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ZAGORA

A cultural/historical guide to the Zagora (inland) region of Split-Dalmatia County


THE DALMATIAN ZAGORA (INLAND) Joško Belamarić


THE DALMATIAN ZAGORA (INLAND) A cultural/historical guide to the Zagora (inland) region of Split-Dalmatia County

Zagora

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Cetinska krajina

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58 Biokovo, Imotski, Vrgorac

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THE DALMATIAN ZAGORA (INLAND) A cultural/historical guide to the Zagora (inland) region of Split-Dalmatia County Here, from Klis onwards, on the ridge of the Dinara mountain chain, the angst of inland Dalmatia’s course wastelands has for centuries been sundered from the broad seas that lead to a wider world. The experience of saying one’s goodbyes to the thin line of Dalmatia that has strung itself under the mountain’s crest, that viewed from the sea looks like Atlas’ brothers, is repeated, not without poetic chills, by dozens of travel writers. To define the cultural denominators of Zagora, the Dalmatian inland, is today a difficult task, as the anthropological fabric of the wider Dalmatian hinterland is still too often perceived through the utopian aspect of the Renaissance ideal, the cynicism of the Enlightenment, or the exaggeration of Romanticism and the 18th century national revival. After the fall of medieval feudalism, life here has started from scratch so many times - later observers have the impression that the local customs draw their roots from some untroubled prehistoric source in which the silence of the karst on the plateau towards Promina, behind Biokovo, the gurgling of the living waters of the Zrmanja, Krka, Čikola and Cetina Rivers, the quivering of grain on Petrovo, Hrvatac and Vrgorac Fields, on

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the fat lands along Strmica and Sinj, create the ideal framework for the pleasant countenance, joyous heart and sincere morality of the local population of which many have written, each from their own point of view: from abbot Fortis and Ivan Lovrić during the Baroque period, Dinko Šimunović and Ivan Raos not so long ago to Ivan Aralica and, in his own way, Miljenko Jergović today.

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NAME AND GENERAL HISTORY “Dalmatia” comes from the name by which the Romans called their province of Illyricum from the start of the 1st century AD (initially Delmatia, for example in Pliny and Dionysus), after the warlike tribal community of the Delmata, mentioned in historical sources as inhabiting the area between the Krka and Cetina rivers. This tribe was called this after their capital of Delminium, whose name has in turn been preserved in the name of the Dumno or Duvno Field (around modern day Tomislavgrad). The Delmata offered such great resistance that the Romans equated them with other tribes in the region, which explains the significantly wider breadth that province’s frontiers had in comparison with the original Delmata territory. Their name, just as much as the thousands of stone tumuli on the mainland and the islands, indicates their chief activity: Delm or Dalm in ancient Illyrian means herdsman, shepherd, herd, sheep; hence Delminium = a grazing place, a pasture, and delmë or dalmè to this day means sheep in the Albanian language. They were, however, also renowned sailors, pirates, and the entire area of Illyricum was to Rome at the close of the antiquity what Prussia was for Germany in the 19th century – a source of soldiers and emperors who,

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like Diocletian, tried to renew Rome’s rigorous discipline and original virtues. Some of the most significant pages of early Croatian history, from the 9th to 11th centuries, were written in the Dalmatian Zagora area, to which preserved monuments from the source to the mouth of the Cetina River bear faithful witness. Dalmatia’s territorial frame has seen significant changes, as has its Zagora part, especially towards the highlands. Over two and half centuries, Christian and Islamic spiritual domains met here at the close of the Middle Ages. The largest part of Zagora in Split–Dalmatia County is made up of former core of the Dalmatian Krajina—regions of continental Dalmatia that were once the centre of Croatian statehood, including Knin, Sinj, Imotski, Klis and the Makarska seaboard, then, from the start of the 16th century under Ottoman rule and finally annexed to the Venetian possessions in Dalmatia after the Venetian-Turkish wars of the 17th and early

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18th centuries. An important role was played in these wars by the local populace, under the leadership of their Serdari, Harambaši and Knezovi (princes). A new demarcation line (1699) saw Dalmatia staked out towards the Turkish dominions by a series of strategic points and forts from Zvonigrad, over Knin, Vrlika, Sinj, Zadvarje and Vrgorac to Čitluk on the Neretva River. In renewed military operations from 1714-1718, the Turks (having won Vienna) had to give up Strmica, Trilj and the Imotska region in the Croatian coastal inland. The new demarcation line (1721) gave Dalmatia’s interior its present day shape. The return of life to the Zagora area, for decades systematically ravaged from both sides, was not at all simple. By its Acts of 1755 and 1756, Venice bestowed large tracts of land to its deserving individuals in the territories of its “new and newest acquisitions”, and two “Padova camps” of cultivatable land to every peasant, under the condition that it be passed down along the male line, but without the right to sale and with the obligation to give a tenth of their production as a fee for the use of the land. Peasants were obliged to plant at least 4 fruit, olive or mulberry trees. There was an evident desire to anchor this inconstant nomadic Vlach people to the land in the same way as had been done in ancient Roman times with

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war veterans. Historiography has yet to give its final appraisal of these Acts, perhaps under the suggestive influence of a saying of the time: La proclama zaratina, dura de la sera a la matina (“The Zadar Proclamation holds from evening to morning”). Domestic academics (Radoš Ante Michieli Vitturi in particular, founder of the Agricultural Academy in Lukšić), criticised the Act, saying it did not give enough consideration to the crude Vlach mentality, and that it did not allow for the rational enlargement of landholdings. Nevertheless, marshlands were drained around Knin, Sinj, Nadina and Ostrovica and later on around Vrgorac, Rastoke and Imotski – employing thousands of peasants. Villages and small towns gradually took form (it was proposed that they be modelled after those in the Lika region!); the construction of roads and bridges was launched, the first industries were established and mines were opened. A significant impetus to development was made by

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roads built during the French administration at the start of the 19th century when Dalmatia already had a population of 308,108—compared to only 50,000 in 1650 or its 108,090 inhabitants in 1718. The demographic growth of the eighty years that followed the Požarevac Peace came out to as much as 150 percent, despite as many as seven lean years out of every ten! In the second half of the 18th century, Zagora was revealed not only as an untapped economic resource, but also as a kind of endemic civilisation in the heart of enlightened Europe – one needs only to recall the reports of Albert Fortis and his detractor Ivan Lovrić. Venetians referred to the people of continental Dalmatia (outside of the villages and small towns) as Morlacco – after the Morowallachian, a distinct group of Vlach whose name has its roots in the black colour of their clothing. The name would, by way of Fortis, be adopted across Europe, where the Morlacco became one of the more important pre-Romanticism discoveries undefiled by the conventions of civilisation. It was long one of the most backward and impoverished of the Venetian, and later Austrian, possessions. The all-prevalent patriarch heroic ethos that had defined the highlander mentality through the centuries received its quintessential articulati-

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on in the works of folk writers like friars Filip Grabovac and Andrija Kačić-Miošić. Inland Dalmatia, up to the borders of Lika and Bosnia & Herzegovina, lives to this day as a part of the wider Dinaric ethnic whole. The most frequently depicted of the older customs is the abduction of unmarried girls (umicanje – usually a mock play-act); blood vengeance (the umir or vražda) existed up to the 19th century; Hajduci (outlaws); Ojkanje—a kind of singing that draws its roots from the oldest ethnic substrate—that of the ancient Mediterranean and Balkans. The characteristic division of settlements into larger and smaller family tribes (fraternities made up of groups of close relatives of the same surname) still functions in many places. Small towns, burgs of the compact type, are typical of Zagora, sprouting chiefly on the main fields, always at the foot of one of the old fortresses (Knin, Drniš, Sinj, Imotski, Vrgorac) and having a central market square. The significance of these centres of

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administration and economic activity was best seen at the Sunday fairs, but declined between the two World Wars with improvements to road connections to the coastal cities. Also characteristic on the other hand are the “scattered” types of villages distributed into neighbourhoods (komšiluk) of tribal denomination, often with small huts, once built without mortar, as straw-thatched dry-stones, and located on the edges of fields or along the flysh belts. Life was based on animal husbandry, olive tree growing and viticulture. There was an upturn in the development of Zagora in the second half of the 19th century with the boom in Dalmatian wines. But, with the “Wine Clause” (a deal struck between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Italy exempting Italian wines of import tariffs), the vineyard-ravaging Peronosporaceae and Phylloxera vitifoliae diseases and finally with the First World War and the ensuing political situation of the 20th century, emigration to America, Australia and from the 1960s on to Germany, appeared to many of the people of Zagora as the only way out of poverty. The awakening of Croatian sentiments among the Catholic population and the tendency towards the Serbian option among the Orthodox Christians would lead to an ethnic conflict in the second half of the 19th century, taking on tragic dimensions during the Second World War and at the end of the 20th

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century. In modern Croatia, Zagora is seeking new routes of development, based largely on opening the entire area to tourism, its exceptional variety of landscapes making it a unique park of culture, history and nature.

