City of Kaštela – 7 settlements
If you have ever wondered where the name Croatia was used (officially) for the very first time, you don’t have to look any further than Kaštela, or the locality of Bijaći / Putalj to be more exact. Charter of Duke Trpimir (Croatian: Povelja kneza Trpimira), also known as Trpimir’s deed of donation (Croatian: Trpimirova darovnica) is the oldest preserved document of the Croatian law. The charter clearly shows just how important Trpimir was (or thought he was) since he refers to himself as “the ruler of all Croats by the grace of God”. Charter is important because it proves the existence of Croats before Trpimir.
Kaštela is the 9th largest city in Croatia with just under 40 000 inhabitants. Comprised of 7 settlements which were each built around their own castle (Kaštel – castellum), even residents of Split and Trogir have trouble naming all 7 of them in order, so it’s time to learn our Kaštela ABCs. Nearest to Split is Kaštel Sućurac, followed by Kaštel Gomilica, Kaštel Kambelovac, Kaštel Lukšić, Kaštel Stari, Kaštel Novi and finally the last one – Kaštel Štafilić.
Even though the 7 castles on the seaside are the ones Kaštela is renowned for, the fact is, 16 castles were built altogether. Ones in the hinterland were built for protection from the Vlachs and the Ottoman army and the lavish seaside ones as residences for noble families from Split and Trogir. Settlements were planned around the castles for workers and farmers and the castles also doubled as storage facilities for annual yields. Now let’s go through the two castles with hidden story about lovers from the 16th century that still attract the attention of visitors and locals alike. Both of the castles are on our route.
Since all of the 7 settlements developed around the sea and were gradually connected to each other by a wide boardwalk, the city of Kaštela now has one of the longest Rivas in Croatia, approximately 8 kilometres. Few km away from the end of riva is a one little pearl- island named Barbarinac.
The island was a sanctuary for many people during the Ottoman invasion. Owned by the city of Kaštela, the island now hosts several concerts a year. The entire island is under strict protection of the Ministry of Culture as an archaeological site. The oldest architectural findings on this tiny island date back to the 1stcentury B.C. Since the island is located right in front of the former Salona port, archaeologists believe a lighthouse was built there in Roman times.
2. MISTERY ABOUT HERO – KAŠTELANSKI CRLJENAK (ZINFANDEL, TRIBIDRAG, PRIMITIVO)
In the 15, 16th century Kaštela wine was famous in Europe, exported in many countries under name Tribidrag or Crljenak. The vineyards were positioned southern of the Mount Kozjak above the city of Kaštela. Kozjak has been stripped over decades, almost every second year fires would ravage it and that was kind of the end of the story for crljenak in Kaštela. On the other hand for years, Zinfandel was considered the real American wine, but actually, every drop of this fine nectar has a bit of Kaštela history in it since DNA fingerprinting in 2001 established that Crljenak Kaštelanski and the American Zinfandel have an identical genetic profile, meaning they are the same variety. This was proved by prof. Carole Meredith from UC Davis in California with the help of American winemaker of Croatian origin Miljenko Grgić and associates from the Faculty of Agriculture of Zagreb University Ivan Pejić and Edi Maletić. Having sampled 150 varieties from Central Dalmatia, the sample taken in the vineyard of Ivica Radunić from Kaštel Novi showed an identical genetic profile of Crljenak Kaštelanski and Zinfandel, which finally solved the mystery of the origin of this most popular variety in the United States. Because this particular sort is very prone to various diseases, it was almost extinct in Kaštela, but true aficionados like Ivica Radunić kept the tradition alive. If you think Crljenak Kaštelanski is a tongue twister, you should try the other names for this grape, it is really challenging to pronounce. In the south of Italy same sort of wine is under name Primitivo. The best Kaštelanski crljenak comes from the cellar of Mr Vlado Perišin, who is also the winner of the 18th nights of Kaštela vinemakers. Crljenak sort gives the strong, black and mostly dry wine of rich bouquet. Wine has pronounced varietal flavour that varies from floral to intensely fruitly.
