Friday, 18 February 2022

4th Century Coins Found on Ugljan Island

February 18th, 2022 - Archaeological research was conducted on St. Michael's fortress on Ugljan island, which is set to become a tourist attraction dedicated to the cultural heritage of all Zadar islands

Archaeological research has been underway at St. Michael's fortress on Ugljan island for several years now. During the third excavation campaign, archaeologists found modern, medieval and late antique coins, as well as 14 fragments of stone sculpture.

As reported by Naši Školji, a small amount of archaeological material was collected, mostly ceramics, which will be stored at the Archaeological Museum in Zadar after preliminary processing and analysis.

Research was conducted by the company Arheolog d.o.o. from November 3rd to December 8th, 2021. Archaeologist Damir Martinov, head of the company that carried out the work, explained that the recent research provided valuable insight into the stratigraphy and chronology of the embankment on the south-west side of the fortress, which once used to house the church of St. Michael. 

‘Several layers of the embankment have been documented, dating to different periods. The two upper layers of the embankment were formed during the 20th century, as evidenced by the remnants of various materials from recent history. The thick upper embankment on the southern side, made of stone and soil, was consolidated by a dry stone wall, and was made by demolishing the ruinous Romanesque-Gothic church of St. Michael after World War II. Inside the embankment, thirteen stone artefacts from the church were found (fragments of pillars, lintels, capitals, consoles, arch openings, etc.). The lower, thinner embankment layer probably formed during the first half of the 20th century’, explained Martinov.

One of the embankment layers dates to the early modern era, i.e. between the 16th and the 18th centuries. Three layers date to late middle ages; a silver Venetian coin was found in one of the layers, minted for the Doge of Venice Andrea Dandolo (1343-1354).

In another late medieval layer, researchers discovered late antique coins dating to the first half of the 4th century - a significant find that points to activity on the site in late antiquity.

A captain's house dating to the 1400s was also discovered at the fortress during an earlier research campaign. 

‘Archaeological research was conducted as part of the reconstruction and revitalization of St. Michael's fortress, which is a protected cultural asset of the Republic of Croatia and is supposed to contribute to the sustainable economic development of Ugljan and Pašman islands, as well as development of cultural and active tourism. A project for the reconstruction of the fortress will be developed based on the results of the archaeological research. So far, a geodetic study and geodetic survey, a conservation study and an architectural survey of the fortress have been completed’, said Preko Mayor.

There are big plans for the fortress of St. Michael, which is supposed to become a so-called Castle of Island Stories, an interpretation center that will introduce visitors to the heritage of all Zadar islands.

Research was conducted by archaeologists Damir Martinov, Domagoj Maurin and Dominik Kelava of the company Arheolog, in collaboration with archaeology students Pio Domines Peter, Domagoj Knez, Luka Žarković, Eugen Fritz Prgomet and Leona Valenta. The experts were assisted by four workers from Ugljan.

Saturday, 18 September 2021

Zadar Outdoor Festival to Be Held Next Week on the Island of Ugljan

September 18, 2021 - With the same views and colors of summer but without the extreme temperatures, many sports lovers and fans find the best conditions for activities such as marathons or hiking, and several will meet on September 25 and 26 on the island of Ugljan for the long-awaited return of the Zadar Outdoor Festival.

The end of September is an ideal time to spend a weekend in nature with your family and escape for a while from the city crowds. The Zadar Outdoor Festival, for its first part of the autumn edition, will be held in Preko on the island of Ugljan, on September 25 and 26, and you can participate in as many as four sports, reports Turističke Priče.

Although two years have passed since the last Zadar Outdoor Festival, the enthusiasm has not dropped at all, on the contrary, it is even greater. The climate of the island of Ugljan is often called the olive climate and is ideal for outdoor activities throughout the year. The warmth of the sea makes winters mild and hot summers less hot. The annual number of sunny days is about 120, which means that every third day is clear.

An interesting route has been prepared for competitors in kayaking and SUP, which leads around the islet of Galevac in front of Preko, and which is dominated by the church and monastery of St. Paul from the 15th century. The route is challenging and the view unforgettable.

