Do you like visiting cultural sites? Although the visitors to this place will certainly appreciate the vicinity of the Towns of Split and Trogir, the very Town of Okrug offers its unique cultural and historical amenities. The small picturesque churches of the Town of Okrug and the remains of the former aristocratic country estates will provide you with an unforgettable experience of the sightseeing of the valuable cultural heritage!
THE MONUMENT DATING BACK TO THE 6TH CENTURY IS HIDING AN OLDER CHURCH INSIDE OF IT..
On the coast, at the bottom of the Saldun Bay, there is a church the name of which has been changed in popular speech to The Church of St. Tudor. The beginning of its construction may be traced as far back as the 6th century, when the cult of St. Theodore was worshipped as a martyr and patron of the Emperor Justinian's army, to whom many churches in Dalmatia were dedicated. On the funerary chapel located north of the Church, there is a transenna – a pierced stone screen set into the church wall, built in the Late Antiquity style.
The existing church dates back to the later period, but during archeological excavations, a layer of an older church was discovered underneath it. Two fragments of marble altar screens, built from amazing stone masonry and richly decorated with an interlace pattern, were built into the existing altar. As they date back to the early Medieval period between the 9th and the 11th century, the fragments of the older church can also be attributed to the same period. We know from the ancient sources that the Church of St. Theodore used to receive generous material donations, owning vast land in the Trogir area, so it can be assumed that it was originally fully-equipped with such a luxurious church furniture.
The exact year of the construction of the existing church is unknown. As the church pertaining to the landed estate of the Town of Trogir, which at that period owned a property with its administrator, it was first mentioned in 1439. It was probably built at the beginning of that century, when the Island of Čiovo was intensively settled and the first villages were formed on the Island. Based on its stylistic attributes, it may be assumed that the Church was restored at the beginning of the 17th century.
Until the mid-18th century, the Church of St. Theodore was used in the village of Okrug Gornji as a parish church, and it used to have its confraternity. The parish of St. Theodore was mentioned for the first time in 1579. The area surrounding the Church has been used as a graveyard since the establishment of the village until quite recently. Within the inner wall of the Church, to the left of the door, there is the oldest known sepulchral slab bearing the name of the deceased – a certain Petar Užigović (Peter Ozegovich) and the year 1580, next to which a hoe, a hammer and a billhook are engraved, describing the trade the deceased used to engage in during his lifetime.
The main Church altar bears the image of the Virgin Mary with the Child, St. John the Baptist, the Blessed John of Trogir, the patron saint of the Town of Trogir, and St. Theodore, the work of an unknown artist dating back to the 18th century. St. Theodore, wearing a military uniform, is shown on horseback killing the dragon, and underneath there is a view of the Town of Trogir and the Island of Čiovo in the background. The lateral altar bears the image of The Baptism of Jesus Christ, a work by a Venetian painter Giovanni Francesco Fedrigazzi from the early 18th century.
FROM THE SMALL VOTIVE CHAPEL TO THE PRESENT-DAY PARISH CHURCH.
The Church of St. Charles Borromeo is situated in Okrug Gornji, opposit to the old village center, to the north of the road which used to be the main connection between the Towns of Okrug and Trogir. The Church was first mentioned in the manuscripts of the Bishop of Trogir in 1640, who wrote that "it has been recently built". In the same century, the Church is also mentioned by Pavao Andreis, a historian from Trogir, stating that it was located in the village of Maravići, noting that the Church's history remains unknown to him, as well as its property, and concluding that it was built owing to the devotion of the people from the area.
It was probably only a small votive chapel built after one of the numerous epidemics of plague. Namely, in 1610, the citizens started celebrating St. Charles Borromeo, the Archbishop of Milan, who was distinguished for his care for the sick during the great plague epidemics that raged at the end of the 16th century. In the course of the next hundred years, the chapel of St. Charles started to erode gradually, so it had to be demolished, and in 1735, owing to the locals and the vicar Nikola Pavković, the existing one was built which was both new and larger than the previous one.
It is a single-nave Church with a rectangular apse and a distaff-shaped bell tower on the facade, with the year of its construction engraved in the stone. To the south of the main entrance to the Church, there is an engraved baptismal font depicting a fish with the subsequently engraved inscription mentioning the vicar of a fraternity of Okrug (cro. NO(VA)K SCRIPECINI ZUPANP(OSTAVI)N.N) who had placed the baptismal font there. It is believed that it pertained to the artifacts of the old Church of St. Theodore.
Shortly after the construction, the new Church of St. Charles Borromeo became the parish church of Okrug Gornji. In that period, the large fraternity of St. Charles (Scuolagrande) is also mentioned in the Bishop's manuscripts which, just like the Church, used to maintain itself through the modest income collected from wine, barley, cheese and from a third of the amount of olive oil that the locals used to make on the feast day of St. Charles (celebrated on the 3rd of November).
On the main altar, carved in wood, there is a painting by an unknown artist depicting Our Lady of Carmel with St. John, St. Lawrence and St. Charles Borromeo. It dates back to the period of the construction of the new church. The cult of Our Lady of Carmel, the patroness of peace, is being celebrated across Dalmatia since the end of the 17th century, following great wars with the Ottomans, as an expression of gratitude for military successes and the achieved peace. In general, the historical conditions that were in place after the Candia War were reflected in the reconstruction and furnishing of a number of churches on the Island of Čiovo, as in the case of the Church of St. Charles Borromeo.
A STONE WITNESS OF THE CHRISTIAN EREMITIC TRADITION ON THE ISLAND OF ČIOVO.
