This post is also available in: Croatian
The idea behind the Dalmatia Storytelling destination is a unique storytelling platform that allows you to get better acquainted with unforgettable, authentic, emotional Croatian stories through something different and unusual.
In this edition of the article, we’re going to take you in search of Viver, a mythical creature that lives in the hidden caves of the mystical Brač village of Dol, a walk with the Renaissance poet Petar Hektorović, and to get to know the cultural heritage of Komiža – a wealth of fishing heritage.
“In search of Viver”
Interpreter: Ivana Gospodnetić
The inhabitants of Dol on Brač know about the mythical creature that hides in their caves, and they call him Viver. He can only be found in Dol, and if you are lucky, you might even be able to hear him calling.
About the village of Dol:
Dol belongs to a series of twelve old medieval settlements located in the interior of the island of Brač, sheltered at the end of a deep fertile valley, surrounded by steep hills topped with beautiful medieval churches, and at the foot of inexhaustible springs of water. Today it has about a hundred inhabitants living there, and at the very entrance to this small place lie breathtaking houses traditionally covered with stone slabs, as well as numerous caves made up of the grainy hrapućuša stones which were once human dwellings, which are currently used as shelters for cattle, places in which to keep firewood, a dwelling for pigeons, owls, but also Viver!
About the walk:
In an interpretive walk through the village, we’ll take you to meet the mythical creature that hides in the caves of Dol – Viver. One guide will embody many Dol locals who will take you to the past of this little village and directly to some of the legends and beliefs of its inhabitants.
This cultural-interpretive walk is carried out as part of the Dalmatia Storytelling destination project. It is dedicated to Petar Hektorović. It takes us back in time, deep into the past, and teaches us how the hand of fate brought Petar Hektorović to Tvrdalj, and how he wrote his ‘’stone book’’ in Tvrdalj. It then points out the reasons that prompted Hektorović to write his famous work “Fishing and Fishermen’s Talk’’, what his favourite cake was, what it was like to live in Stari Grad at the time of the plague, which Saint Roch (Sveti Rok) means to Stari Grad and what Petar’s role in all of that really was. It also tells us about his granddaughter Julija and the famous Tintoretto.
The interpretive tour of the Renaissance poet Petar Hektorović is the story of a person who was born during the awakening and renaissance on the island of Hvar. In a cycle of virtues and abilities, we will discover how he could swim strongly and resourcefully like a fish in their very own pond. Tvrdalj, the ‘’Fishing and Fishermen’s Talk’’ book, the Saint Roch Church and St. Peter the Martyr, is a thematic line that follows his life, actions and eventually – his death.
“At my Fortress, the fortress which adopted me” begins the story of the life of the famous Renaissance poet and nobleman Petar Hektorović. The saga reveals the details of the situation from life on the island of Hvar way back in the sixteenth century and how, under the scarlet cloak of this most unusual nobleman, and yet a true representative of the Renaissance period, the heart of a man who loved, understood and appreciated people regardless of their class and affiliation, beat strongly.
The starting point of the storytelling tour about Petar Hektorović is the easily visible facade of the Tvrdalj summer house. In front of the building, guests get the impression of the size of the building, which is followed by a story about the no less famous poet. Through the main wooden door you enter the “portego”, a lobby with barrel vaults, numerous antique chests and an attractive toilet area from back in the sixteenth century. Heading out on the south side, you enter the very heart of Tvrdalj, a real microcosm in which all God’s beings are welcome.
Our host, the good spirit of Tvrdalj, teleports us into an oasis of peace and quiet, dominated by a real glittering emerald pond, framed by stone arcades and inscriptions from all over the world.
A view to the north reveals an interesting construction of a gazebo tower and a dovecote. From there we head over to the “glamorous” park. There sits an oval stone table and there is an interpretation of Hektorovic’s famous ‘’Fishing and Fishermen’s Talk’’. In that very place and at that same old stone table, on clear days, Hektorović received friends, and enjoyed singing songs with them, feasting on Stari Grad peppercorns paired with a glass of prosecco. Heading from the park along the corridor to the west, we come to an ethnographic collection with exhibits of typical Hvar cuisine and a tavern where the Hektorović family used to gather together for a meal.
Saint Roch’s Church
This church is ideologically connected to the character and works of Petar Hektorović, who made the designs, financed the construction, and bequeathed the funds for its completion. He built this church and gave it as a gift to his city and his people in need, without whom he would not have completed his stone symphony, his Tvrdalj. Namely, back when the plague was ravaging Europe, people were influenced by St. Roch and sought help, so, Hektorović, being more noble than any other nobleman, decided to build a church with the name of that saint on his own property. In constructing Tvrdalj, Petar Hektorović built a strong friendship with the local people and in that way, he thanked them.
The Church of Saint Peter the Martyr
This church is the final resting place of Petar Hektorović and his mother Katarina. Above the main door of the church is an inscription about the unpleasant events which occurred back in 1571 when the marauding Ottomans attacked all of the major towns on the island of Hvar, including Petar’s own Tvrdalj in beautiful Stari Grad. The museum of the Dominican monastery, which is located within the church itself, preserves the unique Tintoretto altarpiece that once adorned the tomb and altar of the Hektorović family. The motif on the altarpiece “The Lamentation of Christ” hides an interesting fact within, and is therefore an unmissable point of interest for every single visitor.
This concludes the interpretive walk and the thematic line that follows and honorus the life, work and the death of Petar Hektorović.
Interpreter: Klaudija Gamulin
Komiža’s fishing cultural heritage
Interpreter: Dora Čukušić
The Church of St. Mary is often referred to as the Church of Our Lady of the Pirates. It is located on the beach and was built throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It is closely associated with the numerous legends of pirates and the fishing heritage of Komiža, the oldest fishing village in the entire Adriatic.
Throughout history, the islanders have struggled with many adversities including pirate attacks. There are a few legends about pirates and the origin of the name of this church, and one legend says that pirates once stole a picture of the Virgin Mary during the robbery of the church, but they couldn’t sail with her on board at all, managing only when they threw her off the ship.
Another legend says that they successfully sailed away with all of the treasure, but they were caught in a severe storm and they began to become unstuck and slowly sink, but the picture’s end was a little different…
As for the construction of the church, there are several variants, in one church document from local folk tales it is stated that a man from the Ivčević family was told three times in a dream that a picture of the Mother of God was somewhere on the shore and then he ended up discovering it in a small cave while fishing in the Komiža waves.
According to another story about the construction of the church, the Mother of God appeared to a fisherman while he was fishing and told him to go to the pastor and tell him to build a chapel for her. The pastor did not trust the fisherman at all until he read with his own eyes the miraculous inscription of Our Lady on the fisherman’s back and then set out to build her the most beautiful church possible.
The Bishop of Hvar approved the construction of this church with a bull issued in Zadar back in 1513. Local fishermen’s income from catching sardines, mackerel, anchovies and other species successfully supported the fraternity, the Parish church of St. Nicholas and the church of Our Lady of the Pirates, and the prayers addressed to the Mother of God ensured their protection and blessing, or so the people of Komiža believe.
A source of water flows beneath the church…
Thanks to having a very specific geological background, the island of Vis has its own drinking water which comes up from underground and just below this church lies one of the water sources that flows through the channels from the central altar through to the beautifully decorated well which boasts reliefs of biblical scenes out in the churchyard.
This post is also available in: Croatian