This year, the organizers of the Zadar Outdoor Festival have prepared a new discipline, so all lovers of heights will be able to enjoy speed climbing. Željina Litica podno sv. Mihovila on the island of Ugljan is a three hundred meters wide rocky barrier with a height of 10 to as much as 60 meters. The ambiance at the foot of the cliff among the forests of holm oak and ancient olive trees is special, and the additional charm is given by the clear views of the Zadar archipelago.

In recent years, there has been an incredible increase in interest in sports. Artificial rock halls are springing up everywhere, the number of professional sport climbers is growing, and a decision was recently made to enter sport climbing into the Olympic sports community.

In addition to the competitive part of the festival, interesting workshops await you. So you can sign up for a kayak workshop for children, yoga, and a sport climbing workshop. But that’s not all from this year’s Zadar Outdoor Festival edition. Two weeks later, on Saturday, October 9, another interesting trail is being prepared: Ravni kotari.

The region is known in the world as one of the most attractive in the Mediterranean. What continues to be promoted is the beautiful landscape characterized by exceptional geographical diversity, making it an ideal place to conduct a variety of outdoor sports activities.

Exercise and being in nature speed up blood flow releases endorphins and reduces overall stress levels. Just 30 minutes of walking a day can help improve mental health; can improve general mood and sleep quality, reduce stress, anxiety, and fatigue. Physically active people face up to 30% less risk of becoming depressed, and physical activity helps them recover from depression.

You can sign up for all disciplines of the Zadar Outdoor Festival via the LINK, and follow all the news related to the festival on the social networks Facebook and Instagram.

For more on lifestyle, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 26 April 2021

Together for a Cleaner Ugljan Project Has 300,000 HRK Approved

April the 26th, 2021 - The "Together for a cleaner Ugljan" (Zajedno za cisci otok Ugljan) project, which will focus much of its attention on maritime heritage, has had funds in the amount of 300,000 kuna approved for its work.

As Morski writes, the purpose of the "Together for a cleaner Ugljan" project is the promotion and valorisation of fishing and the maritime culture/heritage of Ugljan and the surrounding areas, as well as the extension of the tourist season through the holding of events related to fishing, aquaculture and ecology, writes the Nasi skolji portal.

These are events which include lectures on environmental protection, round tables for local fishermen, underwater/beach clean up actions and more, all with the promotion of local fishery products and fishing and maritime traditions at their heart. The project also includes the mapping and marking out of diving locations and analysis of the state of the seabed, along with education on ways to prevent underwater pollution and preserve the marine environment. In addition, the project will produce publications on the promotion of local products as a healthy way of eating, as well as interpretive educational boards related to diving sites and the upgrading of the Adventure Island mobile application (app).

''The value of this project stands at 299,286.58 kuna, and we've been approved funds in the amount of one hundred percent. This is a joint project of the Municipality of Preko, the Tourist Board of the Municipality of Preko and the Tourist Board of Ugljan, while TZO Preko is the official applicant and project holder in the administrative sense. All project activities will be carried out together in all places and on the islands in the Municipality of Preko. This is another in a series of our positively evaluated projects which involved public calls/invitations and tenders, and we're extremely proud of the high pass rate, ie the approval and positive decisions in regard to all of our projects. This is proof that we're doing our job well, that we have professional and capable people, but also the significant support of all of the relevant ministries, the Government and Zadar County, with whose cooperation we're implementing all our projects out there in the field,'' stated Jure Brizic.

He also pointed out that the ''Together for a cleaner Ugljan'' project is one that will certainly contribute to the evaluation and promotion of the area's natural, cultural and maritime heritage, raise awareness of preserving the marine environment, fishing and maritime traditions and heritage and popularise local fisheries and the consumption of fish products.

''The ''Together for a cleaner Ugljan'' project is fully in line with today's trends in tourism in which the main motives are returning to nature, preserving the environment, staying outdoors, returning to our roots, preserving traditions and more, therefore we have no doubt about its successful implementation and the acceptance of its users - locals, guests and other visitors alike,'' said Ivan Kosta, the director of TZO Preko.