The Church of St. John the Baptist is located in Okrug Donji, along the old road leading towards the coast, to the port called Stari porat (The Old Port). Further south, the road used to split towards the old village of Okrug Gornji in one direction, and towards the Šepurina well the locals of Okrug Donji used for centuries as one of water sources in the other one. In the area located west of the Church, there are three more groups of stone houses that used to form the center of the old village of Okrug Donji.
It is not known when the Church was built – it is assumed that it was built during the 16th century, when the villages of Čiovo were increasingly settled. The Church of St. John the Baptist is mentioned by Pavao Andreis, a historian from Trogir, in the second half of the 17th century, who stated that it was situated in the village of Okrug (Ocruch) and that it was built by the locals. The area surrounding the Church was used in the 19th century as a graveyard.
It is a single-nave Church with a rectangular apse. Above the entrance to the Church, there is a decorated lintel, a window rosette and distaff-shaped bell tower built in a late-Renaissance style.
The consecration of the Church to the St. John the Baptist – the hermit, can be interpreted within the context of the eremitic tradition that was particularly present on the Island of Čiovo. Namely, in this area, the eremitic tradition originated in the first centuries of Christianity, and it survived well into the late Modern Age.
AT THE KANCELIROVAC BAY – A FORMER WATCHTOWER ON THE ROCK.
At the bottom of the Kancelirovac Bay, some two hundred meters from the sea, there are ruins of the old fortress/citadel built on the rock (the locals call this position "under the citadel" (cro. Pod polaču). The fortress belonged to the monks of the Benedictine monastery of St. John the Baptist from Trogir who used to stay there only temporarily, during seasonal work in the field, harvesting or hunting, as well as on numerous other estates they possessed in the area of Trogir. The citadel was used as the occasional residence and as a watchtower from which the adjacent properties could be overlooked. It was constructed from large, roughly-carved stone blocks, typical of the Romantic period, and at the level of the first floor large arched windows allowed natural light to enter. In the 1830s, the Austrian cadastral register contained the entries of some supporting structures built next to the Citadel, of which there is no historical record.
This isolated, but well-protected location, such as the monastic estate situated on the nearby islet of Fumija may be the early Christian eremitic place that was later inherited by the Benedictine monks from the Town of Trogir. The western promontory on the way towards the Kancelirovac Bay, which is now called Troglavice, used to be called St. John's Promontory (Punta S.Giovanni), named after the Citadel itself.
AND THE REMAINS OF THE BENEDICTINE MONASTERY – THE PLACE OF A VERY EARLY APPEARANCE OF HERMITAGE.
The Islet of Fumija is located only three hundred meters from the south-west part of the Island of Čiovo. The Island was named after St. Euphemia, the patron saint of the early Christian church and monastery the ruins of which can still be seen.
The Islet of Fumija is the place of a very early appearance of hermitage, where the Benedictine monks of the St. John monastery of Trogir settled afterwards. There they used to have their estate with the church, and they occasionally stayed on the Island, during seasonal work, and the fishing season. The Benedictines from the Town of Trogir, who were large landowners, owned numerous estates in the area of Trogir, such as the ones on the nearby Island of Kraljevac, and at the Kancelirovac Bay on the Island of Čiovo.
Opposite the Islet of Fumija, there is the Bay of Duga, a sheltered bay and boat anchorage, and in the vicinity there is a large well located above the water spring, called Šepurina. On the Islet of Fumija there is a cave in which water was collected, and small fertile estates, so this was an ideal place to lead a religious life in its monastic form.
We can include the monastery on the Islet Fumija into the group of early Christian churches that were built at protected bays and anchorages of islets or the ones near fertile land in the interior of the islands, which were also used as watchtowers and as important stop-overs during the voyage.
Numerous finds of antique ceramics and amphorae along the coast of the Island of Fumija raise presumption that this monastic dwelling place was built on the grounds of a Roman feudal manor.
The ruins of the early Christian church are located on the southern side of the islet. The surrounding walls have also been preserved, the remains of a modest monastery next to which there was a water tank. The remains of the furniture pertaining to the early Christian period have also been found.
AT THE PANTERA BAY – THE REMAINS OF THE FEUDAL COUNTRY ESTATE DATING BACK TO THE YEAR 1650.
On the approach to the Pantera Bay, the ruins of the summer residence of the old, extinct aristocratic Racettini family from Trogir are still visible. Today, this Bay is better known as Racetinovac, named after the family. The long, shallow and well-protected Pantera Bay used to represent an attractive location for settlement and economic use.
From the late 15th century onwards, with the shifting of the economic and trade center from the mainland threatened by wars, some noble families on the Island of Čiovo started building their summer residences with water tanks and family chapels in isolated places, right by the shore. To this day, this summer residence has been the only one preserved.
According to the historian Pavao Andreis, the feudal country estate was built in 1650. It consisted of a one-storey building, a chapel, a water tank, a barn, and a yard. At the back end of the estate, there are terraces of a once cultivated garden and orchard which are still preserved, with a threshing floor (cro. guvno) – a space for the threshing of grain – nearby. The chapel with a vault, leaning against the manor, is dedicated to St. Anthony the Abbot (cro. Sv. Antun Opat), the hermit and patron saint of animals and agriculture, a protector from disease. The worship of his cult can be interpreted as practicing the old eremitic tradition of the Island of Čiovo, as well as in the context of the maintenance of the surrounding family estate that, within this protected setting, in addition to agricultural activities, also provided the opportunity for fishing and sea salt harvesting.