Secret Dalmatia Blog - Travel Experiences in Croatia

Ghost village of Karanovac

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Our hinterland hides many secrets and it is my pleasure to keep discovering them. Going places where few have been and making sure many more know about them while preserving our heritage, was one of my goals when I started Secret Dalmatia and this blog. So, it was a pure excitement when I stumbled upon – researching some maps – a small village near Knin but actually, in the middle of nowhere. Hidden deep in the hillside, this small village looked like a perfect place to visit. I invited my friend Domagoj of Dalmatia Explorer and we met just bellow Krčić waterfall in Knin. Some 20 minutes to Otrić and we left our car to join Domagoj in his mighty Land Rover Defender for, what we thought, would be a pleasurable off road drive of some 20 minutes.

Promina behind us
Promina behind us

But we were wrong. The road proved to be quite demanding and we left the car on a clear spot to continue on foot. Actually, what we did not now at that moment, we have just passed the most difficult part of the road. It is always good to spend some time outdoors and in the fresh air  so we did not care about the drive. The weather was cloudy and cool – perfect for a hike!
As soon as we started, we noticed a clear road of quite impressive dimensions and clearly marked with large stones at the edges. That takes an effort and, while it was common for the Roman roads, it was not so much practiced by poor villages of Dalmatia’s hinterland.
There were several abandoned houses along the road.

Abandoned houses
Abandoned houses

This was all abanodned in the past war as this region was the center of the Serbian rebelion. Complex, as our history is, the past war made things even more complicated and many people left their homes. I hate local politics and don’t like discussing it, but it is always sad to see abanodned homes…

Left behind
Left behind
Old stables
Old stables

This stable seems to be in use as it is filled with straw so I assume it could be used by the local hunters for feeding wild game in the winter. We did not spend too much time exploring and we continued up the road as it was still quite a bit to go.

The road
The road

And, after an hour or so of hiking, the first houses appeared.

Karanovci
Karanovac

The village is a total mystery: virtually hidden in the middle of nowhere, away from ANY routes… I did not even know the name till I did some serious research on the maps. There are 3-4 towns with the same name all over the Balkans but there is only one line on this Karanovac in the documents of the Hague tribunal saying that the Croatian army found 6 people living there after they liberated the area. And that is it… Pretty much no one to ask as very few people live in the region and many of them came from Bosnia after this war. Next time I will try to find some people to tell us more.

But for now, all we have is this beautiful harmony in stone silently telling us a story of the people who lived here long time ago…

Abandoned houses
Abandoned houses
There are over 20 stone cottages
There are over 20 stone cottages
Stone covered roofs
Stone covered roofs

Detective work is not easy but we can always make some “educated guesses” based on what we saw.
These folks were mostly cattle and sheep shepherds as saw many stables and some were traditionally living with their cattle in the same buildings. Also, we did not see any gumno which is always located where people did some agriculture. Gumno is traditional threshing floor. They were doing quite well as the road leading to the main roads is very nicely done. There are evidences of someone – probably hunters – still visiting  and some houses have been torched in the past war.

Karanovac
Karanovac – burned down kitchen

Some rooms are left intact even after they were burned down. And there are numerous details all over the village…

Burned down kitchen
Burned down kitchen
A collection...
A collection…
The owner is long gone
The owner is long gone
Yes, they did have the numbers on the cottages. Before the war
Yes, they did have the numbers on the cottages. Before the war

But the village as a whole is an amazing example of traditional architecture of Dalmatian hinterland and it should definitely be protected and listed as our national heritage. Some initial works should be done to clean and restore everything so it does not collapse to fig trees and blackberry bushes with snakes as it’s only inhabitants. We saw a lot of evidence of wild boar roaming the fields and I am sure other wild animals are visiting often.

Ruins
Ruins
Blackberry bushes
Blackberry bushes
Ancient walls
Ancient walls

 

Stone roof tiles
Stone roof tiles

As the night is coming early in the winer days, we did not spend too much time in the village to soak up the eerie atmosphere, unnatural silence, and winter scents of Dalmatian hinterland. But we will be back. There  is a suspicious  object/construction quite close and I have to see it.

Winter sunset
Winter sunset

And then I get questions on what to do in Croatia/Dalmatia in winter?!
Explore, hike, savor traditional food, enjoy the amazing outdoors, discover Dalmatia’s secrets :))

Travel to Croatia 

 

 

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9 Replies to “Ghost village of Karanovac”

  1. I love exploring secret places, but anywhere near Knin I’d be fearful of land mines – was that at all a concern when you left the land rover?

    There are similar traditional buildings in need of restoration right off the coast, on the island of Šolta – not damaged from the war(s) but simply fallen into disrepair from not being used/lived in. I’m thinking of Donje Selo and Srednje Selo. The island is so close and yet so far from the mainland, it seems.

  2. oh Alan! great great! wish I could have made it there with you. next time! drugi put!

  3. @ Morgan – yes, there are abandoned villages in many places but this was a unique find as there is no word on it and it is quite off the beaten path. Unfortunately, there will be many more ghost villages as everyone is moving to the cities and our government is not helping people who want to move back to the villages…
    Land mines are always of concern but this area is pretty much mines free as the dangerous areas are what used to be areas of separation. That’s where both armies planted mines. Here is the map and I stay away from the regions that are marked if I am going to places I am not familiar with http://www.hcr.hr/en/minskaSituacijaKarta.asp?ID=10
    ..and there are signs.

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