His Majesty – Brac, more than the island

Okay… okay… I know… by some logic of things, this is the text that was supposed to go before the announcement of Blaca Hermitage. But in my defense, I can say that everyone who visits or is in touch with this phenomenon of cultural, landscaping, spiritual, and pretty fascinated by the magical feeling that this place provides will be able to understand why this place deserves this kind of honor. So, that is the main reason that the story of my last blog was about the search of the last Glagolitic, or actually the top of my favorite places in my life I have the opportunity to visit.
Certainly, I owe a description and a brief introduction and summary of the island with so much wealth that it is difficult to sum up it through one life and not to mention in the few lines of text. It is possible that this would be the longest blog posting, but hopefully, all the colored text will get the hyperlinks which will explain more detailed everything about that particular theme. In that way, you will find the true meaning of this title and why this island I call His Majesty Brač.

Let’s go with some small introduction to history, which goes all the way back to prehistory (the Cave Kopačina, where the oldest traces of the prehistoric human on the island were found), the history of Illyrians was also written here and there are couple of remains left in several places, landscapes and remains of life at the time of the Roman Empire, miles of a handmade stone walls and stone hills that were put off just to make some place for fertile land to have a place to grown some agriculture goods like olive trees, wine trees or something else in order to gain some food. There are also numerous medieval churches and chapels and many other monuments that you will find nowhere else… I find it difficult to choose a specific topic for the content of the second blog, but I find interesting to make a small cross-view and an introduction to a single place or a locality on Brač. So, in other blogs, I will make more detailed stories, with more facts, legends, numbers or actually more pictures to cover the specific theme. Yes… In the geographical sense, the island is not fully explored because there are over 300 caves that have not been even discovered so far.

After all, the island is not the only history with its remains, but also what makes it different from the rest of the world, are both people and customs and endemic food specialties that remain so strong in the memory.

The history of the name origin: BRAČ*

The name’s origin is from the Illyrian name “brentos” which is translated for the deer (the Greek name is Elaphusa and Bretanide, also comes from the word “elaphus, that in Greek stands for deer). And cave named Kopačina is the place where the remains of deer were found.
The Roman historian Polybius calls this island Bretia, Plinius the Elder gives it the name Brattia, and in Antino’s 4th century travelogue the island is called Bractia.
Brač is also in Ptolemy’s map from the 2nd century and is also located on the Peutinger’s 4th century map. The emperor Konstantin Porfirogenet (Byzantine Empire), called it Barzo and he describes Brač and Hvar as the most beautiful and fertile Adriatic islands. During the Venetian Republic, the Italian name is Brazza, and we know it as Brač.

 

Geographical features

  • Brač = the largest Middle Dalmatian island
  • Surface = 395 km2 (length = about 40 km, width = 12 km in average)
  • Highest peak = 778 m, Vidova gora (the highest peak of all the islands in Croatia)
  • Coastline = 180.613 km
  • Population = 14,434 (list from year 2011)
  • Climate = Mediterranean climate. Brač belongs to the sunniest Adriatic area with about 2,700 sunny hours a year. Average winter temperature is 9 °C and summer 25 °C. Snow falls in the year only for about 2 days and does not stay longer than 10 hours. The last winds called bura hits in March and people know it as 3 marčana bura. In the summer almost every day is blowing maestral, localy known as maeštral. The precipitation is more common in the interior of the island and on its eastern side. Differences in precipitation amount to 700 mm annual average for Sutivan, up to 1400 mm for Dol. The average sea temperature is 24 °C in the summer and 14 °C in the winter.

 

Brač map – powered by Google maps

 

Places at Brač (population number)

City of Supetar (4.233)

