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How it all began: architecture


For centuries prior to the proclamation of Krka National Park, travertine (tufa) was used as a building material in the areas along the Krka River. Even the Church of St. Nicholas at Skradinski buk waterfall was constructed entirely of travertine. Fossil travertine is still visible today in Šibenik, along the staircase under the monument to King Petar Krešimir IV, and the Robert Visiani Gardens. There are also living “pieces” of travertine to be found in Šibenik. Part of the travertine from the Krka River has been built into the fountain in front of the Church of Our Lady Outside the City. It was placed in a sunny and wet location, and has continued to grow. Today it is overgrown by mosses and is several times larger than it was when it was placed here. This is a rare and valuable specimen of the many ways of cohabitation of the people with the river, which was so important in the past. Since the proclamation of Krka National Park, the extraction of travertine is strictly prohibited, as this rock represents the fundamental phenomenon of the Park.

Travertine is an excellent building material, and was used extensively prior to the prohibition of its use. Due to its moisture content, it is easy to shape, and upon drying out, the rock becomes very hard, due to the secretion of calcium carbonate from the calcium bicarbonate contained in the moisture. It has a specific hollow spongy appearance, and is usually beige to yellowish in colour. Even the ancient Romans used travertine to construct their temples, waterworks, monuments, baths and amphitheatres. The Roman Colosseum is the world’s largest structure built of travertine rock. Travertine is still used in construction today, though most often in interior design, where it is used as stone slabs for lining terraces and garden paths. The travertine from the Krka River is not used.

Sand was also previously excavated from the Krka for use in construction. Sand pits still visible today are the St. Jera pit and the islets Veliki Busen and Mali Busen just upstream from Skradinski buk. The St. Jera pit contains a sand deposit, and is much smaller today than it was 50 years ago. The islet became smaller due to the previous extraction of sand for housing construction. Veliki Busen was one of the larger and more abundant sand “mines” and due to the extensive exploitation of this resource, it is now much smaller than Mali Busen.