Lavdara. It has been a while since I was there. Maybe 6 years now… We had a lovely trip with some friends:barbecue, beer, wine and some stretching on lovely April sun.
Since then, I was planning to get back on several occasions but simply too busy or always something else (excuses, excuses…). It is an island after all and not reachable as anything on the mainland.
Recently, the authorities of Zadar decided to replace the ancient stone blocks that cover the streets of Zadar with new, Istrian stone. The old one came from Lavdara and had a very characteristic brownish color (some sort of pale, pinkish butterscotch).
Lavdara was a quarry ever since the Roman times. Their engineers figured that the stone quality was satisfactory and fairly easy to extract from the sea level. Usually, the stone that is constantly in touch with the sea water is not good but this one was ok so they carved the shores of Lavdara for over 3400 ft in length. Approached with special boats and took the stone to Zadar (Roman Jader) where it was further processed, carved, shaped for all the beautiful monuments, walls. Maybe even sculptures.
The process continued for centuries and was abandoned in full only in 1965. when the last of Kukljičani (people from Kukljica on Ugljan Island) turned to tourism or found jobs in Zadar which started recovering from WW2 devastation.
So, it was always a pleasure to return to such a historic place. This is one of my favorite islands and there is something strange about it. Reading more and more about this unique place, I was becoming even more fascinated. What we did not know at the time of a visit, but have seen from the sea, there was once a wealthy local family living on Lavdara. Ruins of their mansion is all that is left…
Now this is a great teen-horror movie scenario! Group of teens (ok, lying, we were all 25 – 30 but same in those movies), after a lovely picnic decides to explore a ruined mansion hidden deep in the island. And this place makes your imagination go wild! Not a place where I would like to hide on a stormy night!
Actually, the last inhabitants of the house: Anica, Vera and Krstina Dominis (who left in 1966) spoke of a scary sound that was appearing in the last days of October for past decades of their life there. Someone was talking about a house ghost appearing just before the All Saints and some blamed wind howling through a crack in the ground or something similar.
Since it appears only on specific time of the year, ghost sounds more likely! :))))
So we walked through abandoned groves and fields to reach this house. The stories connected are not scary at all.
It was once a lovely property of a rich local who moved there with his family and staff. The Zadar family of Cendolini owned the house for 270 years till it was bought by the famous local family Petricioli. Zovanin Petricioli married Ana Sifert from Rijeka but died in 1850. and gave her the island and the house. After his early death, Ana married again for a merchant Fortis of Trogir but she died in 1852. and her inheritors sold the island and the house to Dominis family from Sali and Cvitanovic from Iz who even divided the house. Both Dominis and Citanovic were shepperds. Eventually, the Cvitanovic family sold their part of Lavdara to people from Sali and left the house in 1927.
The house was then only inhabited by the women and children of Dominis family. They lived a fairly lonesome life on the island but they were known for laughter and smiles and were often visited by people from Sali. Their men were not constantly on the island and, if they needed help, they would start fire and signal with smoke that they had a problem (illness or simillar). So, after they left in 1966. the house was slowly deteriorating which is a pity. It is most likely from early 1600s and should be restored as one of the finest examples of traditional architecture in the area.
Several people tried to buy it but there are so many owners and they cannot agree on anything…
Same story over and over.
The whole property is in a shape of a fort which came handy in the past since several pirate raids of the house have been recorded. The pirates knew that they had little chance entering over the walls or passing guns so they would attack in the evening when the sheep was herded back to the stables and the doors were wide open.
There are 6 rooms on the first floor and few kitchen spaces since the families were quite big at those days. The ancient furniture was still to be found…
Not only that Lavdara has a very interesting history but the geography is equally as interesting: There are two interesting caves on the island and several wells of mixed water (sea and sweet water). There is even a story of roman horse racing track on this island but that makes no sense. Or does it?
But story of Lavdara is always about stone. Even the name comes from LAPIDARIA which is Latin for quarry.
This is the island where the stone was quarried for Zadar from Roman days till today. From this stone the most beautiful buildings in Zadar have been built: the university, the hospital, churches…
The stone of Lavdara is now being replaced with new, from Istria. This Istrian stone is new, white…has no soul. Many people of Zadar feel like the city is now taking a big step backwards destroying some of the most picturesque streets of the ancient quarters. The excuse is that the old stone is now too slippery (true), carved too much (true) and that the city should replace it so the tourists can walk more easily.
Do we have to adjust everything to tourists or people come to Croatia to enjoy our tradition? I know my clients appreciate the authentic experience…