If you’re reading this, chances are you already know Croatia is very often ‘postcard-pretty.’ Well, it seems you’re not the only one to think so.
One Croatian photographer’s work has won over judges in a competition to find an official European Union postcard. The photograph (main picture), taken by Hina journalist Andrina Luić shows two sailing boats – a Falkuša gajeta and a Betina gajeta. Both are traditional wooden ships commonly seen in Croatian waters. In the background, the Betina gajeta is instantly recognizable as Croatian because its sail carries a red and white checkerboard pattern.
European Union postcard competition
© Dani u Vali
The ‘Greetings from the Islands’ photo competition was published in September by the European Commission’s Clean Energy for EU Islands Secretariat (here). Andrina, who is from Lukoran on Ugljan island, took her winning photo two years ago in Stari Grad on the island of Hvar. The sailboats were snapped during the festival of ships, sea and sailors ‘Days in Vala’ (here). The event is organized by Cronaves of Split, of which Andrina is a member. They are a society with an aim to promote Croatian maritime heritage.
Andrina’s photograph will now help promote Croatian maritime heritage all across the continent. Thousands will see the traditional wooden ships and their sails when the image is made into an official European Union postcard. The picture triumphed above other island photo entries from Italy, Spain, Germany, Portugal and elsewhere in Croatia. The evaluation criteria were originality, creativity, overall artistic impression and composition, and visual appeal. Each competitor was only allowed to enter one photo into the competition. It would seem that Andrina – who has been taking photographs for many years – made exactly the right choice.
Falkuša gajeta from Komiža on Vis island and Betina gajeta from island Murter
Traditional gajeta ships from Betina in a regatta around island Murter © Neven Jović
A Falkuša gajeta is a thinner and faster version of the Murter-style gajeta. Falkuša boats have been used for fishing in the area of islands Vis and Korčula since at least the 16th century. They were adapted to the needs of fishermen from Komiža on Vis island, who would regularly travel far out into the open sea – as far west as the Palagruža archipelago – to chase their catch.
The template of these boat designs was taken to Betina on Murter island by Korčula shipbuilder Paško Filippi in the first half of the 18th century. There he founded a shipyard and began building his boats, adapting them to the slightly different climate and the very different needs of the locals.
The people of Murter and its surroundings needed a boat as much for transportation of goods as they did for fishing. Therefore, the Betina gajeta was made stronger, wider, bigger and more load-bearing, with a deck at the bow and stern. They were commonly used to transport goods between Murter and estates on the Kornati islands.
You can today visit an award-winning museum (here) dedicated to the history of this wooden boat building in Betina, island Murter. Or, if you can’t make it there any time soon, you can now make do with one of Andrina’s postcards until you can.