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!

On birds and history of Pag

The forecast for last weekend was almost summer like and it was no time to stay at home. I had some places  to see on Pag Island for business so we decided to go there for a day trip. Our friends joined us and the first stop was the interesting and picturesque fortica tower on the very tip of Pag island: just across from Pag bridge.

Fortica - Pag island

Fortica – Pag island

I wrote about it a while back: https://secretdalmatia.wordpress.com/2010/06/18/fortica-at-pag-bridge/ This time we visited as my friend, who is an architect, is in charge of the current restoration works. He gave us a brief overview of what is being done but also of some curiosities they encountered. The fortress will not be restored in full, of course, but it will be quite  presentable once done. We took some aerial shots and then it was time to move on.

To Veliko Blato ornithological reserve.

Some basic details: where to buy a ticket

Some basic details: where to buy a ticket

Not sure why buying a ticket for something like this but I do expect a service when I pay for something. Not a guide or ranger in sight, cafe, parking… So we just took a walk on our own.

Velebit in the distance

Velebit in the distance

And it is a great place to test my new telephoto lens: Canons 70-200 mm f4 IS USM – all the goodies for taking some great photos of wildlife! We did not get  there in the best time for bird-watching. And it was fairly hot in the sun. But, the place was still quite alive from the moment we got there.

Egret in flight

Egret in flight

We also got to see a very rare black winged stilt (vlastelica in Croatian). There are only 50 pairs nesting in Croatia so it is important no to disturb.

Black-winged stilt (Himantopus himantopus)

Black-winged stilt (Himantopus himantopus)

Grey heron (Ardea cinerea)

Grey heron (Ardea cinerea) – Siva čaplja

We also saw a lovely flock of Common sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos) or Mala prutka in Croatian. This is quite common bird in our marshes.

Common sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)

Common sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)

Common sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)

Common sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)

Overall, a pleasant surprise and quite impressive number of birds. I am planning a separate trip one early morning to get the most of it. It was time to continue and we decided to visit tiny Povljana nearby.

On the road to Povljana. Typical motives of Pag island

On the road to Povljana. Typical motives of Pag island

Povljana is tiny. Actually, it was before the 90s when it got completely overrun by apartment buildings. I skip that part of the visit as it is usually either making me sad or completely angry. Or both. Croatians don’t need enemies. We will ruin our coast better than anyone. What better evidence for that then this:

???

???

Are there words to describe what kind of a loser you have to be to build something like this??? What kind of a special idiot you have to be to actually give permit for something like this to be built??  What about the “architect” who planned these atrocities? Is he/she f*** blind??? I will stop here as these low lives don’t deserve any other words…

There is also a church of St Nikola right on the beach. It was built from 9-11th century and later restored in the 15th century. The church is built on the earlier Roman villa rustica.

Sv Nikola - Povljana

Sv Nikola – Povljana

There is a beautiful sandy beach in front of the church!

Sandy beach of Povljana

Sandy beach of Povljana

Then it was time to continue to Pag town – the best example how TO build a town.
Medieval Pag was erected near the salt plantations where the abandoned Old Town used to be. According to historical documents, the name Pag was mentioned for the first time in the 10th century. In 1443 the new town was built according to new principles of town-planning. The plans were developed in Venice which ruled the region at the time. The longitudinal and the transversal streets, intersect at a right angle. Something Croatians have not been able to replicate even in 2015…

Street of Pag

Street of Pag

On the main square, Church of the Assumption of Mary is located. It is quite impressive and it is still the heart and soul of this quite lovely town.

Church of the Assumption of Mary

Church of the Assumption of Mary

Pag town is known for the great tradition of lace making and that has been implemented in the very rosette on the main church.

The lace of Pag

The lace of Pag

The whole town is filled with nice historic details and especially impressive was Skrivanat Tower. The only existing of nine towers that defended the town back in the day. It was built in the 15th century and has been preserved in its original form.

Skrivanat Tower

Skrivanat Tower

Pag town offers quite a few interesting details:

—and few strange travelers :)

Holding tight!

Holding tight!

Pag is a great little town! Very charming. Lots to offer to a traveler looking for culture and history but also surrounded by very memorable landscapes fro those interested in outdoors activities. The island is famous for its cheese, salt and lamb but we decided to move back to the mainland to have something special for lunch. In our next post…

Croatia Travel