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KLIS The strategic significance of the fortress atop the pass (340 m) between Mts. Kozjak and Mosor, or better, between the Solin-Split basin and the Dalmatian interior, was of exceptional importance in both the prehistoric period and during antiquity. Constantine Porphyrogenetus in the 10th century cites Klis as the seat of the ancient Croat coastal district (Parathalasia) that stretched from Trogir’s Pantana to Žrnovnica, including the area’s inland. Applying a folksy etymology, this Emperor-writer draws the origin of the name Klis from the Greek KLEISA, in its meaning of key, which truly fits the syntagm of the fort’s position as the “key to Dalmatia”. In 852, Croatian Prince Trpimir issued a charter in which he mentions “curtis nostra que Clusa dicitur” and the Prince’s guest, Gottschalk of German Saxony, one of the most renowned theologians and philosophers of the time would find sanctuary here for two years after being driven out of Frankish lands. Gottschalk describes how, from 846 to 848, Trpimir waged war with the Latin cities on the coast and their Byzantine sponsors. In the 13th century, Klis was handed over to the Templars as a Royal grant (Leno), and then to the Croatian feudal nobility, the Šubić’s and Nelipić’s. Croatian14


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Roman roads Three Roman roads towards the inland passed through the Klis pass from the period of Regent P. Cornelius Dolabella (legatus Illyrici superioris from the years 14-18 AD). The road through Klis, Dicma, Sinj, Čitluk, Vrlika, Knin and the Butišnica Valley reached usque ad imum montem Ditionum Ulcirum (the village of Grab on the other side of the Dinarid Alps) and was 77,500 Roman steps in length. The second road from Salona via Klis went towards Čitluk and beyond via Prolog; the third road went through Trilj and further into Bosnia via Aržan and Buško Blato.

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Hungarian King Bela IV and his entire court entourage found refuge at Klis fleeing the Tartars in 1241/42. Born here was St. Margarita of Klis, his daughter. It was the seat of Bosnian King Tvrtko and of the Croatian viceroys (Ban) until 1537 when it fell to Turkish hands despite the heroic, and later poetically sung, defence led by Senj and Klis captain Petar KruŞić. It then became the centre of the Turkish SandŞak (district) for Central Dalmatia and a part of Bosnia, that is to say, for the district known as Vilajet Hrvati (Croat Province) that stretched across the larger part of the medieval Croatian kingdom. The frontier between Turkish and Venetian Dalmatia at the time was on the Jadro River in Solin. Split became a small Christian enclave on the edge of the Ottoman Empire, without a single agricultural possession on land, so that it is not unusual that a Venetian general proposed to his Government at the end of the 16th century that Split and the central seaboard be conceded to the Turks! The Klis fortress was liberated by General Leonardo Foscolo during the Cretan War on 31 March 1648. The shape of the fortress, an irregular polygon (304 m long from east to west and only 53 m wide from north to south) is dictated by geomorphology, the configuration of the precipice, rising steeply to a height of 358 metres above sea level. The fortress has three encir16


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cling walls. It was built over a considerable period of time extending from late antiquity to the 19th century, retaining many elements of a medieval fortification, with Kružić’s tower at its highest point. In the mid 17th century, Venetian engineers Magli and Santini designed several bastions in the fort’s first and third encircling wall, also constructing a new cistern, munitions storage facility and quarters for the fort’s complement of 300 officers and soldiers. A suburb was formed to the south side following the retreat of the Turks. The parish church has frescoes by V. Parać of motifs from the history of Klis. Situated between the Salona basin and the Cetina region, the karst fields of Dicam and Muć were of key strategic and transportation significance, even in prehistoric times and antiquity, to which battles fought during Baton’s 1st century Illyrian rebellion against the Augustean legions bear witness. The Vranjača cave is situated on the northern slopes of Mt. Mosor. The cave was opened to the public in 1929 and is accessed by way of Dugopolje and the village of Kotlenica.

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The name of Mt. Mosor in local etymology was derived from Mons Aureus, with the legend of former gold mines or buried treasure, which would come to the Illyrian word meaning lonely mountain (after the Illyrian god Masser). This impressive mountain massif stretches through the broad karst plateau for a length of 25 km, from the Klis pass to the Cetina River that separates the mountain like an island with its canyon. Therefore, in geomorphology, the name mosor is given to all mountains with a lone position (even in other languages). The first research on Mt. Mosor was carried out by botanist R. Visiani in 1824; F. Kerner conducted geological studies here (1904); F. Ivaniťević conducted anthropological studies (1903), while R. Bujas and U. Girometta conducted speleological studies here in the early 20th century.

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Dugopolje Only a dozen kilometres from Salona, Dugopolje stood at the branching of key Roman roads to the north (Aequum – present day Čitluk) and to the northeast (Pons Tiluri—the bridge spanning the Cetina river at present day Trilj, under Gardun where a military encampment of the Tilurium VII Roman Legion was located, certainly at the same position as an earlier Illyrian hill fort, and onwards to Narona). The importance of the location is evident from the wealth of archaeological finds exhibited at Split’s Archaeological Museum.

Blizna Situated in the Arcadian landscape of the Trogir inland that once belonged to Parathalasia, one of the fourteen Croatian districts that stretched between Mt. Mosor, that is to say, from Klis and Trogir, to Labin (including Radošić). Its eastern border was at Žrnovnica, and towards Split at Suhi most in Dujmovača. Research was carried out during the recent renovation of the Church of St. Mary that revealed semi-circular buttresses, similar to those in the Church of the Holy Salvation at the source of the Cetina River or at the 9th century church at Lopuška glava in Biskupija near Knin. The church in Blizna had a vestibule with a tower in front of the facade with an 20


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external staircase. Among the fragments of early Croatian plaited decorations from the altar partition wall, one reads the memory of a still unnamed Croatian prefect of the ancient Cetina District.

Behind Kozjak The new highway has revealed the rugged beauty of the landscape inland of Mt. Kozjak. This area was first recorded during the period of the Roman-Delmati wars. In the years 48-47 B.C., Caesar’s legions led by Consular Gabinius experienced a horrible defeat in the pass at Sinodium (a yet undiscovered locality), between the Drniš Promina (Promona) and Muć (Andetrium): about 2000 soldiers were left in the battlefield while the war flags fell into the hands of the Delmati. Later, in Tiberius’ time, the important Via Gabiniana route passed through here, leading from Salona to Muć and beyond. There are numerous traces of the humble pastoral life which unfolded here, changing very little over the millennia. Next to the thin small fields, villages developed around the parish churches, such as in Muć Donji (Church of Our Lady) and Muć Gornji (Church of St. Peter) or, exceptionally, as in the case of Konjsko, around the picturesque manor of the noble Split family Tartaglia (originally Jakovljević). Tombstones and remnants of architecture 22


BRANIMIRO COMMES DUX CRVATORVM

The name of Branimir is found not only in papal documents, but was also first found engraved in a stone beam of the pre-altar separation in the Church

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In May 879, Prince Branimir became the ruler of coastal Croatia, liberating the region from Frank and Byzantine rule for the first time and receiving spiritual protection for his political project from Pope John VIII (evidence in many documents). He later would regulate relations with Byzantine (confirmed by the fact that he succeeded in promoting Bishop Teodozij, his ‘protégé’ into Split Archbishop). In his day, the Slavic vernacular was introduced into holy worship. Methodius himself (“the Slavic apostle”) was in Croatia in 880 on his travels to Rome to defend his teachings before the pope.

testify that in Roman times, this was also the site of the Andetrium military camp. Under the present day Church of St. Peter (1871), the foundations of an early Croatian church from the period of Prince Braninir have been discovered (and which is in fact an adaptation of an earlier late Antiquity church).

of St. Peter in Muć with the date 888, making this the first year documented on a Croatian medieval epigraphic monument. Together with other stone monuments, typically ornamented with the characteristic braid decoration, these prove the active and lively cultural and religious life of Croatia in the early Middle Ages.

