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The beautiful Adriatic sea, somewhere in the middle of it's croatian coast, sneaked in between the island of Ciovo and the peninsula of Marijan, at the bottom of mountain Kozjak, forming the bay of Kastela, positioned in the sun's travelling path. The area between Kozjak and the sea, with its beauty, mildness and fertility has always attracted people. To the prehistoric man it gave shelter; centuries ago it was covered with villas and planted with Mediterranean plants like vines and olives. The barbarians devasted it in the early middle ages. The Croats settled here in the seventh century and created here the centre of their state. Here they converted to Christianity and built their settlements along the slopes of the Kozjak mountain. During the war with Turks they moved from the mountain villages towards fortifications erected by royals along the coast, in order to protect themselves and their peasants. Thus, 500 years ago there was a significant development of some twenty castles, fortifications, of which nowadays only seven are preserved. Around them settlements were sprouting to finally merge together into the town of Kastela. Seven little stone pearls in one shell; the magic number 7 will always remain the symbol of richness and variety of our town.


The fortification with the yard, today known as the tower Rotonda, was built in 1508 by Stjepan Stafileo on a rock embedded in the sea, as protection against the Turks. He had a grapestaphile (greek) carved into his seal. Next to the castle a fortified village was established, surrounded by a channel and a moveable bridge with protection towers, of which one is still preserved in it's original form. People from the area of Bijaci settled here.


Pavao-Antun Cipiko, royalty from Trogir, build in 1512 a fortified summer palace with slanting ground floor walls and next to it a settlement for the peasants from Kozjak villages, the largest of which was the one surrounding the church of Lady of Stomorije.
The castle gives an impression of a stronghold, but the decorated balconies and windows point to it's comfortable, homely purpose.


Koriolan Cipiko, from a famous family of Trogir, a commander in the Levante wars, about which he also wrote, was the first to build a castle in the sea for protection from intruders. He built a castle which was a combination of fortress and a palace. It was separated from the coast by a channel and connected to it with a moveable bridge (brvno); thus the name, castle Brce (brvce). Beneath it's walls people from Radun and from Svecurje settled, while in the vacated place a typical old Croat church, the church of St. Juraj, remained.


The Brothers Vitturi, royals from Trogir, build a very beautiful castle in 1564 for their families and as protection for their peasants who were more and more often attacked by Turks in their village Ostrog on the Balovan ridge.The northern side with two towers and the slanting ground floor walls, joined with the mainland by a moveable bridge has a particularly defensive appearance. The southern side has a balcony and an emergency exit towards the sea. The expansive yard of the palace is separated by a hall and galleries on the southern side.

This castle, known locally as Dobrila's, is closely associated with the nearby Miljenko's castle through a legend about a tender, tragic love.


The brothers Cambi from Split built in 1517 a deterrent castle on a small rock in the sea in order to protect themselves and the inhabitants from the nearby villages Lazani and Krusevik, situated below the Kozjak mountain. There were numerous smaller fortifications, but the best preserved one is this castle with a specific cylindrical form which eased the defenders' activities. In its vicinity there is also th preserved village gate.


In 1529 the benedictine sisters built this fortification (kastel)) on a sea reef called Gomilica. The castle's entrance was protected by a tower erected above a stone bridge permeated with arcades. At the entrance there was a moveable wooden bridge.

Between the walls of this castle inhabitants from Gornje and Donje Kozice moved in a settled down after the Turks destroyed their villages. Maybe the sisters planted also the 7 centuries old Medunac oak at the church of St. Kuzma and Damjan, one of the oldest churches in Kastela.


The first safeguarding tower on the shore was built by the archbishop Andrija Gualdo in 1392 on a stone hillside in todays Kastel Sucurac.
With several subsequent modifications the fortification was expanded, especially in 1488 when archbishop Bartul Averaldo built his summer palace next to the already existing Kastilac (castle). The summer residence differs from the strong protective walls of the fortress by it's appearance of a palace with distinct gothic elements.
Different to other settlements the square here is formed on the southem side of the palace, thus probably the name Podvorje (entrance hall).


THE LOVE STORY OF MILJENKO & DOBRILA - tragical true love story

In the second half of the 17th century, the noble family of Vitturi at Kastel Luksic had a
daughter called Dobrila, and the nobleman Rosani the son Miljenko. The two young scions of these
families fell in love, but could meet each other only clandestinely because of the enmity of the families.

Miljenko's Castle built 1482

Dobrila's Castle built 1489

When the parents became aware of the children's love they put Dobrila under a strict surveillance and sent Miljenko to Venice. Out of spite Dobrila's father arranged his douther's marriage to an older nobleman from Trogir. Informed of this Miljenko returned on the day of marriage and at the most solemn moment of the merriage ceremony prevented it to take place. To punish her Dobrila's father decided to put her into the convent at Trogir, and Miljenko tried to hinder this by his sword. The court thereupon banished Miljenko to the monastery on the little islet of Visovac, where he meet a paesant woman, Dobrila's nurse, and through her sent a message to his beloved to escape from the convent, which she did. After receiving the news of Dobrila's escape their parents were reconciled and sent messengers to Visovac to bring back the unrepentant lovers to Kastel-Luksic for a solemn marriage ceremony. The lovers obeyed, but of a summer evening in August 1690, after the marriage and feast have taken place, Dobrila's father out of revenge and hatred killed Miljenko on a drawbridge in front of his castle. In her deep sorrow Dobrila went out of her senses, became ill and died. Her last wish was to be buried with Miljenko in the same grave in the small church, where one can still today read the inscription over their grave "Peace to the lovers".
This true story inspired three works of art: a novel, play and opera.

Church with Miljenko's and Dobrila's grave (1690)


(C) 2005 Tourist Board of Kastela