For more on the many Croatian islands dotted along the coastline, make sure to bookmark our dedicated section.

Saturday, 6 February 2021

Preko on Ugljan Island Included in EU Project Promoting Thematic Tourism

ZAGREB, 6 February, 2021 - The municipality of Preko on the central Croatian Adriatic island of Ugljan is included in a European project that promotes thematic tourism based on innovation, sustainable tourism and tourism geared towards people with disabilities.

The Thematic project is one of 56 innovation, environment and transport projects supported by the EU with €80 million through the Interreg Adriatic-Ionian programme known as ADRION, which is an instrument of EU cohesion policy. Preko is one of the partners from seven countries in the Adriatic-Ionian region involved in the project.

According to Jure Brižić, the mayor of Preko, Thematic has a budget of €1.5 million, of which €160,000 has been allocated to Preko, with an EU co-financing rate of 85%.

Preko is a small island municipality of 3,800 people. It is already involved in the Pegasus project, financed through the Interreg Med programme, which promotes the construction of microgrids to supply public buildings with electricity.

Preko is the first island municipality in the Zadar region to install a charger for electric vehicles. It has carried out energy renovation the municipal administration building, and has developed cycling paths and footpaths on the island, the mayor said.

The Thematic project addresses the consequences of mass tourism, the overexploitation of cultural and natural heritage and the need to improve access for tourists with special needs, and aims to increase the innovation capacity of tourism in the Adriatic-Ionian region.

The project is led by the Italian University of Basilicata and involves, among others, the Greek agency for investment and export promotion Enterprise Greece, the Business Support Centre from Kranj, Slovenia, the Albanian Union of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and the Regional Development Agency from Zlatibor, Serbia.

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Monday, 1 February 2021

VIDEO: Stunning Aerial Footage of Dolphin Family in Zadar Archipelago

February 1, 2021 – The Adriatic might be too cold for us right now, but conditions are perfect for this dolphin family, spectacularly captured gliding through glacial, undisturbed waters by an overhead drone

The Adriatic might be too cold for us right now, but conditions are perfect for this dolphin family, spectacularly captured gliding through glacial, undisturbed waters by an overhead drone

The footage of the dolphin family was captured spectacularly by keen amateur drone photographer Davor Miljkovic. Davor, who is from Zapresic, usually puts his eye for aesthetics into website design – he works as a PHP website developer for Virtus dizajn in Lanište, Zagreb and as a freelance website developer. But, he is currently taking advantage of working remotely and was able to catch footage of the dolphin family during his off time.

“I live in Zapresic but my grandmother is from island Rava, near Zadar,” Davor told TCN on 1st February 2021, two days after he posted the video of the dolphin family to his Youtube channel. “So, we have a house here by the sea. My fiance and I spend part of the winter here and we are here all summer too.”

The Zadar archipelago (in Croatian Zadarski arhipelag) is an incredibly picturesque group of islands off the coast of the city of Zadar. In addition to island Rava, off which Davor saw the dolphin family, the archipelago also consists of the islands Dugi Otok, Galešnjak, Iž, Lavdara, Ošljak, Pašman, Rivanj, Sestrunj, Tun Veli, Ugljan, Vir, Vrgada, Zečevo and Zverinac.

The beautiful stretch of islands is usually very popular with summertime visitors. It would seem that it's also popular in wintertime with visitors who live in the sea. And, of course, people like Davor who are lucky enough to catch sight of them.

For the latest travel info, bookmark our main travel info article, which is updated daily

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Wednesday, 5 August 2020

PHOTOS: Ugljan Island Celebrates Day Of Croatian Liberation And Defenders

August 6, 2020 - Residents of Poljana on Ugljan island celebrate the 25th anniversary of Day Of Croatian Liberation And Defenders

The day is special to Croatians each year. Even more so on the 25th anniversary. Nothing could have stopped the celebrations; not Coronavirus, not social distancing. Everyone was made to feel welcome.

