When you arrive to Croatian peninsula – Pelješac, it is mandatory to include a visit to Nakovana in the schedule. If you are not an archaeologist or fond of Dalmatian history, you have hardly heard of this small place near Orebić, so let this text be an incentive to you…
Once a lively and certainly important centre, today it is empty and quiet. But what makes it special is the breath of history, culture, unavoidable legends and timeless beauty, by which it could fully bear the name of a true archaeological landscape.
Nakovana or Nakovanj, according to the archaeological research over 8000 years old place, is a story for itself. A short drive along the peninsula and the blue sea brings us to a charming historic village. The Nakovana limestone plateau is also called the Town (Croatian: Grad) and is one of the important archaeological sites, as evidenced by the remains of an Illyrian sanctuary of fertility dated from the 4thcentury B.C., preserved in a well-hidden cave.
Also important are the findings of fragments of Impresso pottery from the Neolithic era, flint, Illyrian burial mounds, forts on the Town, the remains of medieval churches and culture, which is all together called Nakovana Culture. Unusually, a pretty much for such a small village!
Nakovana, formed of the Upper and the Lower village, today it is completely deserted, and probably robbed over time, but still entices every visitor and carries a breath of life in the days of yore, architecture, culture and the way of life. Its chaos and emptiness, along with the sounds of birds and crickets, are impressive and thought-provoking: how powerful was this landscape? What we have lost over time, and what we gained? And how thin it really is the boundary between life and death, worship and celebrations?
As we make our way through the remains of the stone houses, I recall the legend of the three blacksmith brothers. When they decided to split up, one got a housing or a smithy dwelling (Croatian: kućište), therefore a place where he went to live was named Kućište, and it still exists. The second brother got a blacksmith’s tool (Croatian: viganj) so the nowadays popular surfing place Viganj was created. And the third got an anvil – a stump to soften the blows with a hammer (Croatian: nakovanj) and stayed to live in this historical place called Nakovanj or Nakovana.
Whether true or not, every legend, story or myth at least carries the charm and life of all those who once lived there; otherwise those stories wouldn’t have reached us, would they? What is entirely accurate and what the inhabitants of the Pelješac peninsula are very proud of, is the house of torpedo inventor Ivan Blaž Lupis (Luppis) Vukić, which is actually located in this small place!
The Mediterranean climate and vegetation follow us by every step; the scents of heather, lavender, thyme, sage, endemic Dalmatian cranesbill, ivy climbers and many others, and the inevitable old olives, figs and almonds make this journey even more beautiful. All we have to do is encounter the only inhabitants of Nakovana: jackals, wild horses, mouflons, boars, rabbits and bats – and the whole mystic experience would be unforgettable.
We roam the ruins, capture shots, retell, fantasize, create our own stories and enjoy being a part of this history. Where luck would be if Nakovana will be even more recognizable and what is left of it will also be preserved. Because the treasure is treasure, priceless and important for all generations – for those who created it, for those who write about it and for those who will yet meet it in the future. Let’s keep it safe, because we are a really rich country indeed!