3. AGRICULTURAL COOPERATIVE “COOP“ – KAŠTEL STARI
Positioned in Kaštel Stari, the Agricultural Cooperative “Coop” has been stationed in the same place since 1939 when its story begins.
The enthusiast, the wine makers from Kaštela gathered themselves and started a cooperative for the purpose of promoting the historical aspects of it and also hoping for the better placement of the valuable drops of Kaštela crljenak outside the borders of Croatia.
On the southern slopes of Kozjak the vineyards used to be one by another thus the production and purchase of grapes was significantly larger than in the last few decades.
The Cooperative has the spaces inside the old part of Kaštel Stari, that is, three rooms connected by the outside yard and also the plot in Kaštel Štafilić (currently rented).
Cooperative is actually the purchase station, a base for delivery of grapes for the complete Kaštela area.
Today the Cooperative consists of 20 members who elect their president every four years and as such is directly involved with the work of the Dalmatian Winemakers Association.
After the Cooperative buys grapes from their members every year in September, the production of wine starts, and the Cooperative has everything needed; the scales, press, inox and wooden barrels and bottler.
The main concern of the Cooperative is to produce the highest quality wine.
Wine that it produces today is placed on the market under the name of Dillatum.
The Cooperative unfortunately cannot finance itself by selling wine despite its quality, but it is mostly financed by renting its plot.
As despite all its effort the Cooperative has problems placing this well-known wine on the market, we decide to make them a part of our tourist offer.
We plan to offer it as a tasting station, a place to taste and possibly buy the wine intended for domestic and foreign guests.
Due to long tradition of winemaking, the Cooperative could become a museum as we also have some plans to include in our offer the education of guests in winemaking and growing grapes in these areas, and also with professional guide while sightseeing the “Street of Kaštela crljenak”, we would offer visiting of old press, museum barrels and the presentation of the movie on winemaking and growing grapes in our area.
The primary mission and also the wish of this type of tourist offer is to familiarize guests to historical development of winemaking by which the Kaštela were once recognized throughout Europe, and which contributed to development of tourism also as beside the nice bay, sun and sea we were always able to proudly raise the glass to our guests and salute with the valuable drops of the finest wine.
4. LEGEND ABOUT TRAGIC LOVERS
We don’t know if William Shakespeare has ever visited Kaštela or ever came across someone from this town and heard the story of young tragic lovers Miljenko and Dobrila and later on turned it into his masterpiece, but we do know they actually lived in Kaštel Lukšić in the 17th century. Miljenko was from the Rušinić noble family, in our rout first mentioned Rušinac castle. They were intellectuals, patrons of art, highly educated, while Dobrila was from the Vitturi family, the owners of the second castle on our route in Kaštel Lukšić and though equally rich, they lived off their vast estates and agriculture. Two families were feuding over some land and feudal rights over peasants working in the village so when the news broke that their kids have fallen in love; it did not go down well. Young lovers kept seeing each other in secret, helped by Dobrila’s faithful servant Ankica. However, their fathers found out and Dobrila was put under her mother’s strict supervision while Miljenko was sent off to Venice to serve the Doge. To make sure she never sees Miljenko again, Dobrila’s father arranged for her to be married to an older noble from Trogir. Good servants managed to inform Miljenko on time and he returned from Venice on the very day of the wedding and managed to stop it just as they were exchanging their vows. This infuriated Dobrila’s father, Conte Radoslav and he expressly sent her to St. Nikola’s convent in Trogir. Miljenko was still not ready to give up on his beloved Dobrila, he met their boat at the port in Trogir, wielding his sword in an attempt to stop it. As punishment for his erratic behaviour, the magistrate exiled Miljenko to a Franciscan monastery on the islet of Visovac on the Krka River, not far from Šibenik. As luck would have it, he met Dobrila’s former nanny in the monastery and she managed to smuggle a message to Dobrila who was still in the Trogir convent. Dobrila tricked her mother superior and escaped but Miljenko didn’t make it to the meeting point in time. She wandered around Trogir and was captured by the Brigands. She accepted their offer to take her to Visovac to find Miljenko not knowing her father already ordered his assassination. Upon seeing him in the convent disguised as a monk, she thought he was ordained and lost hope the two of them would ever marry but they managed to escape. To avoid family shame, Dobrila’s father devised a plan how to end it all. He “offered” a hand of reconciliation to Miljenko’s family and they sent emissaries to Visovac to bring the young lovers home so they could legally wed. On a hot August night in 1680, a big wedding celebration was organized, and after a magnificent celebration Dobrila’s father, unable to cope with the fact that Miljenko won and that his daughter will now live in the castle built by his enemy, shot his new son in law in front of the Vitturi castle. Grief-stricken, Dobrila soon lost her mind, became gravely ill and died. Her dying wish was to be buried next to her beloved Miljenko in the tiny Chapel of St. John in Kaštel Lukšić opposite the castle. Their graves are still in the church and the gravestone still says “Pokoj ljubovnikom” (Peace to the lovers).