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THE CETINA REGION A part of the Dalmatian Zagora (about 1000 km2) between the two parallel mountain chains of Svilaja and Dinara (a massif comprising Ilica, Dinara, Troglav and Kamešnica), with the Cetina River running through the long valley made up of the Cetina, Vrlika, Hrvatac and Sinj Fields. The Koljanac and Ribarica Fields are nowadays covered by the waters of Lake Peruča. The Cetina River rises from five karst springs (vrilo) in the form of a dark lake at the bottom of a deep sink-hole from which the entire river flows at once, 380 metres above sea level between Mts. Gnjata (1809 m) and Dinara (1831 m), two kilometres north of Vrlika. It runs through narrow gorges, widens as it passes through Sinj Field, before quickening its pace through the canyons that form a semi-circle around the Mt. Mosor massif, leading to the mouth of the river near Omiš. It is believed that its name in antiquity, Hippus, comes from the name of the upper reaches of the river – from the Greek hippos, meaning “horse” as the rapids of the unnavigable upper reaches of the river jump about like horses. Archaeological remains (hill-fort and lake-dweller settlements and necropolises under stone tumuli) bear witness to the fact that the

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With its magnificent form and length, the diversity of its subterranean and above-ground karst forms, the Dinara Mountains are the tallest mountain range on the Balkan Peninsula. For millennia, this mountain range has formed a wall between the Mediterranean and continental world. The name is reminiscent of the Illyrian tribe Dindara that lived on its eastern side. In antiquity, it carried a Greek name: Adrion oros. It is most impressive when viewed from the road Vrlika–Knin where it is seen as a massif ornamented with horizontal stripes which appear to be a giant staircase with stairs about 2 m high. This was the first Croatian mountain range to enter into the literature as poetic inspiration in the poem Planine (The Mountains) by Petar Zoranić (1536) a well known utopian journey in the first fiction prose of Croatian Renaissance literature, where Zoranić celebrates his “nation”, our “scattered heritage”.

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upper and middle reaches of the Cetina were the central and most important parts of the Delmata territory. With the establishment of Roman rule, most of the hill-fort settlements along the fields were depopulated and the fertile land divided among the veterans of the VII Legion (leg. VII. Claudia pia fidelis) stationed at Gardun (ancient Tilurium).


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Toponymists believe that the name of the Cetina River originates from the word Zétna meaning door, describing the river’s mouth which opens the route to the sea in a stone massif. Few rivers have such a diversity of forms over such a short course as the Cetina. It is most impressive in the deep canyon from Trilj to Zadvarje where it shows its sheer power in the Velika Gubavica and Mala Gubavica waterfalls. With their 100 meter drop, the power of this “one of the most terrifying waterfalls in Europe” was taken by the Kraljevac hydroelectric plant in 1912. After taking a sharp turn towards the west, the river flows under the Omiš Dinara mountains, parallel to the coast. It is calmed, bordered by the poplar trees among the fields near Zakučac, before the stone gates at Omiš and the sea. In recent years, the river has developed as a rafting site and this experience has become a must among tourists.

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Tilurij Tilurium, is situated to the southeasternmost point of the Cetina valley, where the river leaves the Sinj Field and enters the gorge along the Mosor and Biokovo massifs before dropping to the sea at Omiš (Oneum). Here, where the road that leads from Salona towards Narona and Bosnia bridges the river, the camp of the Roman VII Legion was established at the site of an earlier Illyrian hill-fort, at the latest during Baton’s Pannonian-Delmata rebellion in the year 6 or 8 AD, perhaps a little earlier. It was abandoned by the military between the years 147 and 161 AD. Methodical research, currently in progress, has established the position of ramparts, monumental granaries and cisterns, perhaps also of a pretorium (commander’s lodgings). One inscription states that a cohort of volunteers erected a “tower for raising water” (turrem ad aquam tollendam) around the year 150 for the needs of this Legionary garrison. The existence of an amphitheatre that, as a rule, accompanied the seat of a Legion, has not yet been confirmed. (One was only recently discovered at Burnum—Ivoševci above the Krka River). A stonemason’s workshop that shaped a specific type of gravestone was active at Gardun serving the needs of the Legion. The most interesting example is the gravestone of a boy, Gaius Laberius, with ball in hand, built into the


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Gospodska pećina (Noble Cave—with 1185 m of the hallway studied to date) near the source of the Cetina River near Vrlika was a Palaeolithic habitat. At the end of the Stone–Bronze Age, about 1900 BC to the mid Bronze Age, about 1600 BC, the Cetina culture developed here. This culture was related to the Indo-European herders who had settled here and lived next to the cave in earthen dugouts in the karst valleys, in lake-dwelling communities and in fortified hill-forts. The ceramic artefacts and tools dating back to this period are best presented in the Cetina Region Museum in Sinj (MCK).

Petković house in Sinj’s Vrlička street. There is a renowned trophy from Gardun, a large monument to the triumph of the VII Legion over the natives erected around the year 12 AD (depicting a shackled Delmatian and Pannonian, kneeling under the trophy pillar upon which the captured war insignia are hung). Found in 1886, it is today exhibited at Split’s Archaeological Museum.

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Trilj The most important passage across the Cetina River already existed in prehistoric and later eras (Pons Tiluri—by the military camp at Gardun—recorded in ancient itineraries). One Roman engraving from the year 184 AD (on display in the Split Archaeological Museum) tells of the reconstruction of the bridge that was financed by several of the Dalmatian towns at the time. Its importance was confirmed by deed


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of donation by Emperor Justianin (6th century) which donates the Pontem Ciluri to a monastery in Monte Cassino. Today, this is a picturesque excursion site (particularly favoured by gastronomes) which is the starting point for river rafting, horseback riding… Among the many excursion sites are the mills on the clear Grab stream, rich in trout. High above the road that leads from Trilj towards Bosnia, in the midst of a perfectly preserved nature reserve, is the fortress Čačvina. It was first mentioned in 1371 as the town of the Cetina prince Ivan II Nelipić. The fortress offers a unique view of the Cetina region and the amphitheatre of mountains which surround it.

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Otok On the western edge of the Sinj Field. In the area of Priblača and Dugiša, a large prehistoric lake-dwelling settlement was discovered. Above the settlement Šuste is a prehistoric hill-fort, later a fortress from the late antiquity period, while at the location Mirine, there are ruins of a significant early Christian basilica with baptistery. Near today’s Sinj (the Delmati Osinium), there was the planned town of Aequum (without any earlier Illyrian settlement predecessor), which today is Čitluk. This was an agrarian colony of Roman veterans founded by Emperor Claudius (Colonia Claudia Aequum). This was the only settlement of colonial rank in the interior of the Roman Dalmatia province. Its forum, surrounded by an atrium in the centre of town at the crossing of two basic roads, has only been partly studied. The capitol lied on the northern side. Unfortunately, this location has neither been systematically studied nor presented. The widely known marble statues of the goddesses Fortuna and Hecate, the head of Heracles and other artefacts from Čitluk are on display at the Museum of the Franciscan monastery and the Cetina Region Museum in Sinj.

