I enjoy ruins, ghost towns, abandoned places and everything historic. Imagine my excitement when I first entered Nakovana!
Last Saturday I was visiting my new friends in Trpanj (Raguz family) and they took me to a very special place that does not get that many visitors: abandoned village of Nakovana deep in the hillside of Peljesac peninsula.
Nakovana is an easy drive from Viganj and the only village on that road so pretty hard to miss. The village actually consists of 2 parts (Gornja and Donja) Lower Nakovana and Upper Nakovana both now deserted with only one family living in Donja Nakovana. The village is known quite well within the archaeologists circles for the nearby cave discovered in the year 2000. The archaeologists found the second cave behind the sealed entrance and it was sealed for 2000 years. Once they entered, they found thousands of pieces of Hellenistic pottery around a phallic stalagmite. Obviously, it was a place of worship or some sort of a cult. I will look for the cave next time (without an intention to enter) but this time I was just stunned by the beauty of this ghost village.
History of Nakovana is typical history of most Dalmatian villages and towns. It is a history of hard life and constant struggle. The people of Nakovana lived of agriculture, sheep and goat herding, fishing and, later in the 19th century, of seafaring. They were very skillful seamen so they sailed all over the world on the ships of captains from Viganj, Kućište and Orebić. The people of Nakovana started emigrating in late 19th century and they went as far as Argentina and New Zealand. Probably the hardest days for the village came in WW2 when Italian Fascist expedition 7500 soldiers strong burned down the village. Later Germans attacked trying to push Tito’s partisans away and the entire population – as they were supporters of partisans – took refuge in Italy and Egypt. Whoever was caught by the Germans was taken to the concentration camps … The village was rebuilt after WW2 but it was never the same and, struck by poverty in post war Yugoslavia, most people left…
Today Nakovana is the perfect example of traditional architecture. Since the village was abandoned, no one was making any silly interventions to the original houses or to the entire village for that matter.
Some of the details are just beautiful and it seems that people will come out in a minute. But they won’t… Nakovana is dead and abandoned. Never again laughter will be part of these streets. Never again the smell of freshly baked bread will be coming through these windows… Nakovana has stopped in time. You can enjoy the place but, to me, all this is sad.
There are some people from Nakovana who now live by the sea in Viganj, Orebić… and occasionally visit. Thus the locked doors. They probably keep their tools there waiting for the olive picking season.
Nakovana is not really a small village and you can spend a good hour wondering and sightseeing, sitting down and imagining the life back in the time when the village was alive. Combined with the climb to nearby “grad” Illyrian hilltop fortress, Nakovana offers one of the most unique hiking trips in Dalmatia!
…and I can’t wait to go back.