with over 3,000 items in total, there is sure to be something to catch your eye. The monastery also contains a herbarium.
- When: The museum is open each day of the week from 10am to 12pm and from 5pm to 7pm. On Sunday the opening hours are 10am to 12pm.
- How Much: A ticket costs between 10 and 15 KN.
The Tonoli Palace
On the west side of the town’s harbour, you’ll find the Tonoli Palace. This eighteenth-century palace was built by a Venetian doctor in a beautiful baroque style. With its romantic balcony and charming shutters, this building (which contains the Makarska Municipal Museum) is a beloved historical treasure itself.
Makarska Municipal Museum
The first floor of the Tonoli Palace is the Makarsja Municipal Museum. This is a great place to learn about the town’s past. Exhibits include local history, photographs, posters, archaeological items and more to help visitors understand the fascinating cultural heritage of the region.
- When: The museum is open from 9am to 1pm then from 6pm to 9pm Monday to Friday, and from 9am to 12pm on Saturdays. It is closed on Sundays.
- How Much: In the winter entrance is free and in the summer – from 15 June to 15 September – entrance is 10 KN.
Top Tip: Makarska Municipal Museum is closed for local holidays, and opening hours vary throughout the year, so check before you visit.
Where to Stay
Apartment Argus – Just a four-minute walk from the beach and a few yards from the Makarska Franciscan Monastery, this airy apartment with its own verdant garden is ideally placed for cultural exploration.
Central Beach 9 – A chic, beachfront hotel beautifully furnished and close to many of the town’s cultural sights. The four-star Central Beach 9 is quiet despite its location in the heart of Makarska.
How to Get There
Fly into Split Airport (SPU) from the UK. From London, the flight takes about two and a half hours. I’d recommend booking an airport transfer with Shuttle Direct to take you to straight your hotel or B&B in Makarska. With a pre-booked transfer, you save time and hassle as you won’t have to figure out public transport or negotiate with airport taxis. Why not keep it simple?
About Shuttle Direct
Shuttle Direct offers simple airport transfers at a great price. With plenty of options to suit different needs, our services always comes with a smile whether you book a private transfer or a shared shuttle.