Dolmen in Dalmatia?

I get to cross a lot of territory when traveling. It still amazes me how there are still so many beautiful places to see and things to discover in this little country of ours. Yesterday, I was doing an inspection in Tugare: a tiny village in the hillside of Omiš best known for Tugarke cherries. The entire region is known as Poljica: an autonomous community which existed in the late Middle Ages and the early modern period. It was organized as a “peasants’ republic”, and it’s best known because of the Poljica Statute first written in 1440. Today, the region is slowly getting abandoned as people moved to the coastal towns and work mostly in tourism,

Overlooking Srednja Poljica and peaks of Očur in the distance

Overlooking Srednja Poljica and peaks of Očur in the distance

First we met with locals in a tiny hamlet of Truša. Very colorful Điđi is the soul of the place and a walking encyclopedia of everything related to the region as he was born and grew up here.

Điđi! Điđi!

Our goal was very scenic view point of Stomorica with an ancient church and a stunning panorama of the region and Brač Island. But, along the way, I have noticed something strange in the woods.

Dolmen?

Dolmen?

The structure has all the features of a dolmen and definitely looks like one. This is on Wikipedia on dolmens:
A dolmen, also known as a cromlech, portal tomb, portal grave or quoit, is a type of single-chamber megalithic tomb, usually consisting of two or more upright stones supporting a large flat horizontal capstone (table), although there are also more complex variants. Most date from the early Neolithic period (4000 to 3000 BCE). Dolmens were typically covered with earth or smaller stones to form a barrow. In many instances, that covering has weathered away, leaving only the stone “skeleton” of the burial mound intact.

Or read more on the actual page

However, this is not something encountered in Croatia!

Dolmens are characteristic for most of Europe and Asia but almost none have been discovered in Croatia. There is only one on Cres Island: http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=15452 and it does not really look anything elaborate like this one in Truše. Here are more images:

dolmen in croatia

interior

From above From above

There are several structures nearby that need proper inspection.

Structure Structure

It is quite unlikely that no one ever wrote about this as it is on a very popular route. However, I have not encountered a single word on this particular structure. It is particularly strange as Mons. Ante Škobalj (a local priest) was born here and actually wrote a well known book on ceremonial mounds, customs and traditions. It is almost impossible that he was not familiar with this place!

Obredne gomile

Obredne gomile

In any case, this should be inspected soon. I am sure there were lots of dolmens in Croatia in the past but all were destroyed for all sorts of reasons. Is this the last one standing?

And that is not the only mystery these woods hide…

Some 50 meters from the road, is a set of strange, megalithic ruins. Called “Muratov dvor” (Murat’s home), it is a set of ancient buildings built of large rocks. Very large rocks…

megalithic walls

The walls with windows

The walls with windows

No one really builds houses this way…

Entrance to first floor?

Entrance to ground floor?

The interior

The interior

measure

Tugare… small village with some serious mysteries.

 EDIT: Not a dolmen. A small team of local experts did further research and we realized it was juts a conveniently positioned flat rock that fell (or was broken off) the larger cliff nearby. It was positioned as a shelter.

The charm of Vinjerac

Vinjerac is often overlooked. Just like most smaller places of North Dalmatia and most of small villages that are not close to main centers. In a way it is the blessing and a curse at the same time: more and more people are leaving as there are no jobs but the places remain relatively intact. In 1991, Vinjerac had only 273 inhabitants.

