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Once a man of Stobreč, always man of Stobreč

Historical development
Construction heritage
The Stobreč today

In the third century BC Greek colonists from the island Issa (Vis) established a settlement Epetion on the easily defendable semi island surrounded by cliffs. Embraced by Mosor and Perun from the sea, its saltiness dissolved by the river Žrnovnica, is where the ancient Epetion settled and it's descendent Stobreč, a town rich in gastronomy and recreational offer, only seven km away from the Diocletian Palace.
Written by: Ante MEKINIĆ

Embraced by Mosor and Perun from the sea, its saltiness dissolved by the river Žrnovnica, in the shell like blueness of the furthest south east end of the peninsula of Split, lays the ancient Epetion and its descendent - Stobreč. Raised on an ellipsoid cliff of 4,5 ha area, visually dominating a larger bay, the ancient Epetion is one of the oldest urban complexes on the east side of the Adriatic. Because of its natural diversity, today’s Stobreč is a kind of exposed establishment in a landscape which in its proportions, structure of facilities and structural elements, meaningfully contributes to the landscape. The wider area of Stobreč, with its favorable microclimatic and other natural conditions, has for a long time accounted for an Areal of exquisite value.

Historical development

Ancient writer Polibius states that Illyrian Delmats were often known to attack Greek towns including Epetion, after them came the Romans, three centuries after the establishment of Epetion, they reinstated their dominance over the entire area of the east Adriatic. With the arrival of the Romans, Greek Issa loses its role and the centre of life becomes Salona, the center of great province Dalmatia.

The Greek Epetion becomes the roman Epetium, without its municipal autonomy as it was situated near Salona, and so its territory enters the constitution of the Salonitan ager. Within the Salonitan colony, Epetium receives the status of the ager prefecture, according to which the town provides clerks who rule the Epetium as their town’s community. The importance of the Roman Epetium was also in its good harbor, traffic connections and the rich agricultural hinterland.
About the role of harbor in Stobreč in Roman times says the information that in the known Tabula Peuntingeriani, which represents the medieval copy of the Authentic ancient map, a greater graphical importance is given to Eprtium than to Salona itself (on the Tabula Peuntingeriani Portus Epetius is marked, and by the name Epetio three towers are marked, while Salona is marked with only two).

The harbor stretched all the way from the delta of river Žrnovnica (by the Lady of Sita church there were findings of iron rings that were used for docking ships), and in some inscriptions that were found the associations of transport workers were mentioned (collegium saccarium) which obviously states the activity of the harbor in those days.
Agricultural role of Epetium was based on the fertile field north of the establishment and accidental archeological findings prove that around Stobreč existed Roman economical buildings and necropolis which indicates to the intensive development of that area in Roman times. The delta of river Žrnovnica was full of fish and wildlife, and especially favorable to the production or the picking of to the production or the picking of, very important for the trade, salt, witnessed by, even today’s, toponyms of some areas of Stobreč like Slanice (salty) and Soline (salt).
The meaning of Salona in the first centuries of Christianity reflected to the life in Epetium where the Salonitan martyr Felix was situated, according to tradition he was buried in Vrbovnik near Stobreč. The great old Christian basilica built in fifth and sixth century in place of an earlier ancient cult building, is the most important trace of that period in today’s Stobreč.
The incursion of Avars and Slavs, which brought Salona down, probably did not spare Epetium either. After almost a thousand years of development life of a town came to an end, it was later replaced by a rural establishment Stobreč, which is named after a church St Lawrence, adapted on the remains of an old Christian basilica. Even though the church is dedicated to Lady of Carmel, in the historical sources it is mentioned under the name of a roman martyr Lawrence (Lovrenco, Lovre, etymological work by Don F. Bulić).
Data of Stobreč in the period of autonomous commune of Split were very scarce. The establishment obviously loses its importance in relation to other establishments of the wider Split area. During the period of the 400 years of Venetian authority the data on Stobreč is still very scarce. On the area where ancient town used to be a small establishment still exists, mentioned by the graphical sources (map by Calergi from seventeenth century).

In the beginning of the sixteenth century the area of Stobreč is exposed to Turkish attacks even though during the reinstatement of the Turkish-Venetian border in 1537, Stobreč stayed within Venetian property. On the 5th June 1807 the wider area of Stobreč was the scene of battle which ended the Napoleons run for Dalmatia with the defeat of democracy of Poljica against the French imperialism. In the last two centuries Stobreč gradually loses its importance in relation to other historical entities of the urban Split area.

Construction heritage

Even though the present Stobreč has long outgrown its semi island origin, it has not given up on the rich construction heritage. Therefore the remains of the ancient fortification wall preserved on the north side of the peninsula core are visible even today. This wall was mentioned also by Alberto Fortis in his work ‘‘Viaggio in Dalmazia’’, comparing them with the similar in Salona. Near this wall there was a canal 0,35 m high and 0,62 m wide, with walls made of small rock block, stretching along the entire peninsula all the way to the sea. It is most probable that this canal had a function of a city sewage system, which also witnesses to the urban life of this town dating back to the ancient times. The peninsula core is even today decorated by the complex of the extraordinary important national architecture of rural typology and way of construction.

Still, the great old Christian basilica from the fifth century with its characteristic three-nave church shape with an in scripted apses and narthex on the west side, is the most important historical - architectural monument in the entire establishment, preserved in some parts and up to 7 meters high. The complex of the old Christian church St Lawrence, the Lady of Carmel today, shows the remains from different phases. To the oldest the walls belong to an ancient building, probably a temple, which directs to continuity of a cult centre in the south east part of establishment. The early medieval little church, adapted in the apses of an old Christian basilica, is and interesting example of overbuilding the early architecture that characterizes the old Croatian period. Connected to the old Croatian phase is also the Benedict abbey.

The Stobreč today

The Stobreč today with its 4.000 inhabitants is an administrative part of Split, distanced only seven km from the Diocletian Palace. Leaning upon the city and town itself, Stobreč offers many possibilities for divers and enjoyable tourist stay.
Well known beaches of Stobreč, from the sandy in the very centre of town to the rocky ones on the south-west, attract families with children as well as the romantics, Within reach is a safe mooring with the appropriate infrastructure for all kinds of tourist boats. Traditionally rich and diverse offer in gastronomy is followed by the appropriate accommodation and hotels.
Especially great possibilities are in sport recreations: from long walks by the sea to tennis fields, golf, bowling, basketball, handball and soccer. Shooters have at their disposal a shooting-ground for hunting and small caliber weapons, and those who enjoy the sea have excellent conditions for sailing, rowing, surfing or fishing. And for all others, who praise the sea but stick to the ground, there is volleyball, soccer and other kinds of entertainment. The cultural entertainment is mainly based on the rich program of Summer in Split. However, Stobreč has its authentic national fiestas; they culminate in August by the marking of fiesta St Lawrence, the heavenly patron of the town.
Besides that, the tourist board of Stobreč offers also numerous possibilities of excursions, from cruises to the near by islands to excursions into the hinterland. Besides all natural, cultural-historical, gastronomic, entertaining and recreational-sporting facilities, the long tradition of organized tourism of Stobreč guarantees you that once you arrive to Stobreč you became a man of Stobreč forever!

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