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Villa Vinka

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Miljenka Demel
Email: galeot@galeot.hr
Gsm: +385992022104
Ružičnjak 7
HR - 10000 Zagreb
Ivana Gundulića 44
HR - 21322 Brela
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Brela are a municipality situated in the central part of the Split-Dalmatia county. The municipality is situated behind and below the Dupci pass on the Biokovo Mountain and on the littoral under the mountain which is a part of Makarska Riviera. Brela are the first village on Makarska Riviera, a string of villages and little towns situated on the seaside slopes of the Biokovo mountain range. The Adriatic tourist road from Split to Dubrovnik passes through Brela and a state road connect Brela via the Dupci pass to the hinterland and the motorway Zagreb-Split Dubrovnik at entry point estanovac.

Brela municipality borders Zadvarje municipality to the west, Baka Voda to the south,  estanovac and Zagvozd to the north. The municipality consists of two villages, Brela on the southern, seaside slope of the mountain and Brela Gornja, situated within the Biokovo nature park, in a valley on the other side of the mountain facing north. The village of Brela consists of a number of hamlets and tourist resorts scattered among olive groves and pine woods that grow all the way down the mountain slope to the sea shore and its 6 km of pebble beaches. According to the 2001 census, there were 1618 inhabitants in Brela and 153 inhabitants in Brela Gornja. Brela became a municipality in 1993, following a reorganization of  regional and local government units in the Republic of Croatia.

The area has been inhabited for many centuries, as evidenced by a number of not yet fully researched Illyrian mounds and remains of walled settlements. The area was inhabited by Illyrian tribe Delmati in the 4th century BC and it was invaded by Romans in the 3rd century BC, as evidenced by  a necropolis discovered in the Soline hamlet. It is believed that a number of villae rusticae were built in the area by the Romans. The Biokovo Mountain has always been a barrier between the coastal area and the hinterland and the Dupci and Nevista passes, both in the vicinity of Brela, were the only two routes cross the 60 km long mountain range. Due to their location, Brela have been on the in-land trading routes since very early on. A map of Roman roads, Tabula Peuntingeriana, shows that roads in the area connected Roman military camps in Tellurium (today Trilj) Maccarum (today Makar) and Biston (today Bast). Amphorae found in the archaeological site located on the seabed in the Jakirua cove in Brela were used in the 3rd and 2nd century BC to transport oil and wine along the sea-route connecting Greece, the Middle East and Northern Italy. 

Croats settled the area in the 7th ct AD.  The area of the Biokovo mountain range and the Neretva river was outside the borders of the Croatian state and was called Pagania, and after 1185, Krajina. In the middle Ages, Venice became the most powerful player in the region, and pirates from different parts of Pagania would attack Venetian ships, with Venice retaliating and waging wars against them.  In one of the battles, held on 18 September 887, Venetian dodge Pietro Candiano was involved. The date is marked today as the day of the Croatian Navy.

The name Brela is first mentioned by Konstantin Porfirogenet, ruler and writer in Byzantium,  in his book De administrando imperio from around 950 AD, where he talks about Beroyllia as one of the four fortified towns of Pagania. Other historic names have been used and we will mention the Latinized Brolanenses from a charter by Croatian noblemen Juraj ubi? dating back to the year 1315.

In the year 1326, Brela, as well as the whole of Krajina, was  ruled by King Stjepan Kotromani?, and from 1357 to 1382, by Hungarian and Croatian king Lodovic 1st, and then the whole area was invaded and merged with Bosnia by king Tvrtko 1st. Both Brela and Krajina remain under the rule of Bosnian kings and noblemen of the Hrvatini? and Kosa?a families until they are defeated by the Turks. Brela fell under the Turkish rule in 1476. Due to frequent wars between the Ottoman Empire and Venice, a number of inhabitants moved to the islands. The Ottoman rule ended on 21 April 1684, when both Zadvarje and Brela were freed  and new inhabitants moved to the area from the surrounding hinterland and even Herzegovina. Soon Brela were under Venetian rule, and following the fall of Venice and the Treaty of Campo Formio in 1797, they were ruled by Austria. The French rule started in 1808 and ended in 1813, and this is when the road across the Biokovo was being built to connect Makarska with the road built by the French Army further inland.  From the Congress of Vienna to the end of the First World War, Brela were part of the Austrian Empire, and then they became part of the new Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, which was later renamed Yugoslavia.           

The parish of Brela was probably established in the 14th or the 15th century. The assumption is based on the fact that the church of St Nicholas, now renovated, was built in that period in Brela Gornja at an altitude of 572 meters and St Nicholas has been the patron saint of the people of Brela for centuries, with this churches their parish church.

A number of Brela parish priests are important historic figures because of their activities related to education, establishment of tourist board, choir, brass band etc. The first school in Brela was established by the bishop of Makarska, Nikola Biankovi?, in 1710 in Soline.

Source:www.opcina-brela.hr, Text: Milan Babi?, Photo:opcina-brela.hr