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Sinj Tombstones were unearthed in Ruduši under the hill Grad in Sinj (today on display in the Cetina Region Museum—MCK) bearing symbols of a mystical character of the original Delmati religion (related to the Sun cult and belief in immortality of the soul). In Roman times, the settlements of the Delmati Osinijata were situated on the southern slopes of Grad: hence the name Osinium, and in the Middle Ages—Fsini (1341), Zyn (1345, when Croatian-Hungarian King Ljudevit the Great gave this to Ivan Nelipičić as his seat), Syn, Syngh, Wssyn and finally Sinj. In the early 16th century, the entire area was conquered by the Turks, who formed the Cetina District with its seat in Sinj. After the loss of Sinj in 1698, in 1715 the Turks again tried to win back the town, but suffered a heavy defeat on the holy day of the Feast of the Assumption, 15 August. In memory of those heroes in the victory won with the intercession by the Blessed Virgin Mary, the people of Sinj have held the Sinj Alka tournament for centuries.


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In the early Middle Ages, the Cetina District was established around Sinj and the central course of the Cetina River. This was one of 11 early Croatian districts, with many remnants of a series of churches rich in stone furnishings (Holy Salvation on the Cetina, Koljana, Hrvace, Grab, Udovičići, Brnaze) and necropolises found at Kijevo, near Vrlika, at Potravlje and elsewhere. In medieval Croatia, the Cetina District became a Principality and through the 14th and 15th centuries, was home to some of the most distinguished noble families: Šubić, Frankopan, Talovac and Nelipčić who erected fortresses and cities at Glavaš in the Dinara foothills, in Vrlika, Potravlje, Sinj, on Čačvina (first mentioned in 1372) and Nutjak, a fortress that was ruled over by Poljički Prince Žarko Dražoveić, killed in an ambush in 1508 in an attempt to bring food to besieged Sinj. The painting of the Miraculous Our Lady of Sinj, which legend states that the Franciscans brought from Rama, is held on the marble altar (Pio and Vicko Dell’Acqua, end of the 19th century) and attracts countless worshippers from throughout Dalmatia on the Feast of the Assumption on 15 August. In recent restoration efforts, x-rays showed that the painting (on canvas) was indeed folded several times, obviously in order to carry it more easily while fleeing.

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Sinj received its present-day appearance at the end of the 17th and through the 18th and 19th centuries, when it was formed into a picturesque town on the slopes of Grad hill. Research is currently ongoing to study the impressive ruins of the medieval town (at the place where the late antiquity castle from the 6th century stood).


The alkars may only be unblemished residents of Sinj and the Cetina region, born of a Cetina family. The tournament is organized based on the medieval knight’s tournaments (the alka was once run in Makarska, Split and elsewhere). It is held on the first Sunday in August each year in honour of the Mother of God who saved the town and to commemorate the victory of 700 Sinj knights against the much larger Turkish army (60,000 soldiers) in the siege on Sinj in 1715. Just as impressive as the actual tournament is the official parade of the alkars with their assistants, the chieftain and troop of alkar lads, the lad carried the buzdovan (a spiked mallet), the leader of the Edeka (a horse without a rider with trophy gear belonging to the Turkish military leader Mehmed-paši Čelić), the flag waver with assistants closed up by the alaj-čauš, the commander of the alkar troops and the final rider to compete)—all in authentic and richly ornamented knight’s uniforms.

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Alka. This knight’s competition in which alkars (riders on horseback) aim for an iron alka (steel ring) hanging at 3.22 m height on a rope with their lance while at full gallop (speed must not be less than 45 km/h). The alka (from the Arabic word halqua = ring) is two small concentric rings joined by three bars: a hit in the central ring carried 3 points, 2 points in the upper section of the outer ring and only 1 point for a hit in the side sections of the outer ring. A “bull’s eye” hit is celebrated with music and gun salutes from the small cannon in the Kamičak fortress. The winner is the rider with the most points from three rounds. It is not uncommon for a fourth round to decide the winner among riders with equal points. The winner receives a large prize and purse spent on treating all the race competitors. A large audience also gathers to watch the final rehearsals on Friday and Saturday when the competitors practice without their formal uniforms.

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The Franciscan monastery was founded back in 1699 when the monks escaped with the commoners from Rama to Sinj. It was torched in 1714, damaged in an earthquake in 1769 and the church was completely remodelled in 1862. The bell tower was added on from 1896–1926. The monastery also houses the museum with its precious collection of archaeological findings from Aequum as well as an ethnographic and natural history collection. In 1713, the fortress Kamičak was constructed (later restored in 1890) and under it the Kvartir was built to accommodate the Venetian army (this would soon afterwards become the Alkar Court with its museum collection). The only entirely preserved residential structures from that period are the Lovrić houses. At the southern entrance into the town, a bridge was constructed over the Goručica River in 1784 to “advance trade”. Sinj was truly reputed as a market town which developed quickly in the 19th century when it became the seat of the municipal and county administration and the court. This was when the first classical secondary school was opened under the Franciscan monastery, the first upper school in the Austrian monarchy to use Croatian as the language of instruction (1853); the short-track railroad (the famed rera) was built and water was transported to the town from the Kosinca spring, etc. Public parks were also created.

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Cetinska krajina

In 1463, the Franciscans of the province Bosna Argentina (Bosna Srebrena, named after Srebrenica in Bosnia) received the adhname from Sultan Mehmed II, a privilege which allowed them to conduct congregational service in Bosnia and Turkish Dalmatia. Until the AustroHungarian administration, there was no other Catholic spirituality. Turkish Dalmatia remained under the congregational jurisdiction of the Bosnian Franciscan province right up until 1734, when a new Franciscan province, the Most Holy Redeemer, was founded with its seat in Sinj. Through several centuries, this monastery was the only centre of religious life and the only educational and cultural institution in partibus infidelium. The monks were the mentors of the people in spiritual and material matters. Franciscan literature, at first printed in a western version of the cyrillic script called Bosančica or Bosnian cyrillic, had a super-regional character, preparing the continuation of the Štokavica literary standards of

the Croatian language. The greatest work was written by friar Andrija Kačić Miošić: Pleasant Conversations of Slavic people (1759)—dedicated to the poor, farmers and shepherds. Kačić’s baroque lyrics, interwoven with medievalism and folklore formed a way of highland thinking and built up a national tradition over decades of retelling, representing the heritage of the other pole in Croatian literature, to counter Gundulić’s “Osman”.

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Cetinska krajina

Cetina Cetina is today the name of the unsightly village at the spring of this river, which in the early Croatian era of the 9th–11th centuries was the seat of the Vrhrika parish (Verchrecha: meaning top, river spring). This parish included the towns: Glavaš, Prozor, Sinj, Trilj, Stolac, Gradac, Nutjak and the Tugari and Poljička parishes. Of the five early Croatian districts (Imotski, Zminj, Klis and Drid) found within the area of today’s Split-Dalmatia County, the Cetina district was the largest. In the 16th century, the residents of Vrhrika fled from the Turks to the Prozor fortress, taking with them the name of their earlier settlement which, since then, has been called Vrlika. Prozor was built in the early 15th century by Hrvoje Vukčić Hrvatinić, and in 1421, the Croatian-Hungarian King Sigmund of Luxemburg granted it to Mikca Vitturio who was the royal regent in Trogir, from which he had to flee one year earlier (following the invasion of the town by the Venetian army when all his assets were seized). The parish Church of Our Lady of Roses was built at the end of the 19th century in the place of the former church. The paintings inside (C. Medović, B. Bulić) were destroyed in 1992 under the Serbian occupation of Vrlika, as was the bronze sculpture of friar Filip Grabovac which stood before the church. Vrlika is the birthplace of writer

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The Vrlika wheel dance is one of the most impressive national dances. Similar dances, however, had to also exist elsewhere along the Croatian coast, which is confirmed by the Šibenik humanist of the 15th century, Juraj Šižgorić—a researcher of the Šibenik romantic and wedding song and dances which we today would consider ethno-heritage. He noted that the “wheel dancers stamp their feet to the rhythm of the music”. Indeed, due to his humanistic education, he was inclined to back up his observations with references from the authorities of antiquity. He refers to a teacher of the son of Croatian-Hungarian King Matija Korvin, who also watched the Croats play the all’antica in the same early medieval years (he said, “When the dancers stop, they all stamp their feet into the ground at the same moment”). This reminded Šižgorić of a lyric by Horatio which—far from the rough Illyrian areas in Medici’s Florence—would serve as the concetto to Botticelli’s famous Primavera.

