For this is the so-called Kaštela Riviera, a collection of impressive fortresses spread over seven settlements, and one of the lesser visited places outside of Split. There is plenty of heritage and old Dalmatian stone charm, and the hordes have yet to discover the riviera, making it an ideal place to enjoy the tranquility of a quiet Dalmatian holiday by the sea.
Although the region’s heritage goes back much further, the fortified buildings in existence today date back to the 15th and 16th century, as local noblemen from Split and Trogir built fortifications to protect themselves from Ottoman attack. There are seven settlements in all, which can easily be visited in one day. Starting from Split…
Originally inhabited during the time of Ancient Salona whose inhabitants built summer palaces there, Kaštel Sućurac is the gateway to the riviera from Split. The most significant palace is the archbishop’s summer residence, which protected the villagers of Putalj. Kaštel Sućurac is also the starting point of a hiking path leading to Vela stina, from the hiker’s home Putalj (480 m) across the path to the Vrata pass situated on the Kozjak ridge and then west to the small church of St. Luke (690 m).
Originally known as Kaštel Opatica, the Benedictine nuns from Split built a fortress on the small islet of Gomile, which led to the name change to Kaštel Gomilica. A property gift from King Zvonimir to the Benedictines resulted in the church of church of St. Cosmos and Damian. The fortress is accessed by a wooden bridge, and used to house the population, until villagers started to build their own dwellings around the city walls.
Brothers Jerolim and Nikola Cambi built a castle on an islet in 1517 to protect themselves from their enemies and the inhabitants of Lažana and Kruševik, and Kaštel Kambelovac takes its name from the brothers. The only cylindrical fortress on the riviera, it was an effective defence. The property was gradually expanded and the Cambi coat of arms can be found there no a later construction, dated 1589.
The largest and most central of the seven settlements, Kaštel Lukšić was the boundary between Split and Trogir properties and takes its name from a property of the same name. It was previously called Kaštel Vitturi after the noble family who constructed it in the latter part of the 15th Century. Brothers Nikola and Jerolim Vetturi was granted permission in 1487 by Trogir Count Carlo Pesaro to build a fortification with towers and trenches by the sea.
The oldest of the settlements is Kaštel Stari (‘stari’ means old in Croatian). It is a fertile place, rich in vineyards and olive groves, figs and cherries, with a particular micro-environment which makes it conducive to Mediterranean herbs.
Kaštel Novi (‘novi’ means new in Croatian) dates back to an order to construct in 1512 by Pavo Antun Ćipiko, a fortification around which the village later developed and expanded. It is a pretty place with great sporting facilities.
The final settlement on the riviera is Kaštel Štafilić, whose fortifications date back to 1508 and the construction ordered by Stjepan Štafileo of a fortress with courtyard overlooking a cliff – known today as Rotondo Castle. The village gradually expanded around its fortification, and is full of symbols or Christian culture and churches.
One riviera, seven great villages. For more information visit www.kastela-info.hr