1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Sebenico

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SEBENICO (Serbo-Croatian, Šibenik), an episcopal city, and the centre of an administrative district in Dalmatia, Austria; at the end of a branch railway from Knin. Pop. (1900) of city and commune, 24,751. Sebenico is built on a hill overlooking the river Kerka, which here forms a broad basin, connected by a winding channel with the Adriatic Sea, 3 m. S.W. The city is partly walled, and guarded on the seaward side by the 16th-century castle of St Anna and two dismantled forts. Venetian influence is everywhere manifest; the Lion of St Mark is carved over the main gateway and on many public buildings; and among the narrow and steep lanes of the city there are numerous examples of Venetian Gothic or early Renaissance architecture. Sebenico has been the seat of a Roman Catholic bishop since 1298. It has also an orthodox bishop. The Roman Catholics, who constitute the majority of citizens, possess a lofty and beautiful cruciform cathedral, built entirely of stone and metal. Probably no other church of equal size in Europe is similarly constructed. Even the waggon vaults over the nave, choir and transepts are of stone unprotected by lead or tiles. The older part of the cathedral, dating from 1430 to 1441, and including the fine north doorway, is Italian Gothic. Giorgio Orsini of Zara, who had studied architecture in Venice and been strongly influenced by the Italian Renascence, carried on the work of construction until his death in 1475. It was finished early in the 16th century; and thus the cathedral belongs to two distinct periods and represents two distinct styles.

Sebenico is lighted by electric light; the power being supplied by the celebrated falls of the Kerka, near Scardona, on the north. Sebenico is a steamship station, with an excellent harbour. Wine, oil, corn and honey are produced in the neighbourhood; many of the inhabitants are fishermen and seamen. The Latin name of Sicum is adopted in public inscriptions; but the city cannot be identified with the Roman colony of Sicum, which was probably situated farther south. Sebenico first became prominent in the 12th century as a favourite residence of the Croatian kings. From 1358 to 1412 it was ruled by Hungary; it subsequently formed part of the Venetian dominions. In 1647 it was unsuccessfully besieged by the Turks.