Cetinska krajina

The Church of the Holy Salvation at the source of the Cetina River was erected in the 9th century by Cetina parish priest Gastika in memory of his mother Nemira and her sons. The church originally had a three-nave sanctuary and a vestibule—Westwerk (with a private chapel upstairs) on the western side and a bell tower on its façade (the best preserved bell tower of early Medieval Croatian architecture). Next to the church is a large necropolis (with 1102 studied graves from the 9th– 14th centuries with precious findings). The most distinguished residents of the settlement of the time, Vrh Rika, were buried here under the largest stone slabs, including the Ćubretic and Berislavic families (which each gave two Bans)—esteemed Croatian families of the 14th and 15th centuries.

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Cetinska krajina

Milan Begović and the picturesque water pump on the eastern edge of town is the original scenography for the most popular Croatian opera Ero by Jakov Gotovac. Among the many significant sites near this health treatment centre, sites one must see include the unique Slab Bridge on the Cetina River, built in the 18th century from tombstones of a destroyed medieval cemetery, likely from the settlement PreoÄ?ani na Cetini along the southern edge of the Cetina Field.

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Glavaš This late medieval fortress from the 14th– 15th century (with its preserved three story round tower) was raised near Uništa, above the old road to the interior of Bosnia, which on later maps was called Dinarić.

Cetinska krajina

Ero. The national opera Ero by Jakov Gotovac (Split 1895–Zagreb 1982) has been performed on more than 80 European stages and been translated into nine languages. The premier performance was given on 2 November 1935 in the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb and has since become the most performed Croatian’s musical piece, despite the first criticisms: “Yet another Croatian composer has written an opera in vain”. In the excellent libretto by Milan Begović, Gotovac discovered a living foundation upon which to express his affinity for comedy and humour. The musical and text base for this opera were found in Yugoslav folklore—from the folklore of the Dalmatian inland (the impressive

Potravlje A village 11 km north of Sinj dominated by the ruins of the Travnik fortress erected under Mt. Svilaja by Cetina prince Ivaniš Nelipić in the early 15th century. Today, ceramics are made in the village using ancient technology.

final wheel dance) to the girlish songs from Kosovo (initial girl’s choir Duni mi, duni, lađane).

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Cetinska krajina

Poljica A microregion surrounding Omiš at the mouth of the Cetina River, but which historically did not include this town which developed from the Roman town Oneuma on the left bank of the mouth of the Cetina River at the border between the two great Illyrian tribes—the Delmata and Daorsa—that lived from the Cetina to the Neretva. In the Middle Ages, the town Oneuma was a solid foothold of the Neretva pirates. This was also the seat of the Kačići, who would first cause problems for all the Adriatic towns, only later to attempt to sign peace treaties with them (Kotor 1167; Dubrovnik 1180). “The natural position of the town led to the temptation to become pirates,” stated one Baroque annal writer. Radmanove mlinice (Radman’s mills) with its centuries old plantain trees and trout farms is a favourite excursion place (and bathing area), and it is loveliest to arrive here by boat from the mouth of the Cetina River at Omiš. On the cliffs above the river was the fortress Viseć (14th–15th century). Throughout the coastal mountains which separated the lower and central Poljica and along the Omiš Dinara mountains and in the immediate inland areas, a wreath of Illyrian tumuli and hill-forts (such

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Cetinska krajina

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Cetinska krajina

as Grac above Zakučac and the hill-forts in the medieval fortress Starigrad above Omiš) have been recorded. The narrow road blazed through the cliffs above Zakučac above the Cetina River pass by the monument to Mila Gojsalić (the work of Ivan Meštrović), who became a national hero in 1570 when she died after setting fire to a Turkish military camp. In Gata (Central Poljica) there are the ruins of an early Christian church (6th century) of the central type with a double shell with its surrounding hallway and a nartex was likely consecrated to St. Ciprian as today’s parish church is. Its discovery suggests the existence of a settlement which could have, according to the written sources of the time, be equated to the late antiquity Gedate. Next to the church is the small Poljica Historical Museum which displays many artefacts including the uniform of the great Poljica prince. A monument to the victims of the horrific Chetnik massacre which took place on 1 October 1942 under the protection of the Italian fascists stands in the church. Nearby in Ostrvica, there are ruins of a hunting manor of a nobleman from late antiquity which may be related to the construction of the church at Gata. Archaeological studies of this region are planned.

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Cetinska krajina

On the right banks of the Cetina River, at the river’s mouth is the Chapel of St. Peter in Prika, one of the most significant early Croatian structures from the 9th–11th centuries. This is a single nave church with cupola, carefully articulated walls, inside and out. There was likely a Benedictine monastery next to the church. In 1074 and 1080, this is where the property disputes were carried out, judged by King Slavac (Slavizo rex), one of the rulers of the Neretva region. Next to the church was the Glagolitic seminary (Seminarium Illyricum) founded in 1750 for the upbringing of the clergy in the Croatian language, though later closed in 1879. Friar Frane Bulić was also a student of this seminary.

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Cetinska krajina

A mountain trail (4 hour walk) runs from Gata via Dubrava to Kozika on the peak of Mt. Mosor (1318 m, Sv. Jure—named after the ancient chapel dedicated to the patron saint of Poljica, St. George). A long mountain ridge stretches between Mt. Mosor and the sea, separating Central Poljica from Coastal Polijca. Central Poljica includes: Žrnovnica, Sitno Gornji and Sitno Donji, Srinjine, Tugare and Dubrava while Zagorskim Poljicima: ). Each village in the foothills calls its part of the mountain by its own special name, most commonly by the title of ancient churches or divinities (i.e., Perun above Žrnovnica was the Slavic god of thunder). On the edge of the flysh belt, under the mountain itself, lie a series of picturesque ancient villages (Podstrana, Jesenice, Duče). The easternmost point of Poljica, Podgrađa, is reached via the villages of Zvečanje and Kostanje. Above Kostanje is Kostanjska ljut with its preserved miniature vineyards where the original vines with their short fat stems that have resisted even the Mosor bura winds. Next to the river is the excursion site Studenci with its old mills. In Kostanje, it is worthwhile visiting the Gojsalići dvori, which is soon to house a memorial collection of the Poljica heroine Mila Gojsalić.

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Cetinska krajina

Poljička Principality. The residents of the villages on Mt. Mosor are particularly proud of the history of their Poljička Principality (the Peasant’s Republic), an original medieval state organization with 12 rural municipalities, each with its own prince. The Poljička Principality paid dues to the Turks and the Venetians (also giving Venice soldiers). The Principality had its own set of laws (the Poljička Statute) thought to be inspired by English humanist Thomas Moore (1478–1535) in the writing of his “Utopia”. This Statute was codified common law and surprisingly democratic, though with a series of noble clauses by which the “noble land owners” were privileged in comparison to the commoners. Alongside the Vinodol Statute, the Poljička Statute is the most interesting Croatian legal monument. The Principality also had a large council headed up by a prince elected next to the church in Grac (a splendid viewing-point) on the Feast Day of St. George, 24 April, for a oneyear mandate. The official language was the Croatian Čakavian dialect, with the Bosančica script (the Croatian variant of cyrillic script). The territory of the Principality was bounded by the Žrnovnica River, the sea and the “knee” of the Cetina River. The Principality retained its autonomy right up until the bloody battle near Strožanac in 1807 in an uprising against Napolean’s army. The last Poljička prince, Ivan Šović escaped to Russian on a Russian ship.

