event top left overlay


BY Klaudija Gamulin

There is an unusual stone ship anchored in the former vineyard of the Bervaldi-Lucić family, in the Torjun area of Stari Grad on Hvar. Its sea is a field of red soil of Hvar, while its permanent anchor is limestone. She has been kept safe for centuries and no storm poses a threat to her. It`s located near the church of St. Nicholas, the patron saint of travellers and sailors, and the former Maritime School. The school was in operation during the French administration at the very beginning of the 19th century. A brazzera-type stone ship was a practical classroom where the island’s sailors acquired their first navigation skills. Brazzera-type ships were used to transport cargo commonly along the eastern coast of the Adriatic. They usually had one mast and could be propelled by oars. The crew consisted of 4-5 people, and the minimum length was 14m.

The stone ship near Torjun is built of solid limestone with flanks and sides of carved stone from the ancient Pharos. Wide, completely brazzera-like with a stone stern, rudder, deck and decorated bow. No ship can do without water, including this one. In fact, the stairs from the stern to the hull lead into a wide gap along the entire length of the ship. The naval novices would enter that gap to orient themselves by the stars of the night sky. They would follow the playful sky and get the exciting impression that this unusual vessel is moving. With their eyes fixed on the octant, sextant and celestial bodies, they lived through an experience they will never forget once they find themselves out in the open sea. To get a more realistic experience, their feet were “immersed”, because no real ship leaks water. Today, the hull of the ship is still in the water that the winegrower used for agricultural purposes on that field. The ship thus benefited both future sailors and winegrowers. Wine and the sea have lived in symbiosis since time immemorial.

Since 2016, the maritime heritage of Stari Grad has been celebrated with a big festival of ships, sea and sailors – an event called Days in the Cove. Also, every December 5th. on the eve of St. Nicholas, they traditionally sacrifice an old wooden ship for happy navigation and the return of sailors. The stone monument left a great mark on the town of Stari Grad by raising generations of famous, acclaimed and skilled sailors. Along with landowners, shipowners were the wealthiest class of people. Their wealth also left a mark on the town’s architecture and the colourful facades of the houses along the coast.

If this stone ship were to miraculously sail across the infinity of the sea, she would cut through the Strait of Otranto with her bow. She remains anchored in place, because the soil of Hvar refuses to let her go, though, in reality, she had sailed away a long time ago. Together with her crew, she is now sailing safely through the starry sky.

Share this story with the world
share icon share icon share icon
Skip to content