NAME OF THE ROUTE:
OUR HERO – KASTELA’S CRLJENAK
1st stop THE OLD OLIVE TREE, meet and greet by local tour leader in front of the oldest olive tree Olea Europea (1500 years old) in Kaštel Štafilić (in front of the kindergarden). Prepare yourself for a tour like no other. You can experience the most enjoyable and original way to taste the wine and view some of the castles in the city of Kastela.
Travel deep into the vineyards in a traditional carriage pulled by two purebred horses through spectacular Kaštela Bay, a place where nobility built 17 citadels and palaces, home of two lovers Miljenko and Dobrila and the city where grappa Zinfandel was primarily grown. Whole route is long around 18 km and duration is around 3 hours.
2nd stop AGRICULTURAL COOPERATIVE „COOP“ – WINE TASTING
Meet and greet by locals. Stop is in front of the Agricultural Cooperative.
The history of the Cooperative dates back to 1939 when Kaštela winemakers, enthusiasts, joined forces in order to present in Europe their Kaštela’s crljenak as well as possible.
Guests will be able to taste wine directly from a wooden barrel (0,2 l + home made cheese) or from the bottle (depends of time of visit)during our tour leader story about our hero – Kaštela’s crljenak.
Besides tasting, guests have the opportunity to learn how to make wine and at the end buy wine.
3rd stop ROSANI CASTLE / RUŠINAC IN KAŠTEL LUKŠIĆ AND ST. JOHN CHAPEL
The carriage passing by Rosani castle in Kaštel Lukšić (mentioned before in our legend of two lovers). It was built by the Rosani family back in 1482 on a sea reef. Now famous as the home of Miljenkoa and Dobrila’s tragic lovers, this former summer house and the castle was abandoned, along with all the surrounding houses in the 17th century because it lacked fortification. Today, it is a residence and you are welcomed to walk around its landscaped gardens. Also we will pass by the tiny chapel of St. John where Miljenko and Dobrila are buried.
4th stop VITTURI CASTLE IN KAŠTEL LUKŠIĆ
Built by the second family featured in the tragic love story of Miljenko and Dobrila, Vitturi was constructed by Nikola and Jerolim Vitturi, noblemen from Trogir in 1564. It consisted of a residential two-story building with balcony and typical sea exit on the south side and of two defensive towers and a drawbridge as a connection with the mainland on the northern side. The drawbridge was replaced with a one-arc stone bridge in the 18th century. In the centre of the castle is a yard with arcades and galleries on the 1st and 2nd floor. Today it houses the public library and the Kaštela Tourist Board office. Free time for photo pause.
5th stop PERIŠIN WINERY
Arriving in Kaštel Kambelovac in the small, famous Winery and welcomed by our host Mr. Perišin. Maybe it is hard to pronounce but a delight to taste Kaštelanski crljenak as well as prosecco, homemade cheese and olive oil. Tasting is directly from fermentation tanks or from the bottles. Here you can taste the most rewarded wine in Kaštela. After short break we are going back by carriage on the first stop.