The Creator, while giving His last touch in forming the Earth, noticed that he was still holding a handful of the cradle of mankind meant for beauty. Amazed at the unrepeated blueness of the sea that he had a moment earlier placed deep under the skirts of Europe, he dropped all this beauty into the middle of the Adriatic. So, says the legend, was the beginning of the landscape that dominates the city of Biograd.
Biograd na Moru was once considered as the crown city of Croatian kings. But today it is a well-recognised nautical and tourist centre situated at the very heart of the Adriatic Coast. The city, tailored to suit everyone’s preferences, lies on the peninsula surrounded by a promenade and contemporary marinas from which a memorable view can be seen all the way to the Pasman Channel and islets scattered in it.
Thanks to its decades-long tradition in tourism, colourful heritage and tourist offer, culinary specialities and sporting events, Biograd has become an attractive holiday destination. Moreover, it is located at the centre the Adriatic Coast, surrounded by the lasting beauty of national and nature parks.
First time mentioned in the mid 10th century, Biograd on the sea was given the role of the seat of Croatian kings and bishops in the following century. The period of its greatest flourish reached its peak when the city became the residence of the medieval Croatian emperors. In 1102 the Croato-Hungarian king Colomanus was crowned there. Numerous artefacts of the tumultuous and rich history of the Biograd region were stored in the especially interesting Regional Museum.
Biograd is a relatively small maritime city. Nevertheless, it has a rich historical background reflected in the Christian ecclesiastical buildings such as the parish church of St. Anastasia (1761), the early Romanesque church of St. Anthony (13th century) and the church of St. Rocco (16th century). Of all the ancient buildings that once existed in Biograd, only the basilica of St. John (11th century) has survived the Venetian devastation in 1125. Still, on the neighbouring island of Pasman, an 800-year old Benedictine Monastery of St. Cosmas and Damian (1125) stands alongside the Franciscan Monastery of St. Damian dating back to the 16th century.
Biograd on the sea, the Croatian crown city, for the first time mentioned in the mid10th century, was the seat of the Croatian kings and bishops in the following century. It experienced its greatest flourish as the residence of medieval Croatian emperors. In 1102, the Croatian-Hungarian king Colomanus was crowned there. Numerous factual records of tumultuous and rich history of the Biograd region have been stored in the fascinating Regional Museum.
Regional Museum of the city of Biograd on the sea is an independent cultural and regional museum. It stores valuable monumental heritage of the rich regional and coastal history.
Former royal residence of Croatian emperors in the 11th century is located on the sea front in the city centre. The building that houses the museum, being a cultural monument itself, was built out of ruins of medieval ramparts in the late 18th and early 19th century. It was used for a long time as a District Court established during the governance of the Emperor Francis Joseph I in 1876.
The Regional Museum holds:
– Archaeological Collection
– Collection “The Treasure of a 16th century Sunken Ship”
– Ethnographical Collection
– History Department
– Collection of Fine Art Paintings
Visitors tend to be particularly interested by the cultural history collection “Treasure of the a 16th century Sunken Ship”, a one-of-a-kind collection along the Adriatic. Ten thousand objects taken from a sunken Venetian ship of the 16th century are kept in it. A Venetian merchant ship, crammed to the gills with various kinds of expensive goods for trade around the ports of the Mediterranean, was sunk in 1583 in the Pašman Channel, nearby the islet of Gnalić, a few miles to the south of Biograd. For almost four centuries, the priceless treasure was hidden at the sea bottom. It was accidentally discovered by a Murter-based fisherman in 1967. Since then, several expert marine archaeological investigations have been carried out, providing a multitude of objects of incalculable value. They document the factual culture of a relatively new epoch, concerning which knowledge has mostly been based on written or visual sources.
Church of St. Anastasia
The parish church of St. Anastasia was built in the middle of the 18th century in honour of the martyr Anastasia of Sirmium. It is 33 metres long and 10 metres high. It was consecrated by Matija Karaman, an archbishop of Zadar, in 1761 during the ordinance of the parish priest Ante Jurasović-Eškinja. It is evidenced in a record engraved on a baroque portal. On the top of the pediment there is the statue of the protector saint. The interior is covered in arranged gravestones, some even bearing inscriptions. There are 5 altars out of which one stands out – a gilded wooden altar from the 18th cent.
Church of St. John the Baptist
The parish church built in honour of St. John the Baptist is a religious centre of Biograd’s surrounding areas – Kosa, Torovi and Jankolovica. Construction was started in 1987 and was consecrated by the Archbishop of Zadar, Marijan Oblak, in 1988. It is representative of sacral architecture of the late 20th century – a harmonious building with a bell tower in the form of distaff with three bells, pastoral centre on the north, and olive trees in the yard.
