Winter is always the best time to explore. The weather, when sunny, is ideal for hikes and walks.
And there is always something cool and new to see.
Recently I found out about a fortress in Sonković village near Skradin. It is only a short drive away and just about 10 minutes off the highway. The fortress looked interesting in Google Earth but checking it for real is what it is all about.
The fortress is located on a sharp rock overlooking a stream that never goes dry. This stream was one of the reasons why this area was settled long ago in the antiquity. The area was inhabited long ago but the very village of Sonkovic originates probably from the Middle ages when the fortress was also built. Sonkovic was the last name of the noble Croatian family Sonković who owned these lands and, eventually, gave the name to the village.
Sonković is now typical village of Northern Dalmatia located on the foothills overlooking the fertile land. I am still upset when I see people building houses right in the fertile fields as that was never our custom. There are numerous olive groves along the roads and, while most trees are old, there are quite a few younger groves. The life continues… Despite the occupation in the Homeland war. Sonković was liberated again only in 1995.
Not too many people returned now so the census of 2004 notes less than 300 inhabitants (both Croats and Serbs). The most common last names of this part of Skradin hinterland are: Matić, Palinić (Čulin), Kartelo, Roško, Lovrić, Sladić, Guberina, Babić, Jurić, Keran, Vranić and Vuković.
We entered Guberine hamlet looking for the fortress.
Only barking of few dogs were heard…
And soon we reached the fortress.
It is a typical medieval fortress of the region: round tower with construction of the larger building surrounding. Till today, just half of the tower still stands and some remains of the main buildings are visible.
The tower was probably in service well into the times of Turkish occupation (started in 1528) and abandoned after the region was liberated in the late 1600s.
Fortress of Sonković Today
The location was perfect for defense and the fortress is even now a bit hard to reach let alone in the time of guards, crossbows and swords. The rocks are sharp and some parts are inaccessible but, in general, it can be reached and seen easily. The stones from the main building were probably “recycled” by the locals when the fortress was abandoned but what is left of the tower gives an insight in the structure.
The stream below is especially active in the winter months while, in the summer, the spring always gives fresh water but not enough to keep the stream alive all the way to Guduča river nearby.
The canyon where the stream flows is quite pretty and we wanted to explore some more but then we saw the mine field danger signs… And we did not go any further. We also could not see any locals to give us more details as some of these signs are put at generous distances from real threat. We did not want to risk anything so we returned to the car.
It is a pity that such a gorgeous location is out of reach but I hope the region will be truly liberated soon.
The winter night was falling quickly and the air got cooler. We did a bit of off roading through vineyards and fields and left the tower and the village to dream of some better and more lively times…