Olive Groves of Modrave

One of the last untouched parts of our coastline is beautiful Modrave region between Drage and Pirovac villages in North Dalmatia.          modraveblog008

Historically, this area belongs to the people of Murter Island (since 1880) and it is known as one of the largest olive groves in the country. However, originally, this was the area known for its vines who were all taken out and olive trees were planted. The area is long 8,5 Km and wide between 750 meters and 3,1 km. It is the only area in the country that has shores on the lake (Vransko jezero lake) and on the Adriatic sea making it a very special and valuable natural preserve.

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Today, only about 5% of the olive trees are cared for of 200 000 estimated trees in the region.modraveblog003

Today, Modrave look like a maze seen from above due to an intricate network of dry stone walls, piles of rock and narrow, ancient trails.

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The area has several small harbors that kept locals safe during the bad weather and the huts were open to all who needed a shelter. They were often used by the sponge divers from Krapanj as well and several of them now are set up for accommodating guests and there is also a small and charming restaurant La Spuž in the largest bay with several buoys.

modraveblog011modraveblog004Aggressive nature of tourism and greed almost moved in heavy machinery to build a resort or, even worse, cheap apartment buildings but that was stopped thanks to the effort of the locals from Murter and Betina aware of the beauty of their heritage.

modraveblog006Hopefully, we will manage to preserve this beautiful area for generations to come.

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Eating like locals in Croatia

Many travelers ask us where to get true local dining experiences but we do not always offer nor suggest those places. Several reasons to that but main is that “normal” restaurant offer in Croatia is fairly plain and boring: meat and potatoes is what is all about. Many places also serve great grilled fish but that became too expensive for most locals in the recent years.

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Lamb on a spit with scallions, Torcida

Another reason is that the service is not always there so we prefer really nice places serving more imaginative dishes based on local traditions. Peka, lamb on a spit, grilled meat… this is most of the cuisine of the region served in the restaurants. Grilled fish I get better at my own gradele so I rarely eat it in the restaurants.

Of course, there are a lot of great places that are very popular with locals for the quality of food. Here, I will name just a few that I like to visit for consistent quality.

Torcida in Vrpolje near Šibenik is THE place for lamb on a spit. People from Split will argue that Klis is better but that is simply not true. Torcida rules and their home baked bread is another reason to stop or to make a detour. The place itself is nothing to write home about but the consistently great lamb is simply spectacular! Combine it with Velebitsko pivo and you will proper and authentic Croatian food experience to remember.

Next place I know I will have a good meal at is Propeti Poni (or the The Prancing Pony from LOTR) in Šibenik.

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Constant quality of their meat dishes, fast service and great selection of pre-cooked meals, make Propeti Poni one of my favorites.

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Tripe
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They used to have a great selection of international beer…

There are several great places in Split like Pimpinella near Firule hospital but I really like Ćiba. A friend of mine took me there last spring and as soon as I noticed the owner carrying a banana box full of home grown potatoes, I knew I found my local favorite.

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This place is known for its grilled dishes selection.

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Stuffed burger

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Most of these meat dishes are found in the entire region and are common all over the Balkans. Pljeskavica, čevapčići, ražnjići..all classics!

Besides these few places, I am regular for tripe at Veseljak in Sukošan as well as at Joso just across Skošan marina.

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Of course, these are just a few places in just one region but I will be adding more as the season approaches and we start exploring more places for our restaurant recommendations. As one can see, not very creative cuisine but surely seriously tasty dishes! Tastes worth exploring if you are interested in real local cuisine.

Pyramid of Dalmatia – the mystery continues?

It has been a while since I last reported on the pyramid “mystery”: https://secretdalmatia.wordpress.com/2014/03/11/dalmatian-pyramid/ in the meantime, I was contacted by several very interesting people who were trying to locate it and challenge the location I established.
One of them  – Mr. Galic from Mostar – had a very interesting story and most likely the right location of the “pyramid” from the old map.

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Basically, he did a proper research on the toponyms mentioned on the old map and concluded that the “pyramid” cannot be where I put it (the hill of Zvonik) and is further south. He made correct assumptions and found a place that actually has a hilltop ruin named kulina. Yes, that is very close to Colina mentioned on the map! The place is located in Nisko, a tiny hamlet on the southern slope of Moseć mountain. The area suffered greatly during the Turkish wars and occupation and was brought back to life when the Franciscan monks brought new inhabitants from Bosnia back in 1720. so it is likely that those inhabitants had no clue of the region they were brought into and that the fortress was already a ruin.

Today, Nisko is nothing more than a sleepy hamlet…

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Nisko village and Kulina hill above it.
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Very few people live in Nisko…

One winter day, when vegetation wass low and one could actually see most of the structures, I drove to Nisko. The access to the hill is easy but there is not much to see. The hill is full of stone dry walls that don’t make much sense. And, it seems, someone from the village still plants some vegetables (potatoes?) in the only part of the hill that looks fertile.