  • Supetar is the largest settlement on the island of Brač and it is the economic, cultural and tourist center of the island – the most famous about its ferry harbor, but Supetar offers and deserves much more than the quick passage through when arriving on the island
  • the City of Supetar includes the town Supetar and villages Splitska, Škrip and Mirca:
    • Supetar (3.326) – considering that this is an administrative and economic center of the island, you may do your activities in public administration without visiting Split (police, court, public notary, emergency, doctors, bigger shopping malls…). Because, usually people who live here have the biggest curse when they need to go in Split – mostly because you lose almost the entire day on making your business that usually takes to other people just a couple of minutes or couple of hours at top, but here you need to travel the island, take a ferry, make your things in Split and make the same return back home… and of course, after returning back, you feel exhausted
    • Mirca (327) – when traveling further out of Supetar, you might go ahead to the only place where the sign on the road can leave you confused as the sign says that place Mirca is both left and right… hm… where to go? But this is small place, so no worry, if you go left, you will enter old Mirca, with its square and churchyard, old houses and if you turn your right you will end up in Podmirca, the new part of the place, with its tourist facilities, new houses and villas, cafes and beaches
    • Splitska (398) – a small village with its great history and very old monuments. You may find here the true little richness of history because from here famous Brač stone was transferred to the continent and many famous buildings were build from it… among them is famous Diocletian’s palace in Split
    • Škrip (172) – this village is really something that you can talk and has an enormous richness of history. This is the oldest place on Brač (old more than 3000 years!). Beside Blaca Hermitage and Dol village, this is my third favorite place on Brač. In the area of just 100m you can find the Museum of the Brac Island, the Museum of the Oil (Brač is famous of making an olive oil), the main church, the two smaller chapels, the castle and the sarcophagus… I always feel like I am in the center of history tornado – the long history, near history,… A pretty unusual feeling (but, … which is not unusual on Brač)

 

Municipality of Bol (1,693)

  • the name “Bol” comes from the Latin word “vallum”, meaning “burial”, “earthy bastion”, “land established settlement
  • the world-wide popularity gained by its beach Golden horn (Zlatni rat). This place I adore when I have it on “my own” and that privilege is in early spring or autumn time when there is absolutely no one there. Without famous crowded summer time. And go at its end by sea enjoying the sounds of the waves hitting the small pebbles at the beach and watching the most beautiful sunsets in the world. Why is so famous? It is because this beach lives its own life surprising each day with another shape… sometimes beach is turned on the left side, sometimes on the right side, sometimes it has some small pool area and is totally curved, and sometimes… when you are lucky, you will see even snow on it…
    • Bol (1.671) – the largest tourist resort after Supetar. Apart from the beach Golden horn, there are several churches, Dominican monastery, a beautiful promenade full with monuments build out of Brač stone, there is the oldest winery in Dalmatia, a large number of restaurants, bars, cultural and other events with its specific people that enlarge the richness of culture of this place
    • Murvica (22) – until 5 years ago, this little place was connected with Bol with only macadam road, but now very nice walking tour can be made from Bol to Murvica and back. The village has beautiful houses in old Dalmatian style (and they are protected – so, if anyone would like to make the renovation of those houses, needs to be done in the conservatory and in an old-fashioned way). You will also find the beautiful landscapes of vineyards and the remains of two hermitages – Dračeva Luka and the Stipančići hermitage. Murvica is famous for another hidden jewel named the Dragon’s Cave full of the stone built statues. But again… that’s another story…

 

Municipality of Milna (1,042)