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Cetinska krajina

Not far from Sitno (the birthplace of the family of Antun Mihanović, author of Croatia’s national anthem) is the octagonal Gothic Church of St. Clement, built as a smaller version of the Split Cathedral. In Dubrava (Gornja Poljica) is the Church of St. Luke, a picturesque structure that developed from the 13th to 16th century, and which houses the grave of Bishop Nikola Ugrinović. On the road which descends towards Tugari (first mentioned in 852) is the Chapel of Blessed Arnir, built at the place where, according to the legend, the people of Poljice stoned this Split Archbishop to death in 1180 when he came to collect the earnings from his lands in Poljice. The Mt. Mosor villages surround the small karst fields. The picturesque settlement of Donje Doce which has a lovely Baroque bell tower on the Church of St. Martin and in the cemetery is a stečak (traditional tombstone) raised in honour of another Poljica heroine, Mara Žuljević who died in battle against the Turks. This cemetery also has a monument to the 426 Nazi victims killed on 26 March 1944. The people of Poljica showed great courage and heroism in their battles against the Turks. Particularly well known is Žarko Dražojević (died in 1508; buried in the Split Cathedral) who died in an ambush following a series of heroic battles later put to music by Marko

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Cetinska krajina

The Dalmatian rivers can be divided into three groups. The first group are those that spring at the boundaries of the coastal flysh belt and the limestone mountains: though these are characterised by a short course, they are abundant in water (Jadro, Dubrovnik River, Ĺ kudra and numerous smaller and temporary streams). The second group are rivers that spring in the foothills of the tallest Dinaric ridges, receiving water from the non-permeable rocks around the upper course and building deep canyon valleys into the limestone plateaus. The springs of the Zrmanja, Krka and Cetina River spring nearby and flow ray-like: westwards, south-westwards and southeastwards. These rivers must overcome large altitude differences over a short distance (the Zrmanja 395 m in 63.9 km, Krka 310 m in 75.4 km, Cetina 380 m in 100.5 km) creating waterfalls and rapids forming important sources of energy. However, this importance is made relative considering the variability of the water levels following oscillations in precipitation and rapid water cycling in karst. As such, the Cetina River at Zadvarje can oscillate from 12 m3/s when water levels are lowest to 1200 m3/s in periods of highest water levels.

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Cetinska krajina

Marulić. He built the fortresses Nutjak (downstream from Trilj) and Kunjak (Kučiće behind the Omiš Dinara mountains). Towards the southeast, across the Cetina River canyon, stretch the Omiš Dinara mountains, connecting to the Dupce/Vrulji with the spurs of the Biokovo mountain range. Vruja (name means under

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strong underground springs) is the place where the OmiĹĄ and Makarska Rivieras meet and where one of the rare roads towards the inlands opens up.

Cetinska krajina

Geological past. After the period of Dinaric folding, there followed a long period without any internal shifting of the Earth in the Dalmatian region. The vastness of flysh sediments was much larger than the present day and the rivers were richer in water. Carrying great loads of pebbles, sand and silt, they had great erosive power and the result of many, many years of river erosion are today seen as the most interesting elements of the Dalmatian relief—the vast plateaus such as the Podi plateau near the Sinj Field, the Ugljan plateau near Ugljan and Cista and the particularly impressive Zadvarje plateau near Zadvarje. Considering the limestone composition of these rocks, at the time of their creation these plateaus were at about sea level when the Dinaric mountains were even lower, the land swampy and rivers slow and meandering (like today’s Neretva River near the mouth). With the uplifting of the land, the river courses began to cut in deeper. The cover of river sediments were swept off the limestone surfaces and karst forms began to develop in the bare rock. However, only the rivers rich in water, pebbles and sand that could cut deep valleys remained, like the Zrmanja, Krka, Cetina and Neretva.

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Biokovo, Imotski, Vrgorac


Biokovo, Imotski, Vrgorac

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Biokovo, Imotski, Vrgorac 60

BIOKOVO, IMOTSKI AND VRGORAC With Biokovo, the Dinarid mountain range comes closest to the sea, outdoing even the impressive Alps with the width of its façade reflected over the channel that separates it from the islands of Brač and Hvar and the Pelješac peninsula. The Makarska Riviera is bounded by Vrulje towards the west and Baćina under the mouth of the Neretva River to the east, and the ridge of Biokovo. Following the Dubrovnik and Pelješac regions, the Makarska Riviera is the tamest of the Adriatic regions. Until recently, the lands up to the highest slopes were covered with vineyards, olives and orchards. Only the great Rogoznička Vrulja, which in the winter gives rise to the furious Biokovo bura wind reminds us that there is no eternal spring here.


In terms of the variety of its relief with its network of karst, rocks, funnels, cleft and towers—and its colour which varies depending on the time of day and year—

Biokovo is unquestionably Croatia’s most beautiful mountain range. The foothills are a slightly inclined flysh plateau which near the village Bast impressively opens before the gigantic amphitheatre of the rocks of St. Ilija (Elias) and Šibenik about 1000 m high, offering a unique landscape experience. Even more

beautiful is the belt of lush evergreen plants—pines and olives, with downy oak and black hornbeam shrubs against the rocks. This is all the more significant as elsewhere, the Biokovo vegetation is very poor due to the clearance of forests which resulted in the washing away of the humus layer to the bare rock, despite the highland belt of this mountain being reputed for the tertiary floral relics (endemic knapweed, irises, dwarf bellflowers…). Early on, Biokovo attracted many reputed researchers. A number of distinguished botanists have worked to describe the Biokovo vegetation and in 1838, the learned Saxon King Fredrich August, Germany writer and translator of Dante, climbed the mountain and even engraved his initials into a beech tree. Roberto Visiani of Šibenik, founder of the famed botanical garden of the University of Padua, also did his research here.

Biokovo, Imotski, Vrgorac

Biokovo. The highest peak of the Biokovo mountains range stands at 1762 m above sea level. The peak received its name after the Chapel St. Jure (St. George) which was moved a little lower in 1964 due to the construction of a television repeater, thereby attracting pilgrims and excursionists to the chapel on the last Saturday in July each year. The road leading to the peak is fully paved, though it is only open from dawn until dusk.

On the Zagora side, the beech forests have been more substantially preserved. It should be stressed that this side of Biokovo is no less valuable than its southern side. It is near the plateau where Zagvozd is situated and the “fluvial apron” where we find the Church of the Holy Cross that geologists have described some of the most interesting karst processes, reconstructing the history of the development and disappearance of the rivers that long ago flowed from southeast to northwest, towards the Cetina River basin.

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Biokovo, Imotski, Vrgorac 62

The pass from the sea towards the inland at Dupce and at the large knee of the Cetina River has always been an exceptionally important centre. The late medieval fortress Dvare stands above this ancient pass from the coast inland and above the once renowned Gubavica waterfall. Today Zadvarje takes its name from this fortress, and the village is now known for its St. Bart’s fair (held on 24 August). Zadvarje was a medieval town, the site of bloody battles against the Turks in the 17th century. In the period 1908–1912, the Kraljevac hydroelectric plant was built here, one of the most interesting examples of industrial architecture in Croatia. In the inland of Vruje, near the waterfalls, is the village Slime, the birthplace of the tragically killed poet Josip Pupačić. His home has been turned into a Memorial.


Biokovo, Imotski, Vrgorac

In prehistoric times, virtually all the more significant geographic points were marked by tumuli (burial grounds covered with piles of rock) or hill-forts such as wreaths of such sites in the Biokovo foothills towards the Imotski Field and Vrgorac. The hill-fort with a tumulus is typical for the Delmati region. The direct connection between the network of these sites with similar ones on the coast and on neighbouring islands is becoming clearer and suggest the direction of circulation of civilization contacts in that era. Stečak (plural Stečci). These famous medieval tombstone monuments were often originally colourful like fabrics and rugs. The inspiration for their relief depended much more on illustrations of noble life and entertainment (cavalcades, hunting scenes, Gothic duels) than on cryptosymbolic motives of the assumed Bogomile heretics. This marked decorative aspect of the scenes depicted led to the reduction of the motives of the tapestries of the day, or rather, simple “hunting tapestries” (i.e. the ‘Jadgteppich’ from Wienhausen of the early 15th century).