Though the following images are specific to the village of Poljana, centrally located on Ugljan island, similar scenes were observed across the country. Fireworks lit up the night sky above the city of Zadar, just a few kilometres across the water. Children in the village watched them while swimming in the warm waters at 11pm.


A young lady from Zagreb helps out in the children's tug-of-war. It wasn't enough. The kids from 'gornji grad' won this year.


Going back for seconds.


These handsome guys kept supplying us with drinks. I'm not sure if they were selling them or giving them out for free. They were super friendly and drunker than most of their customers. The beer ran out at around 10.45pm. After that, it was the eternally challenging choice of "rakija or bed". Most chose rakija.


Unlike many Croatians, quite a few islanders on Ugljan island have blond hair, like this guy, who looks a bit like a Viking. The cow rib he is chewing kinda helps with that leap of imagination.


Watermelon for the kiddiewinks


They roasted a whole cow over an open fire for the celebrations. The cooking time was twelve hours. It was worth it - delicious. There are no cows on island Ugljan. It was brought on a boat from a farm near Zadar, especially for the occasion. The cow was already dead when it made the journey. Partygoers said it was a male cow. One of the chefs told me it was a female. I'm not sure it matters.


Nobody seemed to know who this guy was, why he was dressed as a Mexican, nor what Mexico has to do with the tug-of-war he appeared to be adjudicating on, or with Croatian liberation. Maybe he was the mayor? Who cares? "Ay caramba!"


It didn't end well for the first-placed losers on the rope in the tug-of-war. It was worse a few years earlier when the competition was held across the water. Aside from some of the losing team getting wet, during the final year in this format, residents managed to destroy much of a building with their shenanigans. The details were difficult to ascertain. The annual competition has been held on dry land ever since.


That's what the remnants of a whole spit-roasted cow look like. Croatians might be familiar with this sight. British people are not. This is testosterone-fuelled barbequing taken to levels unimaginable in most countries. Svaka cast!


Few airs and graces were observed as the cow meat was running out. This lady was absolutely delightful, good-humoured, and didn't object to being pictured mid-bite. She was the kind of lady you wished was your aunt.


A view of the village of Poljana, on Ugljan island before the sunset. The cow they cooked weighed 270 kilograms. This feast cost around 11, 000 kuna (1,332.50 British Pounds).

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

VIDEO: Drone Footage Shows Cycling On Ugljan Island, A Blissful Paradise

August 4, 2020 - Get a bird’s eye view of Zadar’s closest facing neighbour with this new drone footage of cycling on Ugljan island

Even in the height of summer, Croatia can offer total escape. The crowds and city streets have been all but forgotten by Andrej Šimunaj and his friends, who are currently enjoying cycling on Ugljan island. A new video they shot using a drone offers an incredible perspective of the peace, tranquillity and beauty of this little-discussed island.

The footage shows the visitors passing through peaceful pine forests as they journey to the vantage point of Venetian-built St. Michael’s Fort, high above the town of Preko and just of the edge of the Kornati National Park. From there, the cyclists roll downhill to a small cove named Prtljug, which holds the incredibly clear turquoise seas so beloved by visitors to the Croatian coast.

Cycling On Ugljan Island

Monday, 25 May 2020

Zadar Port Coverage Expanding With High-Speed Zadar-Preko Line

Zadar Port's coverage is set to cover a wider maritime area as a new high-speed line which will transport passengers along the Zadar-Preko (Ugljan) route is prepared for introduction.

You might look at the idea of life on a quiet, idyllic Croatian island as the absolute epitome of bliss. With a daily view of the sparkling Adriatic sea and stunning scenery at your fingertips, it's hard to think of it in any other way from afar.

You'd be right in some aspects, but every rose has its thorn and when it comes to these little pieces of paradise dotted along the Croatian mainland, the issue of secure, regular maritime transport has become a common bone of contention for their permanent inhabitants.

As Morski writes on the 23rd of May, 2020, the Croatian Government has adopted a proposal for a decision to expand the coverage of the Zadar Port basin by as much as 114,936 square metres in order to create new traffic areas and introduce a high-speed line intended for maritime passenger traffic on the Zadar-Preko route.