It is very hard to make any educated guesses so I just took a lot of photos of structures and also studied a lot the aerial photos.

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The structure does not say much nor it indicates that it could be of a pyramidal shape. Mate Matas – one of the explorers of the gradina hilltop fortresses in this area – wrote that this could even be a possible seat of old-Croatian county Zmina. Here is the full text (in Croatian):

Oko 1 km južnije od spomenute Gradine odnosno oko 500 m sjevernije od zaseoka Galići nalazi se Kulina koju prema položaju i nekim drugim obilježjima treba ubrojiti u ilirska gradinska naselju. Naziv Kulina (stara ruševna kula), specifični ostatci (temelji građeni s vezivom) i predaje (u njih treba ubrojiti i usmene izjave stručnjaka arheologa i povjesničara), upućuju na zaključak kako se navedeno gradinsko naselje najduže koristilo. Dužina između temelja bedema Kuline u smjeru I-Z iznosi oko 70 m, a u smjeru sjever jug približno 50 m, što znači da se ona ističe primjernom površinom.
Kulina se ističe i impozantnim širinama i visinom nekadašnjeg bedema. Prema zapadu i sjeverozapadu odakle je i najbolji pristup prema utvrdi širina bedema iznosi oko 12 m, a njihova visine oko 4 m. Prema jugu i strmijem prostoru širina i visina bedema se postupno smanjivala. Prema količini materijala moglo bi se zaključiti da se bedemi prema jugu te istoku i sjeveru bili najniži i najtanji, što se donekle može objašnjavati i strmijim padinama odnosno lakšoj obrani utvrde s tih strana. Međutim, na južnoj i istočnoj strani naziru se tragovi temelja građenih s vezivom. Jesu li u pitanju temelji utvrde ili posebnih stambenih objekata građenih u novijem razdoblju teško je odgovoriti bez detaljnih arheoloških istraživanja lokaliteta.
Takvim bi se istraživanjima pronašao i odgovor na 
pitanje što predstavljaju pravilni kvadratični temelji također građeni s vezivom, a koji se nalaze uz zapadnu stranu već spomenutih dužih temelja građenih s vezivom (možda su u pitanju ostaci spremnika za vodu, zemunica, stambenih prostora i sl.). U zanimljivosti ili posebnosti Kuline treba ubrojiti i jasno izražen unutarnji prostor s naglašeno ravnom podlogom, ograđen suhozidinama. Dužina tog prostora u smjeru I-Z je 12 m, a u smjeru S-J iznosi 10 m. Na tom unutrašnjem prostoru još su vidljivi i veliki kameni blokovi koji su očiti predstavljali okvir vrata okrenutih prema jugu gradine. Postoje i pretpostavke kako je spomenuta gradina mogla biti i sjedište starohrvatske župe Zmina. Tome idu u prilog i pronađeni ostaci starohrvatske bazilike u polju ispod Kuline u blizini crkve sv. Ivana. Dio pronađenih ostataka pohranjen u samostanskoj zbirci u Sinju. Ispred sadašnje crkve sv. Ivana je stećak s ukrasom koji je nekada služio i kao oltar…

Today, nothing more of some indications of walls can be seen.

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Parts of the structure that can be followed in a in a semi-circular shape around the hill
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The fertile field of Nisko

Basically, the mystery stays. No one can prove that this was truly a pyramid but the theory that this was an important stronghold is based on facts.

There was another interesting discovery by Mr. Galic – he connected the Nisko “pyramid” to the ruins of Asseria and Varvaria… Those two important archaeology sites were connected by “lay lines” in another blog post I wrote 3 years ago: https://secretdalmatia.wordpress.com/2013/01/13/ley-lines-in-croatia-secret-dalmatia/

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From Nisko to Nin

The blog is just the discussion on whether all these important “temples” (structures) were found on a single line just by coincidence or it was done on purpose. I still believe it is pure coincidence but…

So, here are the exact locations of the line going through previously established locations of Visovac, Bribirska Glavica, Asseria and Nin (Temple of Jupiter – the largest Roman Temple on the Adriatic coast we know of)

The line continues north to Brijuni as described in that blog on the Lay line.

Now, calling it a Lay line may be completely wrong as this may be something very different. It is also VERY strange that all these important historic places are on the same line but let’s still say it is a pure coincidence due to the orientation of our coastline.

There is another curiosity connected to this “pyramid of Nisko”: Nisko – in Croatian – means “low”. The alleged “Bosnian pyramid” is in Visoko. Which translates “high”…

Another interesting coincidence! Or not?