Secret Dalmatia Blog - Travel Experiences in Croatia

Omis – The Pirates’ Nest of Dalmatia

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This Sunday I was invited to Omiš to enjoy a walking tour of this historic town located right on the mouth of Cetina river.

Omiš has one of the most spectacular positions on Croatian coast matched maybe only by the location of Šibenik. That, and the very nature of the locals, enabled this tiny town to preserve it’s independence from the powers that were ruling Dalmatian coast at the time. History of Omiš is captivating and still alive!

The historic center with view of Mirabella fortress
The historic center with view of Mirabella fortress

Omiš was known as a settlement from the Roman times but the heyday came much later. As excellent seamen, Omis citizens, during 13th to the beginning of 15th century, controled navigation on the Adriatic Sea, focusing mostly on Venetian ships and their property in Dalmatia, as well as ships of Naples Kingdom. They were charging these powerful nations for free navigation. Omis pirates were extremely dangerous, especially under rule of powerful Omis rulers – dukes Kacic. In that time, Omis was known as dangerous nest of the pirates. As they were attacking Crusaders too, pope Honorius III undertook crusade against Omis’ pirates in year 1221, which Omis won, while the second war, in the year 1228, they lost. That was also the end of the rule of the Kacic dukes…

The modern harbor of Omis...
The modern harbor of Omis...

In 1409 Ladislav Napuljski sold Dalmatia to Venice, and Omis was finally conquered in 1444. With the fall of Venetian Republic Omis came under the Austrian rule, and it was under French rule until 1813, when it finally became the part of Austrian empire till the beginning of First World War.

Two churches out of total of 8!
Two churches out of total of 8!

Today, Omis is a lovely traditional town most people just pass through going south from Split. But there is so much to see and do! Especially of interest is wonderful historic heritage: 8 churches, one of Dalmatia’s oldest tavern still open to public, small and narrow streets and that spectacular views of Omis Dinara mountain overlooking the town, numerous very interesting historic fortresses and towers, Cetina river…
There is also a great sandy beach that makes Omis a great holiday spot for whole families. Besides beaches and culture, Omis is very close to Cetina river canyon and about 20 local agencies are offering rafting and canyoning on Cetina.

Mirabella fortress
Mirabella fortress

The weather was beautiful this Sunday so we decided to climb the steep steps to the Mirabella fortress. The signs are clearly marking all the historic monuments and they are easy to reach. Well…if you are in a good shape that is, since both Mirabella tower and Fortica fortress are located high in the hillside. Getting all the way up to Mirabella is not that demanding although it is not for elderly or people who have problems walking. There are few small panorama points after the entrance where you pay admission (10 Kn per person, 2009)

The view from Mirabella is a great reward for this climb!

Not only that one can see all the way to Brac and the islands, but the panorama of Omis itself is wonderful!

The view f Omis town from Mirabella fortress
The view f Omis town from Mirabella fortress

Mirabella fortress split in half in 1982. after a thunder struck the structure! One half of the tower collapsed down the hill and crashed several houses bellow. Luckily, no one was hurt!
Thanks to the powerful local politician who was in power at that time, fortress was fully restored.
Other fortresses demand more time: Fortica is at 300 meters over the sea level, other towers are lining the hillside along the canyon of Cetina…

The right bank of Cetina mouth under the steep sides of Omis Dinara
The right bank of Cetina mouth under the steep sides of Omis Dinara

Omiš makes a wonderful day trip from Split – perfect for shore excursions out of Split for people looking for historic little town and light activity. Of course, rafting is also a great option as well as hiking in the hillside of Omis Dinara.

Click for private tours in Omis or rafting on Cetina
More unique travel in Croatia opportunities!

Learn more about Omis at Sightseeing Croatia!

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