Church of St. Anthony
The church of St. Anthony was built in the mid 19th century. It belongs to the fraternity of St. Anthony. At that time, the church was located on the sea front – at the end of a deeply indented bay called Jaza. By levelling Jaza in the early 20th century and constructing residential buildings in the second half, it remained at a lower level than the surrounding terrain. The nave is covered in wood while the semicircular apse is topped by semi-dome and stone slabs. The bell tower in the form of a distaff dominates the front. The church was reconstructed in the late 20th century.
Church of St. Rocco
The church was built in the late 16th or early 17th century in honour of St. Rocco, a patron against the plague. The first mention of the church is found in a testament written in 1653, in which Franica, the wife of John the Senjanin, donates olive crops to nearby St. Rocco’s “House of Worship”. This modestly decorated church has two side windows and the bell tower in the form of a distaff. The church’s interior is dominated by a gilded Baroque altar which dates back to the 18th cent. By the mid 20th century, the church was enclosed by walls which contained several fragments of pre-Romanesque stone engravings belonging to one of Biograd’s medieval churches. The church is property of St. Rocco’s fraternity.
Church of St. Catherine
Not far from the harbour and lighthouse built in 1885, lie the remains of the medieval church of St. Catherine. The church is located on a cliff above a quarry which had been in function from the ancient times to the 20th century. The nave contains a semicircular apse (7.70 meters long x 4.50 meters wide) constructed of carved stone slabs. The facade collapsed due to stone works in the quarry. The semicircular apse ends in side walls with a small window.
Village Gate used to be a name of a medieval city entrance whereas from the 16th to the end of the 19th century, it became the entrance to the fortified village. Venetians demolished the city in 1125. Biograd was then reconstructed during the wars in the 16th century. At that time, it was enclosed by a defensive wall with three rectangular and one pentagonal tower turned towards the mainland and the area of Jaza. Above a semi-circular door there was an emblem and inscription of Alvise Grimani, the general governor of Dalmatia and Albania. The inscription provides details on city’s reconstruction of the late 16th century:
DALMATIAE ET (Albaniae provisor generalis)
ANTIQUA (moenia urbis)
ANNO DOMINI 1573 – 1575
ALVISE GRIMANI, THE GENERAL GOVERNOR OF DALMATIA AND ALBANIA,
REVIVED OLD CITY RAMPARTS IN ANNO DOMINI 1573 – 1575.
During an archaeological excavation in 2008, remains of city walls and gate were found.
Family De Soppe Summer Residence
Summer House of the family De Soppe on Babac Island
Remains of the fortification which belonged to the summer house of the De Soppe family are found on the island of Babac in the Pašman Channel. The construction and finalisation of the summer house was mentioned at the end of the 15th century, and again at the end of the 16th century when the walls and mill were constructed. This is recorded in a number of historical documents. The preserved architecture of the remains of summer house consists of a rectangular yard encircled by a wall within which cottages were located. The best conserved remains of the 16th century city walls belong to the south-western part with a bastion, and the entrance gate facade bearing the family emblem exhibiting Renaissance traits. The nearby church of St. Andrew, although built in earlier times, became a constitutive part of the summer residence of the de Soppe family with the family’s coat-of-arms also engraved on the church’s facade. During the period of attacks by the Ottomans the entire complex of buildings served as a temporary shelter for refugees coming from the seashore. Due to its exceptional defensive role, the fortified summer house on the island of Babac is a representative of the 16th century residential architecture of the islands of Zadar region.
Text and photo: Sofija Sorić
In 1125 Biograd was completely ruined by the Venetians. They also damaged the Benedictine monastery of St. John the Evangelist after which the monks firstly took shelter in Šibenik, and later on transferred to the island of Pašman. The monastery is located at the top of the hill Čokovac, near the maritime city of Tkon. The Chapel of St. Cosmas and Damian was already there, so the monks built a Romanic church and a fortified monastery. The Venetians destroyed it in 1345 and imprisoned the monks. The monastery and church had been reconstructed for years until their final consecration in 1418. For its exceptional contribution, the monastery gained a sort of independence proclaimed by several popes. It is believed that the monks accepted the invitation of the Chezc King Charles IV to preach Glagolitic and Slavic language. Also, there are assumptions that the monastery possesses the first form of Glagolitic scripts in liturgical texts, as numerous old Glagolitic scripts from the 13th century have been preserved. Out of valuable artistic works, the church stores a large gothic style crucifix dating back to the 15th century. It is a work of art of a Venetian painter Menegelo (195 cm long x 164 cm wide). Except the crucifix, the monastery also stores a precious portrait of the Virgin Mary. These are the only exhibits of this sort conserved after the French government closed the monastery in 1808. In 1961, after more than 150 years, the monastery opened its doors. Since then it has been modestly renovated. It is available to visitors from June 1st to October 31st between 4.00 p.m. and 6.00 p.m. or on appointment.
Put Soline 49, Biograd na Moru,