Blog
02. 02. 2016 @ Antonija Eremut

Salonitan port / Jadro estuary

Category: cultural heritage GPS: LAT: 43.5325892342 / LONG 16.4781401806

Although it is hard to see it today, in the area of the estuary of the River Jadro in the period from the 1st century BC to the 7th century AD there was a port of ancient Salona, the capital and the largest city of the Roman province of Dalmatia. Strabon, a Greek historian, geographer and philosopher, mentioned the port of Delmati already in the 1st century BC in the description of the Adriatic coast and islands. The latest archaeological research has confirmed the existence of a prehistoric port in the area of the Vranjic peninsula (at that time probably an island), which served the prehistoric settlements in the wider area of nowadays Solin.

The ancient port was formed under the southern ramparts of Salona and occupied the lower course of Jadro, and today's Solinsko Blato and Vranjičko Blato. In the course of time many port facilities were built around it: piers, warehouses, shipyards, grain storage – the so-called horreum. Already at the beginning of the 1st century, at the time of the regent Publius Cornelius Dolabella, somewhere at the entrance to the port a lighthouse (pharos) was built of which a special administration was taking care of, the so-called praefectura phariaca salonitana. City center with the forum, capitolium (with the temples of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva), a senate and a theater was located near the port. One of the reliefs on Trajan's Column in Rome, describing the Emperor's foray into Dacia in today's Romania, shows nothing else but Salona, its harbor and the city center. In later centuries on both sides of the port large basilicas were built: the so-called iuxta portum (by the port) within the city walls, and one outside the walls, on today's "Crkvine" of Vranjic. Unfortunately, the latter was largely destroyed, together with the cemetery which was located on the site of the playground in Vranjic. During the Byzantine-Gothic war, in the winter of 537, one of the naval battles took place just in front of Salona's port, where Justinian's navy beat the Gothic fleet.

With the fall of Salona, after conflicts with the Avars and Slavs in the 30s -40s of the 7th century, its port was also gone forever. Some parts were still used, especially during the Middle Ages when ships would dock under the remains of the south walls of Salona to take stone from the ruins of the ancient city to build medieval Split, Trogir and Kaštela. We assume that during the early medieval period, between the 9th and 11th century, the rulers of the Kingdom of Croatia could dock their ships somewhere in the lowest course of Jadro to reach their Solin courts, the coronation basilica in today's Šuplja crkva (at the time the Church of St Peter and Moses) or the mausoleum on the island.

During the wars with the Turks, Petar Kružić was bringing help to Klis right across the Solin "port", and then in 1537 he literally got stuck in the mud of Solinska Rika (the "Solin River") and was killed there. What happened is that after the withdrawal of Kružić's army before the Turks, his ship ran aground in the mud and sludge and could not sail off. After conquering Klis, Turks themselves planned to build a new city and a port on the ruins of Salona, but that plan was never realised. With its mills and stupas (machines for washing woolen cloth), Jadro was for a long time a boundary between the Eastern (Ottoman) and the Western world.

The mud from Jadro, but also earth from Bulić's researches of Salona, covered the remains of all these ports and harbors. Moreover, the sea level itself raised in the last 2000 years for about 2 meters. Nevertheless, the people of Solin and Vranjic lived until the 60s of the 20th century together with the river, its estuary and the sea.