  • on the west coast of Brač you can find the place Milna. Milna is the best harbor and bay for various boats. I find it as one of my top secret places when I like to escape from anyone. There I can find my peace and silence, with nobody who knows me, and where I can find some small beach, dive into the blue sea and afterward visit the small bar, drink some coffee and eat the best almond and fig jam cake. And there are many more stories and fairy tales about surrounding… from the center itself, lighthouse, sea bays like Osibova, tuna farms and the old army burials for the submarines. And did you know that this year the speech from the Milna area was proclaimed immaterial cultural good of the Republic of Croatia?
  • the other places are certainly interesting and specific, so let’s move in the order:
    • Milna (833) – Milna itself has a special infrastructure and the sunsets are especially spectacular with the contrast of the orange (or purple) sky at one side, and the silhouettes of the sea, buildings and boats from another side. With sunset in Murvica and at Golden Horn definitely, the best places for photo hunters or romantic couples
    • Bobovišća (70) – a little village, you will say “so what… village like a village”, but this picturesque place with a church and beautiful streets full of various domestic animals and flowers, as well as a beautiful view of Bobovišća sea, invites you to walk and sniff all around. Ah, of course, there is also a photo story with a beautiful, compassionate donkey that dramatically cries so all the village has no peace
    • Bobovišća na moru (Bobovišća at sea) – this is a beautiful port with a history that dates all the way back to Illyrian and Greek with numerous stories about the legends related to Vičja Luka (The Witch Bay) and Vičja jama (The Witch cave) on Vidova gora. The small bay and the historic monuments are at every step: the castle of the Gligo family, the evidence of life of  the very famous Croatian poet Vladimir Nazor (the house where he lived and worked, a symbolic view tower, a monument to his sisters “Three Little Sisters” and his statue, the work of academic sculptor Mirko Ostoje). And yes… with all the churches all over the island… this is the only place that has not even one of them
    • Ložišća (139) – eh… Ložišća… what to say about this place,  you only need to mention that when you come from any part of this village, you will have the “woooooow” effect and that is because its belltower has no competition in his beauty worldwide. Like it is made from lace… The masterpiece of the local architect Ivan Rendić. Ložišća also has a beautiful bridge, built in honor of Francis Joseph (Austro Hungarian king). And it was built because a long time ago, there was a river… the only river at the island and all of the Croatian islands!
    • Podhume – Brač has many abundant places, where you can say they are like some kind of phantom places… almost forgotten, with just some accidental macadam paths leading you there with a couple of houses and if you are lucky enough to find some living soul there, you can have unique experience

 

Municipality of Nerežišća (892)

  • this municipality is located just in the middle of the island of Brač at all intersections of the roads. A long time ago was important as Supetar is now for all inhabitants of Brač –  an administrative and economic center. Today, because of its politics there is a public secret and an urban legend that Nerežišća is the only place at Brač (and maybe in Croatia) with 0% unemployment rate! (here is a large construction company, a wholesale center and many other economic activities that leave no place for unemployment). So, a municipality with many well-being and hard-working people without working problems
  • there are 3 places under the municipality:
    • Nerežišća (634) – apart from the economic activities that give its inhabitants bread and roof over their heads, there is plenty to see here unusual (well, what is actually usual on Brač). You will find here the church where bonsai tree has grown from its roof and is more than 100 years old, Koloč – a geomorphologic phenomenon in the form of a cake (“kolač”). Although to me, it seems more like a kiss of two vipers (btw. the most dangerous beast (snake) at the island, because its poison is the most dangerous among all European snakes and you really need to be careful when walking around… And I mean walking in the forest, some wild and hidden places… So, BIG NO for wearing slippers and shorts! And not to mention going on walking tours without water). Nerežišća hide more secrets, but all of these are just fragments for taking a small peak to other stories
    • Donji Humac (165) – I have already mentioned the cave of Kopačina, where the beginning of human form was discovered on this island in pre-historic time. But, it is also famous for the best place where to eat the best lamb on the island at any time of the year, along with my favorite meal – roasted lamb liver. During the springtime, it is the best time for having the most famous Brač specialty – vitalac or pancakes with the specially prepared sheep cheese called “skuta”. Mmmmmmmm…. njaaaaaamiiiiii….
    • Drečevica (93) – on the road to Ložišća there is a small place called Dračevica, with a picturesque little square with a nice well. The scientists proved that meteorologically this is the best place to live on the island

 

Municipality of Postira (1.611)

  • the origin of the name Postira comes from the Latin word “pastura which means pasture and it is first mentioned in the 14th century. The Roman place Mirja is from the 6th century and it is located nearby. When heading to Pučišća you may find the only sandy beach and the locality of a special sight with the remains of the early Christian single-nave church called Lovrečina
    • Postira (1.481) – Croatian poet Vladimir Nazor was born in Postira. When arriving in Postira you will see beautiful scenery with houses, churches and a beautifully landscaped lawn of a large football field. At the hill above there is a large and modern tune production factory
    • Dol (130) – and finally my favorite place on this island. Ethno-village Dol is located within beautiful caves that look like arms that are protecting the village. The road that leads you to Dol gives you a beautiful view of tangerine and kiwi plantations – which reminds me of the Neretva valley (nearby Dubrovnik). A village is full of old houses, built of stone named “hrapačuša”, that inspired the Dol’s woman to create the well-known an autochthonous dessert cake also named hrapačuća, a cake that is made of almost 30 eggs, one kilo of almonds and one kilo of walnuts… ooooh, yeah… it is a real sugar bomb but to good to be true… At hill above, there is Kaštil Gospodnetić that has a special red color of the facade. On the other hill, there is the church of St. Peter with the oldest church bell on the island. A few kilometers further, on a hill you will find a church of St. Mihovil with a specific design – the entrance is made of Roman sarcophagus. In addition to this, there are lots of goats, sheeps, horses and various domestic animals, that complete the impression about this picturesque village… ooooooh… what a beauty and blessing…

