April 9, 2018 – Murter island houses a unique site, a pristine beach that was once home to an ancient Roman settlement
When you’re deciding on your next holiday destination, what is the main factor that tips the scales in favour of some place? Are you a type of person who’d prefer to spend their entire visit chilling on a beach, taking a dip every so often? Or, perhaps, you might be more prone to sightseeing, exploring historic cities and villages and learning about the local cultural monuments.
Well, there’s a place in Croatia that won’t have you wasting any time choosing between the two. Murter island in northern Dalmatia is home to a unique site: the first archaeological beach in Croatia, a splendid 200 metres of shore hosting remnants of an ancient Roman villa. It’s currently known as the largest beach on Murter island – and probably its most attractive one, allowing the visitors to look around the fascinating historic site before they change to their bathing suits and enjoy a day at the sea.
Located on Gradina peninsula, Colentum houses both a prehistoric fort and an ancient settlement. Research showed the site was inhabited from the 1st century to the 5th, possibly even as far as in the Middle ages. Numerous mosaic fragments and amphorae have been uncovered on the site thus far, along with various ceramic dishes; the waters lining the peninsula house remnants of an ancient port that used to span from Gradina to today’s Marina Hramina. And of course, the waterfront villa, its foundations and walls still preserved on site.
Cholo Aleman / Commons
The beach was first opened for public in its present state in summer 2017, owing to a project named Archaeological Park Colentum. Under the expert supervision of archaeologists and conservators, various works were carried out: the beach got a fresh layer of pebbles and new visitor infrastructure, including garbage bins, benches, and informative panels containing instructions for divers and swimmers.
Considering the feedback from visitors was prevailingly positive, it was decided to continue with the second stage of the project and touch up the beach to get it into a pristine shape before the upcoming season. Murter – Kornati Municipality is currently carrying out a makeover of a long-neglected forest and the adjacent olive groves located on the archaeological site Colentum. Wild bushes and various weeds will get removed to make room for beach-goers looking for a spot in the shade in hot summer days. A dry stone wall lining the beach is undergoing renovation as well; a new trail will get introduced along its external side to allow the hikers and cyclists to go on their merry way without having to interrupt the swimmers.
The beach is the only site in Croatia that unites history, archaeology, and oceanography with cultural and recreational tourism. The ongoing works will certainly help to popularise the archaeological site Colentum, with the beach surely set to attract a larger number of visitors to this priceless site. The Municipality also plans to introduce an underwater educational trail that will provide the visitors with an opportunity to explore the remnants of the ancient Colentum port, sprinkled with ballast stones and amphorae.