The aforementioned Zadar-Preko line is the busiest line connecting the island community with Zadar on the mainland, but currently, in the area of the City Port, the line is suffering from traffic restrictions due to other high-speed shipping lines to the surrounding islands.

Due to the traffic and a larger number of tourist boats operating during the summer season in the area, there is an obvious need to increase the level of general maritime traffic safety in the entire basin covered by Zadar Port, which will be achieved by arranging and expanding the defined coastal zone.

The pool of Zadar Port is being expanded in accordance with the Spatial Development Plan of the City of Zadar.

For more on maritime connections and links between Croatian islands, follow our dedicated travel page.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

EU Funds for Croatia's Island Fishermen and Fish Processors

Through the Maritime and Fisheries Operational Program, the amount of 234.9 million kuna was agreed for 635 users for their projects on seventeen islands in Croatia, while the amount of 176.7 million kuna was paid to as many as 570 beneficiaries.

As Morski writes on the 8th of March, 2019, the largest amount of beneficiaries of contracted and paid funds are on the island of Ugljan, where as much as 27 percent of the total contracted funds for beneficiaries on the islands have been contracted. Given the large number of fishermen on the island of Ugljan, particularly in Kali, the measures that have been taken relate to (among other things) health and safety and energy efficiency on fishing vessels, as well as an additional measure aimed at improving the conditions for product placement on the market, thus achieving a higher price for the products themselves.

''Our fishermen, fish farmers and [fish] processors are well acquainted with the opportunities the Operational Program for Maritime and Fisheries provides, and that has also been confirmed by the growth of the available funds [for this sector] over the last two years. Since the beginning of the implementation of the Maritime and Fisheries Operational Program, a total of 42 tenders have been issued to date, of which 34 have been during the mandate of this government. So far, 47.27 percent of the allocation, or 1.2 billion kuna, has been contracted, and almost 600 million kuna has been paid,'' said the minister of agriculture, Tomislav Tolušić.

Investment on the island Brač is set to occur immediately after the investment on Ugljan. On the other fifteen islands, most of the investments have been directed towards fishing and measures related to it, examples of that are Hvar, Dugi Otok and Cres.

There is also investment occurring in the field of energy-efficient heating and cooling systems in construction facilities for fish processing, as opposed to outdated ''classic'' systems (fossil fuel systems). Money will also be pumped into improving business processes by acquiring new IT equipment and more modern business management software.

Within the Croatian Maritime Operational Program for the Programming Period 2014-2020, 348.7 million euro (252.6 million euro from the EU budget and 96.1 million euro from the budget of the Republic of Croatia) have been made available.

These funds are extremely important to Croatia's fishing sector and as such meets their very specific needs over the aforementioned time period. Within the operational program, in cooperation with all interested stakeholders from scientific institutions, local and regional self-government units, state institutions and entities from the fisheries sector, 36 different measures were covered for the entire sector, from sea and freshwater catches and farming, to the processing and eventual marketing of fish products, to producer organisations and FLAGs.

Make sure to stay up to date on fishing in Croatia and much, much more by following our dedicated business page.

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Ugljan's Saint Michael – a Fortress That Withstands the Test of Time

Heritage often tells us interesting stories, not only from the past, but also from the present.

Along with their role in historical events, heritage sites have an effect on the local populace and their day-to-day lives. Future articles will attempt to revive an interest in heritage and bring it closer to readers. To start it all off, let’s talk about Ugljan's Saint Michael.

If you happen find yourself on the Zadar waterfront (famous for its Sea Organ) during a clear day, your eyes might catch a glimpse of some hills off in the distance, on the island of Ugljan. Upon one of these hills, you’ll find the fortress of St. Michael. After a short ferry trip from the Zadar, you’ll spend some two hours hiking along the road, asphalted for most of the way. Following the path across the valley, surrounded by olives and dry stone walls, you will eventually arrive at the fortress.

Step by step, we’re getting closer to the fortress.

