A Spring-time Escape to a Biblical Garden on Kozjak Mountain by Split

By 16 April 2013

On Sunday April 14th, the sun was shining over Split; real t-shirt weather. In my time here, I have never taken a turn up the mountain of Kozjak above Kaštela but this would be the day. Being born behina a 4x4 steering wheel, I have missed driving off-road since moving here from the desert of Dubai so I got an old school Lada Niva 4x4 and off I went on a discovery on the back roads of Kozjak. 

 

Although any normal car can battle the pebbly paths, a little hand brake action in a Niva just had to be tried to infuse a little adrenaline into my day.

 

On the main coastal highway towards Trogir from Split, I look a turn right at Kaštel Novi across the main graveyard. Going up the road I saw signage to the “Biblical Garden Stomorija” and continued my way through the rugged terrain, passing residential homes until I arrived in what seemed to be heaven in disguise.

 

I landed in Eden’s paradise, a trimmed and tranquil garden with the 1189 little church of Marija od Špiljana in its center. The concept of the garden is biblical, meaning that plants in the area are those mentioned in the Bible. Actually, there are more than 125 plant species noted in scriptures and throughout the garden there are signage that tell you what the various plants are such as a rose garden, Jude’s tree, laurel, acacia, spices, aromatic herbs, apple trees, vines, olive trees, fig tree are more; all species that have been growing on the Kozjak mountain for centuries.

 

The garden was founded in 1998 in honor of the biblical flora but throughout the tranquil garden are a few other biblical references. At the entrance to the garden is a memorial stone by Marko Gugić with the inscription, "In memory of the second visit of the Holy Father John Paul II we founded this garden at Stomorija above the bay.” - People of Kaštela on 27 September 1998. On site, the Pope’s Olive was planted and under the even older olive trees in the area ‘Jidro,’ is a Column of Stone Megaliths honoring the great men of Croatia who were inspired by the Bible in their work; Juraj Dalmatinac who built various alters, St. Jeronim who translated the Bible into Latin and Bartol Kašić who translated it into Croatian, poet Marko Marulić, and Ivan Meštrović who made sculptured of biblical themes. 

A waterway flows through the garden and on an islet is a wooden sculpture of Noah’s Ark by renowned artist Vasko Lipovac. Across the little stone bridge is a large lawn, perfect for a Sunday family picnic with breathtaking views over the Bay of Kaštela. At the far corner of the lawn you will pass a large apple sculpture, a very important symbol in the bible, leading you on to a miniature vineyard with vines of Carlifornian Zinfandel, Italian Primitivo and Croatian Kaštelanski Crljenak, all the same sort with a different name which call came from this very mountain (click to read about the Croatian Zinquest).

 

The Biblical Garden in Kaštela is really a pleasant surprise and provides a perfect day-trip escape for the family from Split. Bring along a blanket and some sandwiches and just take in the island vistas in the surroundings of greenery. The garden is open on all days during the day.

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