Secret Dalmatia Blog - Travel Experiences in Croatia

Traditional Architecture of North Dalmatia

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There is something sad about old villages, abandoned houses and empty plains of Bukovica and Šibenik/Drniš hinterland. Product of a recent war, the abandoned spaces are turning into an open-air museum of traditional life and cultures dying.

The worst situation is in the former Serbian villages since most of the people have left for good. Those who have returned are elderly who want to spend their last days in the villages of their youth.
One of those places is Plastovo in Skradin hinterland. It suffered severe shelling and devastation in the 90’s war being divided in two parts – Catholic and Orthodox and with the diving line going right trough the center of the village.

In the year 2004, a friend of mine was looking for a small stone built property near Šibenik to buy and turn into an eco-etno bed&breakfast place for travelers. GREAT IDEA! Next to Skradin and only an hour away from Zadar and Split, the idea had SUCCESS written all over it! Then we spent few days looking for an adequate property and then we found it…

Old stone houses of Plastovo...
Old stone houses of Plastovo...

It was “hidden” in the bushes and trees just bellow the main road. Ugly and burned houses around it but this was it! The best example of traditional architecture we have seen in years! The property consists of several smaller objects and one main building where the family bedroom and kitchen were located. The smaller buildings were for domestic animals traditional in this region: sheep, goats and pigs. Cows are also quite common but not as much as the smaller cattle.

The main building and one of the cots
The main building and one of the cots

Traditional building material of the area is stone. Not of the greatest quality, it was easily available almost everywhere. The stone was then carved and cut into small and uneven blocks and connected with some sort of cement available at that time. The most demanding part was the roof. Covered with flat pieces of stone this area is known for, roofs required special technique and great knowledge. The weight of the roof is usually several tons and there was no room for mistakes. Special technique of layering everything was applied.
The technique is now lost and many people had problems when trying to rebuild the roofs or restore the old ones!

The stone roofs...
The stone roofs...

Rugged in looks, warm in feel, the traditional houses represent some other time. The time when families stick together and when the pace of life was much slower…

Standing in silence on the warm sun of Bukovica
Standing in silence on the warm sun of Bukovica

My friend did not purchase this property after all. She did manage to find the owners (all 12 of them, spread on 3 continents) but her life took a different turn and she moved on. The houses are still there.

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