Roman aqueduct of Zadar and Vrana cave

Village of Vrana, near Biograd and Zadar, is filled with amazing treasures. The area was inhabited from the earliest days of civilization since it was lying on fertile soil with numerous fresh water springs and it was close to the sea.
This area has over a dozen great fresh water springs that almost never go dry. That was realized by the Romans once they conquered Liburnia in 1st AD. Since the coastal area between Vrana/Pakoštane and Zadar is very fertile, numerous villas rusticas were build by the Roman colonizers.
The demand for fresh water supply grew and the Roman authorities decided to build an aqueduct from Vrana to 41 km away (26 miles) distant Zadar.

The small cave

The aqueduct was starting at two springs nearby the cave. Both springs: Biba and Subiba are still in use today for entire region of Biograd. Both springs, combined with the water from the cave, was more than enough to supply Zadar, ancient Jader, and, according to some experts, it was even capable of delivering 57 liters per second. Quite an achievement considering that the engineers had to get all that water up the hill and then find the best route to distant Jader. And not only that, the water was also used for many villas rusticas along the route…

Remains of Roman pipes

Even now, the stone pipes, that were later combined with led ones, can still be found under ground. Although majority of people think immediately of arches and beautiful overground aqueducts like the one in Segovia, Spain – most of the aqueducts were buried under ground or only few feet above the ground. The area around the aqueduct was also well maintained and even guarded, since these were some of the most expensive parts of the infrastructure.

Remains of the aqueduct near Sv. Filip Jakov - seen from the main road

The portion on the picture above is going through my friend’s field. Since he is an archaeologist, he is taking good care of the monument and even put a small sign marking what it is.

Several other curiosities are connected with this aqueduct: the engineers used a very different led pipe technique than ever and anywhere before. The led pipes were used to bring the water from the springs to siphons and raise it to the hill over Pakoštane. But, if the builders used that to bring the water over 5000 meters of Vrana marsh, the total weight of led used would be over 500 tons making this an extremely costly project. They probably considered making an arched aqueduct over the marshes (and that would be SPECTACULAR!) but the marsh of Vrana Lake was probably very bad place to put the columns and pillars i, since the soil was too muddy.

The entrance to cave

Recently, the cave was cleaned of ugly graffiti and the simple, yet helpful, handrail was put in place. The tourist board of Pakoštane finally came to senses that Vrana is an amazing location filled with attractions for curious travelers.
The main cave is fairly big and impressive. There is a smaller cave from which the water flows out. That, smaller cave, is also known for several species of bats but the water is quite high these days so it is impossible to get inside. The water actually flows from all sorts of places and openings and it is good to bring good boots. Not in the summer when there is hardly any water.

The cave

Romans even had a small altar for the nymphs and it was dedicated to obscure deity called Bind – Neptunus. The only other mention of that deity was found on one location in Bosnia.

There are several other interesting things in the cave as well: Borelli family grafitti from 19th and even 18th century and a plate in the memory of a 1899. visit of Hapsburg archduke “Karl Stipan”.

Vrana cave is so nice to visit with kids! Perfectly safe and quite unusual and interesting. It makes a great trip for everyone and especially if combined with rest of the attractions: Vrana castle, Maskovic Caravansary, birdwatching…

We always drink water when here!

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