Traditional architecture in Dalmatia – Bunja

Travelers in Dalmatia can often see small stone houses appearing as pile of rocks in the fields and wonder what that is. It is bunja – traditional stone built shelter found in all of Dalmatia. Similar stone structures can be seen in the entire Mediterranean and some similar objects have been found as far as Scotland and Ireland and no one knows their origins.

Bunja in the fields
Bunja in the fields

The small “houses” are called bunja in Dalmatia and kažun in Istria. On the island of Hvar, they call them trimi and in Dubrovnik area, they are known as kućarice.
Some are dating back thousands of years and some are fairly new; product of expansion of 19th century wine growing. The hinterland of Šibenik is particularly rich in bunjas of all shapes and sizes!

Bunja
Bunja

The one on the pictures is located on a tiny island of Babac, near Biograd. Since my father was born on this island, I have been visiting this bunja since childhood but it was always kind of scary and only in my teens I entered it.

Bunja entrance
Bunja entrance

This bunja is probably only few hundred years old and dates back to the expansion of the vineyards – now all gone – on this small island. It is still in very good shape and the interior looks as solid as on day one. This bunja is fairly large on the outside – over 4 meters in diameter – but only about 2 meters inside.

Interior
Interior

The “roof” has recently been fixed by cement probably to improve the stability. Not exactly the “traditional technique”, cementing the top part did not spoil the original look.
Although rarely used any more, these silent witnesses of the times long gone are worth preserving just to show our kids (and to remind us) that life was not very easy in the past…

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