A Morning in Omis, Croatia

The map of the Dalmatia Coastline to the right shows that our destination for the last morning of our cruise was not in fact another island. We were spending the morning in Omis which is a town and port 25 kilometres south of Split. It is built around the mouth of the Cetina River where it enters the Adriatic. Omis has an unusual history. Today its economy is based on the usual Dalmatian Coast activities…farming, fishing, textiles and tourism. However in the 13/14th centuries, its citizens (the Corsairs of Almissa and support staff) decided that a more profitable economy could be based on piracy of the trade ships that couldn’t avoid this coastline. The local ships were built for swift attack and even faster retreat into the Cetina River and up river into mountainous country where trade ships couldn’t follow them.

Our crew on board suggested to us that the most interesting thing to do in town was to climb to the top of the tower that was connected to the remnants of Omis Castle. The Mountain in the background of the old centre of town is called the Omiska Dinara Mountain and is a steep slope running down to the river. It gives a perfect frontage to a fortress as enemies would not be bothered attempting to attack from the mountain side. There is not much left of the fortress surviving from the medieval period but the ‘Romanesque’ Tower built in the 13th century still stands tall. It has been rebuilt once apparently when it was struck by lightning.

Our boat was parked close to the bridge that can be seen in the image to the left, and the tower can be accessed by the path that begins at the back of the shops. The photo on the left below shows where we started to ascend the side of the mountain to the tower.

When we came to a small ‘platform’ before entering the tower, we gained a great spot to take in the view over Omis. It gave us views of the river and the port and the photo on the left below shows where the river winds its way further along between the steep mountain sides on either side of the river. The image on the right looks back to where our boat was anchored.

Tall towers on a mountain side make for an arduous walk and so we were very pleased when we made it to the room at the top of the tower. The tower’s name is Peovica and it was originally part of the Mirabella Fortress which clung to side of the mountain and originally consisted of six interconnected levels.

. The view down to the Cetina River is breathtaking as can be seen from the image below on the left. It makes it very clear how the pirates were able to use this river as an escape route and base camp and larger ships were not able to follow. The peak of the power of the Omis pirates was the 12th and 13th centuries. Local towns like Dubrovnik and Kotor paid tribute to the pirates, who signed ‘non-attacking’ treaties to allow free sailing and trade. The pirates happily attacked the Pope’s galleys as well as Venetian ships. They even attacked crusader’s ships on the way to the Holy Land. The pirate-time came to an end in 1444 when they finally had to give in to the Venetian Republic who had by then taken over much of Dalmatia.

After descending from the Peovica tower, we weren’t that far from the back of St Michaels church. This is the parish church of Omis and was the replacement church for the original medieval church that was too small for the locals after they had left their pirate ways behind. It was built in 1604. The impressive belfry was completed in in 1724 and stands well above the other buildings in town and so is a landmark for locals and visitors alike to orient their walking tours.

We only had a couple of hours to walk around Omis before we were due back at the boat. We found ourselves on the roadway that ran along beside the river and we were pleased to note that modern citizens of Omis didn’t have to use a boat or climb a mountain in order to get into the interior of Dalmatia: they could just drive their car through a tunnel in the mountain. The last photo below is an aerial shot that gives a clear view of the river valleys that dominate the other side of local peaks.

We made it back in time for lunch before the boat began its last journey of the cruise back to Split.

2016…Croatia Cruise…Split to Split

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