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Biokovo, Imotski, Vrgorac


Biokovo, Imotski, Vrgorac

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Biokovo, Imotski, Vrgorac

Imotski The fortress and town on the slopes of Mt. Podi, on the northern edge of the vast Imotski field, received its name from the early Croatian parish Imota (10th century) which stretched to Dalmatia, Herzegovina and Bosnia. The fortress Topana, on the ridges above the Blue Lake, had a distinctive medieval phase within the entity which had created it for the same Turkish rule. At the entrance to the fortress, erected in the early 18th century, stands the Chapel of Our Lady of Angels, patroness of the town and the entire region, and related to the historical date of liberation from Turkish rule (2 August 171?.). The Franciscan monastery was established in 1738, but was adapted several times. Its fate was complex: it was established in about 1300 by the Croatian nobles Nelipići at the source of the Vrljika River in Proložac, but later had to be moved to Kamenmost, then to Otok on Prološko blato, to Podgrađe, to Dobrče in Rogoznica and Omiš. The Church of St. Francis is from 1900. The monastery museum collection houses numerous ethnographic items as well as fragments of stone furnishings of the early Christian church, a recently researched and presented basilica with two christening fonts which stood

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Vlach. A term with multiple meanings. Originally this was what the Italians or any other representative of the Romantic peoples was called, though this primarily referred to the Romanticized Illyrians who continued to live their nomadic shepherd lives in the interior of the Balkan subcontinent following the arrival of the Slavs. In Turkish Bosnia, it marked all the Orthodox Christians, while in Dubrovnik it marked the peasants; the residents of coastal towns and villages using the Čakavian dialect used the term to refer to peasants and shepherds inland who used the Štokavian dialect. Certain islanders used this term for every resident of the mainland, the native population used it for immigrants regardless of their religious affiliation. Finally, the Split residents used a derivative of the term “Vlaj” to mock the residents of the Zagora or inland region.

Biokovo, Imotski, Vrgorac

Ojkanje. This is singing lacking a constructed tonality and harmonic comprehension, as well as a sense for a final note, in which not a single parallel in old singing tradition has ever been found! The narrow range of the scale series testifies to the antiquity of the tradition. It is a characteristic two-part singing in which there is no parallelism in the triplets (or sextets) that we hear in the coastal regions nearby, as well as the lack of a single share on a single tone, commonly used seconds or even parallel movements in seconds. An equivalent two-part technique is used by those playing the gusla (one-stringed fiddle), dvojnica (double wooden flute-like instrument) and diple (misnice—a rare eastern Mediterranean bagpipe-like instrument).

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Biokovo, Imotski, Vrgorac

on the hill Dikovača in Zmijavci, just 8 km south of Imotski. Also on this hill is a necropolis of stečci. A monument to 20th century Croatian poet Tin Ujević is the work of sculptor Kruno Bošnjak (1980). There are also plans to raise a monument to Hasanaginica, the tragic heroine about whom a national ballad was written here in the Imotski region. In the broader surroundings of Imotski, the finds of a late antiquity fortress on Vitrenika and Nezgrivi are impressive, as is the late antiquity settlements above Lovreč and the hill-fort on Kokič in Proložac (Epilentium?), and larger structures with the basilica in Cista Velika (Tronum?), Zmijavci (Dikovača), Proložac, on Gorica in Sovići—all important sites, each offering a splendid vista, lying on the well documented routes of the Roman roads which lead from Trilj, Provo, Krivodol (Imotski) towards Narona, and which even today are preserved in their liveliness.

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with heavenly light, cursing Gavan, Gavanuša, their children, their guests and all Gavan’s court and flew back into the sky. At that moment, the sky was lit up with lightning, thunder was raging, the earth shook furiously and opened, with the court, Gavan, Gavanuša, their children and all their guests falling in. At that place, the Red Lake was formed. Even to this day, there are ruins of a wall on the edge of Red Lake, said to be the ruins of Gavan’s great court”.

Biokovo, Imotski, Vrgorac

The karst phenomena - Blue and Red Lakes near the town of Imotski draw particular attention. The bottom of Red Lake is only 19 m above sea level, while water levels oscillate between 285 and 320 metres, making this the deepest lake in Europe. It was named after the almost vertical red cliffs surrounding the lake. The lake is also the subject of a folk tale of the wealthy and cruel Gavan and his great court. “Even worse was his wife Gavanuša, meaner and greedier. She did not know of God and never aided the poor, but instead only mocked and laughed at them, shooing them away from the door to the court. There was no worse woman under the sun. Gavan had many sons and daughters and he thought that he would spend eternity with them in the greatest of wealth and luxury and leave them his entire fortune… An angel became angered with this callous behaviour, and took in his right hand a fiery sword of God’s just court and slit the sky open

The Blue Lake is tied to the legend sung in the folk ballad of Hasanaginica whose grave is sought in the region called “Gaj”.

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Biokovo, Imotski, Vrgorac

Donji Proložac Situated northwest of Imotski. A particularly important archaeological zone through a series of centuries as it lies near the Badnevica canyon in Proložac in the northwestern part of the Imotski field. Here we find the ruins of the medieval fortress of Stjepan Vukčić Kosača (mentioned in 1444), further adapted for the Turks, and the late antiquity castle erected on the prehistoric hill-fort on Kokića glavica. In research conducted on the local cemetery, the foundations of a triple nave early Christian basilica with baptistery have been found, as well as the remnants of an early Croatian church. Also discovered were several Roman tombstones, one bearing the signature of Maksimin, the oldest well known sculptor in interior Dalmatia (2nd century AD). Ruins of an early Christian church have also been found at the source of the Vrljika River. In Runoviči, in the field southeast of Imotski, stood the Roman settlement Novae (ad Novas). The floor of the parish church and the fence around the graveyard bears engravings in honour of the Emperors Galian and Valerian (c. 253-259 AD) and several tombstones.

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Biokovo, Imotski, Vrgorac

Prološko blato. In terms of karst forms, Prološko blato (the Prolog mud flats) and the western part of the vast Imotski field are, next to Bajkal Lake, the most diverse hydrological phenomenon on earth. In this series of karst lakes, the most notable are the Blue and Red Lakes, Dva Oka (Two eyes), Prolog Lake, Galipovac, Knezović Lake, Provalija, Krenica, Jezerina, Lokvičićko Lake—all fed by sink-holes of the Vrljika River and occasionally by the course of the Suvaja River. The Vrljika River (20 km in length) is particularly interesting as a sinking river with variable water levels and that sinks into Nuge Lake. The spring section (50 ha) that includes the source regions of the Blue Lake, Utopišče, Opačac, Jauk and the course of the river to Kamenmost has been protected as an ichthyological reserve since 1971 as the habitat of the endemic soft-muzzled trout. There was a Franciscan monastery at Prološko blato which preceded the monastery in Imotski. During the winter months and beginning of spring, all the sources from Studenci and Ričica spring and with the rains come a massive amount of water that drain into the western part of the Imotski Field, thereby increasing the surface area of the Prolog lakes. The newest natural lake of the Imotski region, called Bučuša was created in autumn 2004 following the collapse of the southwestern part of the Imotski field in the Lokvičići municipality. The entire karst region is still subject to intense geological pulsations!

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Biokovo, Imotski, Vrgorac


Biokovo, Imotski, Vrgorac

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Biokovo, Imotski, Vrgorac

Vrgorac Vrgorac was the seat of a Croatian parish in the 10th century, at the same time as Imotski. The town was under Turkish rule from 14771694 and, until recently, the town was a border town known for its fairs. On Mt. Motokit (1063 m), a fortress now under restoration dominates the peak by which the town received its name. Under the fortress is the neo-historicist parish Church of the Annunciation of Mary (1913-1921) at the site of an older church which was used as a mosque under Turkish rule. Within the bounds of the former neo-historicist structure, there is a neglected though still interesting park formed in the 1900s. Vrgorac is the birthplace of one of Croatia’s greatest poets, Tin Ujević. Recently, the tower in which the poet was born on 5 July 1981 as the son of a local teacher was restored (called Fratrova— Monk’s, Cukarinovića—Cukarinović’s or Kapetanova kula—Captain’s tower by the locals). This is one of four preserved towers preserved from the Baroque age (others are: Raosova, Pekarova and Muminagina kula).

