Trogir was one of the Dalmatian Coast's wonders. It was a small island loaded with old-style Venetian architecture. It sat just north of the city of Split, separated from mainland Croatia by small canals. The entire island was built up like an old fortress, complete with high walls and towers. Its cobblestone streets were wafer-thin. In short -- it was like a small Venice, but less crowded and less expensive than its more popular neighbor across the Adriatic Sea. I had the pleasure of taking a two-day business trip to Croatia back in early 2001, and thankfully I had a few hours to get out and about to enjoy the sights. It was very interesting, and hopefully as the Croatian tourist industry continues to grow, Trogir will become a major draw.
Trogir probably grew the way it did because it was well protected from sea and land. The city had a huge outer wall that is still mostly intact to prevent invasion. Several larger islands surrounded her, providing a major breakwater so Trogir never got flooded. The first photograph was taken from a bridge between Trogir and one of those islands. This showed the outer wall and strand that hosted a few outdoor cafes. Some were located underneath the strip of fresh palm trees shown, and my business gathering took lunch there. It was about as authentic an Italian-style cafe as I'd even seen, and a top-notch cup of espresso only cost twenty cents. (The downside -- there was some potent pollen in the air. I normally do not suffer allergies, but something was getting me. I do not know if that is typical.)
When we finished business for the day, I took off on a full tour of the island. The first stop was the Trogir Castle, shown up close in the second photograph and in the distance in the first. I did not go inside the castle, so I cannot say whether or not it is a museum or just a vista, but as castles go it was smallish and clearly oriented toward defense of the island, facing out toward the Adriatic.
I followed the road to the right, past a newly refurbished soccer field, and toward the old city water tower. The islands across the water were filled with marinas and sailboats and yachts were busily moving in and out. The water tower was an immense white stone structure still fully intact (though I don't know whether or not it was still in service). It may have been February, but it felt like summer as I continued along.
Continuing to the land side of the island, shown in the third photograph, I noted the narrow canals separating the island from the mainland. The residential district in the distance was also part of the city, and I visited that as well. Truthfully, it wasn't interesting, but it was remarkably new and modernized. But the other feature of this photograph is the landscape in the distance. You'll note how the hills appear white, like they were capped with snow. Well, they were not. They were barren rock. The way it was told to me was that the hills were once heavily forested like those further inland, but the Romans deforested the area, causing permanent environmental damage due to the loss of topsoil. I did not know whether or not that was true, so I will leave it to y'all to enlighten me.
I then turned my attention to the city's interior. Trogir was a virtual maze of tight streets amidst tall buildings that snaked around at many angles. Many of these buildings were beautifully decorated and ornate, reminiscent of their Venetian origins. I found my way to the center square, though I don't remember how I did it. The fourth photograph shows the square with the town hall and city palace, including its big blue clock. The columned area at right covers some terrific murals. The town hall was just a simple square building. Partially visible in the photograph was a white stone outline on the square. This outline was probably that of a church that rested on the site some time earlier. There were a few other small market squares about, some of which were located in the nightclub district at one end of the island. In general, the people stayed on the strand, and few ventured inside the walls, so many of the photos I took didn't have many people in them.
Trogir was also remarkable for its churches. There were several and the Venetian influence in their architecture was obvious. Consider the fifth photograph. The tower is definitely Italian -- square based, two windows facing each direction in the belfry, simple pentagon-shaped structure with small windows. The churches were just as simple on the inside, but arrayed with numerous old monuments probably referencing past bishops or dignitaries either buried there or memorialized for some other reason.
I found Trogir's restaurants and pizzerias to be wonderful and of course inexpensive. But, I discovered that there were differences in the cuisine, which was heavily Italian influenced. The ham on my pizza was the saltiest ham I'd ever tasted. It was also interesting to see how roughshod some of the renovations were done as Trogir emerged from the Wars of Yugoslavian Succession and prepared herself for tourism.
Trogir was a definite highlight for me, a very antique place well-preserved and welcoming. I emphasized the cost in this travelogue as Croatia was very inexpensive back in early 2001, but undoubtedly five more years of capitalism and lots of positive experiences from fellow tourists have likely changed that. (Nearby Dubrovnik, for example, has been featured in several major American network travel shows.) So, if you go now, things might be a little different... but regardless, it will still be pretty awesome.
Page last updated 01 September 2006 -- (C) 2001 Tom Galvin
Note: as of 14 May 2002, the English language pages in the Trogir home page are under construction. Only pages written in Serbo-Croatian (Latin alphabet) were available.