Touch of Croatian Maritime Heritage in French Town of Marseille

Lauren Simmonds

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As Morski/Dora Cukusic writes, as an honorary and in this case the only foreign guest, the Republic of Croatia participated in the Ecsale festival, and the Marseillan, Palagruza and Cronaves Associations presented the richness of Croatian maritime heritage with their programme.

The Marseilles Sea Festival ran from April the 8th to the 10th, 2022, and brought together a dozen participants representing their traditional ships and crafts, representatives of local wine, cheese and oyster producers, all accompanied by music, a travelling trio from Calabria and a Marseille brass band.

Marion Vindel from the office of the Mayor of Marseille said that she was very glad that Croatia came and participated, and especially praised the shipbuilding workshops of the Palagruza Association which brought Croatian maritime heritage and history to life.

”Given that this is a new festival, it was challenging to organise everything, but we’re extremely glad to have been able to host our very first foreign guests. These shipbuilding workshops aroused great interest among the youngest inhabitants of Marseille and the surrounding villages. The Palagruza Association held a gundula construction workshop led by Teo Lovric, the children assembled a gundula during the workshop and acquired some basic knowledge of shipbuilding, and were especially pleased when one such gundula sailed through the Port of Marseille.

The Palagruza Association found a traditional vessel known as a gundula which was about a hundred years old in Komiza, made by the first owner of a fish processing factory, Mardesic. The heirs of the vessel kept the gundula for years, and the Palagruza Association documented the boat and constructed replicas on which children can learn more about shipbuilding and rowing.

In addition to the gundula, the Palagruza Association also brought a sandula, a traditional type of fishing boat which is 4-5 metres long and with slightly sloping sides and a flat bottom, which was used for sailing and fishing near Komiza bay. The Palgruza Association equipped the sandula vessel with a sail, and as part of the workshops and the overall presentation in Marseille, its sail was raised.

Visitors to the festival were also able enjoy the exhibitions of photographs by Croats Velmir Besic and Boris Kragic, which got them even better acquainted with the richness of Croatian maritime heritage. Another interesting feature of this French festival was the competition in the opening of oysters, in which a member of the Palagruza Association, Mate Stanojevic, tried his hand.

It was impressive to see the Tourmente barge whose crew turned the interior of a ship into an exhibition space and a bar for tasting local products. A Junk, a Chinese wooden sailing ship with four masts, also attracted plenty of attention.

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