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free days gave them such joy as could not be described”. Between Zagvozd and Župa, there is an engraved commemoration plate which reads (the engraving was restored by conservationists after it was destroyed by the Austrians): Under the rule of Napoleon the Great, under the protection of Eugene, King of Italy, under the command of General Providure Vicko Dandola, military commander Marshal Marmont and the technical direction of General Blanchard, engineer Gelić and sub-engineer Zavore, with the participation of the entire inland and coastal Dalmatia, this road from the border of Croatia to Albania was blazed, with a length of 250 geographic miles in the years 1806, 1807, 1808, 1809. This road, in honour of the memory of and gratitude for the protection received from the exalted ruler, is given the name “Napoleon’s Road”.

Biokovo, Imotski, Vrgorac

Napoleon’s road. The plan of the well known road network during the period of French rule in Dalmatia, with Marshal Marmont participating in the construction, was made in 1787 by engineering captain Frano Zavoreo from Šibenik. In fact, it was Zavoreo who was in charge of public works in Dalmatia for several decades. In his memoirs, Marmont described the transport difficulties his troops encountered in their long marches across the vast terrain that was almost without any roads. “The Venetians were suited by such a state. Masters of the sea, on land always in defensive combat, they battled with Dalmatian exclusively with help from ships…” Marmont undertook the public works by example of the Roman army who spent their leisure time this way. He wanted to create a road communication between Zadar and Dubrovnik, and along the coast. He created a general list of men that were capable of working. Each worker received one military bread or two meals daily—“more bread than he would have eaten at home”. If the task was not completed in 15 days, they would stay behind, despite the arrival of their colleagues. Also, if they completed before the fifteenth day, they would leave the building site, taking the entire 15-day bread servings as a reward, encouragement and compensation for their invested efforts. “This reward was enough as the workers worked so hard that the construction areas were always empty for two to three days. Three such

When the Austrian Emperor visited Dalmatia in 1818, he is reported to have said, “It is a great shame that Marshal Marmont did not remain in Dalmatia two or three years longer”. However, it must be said that the Austrian authorities had not implemented Zavore’s plan earlier as they, unlike Marmont, believed that it was necessary to pay for the land upon which the road would be built.

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Biokovo, Imotski, Vrgorac


Tin Ujević (1891-1955). Poet with the most significant lyrical opus in 20th century Croatia. Like his countryman Ivan Meštrović who intended to restore Croatian sculpture with the tradition of Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Romantic and Renaissance sculpture, so too did Tin, only in a much finer manner with less talk and more cosmopolitan sensitivity. He attached modern Croatian poetry to the veins of modern petrarcism and messianism, to the jugular of the actual vitalism and pantheism, neo-platonism and

The ballad tells of a woman abandoned by her husband, separating her from her five children, sending her back to her mother and brother Bego Pintorović, who lived on Klis where he was deputy to the Klis Turkish leader. Lovely Hasanaginica was wooed by many and against her will, her brother agreed to marry her to the Imotski judge. Unhappy Hasanaginica led the wedding guests to Imotski and begged them to allow her to give her children a gift. When she heard her husband’s loud reproach through the window she dropped dead to the ground. “The children were left without their mother, Hasan without the woman he loved and the wedding guests without the bride”. The ruins of the Hasanginica tower still stand in Vrdol, today’s Zagvozd, and the place were Hasanginica was allegedly buried is still visible. Nearby are three wells from which she took water and a large oak tree has grown out of the central well.

Biokovo, Imotski, Vrgorac

Hasanaginica. This national ballad was written in the Imotski region in 1774 by learned abbot Alberto Fortis, likely according to the dictation by Split historian Julije Bajamonti. The ballad’s romantic decasyllabic lines were translated into German in 1775 by Johann Wolfgang Goethe, into Latin by Đuro Ferić of Dubrovnik, into English by Walter Scott, into French separately by Prosper Merimee and Gerard de Nerval, into Russian by Alexandar Sergejevic Pushkin, into Polish by Adam Mickiewicz…

avantguardism… He was a symbolist and Parnassean, a surrealist and superromanic and much more, a rebel with a cause, a renegade, a poet of pessimism and a poet of orphic joy. Only such a poet could have written such an ingenious poem as the Pobratimstvo lica u svemiru (Fellowship of Faces in the Universe).

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TOURIST BOARDS Central Dalmatia Tourist board Office (Split and Dalmatia County) Prilaz braće Kaliterna 10/I HR-21000 Split CROATIA tel.: +385 (0)21 490 032, 490 033, 490 036 fax: +385 (0)21 490 033, 490 036 e-mail: info@dalmatia.hr www.dalmatia.hr VRLIKA TOURIST BOARD HR-21236 Vrlika Tel./Fax.: +385 (0)21 827 460 tz@vrlika.hr www.vrlika.hr

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SINJ TOURIST BOARD HR-21230 Sinj, Vrlička 41 Tel./Fax.: +385 (0)21 826 352 tzg-sinja@st.htnet.hr www.sinj.com

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TRILJ TOURIST BOARD HR-21240 Trilj, Bana Jelačića 8 Tel./Fax.: +385 (0)21 832 510 turisticka.zajednica.trilj@st.htnet.hr IMOTSKI TOURIST BOARD HR-21560 Imotski Tel: +385 (0)21841 125 Fax: +385 (0)21841 078 VRGORAC TOURIST BOARD HR-21276 Vrgorac, Tina Ujevića 32 Tel./Fax.: +385 (0)21 675 110 www.vrgorac.com


ZAGREB

PULA

OSIJEK

KARLOVAC

RIJEKA SENJ

ZADAR ŠIBENIK

TROGIR

Split

Šolta Brač Vis

OMIŠ MAKARSKA

Hvar

DUBROVNIK

Zagora 79


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CALENDAR OF EVENTS

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Vrlika

Easter—guarding Christ’s tomb during Holy Week

April

Trilj

Eco-challenge

April/May

Sinj

International gallop races

May

Imotski

Imota—Croatian Festival of Mandolin Orchestras

May

Radošić

Bull festival

May

Vrgorac

Strawberry Days and village games

May/June

Vrlika

Evening of Folklore – Dalmatia at the drinking fountain

July

Vrgorac

With Tin in Vrgorac

July

Imotski

Imotska sila—Raos Days in Medova Doca

July

Kostanje

Festival soparnika

July

Kostanje

Days of Mila Gojsalić

July

Sinj

Gallop races

July/ September

Sinj

Alka tournament and the Feast of the Assumption (concerts, sports competitions, outdoor events)

July/August

Imotski

Zagvozd: Theatre Actors Festival in Zagvozd

July/August

Imotski

Our Lady of Angels, Imotski Day

August

Sinj

Bara, Čoja, Alka

August

Sinj

Reconstruction of the Sinj battle “Opsada”

August

Sinj

Feast of the Assumption

August

Trilj

Croatia Cup Equestrian Jumping Competition

August

Vrlika

Ero from Another World

August

Trilj

Days of St. Michael

September

Vrgorac

Biklijada—national tradition of drinking wine and milk in honour of the grape harvest

September/ October

Sinj

Junior Equestrian Jumping Competition

October

Vrlika

Vrlika Day, celebrated on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Roses, patron saint of the town

October


Publisher:

Central Dalmatia Tourist board Office   (Split and Dalmatia County) Split and Dalmatia County

For the publisher:

Joško Stella Mili Razović

Editor:

Joško Belamarić

Text:

Joško Belamarić

Translation:

SPES, Zagreb

Design:

Mario Brzić

Photos:

Joško Belamarić Mario Brzić Raul Brzić Andrija Carli

Prepress:

Studio Tempera


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