History of Podgora

podgora


Podgora was first mentioned in 1571 as one of the towns Venice took under protection after the Turkish defeat at the Battle of Lepanto. There are the remains of a cemetery from that period with preserved tombstones, which can be seen in the cemetery next to the church of St. Tekla. However, due to its geographical position, the area of today's Podgora has been inhabited since prehistoric times, through the ancient and medieval times, as evidenced by archaeological findings such as Roman pottery, coins, amphorae, coats of arms, monuments, towers and buildings.


The name of the town means that it was built “under the mountain”. The name “podgora” denotes a narrow coastal strip, parallel to the mountain of Biokovo and the rugged coastline, from the Cape of Dračevac (Kamena) in the north-west to the bay of Klokun in the south-east. A number of defence towers were built at the time of the battles against the Turks and in that period, Podgora was called Kaštel Podgora (Castello).


Throughout history, frequent attacks by outlaws and bandits forced the villagers of Podgora to seek shelter on the mountain massif of Biokovo, which rises strongly above the entire Makarska Riviera. Therefore, Gornja Podgora (Upper Podgora) was populated until the sixties, when a major earthquake struck. Since then, the population has almost completely migrated towards the sea. 


The length of the Podgora coast is about 5.5 km and the town is composed of two parts: Gornja Podgora (Old) and Donja Podgora, which was mostly built after the earthquake of 1962, when tourism began developing significantly. Today, Podgora is among the most visited tourist destinations in Dalmatia and the Makarska Riviera – and the Medora Auri hotel complex, which was opened in July 2016, is an ideal starting point to explore the stunning Adriatic coast.

The legacy of prehistory

Troje gomile (Three Mounds)

TROJE GOMILE

Troje gomile is the name of a prehistoric site in Podgora, which consists of four stone tumuli. Tumuli are earthen or stone hills or mounds, under which lie the graves of noblemen. They also served as watchtowers. The first three tumuli have been partially excavated, while the fourth has been dug up completely, displaying the remnant of a prehistoric grave in the centre. Troje gomile is located by the Galebova krila monument (Seagull Wings), above Podgora.

Historic religious buildings

Twenty churches and chapels in the area of Podgora testify to a religious tradition and the connection between the people and their faith in God's protection and spiritual power, expressed through religious buildings dedicated to Catholic saints and revered in Masses on the feast days of particular saints. Today, these sites are interesting historical artefacts, while some of them are still actively used for worship.

The church of St. Tekla from the 17th century

17 century church in croatia

This church was first mentioned in 1630 and was built on the medieval site of Sutikla. A small cemetery with medieval monuments and tombstones is located here. The church was destroyed in the earthquake of 1962, but was rebuilt in the late 20th century. Inside are two altars: Orthodox and Catholic, because worship services were performed by both Orthodox and Catholic priests at the same time. Four plates in front of the church depict a shield with a sword, probably marking the grave of a noble family (nobiles). Next to the church of St. Tekla is the tombstone of Don Mihovil Pavlinović, a famous priest, politician and writer, one of the founders and leaders of the People's Party and the Croatian revival in Dalmatia. The sculpture is the work of Croatian sculptor Ivan Rendić, discovered on May 17, 1908, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the death of this famous resident of Podgora. The appearance of the cemetery in front of the church was significantly changed in the 20th century, especially following the demolition of the wall bounding the cemetery and the construction of new graves. During the 1962 earthquake, part of Cape Sutikla collapsed and the whole shape of the Cape changed, which is especially visible in the devastated natural attraction “Passage of luck”.

The church of St. Roch from the 17th century

church from 17 century

This church was first mentioned in 1672; legend has it that the space in front of the church served as a burial ground for the dead of the plague. There is curious historical fact involving the church: during the First World War, the bell tower of the church, which is missing today, was used as a base for firing cannonballs at the enemy army. Masses were held at the church on the Feast of St. Roch until the middle of the last century, and the church was badly damaged in the 1962 earthquake.

The church of All Saints from the 18th century

This church with a bell tower, built in 1764, was the centre of spiritual life in Podgora until the middle of the last century. It is famous for the altar of St. Vicenzo, the patron of the Municipality of Podgora, which features the preserved relics of the saint. Traditionally, Mass is held at the church on the Feast of St. Vicenzo, the first Sunday in August, and the town of Podgora holds a religious and public festivity and fair, attracting believers and pilgrims from Dalmatia and other parts of Croatia, but also from neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The church of St. Liberian from the 18th century

old church in croatia

This church was built on the site of the old parish church of All Saints, a few meters to the east. It was named after St. Liberian or Liborio, a long-lived Gallic bishop. Until the 1960s, Mass was held at the church on the Feast of St. Liberian. This tradition was cancelled after the earthquake in 1962, when the church suffered considerable damage. Archaeological research in 1991 confirmed the presence of earlier architecture under and around St. Liberian – remnants of the church of All Saints from the 17th century.

The chapel of the Sacred Heart of Jesus from the 19th century

This chapel was built in 1804 by the Mrkušić family, who lived there, and the remains of their baroque summer residence are also preserved as the building’s portal. This noble family moved to Podgora from eastern Bosnia and left a number of valuable cultural and historical artefacts, from their coat of arms with the inscription “Non minor ceteris” through historic buildings, now attractive tourist sites. The chapel of the Sacred Heart of Jesus suffered no major damage during the earthquake in 1962, as was the case with other facilities in the area, and therefore served as parish church at the time. Nowadays, Masses are held at the church every Sunday afternoon, as well as on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The chapel - lighthouse ljak

building on an islet in makarska riviera

This small stone building on an islet, only a few meters from the coast, had a dual function: it served as a lighthouse for the sailors and fishermen of Podgora, and was also a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary and St. Nicholas, the patron saint of sailors and travellers.  Not even the oldest residents of Podgora remember when the Ijak chapel-lighthouse was built, and some literature states that it is one of the oldest surviving lighthouses in the Mediterranean.

Historic military buildings

The tower of Roščići from the 18th century

OLD TOWER ROSCICI

In the 17th and 18th centuries, defence towers against the Turks were built in the upper part of Podgora, in the hamlets of Roščići and Marinović. The tower of Roščići is located east of the path connecting the road to the centre of the village. The tower of Roščići was damaged in the earthquake of 1962, and is only partially preserved today. The tower’s floor plan is rectangular and the western and northern walls have been preserved at the level of the first floor, while the south-east corner was demolished. A rectangular loophole is located in the north wall on the first floor.

The role of the sea

TOURISM IN PODGORA

In the long history of Podgora, from ancient times to the present day, the sea has been inseparably connected with the people who lived with it and from it. Fishing, sailing, and more recently tourism, in a perfect symbiosis of man and the sea, has shaped the temperament of the Podgora residents throughout history and attracted generations of its inhabitants. The core of Podgora developed around the city port, which is still teeming with fishing boats.

To commemorate the establishment of the partisan Navy, the high Galebova krila (Seagull Wings) monument was erected in 1962, made by the architect Rajko Radovic, dominating the hill above Podgora and offering a magnificent view of the town, sea and islands. The monument’s upright wing symbolises the ascent to victory, while the broken one symbolises the dead sailors and the fight for freedom.

Reconstruction of the existing hotel and the construction of additional facilities