Vinjerac and Velebit mountain in the background

Vinjerac and Velebit mountain in the background

So after a great meal at Pece’s we decided to take a walk through the village and see what it looks like. It looks almost intact compared to other, now devastated places along the coast. With mighty Velebit in the background and amazing Paklenica gorges, Vinjerac is very pretty. It was also of strategic importance in the past so the area was settled in pre-history with nearby Lergina Gradina as one of the most dominant Liburnian settlements before the arrival of Romans.  Today’s Vinjerac has probably been formed in early Middle Ages but it was a place of fierce battles between Venice and the Turkish empire as it was one of the control points between Turkish held Lika and Venetian Zadar. The battles were so fierce that Venice destroyed Vinjerac in 1570 so it does not fall in Turkish hands…

Paklenica gorges seen from Vinjerac

Paklenica gorges seen from Vinjerac

The village, as today, was formed in mid 19th century when the locals had a fairly big  fleet of over 30 different, large boats for trading along the coast. The prosperity did not last long after the steam boats first came and many houses in Vinjerac are just reminding us of it’s interesting past.

Now abandoned villa

Old villa by the sea

It is always good to see what treasures local churches hold.

St Anthony

St Anthony

The construction of the church has been started in the beginning of 20th century and the bell tower  finished only in 1983. It has a curious motif of deer above the entrance.

Interesting luneta

Interesting deer under the palm trees

Getting ready for the mass

Getting ready for the mass

The rest of the village is in fairly poor condition… Many historic ruins are in the very center. The strong bura wind that blows in this area brings salty air that definitely does not help preserving the buildings.

No one at home

No one at home

Interesting touch

Interesting touch

The harbor looks lovely and there were works on the boats while we were there.

The harbor

The harbor

Getting ready

Getting ready

Spring sunset

Spring sunset

Vinjerac is fairly interesting when it comes to it’s center but the outskirts have been experiencing a small construction boom with houses and apartment buildings. Fortunately, nothing compared to other places so it is still a lovely place to visit. Combined with fine food of Pece tavern, it makes a great trip!

Pece in Vinjerac – revisitied

I was there only once, back in the winter of 2009. Nothing has changed: it is still one of the finest seafood places one can visit on the Adriatic coast!

The view of Vinjerac from the terrace

The stunning view of Vinjerac from the terrace

It is located in Vinjerac, one of the most picturesque little towns in the country but also quite off the beaten path as this is not the main tourist area despite all the wonders of Paklenica National Park, Krka being only an hour away as well as Plitvice. Close to everything but still pretty much unknown. Little has been written about Pece in the past years but the quality is still there.

No need for this

No need for this

The basic idea is still here: serve the best what owner has caught that day or was able to get from his partners. Pece (as that is the nickname of the owner) is from Zadar but now lives his dream running this small tavern in the middle of nowhere. As a passionate cook, his idea was to break away from the standards of Dalmatian taverns: simply grilled fish, swiss chard on the side, often bad home made wine… His idea was to implement all the best ideas he gathered over the years sailing the world and combine them with the ultimate seafood found in Croatia.

And, as in every similar establishment, there is no need for the menu. Just ask what they recommend and take their advice!

Just something to start with...

Just something to start with…

As we were a fairly big group with 4 kids, we decided to order several dishes to get the best of everything.

Honey fried shrimp

Honey fried shrimp

Fish soup

Fish soup

Stuffed baby cuttlefish

Stuffed baby cuttlefish

Shrimp in mustard sauce

Shrimp in mustard sauce

Home made tri-colori gnocchi with spider-crab sauce

Home made tri-colori gnocchi with spider-crab sauce

I am not sure if I got all these names right but Pece definitely got all the tastes right! Everything was really superb. One can also notice that Pece pays attention to the plates and serving dishes so each dish comes in a very different plate. No matter if classical or rustic, Pece has them all.

“Drunken” figs

Now there are few rules to remember:
– Pece opens at 4 PM every day, year round
– despite being away from the main routes, this place is popular with the locals and one should definitely make the reservation
– try to discuss the menu with the chef when making the reservation. He likes challenges.

For every seafood lover, this should be a mandatory stop when traveling from Zagreb to Dalmatian coast as it is only about 10 minutes away from Posedarje exit on the A1 highway.  Of course, if in Zadar area, it is just a short ride to a place that will, probably, serve one of the best meals of your holiday!