 

 

Municipality of Pučišća (2,263)

  • the Brač center of educated stonemasons of famous worldwide white stone from Brač. The legend says that even White House in Washington was built from the stone from Brač. Very important place here is the school for the stonemasons where this craft is learned in the oldest fashioned way – with the chisel and the hammer. Yes, maybe there are computers and machines, but the usage of the modern technology is very modest compared to today’s capabilities of the technology. Is there anything more original than souvenirs in Brač stone (bracelet, ring, clock, …) a permanent memory on such an island and its people
    • Pučišća (1,611) – after Supetar, this is the largest settlement in Brač. You will find that this place has a very harmonious architecture where houses and all monuments are structured in the very nice collage and it really shows the masterpieces of the numerous stonemasons here. The origin of the name Pučišća is from the Latin word “puteus”, which means a well that was present in today’s Soline, where salty and sweet water is mixed. The landscape is dominated by the church of St. Jerome, the boats and at the end of the left side of the harbor – a stonemasons school
    • Pražnica (377) – on the way from Supetar to Bol, or when returning from Pučišća, you will pass through a small village called Pražnica. A little place that is actually hidden from the main road, but everyone who lives a little bit longer here, we all know this is the favorite place of our police patrol to stop the naughty drivers. So, be careful at those signs of 40 km/h. The houses are built in the old-fashioned Dalmatian style. A charming square that has its own circular flow where in which their middle stands a small church. The name of the place originates from the verb, which reminds of the way the terrain is cleaned in order to obtain fertile soil. It is a home to many homemade animals and an example of simple pastoral settlement on the island where people live humble and withdrawn live. Also, this place has its own special dialect and it sounds more like someone is singing than it talks. Usually, this kind of hidden places hides many types of secrets. Among of those secrets belong to the largest number of hidden and unrevealed and unexplored caves. That means that leaving the well-known path you could end up in a great danger. So, keep in mind that when walking the road that you see, you will be just fine… but do not go alone and do not try to explore woods and hills on your own. And why I know that… well… all the locals have warned me not once not to go like that and not to move all over the hidden places in order to catch the photo because I will catch myself in saving my neck. Truly, this island is great, but you need to be careful because there are some very dangerous sides of it and you need to be respectful to his nature
    • Gornji Humac (275) – a small village, one of the oldest settlements in Brač, with a first documented history dating back to 1250, called Hlmcana, what means humans living on the hill. Nearby there are numerous prehistoric monasteries, Our Lady’s church at the pre-Romanesque cemetery, with the stone triptych with the Virgin with the Child in the middle and from the side of it there is St. Peter and St. John. The most notable building is the Church of St. Nicholas, which with its main square is the most vivid part of the place where the biggest village festivals are held. Also, here you can find an emergency transport and first aid support for this part of the island. Unfortunately, Brač has issues with the number of medical vehicles and medical experts, especially during high summer peaks. So, often, when there is not so crucial to life the first aid emergency will ask you to come from Bol or east side from the island with your own car or taxi to them in Gornji Humac… so, they could have this one emergency team at disposal for more urgent cases if needed

Municipality of Selca (1,860)

