If you have ever walked around Split’s port, you have probably seen young crowds gathering on a wall in the port’s northwest corner, with small boats swinging in a miniature marina behind them. This part of Split is called Matejuška (pron. Matteyushka), and in the last few years it has become a very popular hang-out spot for Split youth, but also for their new friends of the same age coming from all over the world. It is an easy way to have fun; drop into some store, buy a few beers or a bottle of wine, and just hang around, talk, or just sit enjoying the view and company.
For those who get hungry, there are a few very popular restaurants around, like trattoria Fife, known for its domestic and simple food, and one of Split’s favourites according to Trip Advisor users.
However, the story of Matejuška is much bigger than just being a Split version of American Graffitti style hanging around. As historian and Matejuška fan Edo Šegvić wrote, this small cove was formed between two reefs descending from the slopes of the Marjan hill towards the east. For centuries, this cove was a shelter for fishermen’s boats against wind and waves, and even today one can see fishing nets drying on the shore, or people preparing for fishing trips. There is even a grill point, where those in love with this part of Split like to prepare fish they catch, or buy at the fish market. For its past, there is also a unique monument on the shore, a fish hook. As Šegvić writes, “Despite the development and expansion of the city, Matejuška has preserved its traditions and held a special place in the hearts of the citizens of Split”.
Once there was a home to the rowing club Gusar (meaning Pirate), which was a popular dance venue in the 1950s and 1960s. Unfortunately, when rowers moved to another location this lovely building was abandoned and after decades of devastation was torn down. Ten years ago the city authorities finally decided to restore Matejuška to its past glory, and the entire area, from Tomića stine, Trumbićeva obala, the cove, the park, to the big and small pier, has been recently reconstructed. Now there is a small harbour for fishing boats and all related sport fishing activities, and the newly constructed plateau reaches into the very center of city port with literally spectacular view on Riva, Diocletian’s Palace and the eastern part of harbour.
Among many stories about Matejuška, one is particularly lovely. It’s a love story about Roko and his ethernal love Cicibela, a poor couple who lived there in the fishing boat. Her real name was Dujka, but in the Split collective memory she will always be remembered as Cicibela (pron. Tsitsibella). There is even a TV film about them, and a few years ago Split photographer and artist Ana Perajica found probably only ever taken photograph of this romantic, although poor couple. Their spirit seems to still live there, and couples might sense them while enjoying Matejuška.