Bench of the Week: 100 Years Ago in Trogir…

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Trogir kroz povijest

A bit of time travel for this week’s instalment of The Bench series. 

Every time we ramble on about The Bench, we lay it on heavy with the traditional aspect of it. Traditional social institution, traditional way to meet up and chat… And yet, we’ve been featuring only the latest examples caught on camera this summer. Where’s the tradition, you might ask? Did we just make the whole thing up and sold it as a fake classic Adriatic feature?


As I’m a vintage photo aficionado, I’ve been digging through digital archives of visuals showing what life on the Croatian coast used to look like back in the day, hoping to find a coveted prime example of The Bench that would be at least 50 years old. No luck – until I accidentally stumbled upon the following image a couple of days later, in a random Wikipedia article about the history of Dalmatia. As it usually goes in life, you only find something once you stop searching for it. Behold:


The photo was taken in Trogir, but there was no time stamp anywhere to be found. Based on the fashion, I’d say the scene took place at the turn of the century – late 19th is possible, early 20th century more probable. Four gentlemen from Trogir, clad in lovely traditional outfits of the time, gathered on the steps of the city loggia, one of the most important focal points of daily life.

Standing right across the cathedral of St. Lawrence, the loggia dates back to the second half of the 15th century. How’s that for tradition? It has been used for important dealings of public nature throughout history; it was where the prince read public announcements, where noblemen assembled for official municipal business, where trials were held, and it was even used for detention – if someone was accused of debt, the culprit had to turn themselves in and remain in the loggia until the debt was paid back.

As you can see on the photo above, nothing major was going on in that particular occasion; the gents seem to be enjoying their leisure time, caught in a moment of silence. This isn’t the first instalment of this series to feature some steps instead of an actual bench, but it’s the first one that includes a very young man, one who was lucky enough to be invited to sit among elders.

So there you have it, proof that The Bench tradition dates back at least 100 years.

Here’s another photo of the entire loggia in Trogir in 1909:


And another one, taken on an ocassion when those same steps got a bit more traffic:


You can see more photos of the loggia and the rest of Trogir on this wonderful website about the city’s history. 


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