Silba’s tower of love – Toreta
One of the most well-known symbols of the island Silba is Toreta, a tall tower surrounded by steep steps. The beautiful structure, built in 1872, is veiled in a bit unusual legend of love. There was an old ship captain named Petar Marinić that roamed the seas for years. As time passed him by he wished to go back to his home, his island. A crowd gathered to welcome him – young and old, women and men, boys and girls.
Among the girls, a familiar face reminded him of the love of his youth. He asked for the girls name and found out that she was Domenika Rasol, the young daughter of his unforgotten ache. He found out that her mother had given up on waiting for his return and married another. She forgot Petar’s promise to build her a house with a garden in which a tower would stand tall so that she could watch his ship sail out and arrive again. He fell in love with the young girl at first glance but decided to wait for her to grow and love him back. Right then and there, on the pier, he wished to marry her and his wish later came true. The old captain and the girl Domenika lived happily on the island, and he built the tall tower beside their house in the garden where they watched the open seas together…
Legend of Uzdah kula
Uzdah kula, was built by the Šubić family to guard the path that connected Skradin to its hinterland and watch over their holdings until the Turks occupied it and used is as a prison, in 1512.
The tower stands high up on a hill, devastated and ruined, only a few walls prevail. Its silence murmurs a story to the wind, an echo of love of Stana and Pavle. They were engaged to be married, and waiting for their celebration but Stana felt an unease in her heart. She was afraid that Husein, an assistant of a Turkish commander, could ruin their happiness. He wanted to marry the beautiful Stana, no matter what the price, not even considering that she did not love him back.
Their celebration lasted deep into the night until a cry of pain echoed through the court – it was the sound of the round and squat Husein hitting the paved yard from his hideout on a cherry tree. His accident hit a sad end, and the locals grew more and more afraid of the Turkish commander’s wrath.
Mehmed-beg was known for his revengeful soul and, unfortunately, the news reached him quickly. He accused the entire village of Rupe for the accident and decided to burn it to the ground and impale all the men. His wife Mejrima, or Marija, a Christian that converted to Islam, begged Mehmed not to punish innocent people and to try finding the true culprits. She cried and cried, wanting to save the people and not anger her husband.
The commander was large and strong, with a strict face. Yet he smiled, a sight that hadn’t been seen before. A messenger brought news from his son Alija – the commander became a grandfather. His heart became joyous and mild, and he listened to his wife and released all the villagers besides Pavle until the truth came out. He was transferred to the notorious tower and Stana cried for him, thinking of ways to free him for days. He was devastated, lost and all you could hear from the tower were his cries of grief and sorrow. In the night, she waited for the guard to fall asleep, and threw a bed sheet through Pavle narrow cell window. He used it to quickly escape from the tower. They were together once again. The commander Mehmed-beg was furious when he found out and in his hurry to catch Pavle fell from his tower into the cold river Krka.
Stana and Pavle could finally wed, and the whole village was invited. You can still hear talks about the splendour and celebration today. The villagers burned down Uzdah-kula, and sometimes you can still see smoke coming out of the ruins in the night…
Zadar – get a taste of Croatian romance
The people of Zadar consider their sunset to be the uniquely beautiful, and they believe that the best spots for viewing the sunset is on their seafront (Riva), where the Sea organs compose music with the waves. Their claim was also recognized by Alfred Hitchcock when he visited Zadar in 1964: “This must be the most beautiful sunset in the world!”. Numerous tourists from around the world agree and enjoy watching the wonderful hug of the sea, Sun and sky that is coloured with different colours every evening.
Zadar was named one of the most romantic cities of the world, certainly something worth considering for Valentine’s Day, wouldn’t you agree? Well, it so happens that on the 14th of February, in the ancient town square Forum, you can enjoy a spectacular view of thousands of paper lanterns being released into the starry night. You can buy the paper lanterns in the few days preceding the manifestation, and all of the profit goes into charity.
One of the urban legends of Zadar is the story of the Sphinx. It is an actual concrete statue of the sphinx located in Brodarica Park in Zadar. A notable restaurateur, painter and art historian from Zadar, Giovanni Smirich, raised the monument in the memory of his late wife Spineda de Cataneis in 1918. The Zadar Sphinx is special even though it is made of concrete – there is a relief of an eagle on her chest and instead of claws she has fingers that used to hold a large sword to protect her seashell pond. Because of the reason for its rising, the statue is believed to grant wishes of love. It’s mysterious, attractive and special and yet lies forgotten and destroyed by its age. Maybe showing your interest for it could help getting it restored? You won’t know until you come and see Zadar for yourself…
Galešnjak – the island of love
The tiny island of Galešnjak is located in the Pašman channel between the island of Pašman and the settlement of Turanj on the coast. Although it is not inhabited and can only be accessed by boat, it became known as the Island of Love. Why? Because of its shape! From the air, the island looks as a heart and in 2008 Google Earth declared it one of the few natural heart-shaped phenomena.
Read the first part of this series here:
Greatest Croatian love stories, part 1