Views such as these of the Zadar archipelago, hinterland and the mountain Velebit are a reward in and of themselves after the hiking trip. Make sure to go on clear day to actually catch these views yourself.

Then again, the buzzing from the radio antenna right behind you, in the fort, is almost enough to spoil these idyllic scenes...

The antenna has been here for 27 years. At long last, the local government has decided to move it to a neighboring hill. If everything goes according to plan, the antenna should be removed by the end of next year. The fortress of St. Michael dates back to 6th century A.D., when it most likely served the role of an observation post. During this same period, Byzantine Emperor Justinian the Great had been making attempts to revive the western half of the once mighty Roman Empire.

With its strategic position at an altitude of 265 meters above sea level, it’s possible that the fort was used by the Byzantine Empire to monitor and control the surrounding sea routes.

The exact year or timeframe in which the fortress was built is still unknown. There are, however, traces and evidence of the Order of Saint Benedict being situated on this hill in the 11th century. The first records and mentions of the fortress date back to 1345, when it was besieged and conquered by the Venetians. In the following years, Venice had plans to destroy the fortress – they did not want the fortress to fall back under Zadar’s control should they ever need to retreat from it.

Layout and drone photo (Luka Bogdanić)

However, with the Treaty of Zadar in 1358, which was arranged between Venice and Louis I. of Hungary, the Venetians surrendered and retreated from their all of their Dalmatian territories. The fortress of St. Michael was now once again in the hands of Zadar.

The constant looming threat from Venice made Zadar officials invest a lot of funds, manpower, and effort in repairs and additional construction for defense and soldiers. There is a lot of textual evidence about the exact construction work and some of it is attested on site.

History is anything but boring and predictable in these parts, though. All the repairs and construction ended up being in vain because of Ladislaus of Naples. He decided to sell Dalmatia to Venice in 1409. Without any actual fighting to speak of, the fortress had once again fallen under Venice’s influence. Not to mention in much better shape than it had been in 60-70 years prior.

In the following years, it was used as a scouting post without proper maintenance. How it looked like is very well depicted on the painting below, made by pilgrim Conrad Grunenberg (1486).

The Fortress of St. Michael is in the foreground, while behind it you can see medieval Zadar.

Later on, during the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Kingdom of Yugoslavia, the fortress maintained its status as a scouting post. It wasn't repaired or properly maintained.

Later yet, the fortress played another role in history – in World War Two. In 1944, the fortress was still being used as an observation post. On August 29th and September 10th, Saint Michael was bombarded by the South African Air Force (16th Squadron). Planes started their flight from Biferno in Italy. As they flew over Saint Michael, high resolution cameras documented the damage they had made. Thanks to Tinus la Roux – a South African enthusiast collecting documents and memories of WW2 veterans – we now have records of these very moments of the fortress being bombarded.

The church in the middle was destroyed, and one of the main towers was severely damaged.

Notice the church, still intact at this point, in the middle of the fortress.

For more photos and documents of the bombardment, click here.

Nowadays, the fortress is still in bad shape. There is no trace of the church, the towers and the walls weep for reconstruction, and recent construction work doesn't paint any brighter of a picture.

Drone photo by Luka Bogdanić

There are plans and visions for the fort’s future, according to the Tourism Municipal Board of Preko. Some picture the fortress of Saint Michael becoming interpretative center called “The Castle of Island Stories (Dvorac otočnih priča)” – telling the stories of all nearby islands with an actual overlook holds a lot of potential. Some additional objects, like an open-air amphitheater, a souvenir shop, and others, would also be a part of this center.

For now, this is still nothing more than a nascent idea. Archaeological excavations and conservation work will take place before anything else. We never know what the ground is hiding, after all, so we might find out something new about this place.

In the meantime, it will remain a favourite place for a quick escape from the bustling city.

Drone photo by Luka Bogdanić

If you’d like to see more photos, or behind the scenes/research moments of Croatia's wealth of heritage, feel free to follow us on our Instagram account, Culture Donkey.

Make sure to follow our lifestyle page for more information on Croatian history, heritage, and significant monuments, fortresses, and much more.

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