  • let’s say that this municipality covers almost the entire eastern side of Brač. Apart from the settlements themselves: Selca, Novo Selo, Povlja and Sumartin, here I have to mention Selački Zaseoci which are not mentioned too much and are one of those “phantom” places like Podhume near Milna. Selački Zaseoci is unique names that include tiny villages Nagorinac, Nakal, Osritke, Smrčevik and Nasela (Nad Sela)…. and that… I know, I know… they are not fictional places of some of my fantasies, but they really exist as those very hard worded names, that are also unusual for the Croatian language (almost as you are speaking Chinese or something like that). In this part there is also the abandoned village of Kruške (translation in English is “pears”, by the name of the protected autochthonous kind of this tree and the beautiful bays that are best to reach and to approach from the seaside (though I even managed to reach some of those places with my poor four-wheel pet, Peugeot that fortunately for me, has managed to take me at those macadam roads that almost only jeeps can go. So, many people when I told them where I have been with my car could not believe that this car is still in driving condition)
    • Selca (872) – for this place I will give only some names that connect this place, so you will understand why I will not cover too much in advance: Jesus Christ, Lav Nikolajev Tolstoy, Fyodor Mihajlovic Dostoyevsky, Stjepan Radić (one of the most important politicians in the whole Croatian history), Franjo Tudjman (the first president of independent Republic of Croatia), Pope John Paul II, Hans Dietrich Genscher (very important German politician that influenced a lot to Croatian modern history and independence)… the names are more than “bombastic,” right?
    • Novo Selo (153) – when you reach Selca, there is a turn left and you are heading for Povlja. But before this place, just a few kilometers after Selca you will see this little village and at its entrance there are placed big public stone sculptures that were made by self-taught sculptor Franjo Antonijevic. He is great and has great manners in hospitality because he will show you his house and work with so much passion and love, so you can ask him to show you each corner of his place. Just cross the road there is a helicopter station that is used for those emergencies when your life is in such a danger that you need to fly to Split
    • Povlja (344) – continuing along the road from Nova Sela, the road will lead you to the picturesque Povlja. A little place with a large history. Those who know a little bit about Croatian history, maybe they have heard something about documents called Charter of Povlja (Povaljska listina), one of the oldest and most important Croatian documents written in Croatian Cyrillic alphabet, that is called bosančica… those documents were discovered actually in some kind of accident by the local priest. But, it is a heartbreaking fact that before it was discovered all those documents were used as a material for kindling the fire!!! How horrible is to hear that!!! And how much history monuments were destroyed because of not having any clue of the value…
    • Sumartin (491) – is placed at the eastern point of the island and it is the youngest place on Brač. The fishing village without the big summer crowds and with Supetar is one of the most important links with the mainland because there is also one of the ferry ports that connects Brač and Makarska. The village is dominated by the Franciscan monastery, founded by Fr. Andrija Kačić Miošić

 

Municipality of Sutivan (850)

  • as I do some kind of top list of my favorite places, after Dol and Škrip, Sutivan takes my third of all places in Brač. Locals call it Stivan. The municipality has plenty of bays and harbors, with a lot of diversity in all kind of spheres: zoo with sheeps, goats, donkeys, cows, peacocks, pheasants, chickens and ducks and with some wild animals like muflons, wild boars and ostrich
    • Sutivan (850) – this place has a great tourist development during the last years that I have the opportunity to witness and thanking local authorities that they managed to preserve its original old Dalmatian style spirit. Its rich history and sight cannot leave anybody indifferent: a church with a beautiful bell tower and a sculpture of the cat (whose legend is pure insult to every true inhabitant of Sutivan), renaissance palaces, summer houses, mills, catacombs, promenades, numerous beaches and cycling paths can keep you occupied and make your time here so pleasurable.  And of course… not to forget… the great food here in some local restaurants…

 

Instead of a conclusion… it’s just a startup

At the end of this story hopefully, everything written will intrigue you to search and to follow this blog further. I will try to explore every corner of this magnificent island, even though I am well aware that this is mission impossible. I have realized a long time ago that more I try to investigate it each stone I know less and less… It hits me that we all usually just go by our monuments, stories, legends, even people thinking that they will be here forever, but when those things are starting to disappear or you lose those members of your community you actually realize how little did you take notice of your surroundings. In further blogs and stories, I will try to cover more detailed description about its history, people, things to do, what to eat, what to try…

This island is really magnificent and deserves to be called His Majesty – THE BRAČ!

 


* References and sources used:

  1. https://hr.wikipedia.org
  2. http://www.otok-brac.hr
  3. http://braconline.com.hr
  4. http://www.bracinfo.com/hr
  5. http://www.pucisca.hr
  6. http://www.selca.hr

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