Hercules of Brac – in search of ancient quarries

Few weeks back, a friend of mine organized a group to go to Brac Island and learn more on the Roman quarries of Brac. The group was led by an authority on Roman quarries, Dr. Mate Parica who is THE person to go to if interested in ancient quarries. Not only that he has seen the most of the quarries in the region, he also did a lot of research on rock quarrying and ancient techniques. Brač is still the best place for getting quality stone and the tradition is ancient. Only a short ferry ride away, Brac  makes a great place for historic research and what better place to start from but the Museum of Brac at Skrip village.

The Museum of Brac at Skrip
The Museum of Brac in Skrip

We started at the museum as it has a lovely collection of Hercules reliefs – something very closely connected to ancient stone masons and quarry workers.

The thumb of mother of Constantine the Great.. at least a theory
The thumb of mother of Constantine the Great.. at least a theory

The workers  – usually slaves and prisoners of war – working at the quarries had to be tough and strong: just like Hercules. Thus so many representations and altars dedicated to this ancient hero.

Hercules
Hercules

Skrip Museum is a lovely place telling the story of the most ancient times on the island. There is also a megalithic construction behind the actual building. Probably an ancient fortress. All those unique layers, make Skrip simply a must see for everyone visiting!

And then we moved on in search of actual quarries and more Hercules statues…

The quarry of Rasohe
The quarry of Rasohe

The quarry of Rasohe was particularly impressive and it was interesting to see that local community made an effort to actually clan everything and put signs to it. This is the place where stone for Diocletian’s Palace was actually taken from. Hundreds of slaves must have worked at this place and quarries were probably the worse places to work at back in those days… I could think of few worse ones (like mines and underground aqueducts) but this was very difficult and demanding work. The Rasohe quarry is quite impressive but Mate told us of a quarry on Vrnik island near Korčula being much bigger and far more impressive than this one! A place to visit!

Mate Parica explaining basic techniques for excavating stone
Mate Parica explaining basic techniques for excavating stone

Mate also explained a lot on how the stone was taken out and transported to the sea and on the vessels to modern day Split. We were also explained the techniques and methods of getting the best stone. Quite fascinating as Roman engineers did not take any chances and were using only the best stone for the most important buildings. But we were not alone! Beautiful  four-lined snake (Kravosas in Croatian) was hiding and waiting for us to go away.

Europe's largest nonvenomous colubrid species
Europe’s largest nonvenomous colubrid species

Before we left, we had to see  Hercules of Rasohe Quarry. The image does not give a proper feeling of the beauty of this great relief and it simply has to be seen in real life to be appreciated. The art work is not the greatest and it is generally considered that this was done by one of the slaves, with basic tools and not too much time. . But the Hercules also suffered from the weather in all this 1700+ years it has been out there…

The Hercules of Rasohe
The Hercules of Rasohe

Our next stop was at beautiful Lovrečina bay. Not just another of many beautiful bays and inlets of Brač Island.

Lovrečina bay
Lovrečina bay

The remains of an early christian church (5. or 6th ct)  in this bay are one of the most interesting in the country for it’s baptistery and nicely preserved wall paintings. Nothing fancy – just a simple color pattern – but still a valuable evidence of original traditions. Brač is also known for numerous ancient churches and chapels scattered all over this beautiful island but we are leaving those for another visit.

Remains of an ancient church
Remains of an ancient church

Brač is a great destination for both culture and nature lovers. It is like a small continent with amazing wealth of all sorts of sites dating back to the first inhabitants of our Adriatic coast and continuing with Romans, medieval settlements, villages hidden deep in the interior hiding from the pirates and danger. It is also a place of great culinary traditions so we stopped at quite popular Kopačina restaurant, before getting back on a ferry, for some traditional food and great local wine.

Kopačina Restaurant
Kopačina Restaurant

Only 50 minutes back. Enough for a nap. The ferries connect Split and Supetar many times a day year round.

Ferry back to Split
Ferry back to Split

Another great visit to this beautiful island…

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2 thoughts on “Hercules of Brac – in search of ancient quarries

  • Indeed, the wines we had on Brač were of quite good quality and that was even before Stina opened. Must by the rugged as hell stony environment that makes for good vine cultivation.

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