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Primosten in 1971

Primosten, a small town in Croatia, is located merely 28km from Sibenik in direction to Split. It is recognizable for its stone houses, narrow streets typical for Mediterranean (called ‘kala’), crystal blue sea, beautiful promenade, and vast and beautiful beaches. Today, Primosten is one of the most desirable summer destinations for families with children or anyone seeking relaxation away from the city crowd.

The beginning


In its earliest days, Primosten was known as ‘Capocesto’ (or ‘naked head’), a small islet close to the mainland. In the beginning, there was only a small church on the hill, Church of St. George, with a graveyard around it. At first, the people mostly used the place as a temporary sanctuary from Turkish invaders. But as attacks grew more and more frequent, the local population, tired of constant running, finally inhabited the island for good.

Unlike the rest of the dalmatian coast, which was inhabited first with settlements later growing into towns, Primosten hinterland was populated first. Although only 10 km away from the coastline, temperatures in Primosten hinterland are lower (this can especially be felt in summer and winter days) and the land is much more fertile. And that was the reason villages Prhovo, Krusevo, and Krculj were the first settlements in the Primosten area.

So, as Turkish attacks were growing more frequent by the day (remember; Bosnia was centuries under the Ottoman Empire occupation), stripping locals of those hard-earned fruits of their labour, people eventually gave up and made ‘Capocesto’ their permanent home.

In 1542, with the help of Venice (which was governing Dalmatia at that time), as protective measures, walls and towers with a drawbridge were raised around the island. Sometime later, when the Turks finally retreated, the drawbridge was replaced by the causeway of stones.

From that moment on, Capocesto was known as Primosten or, in Croatian, Primošten. Its name derives from the Croatian verb ‘primostiti’ (or to bridge).

Primosten history between 1800-1941


With the fall of Venice, the French became new rulers of Primosten. And they were good, according to people’s stories. They didn’t ask for anything from the people and although they did not stick for long, (1806–1814), those eight years were enough to build (themselves) a road through Dalmatia.

From 1814 for the next 110 years, these territories were a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. 

And what did Austria do in those 110 years? 

They established the first harbour master’s office in1852. Since then, every boat, its country of origin including the flag, its starting port and its destination, the purpose of the voyage, number of crew and cargo was recorded into harbour master’s diary.
The diary also included the number of local fishing boats and weather reports. 

In 1866 they built the first school in Primosten introducing the act of compulsory school attendance. In 1895 the first shipping (steamship) line Rogoznica – Primosten – Sibenik started to operate on a regular schedule. In 1905 a seafront (riva) was built. The post office with telephone/telegraph connection was established in 1910.

After the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918, and with the end of WW1, Italy once again occupied the entire Dalmatian region. It lost it in 1921 only to regain it back in 1941 and kept it until 1943. 

Primosten in WW2


At first, nothing terrible happened; the Italians were all friendly and nice. Shops were filled with goodies no one ever saw before, let alone had. Free trade was established (and the black market too). Groceries like flour, sugar, rice and pasta were divided among the local population. School, which was closed from the beginning of the war, was reopened, but this time the Italians allowed no Croatian word to be spoken. Everything was and had to be in Italian.

As partizan’s attacks on Italians were growing more frequent, as retribution from the Italians, many civilians were shot dead or taken prisoners under suspicion of favouring partizans or being in some way linked to them (this link also assumed being a cousin or a father-in-law).

But wars are run by people. And some people are bad, some are good. Primosten history remembers a good one. On Sunday, November 15, 1942, the brigadier of the carabineer tipped don Grgo Roglic, the local vicar, and his chaplain don Ivo Saric, about the bombing on the village scheduled at 8 o’clock the following morning. Both priests spent the entire night taking villagers to safety. The village was bombed but with no casualties that day.

Primosten was not spared from air bombing, twice from Italians and then, as an attempt of liberation, from the English.

From 1943 Primosten was part of the Republic of Yugoslavia.

Construction of houses in Primosten

Post-war era


After the Second World War, the solemn focus was on building and rebuilding.

From 1960s Primosten experienced a sudden economic growth; an Esperanto-camp was open for visitors coming from all over the world. Power and water lines were built supplying households with running water, electricity and telephone.

Jadranska magistrala, until today the main dalmatian road, was built, opening Primosten to the world.

Hotels’ Zora’, ‘Raduca’ and ‘Slava’ on the peninsula Raduca, the hotel ‘Marina Lucica’ and camping site ‘Adriatic’ were opened.

In 1983 marina Kremik, one of the most protected marinas in Croatia, located in the cove beneath the Bucavac hill (on the tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage Site), was open for sailors.

Tourism was in bloom and Primosten was one of the most beautiful summer locations in the Adriatic coast.

Here is one of the promotional videos from that time “Primosten 1971”:

But then, sadly, it was all put to stop. The Homeland war took its toll on entire Croatia.

Dalmatia was cut off from the rest of the country. Over 3,000 young men left their Primosten homes to take part in defending their homeland. Primosten was empty of tourists for years…

But Primosten folk are tough and hard-working people.

There’s no enemy, famine, drought, separation or isolation, no fear or anxiety, that can get their spirit down. Centuries of hard life taught them to adapt and to survive.

Slowly and steadily, Primosten regained its previous glory. And by the looks of it, it surpassed it by far…