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Friday, 17 August 2012

Johnny Depp, Croatia, Omiš, Pirates.....

This one was right up my alley, sort of in the medieval times department, sort of. I did an addition recently regarding a medieval times themed tour in Zagreb previously HERE  You can't go wrong with pirates either, it looks to be a fun summer event to check out. I'm a big fan of a lot of Johnny Depp movies, and especially some of the odd and strange but always entertaining characters and roles he portrays in his movies too, but he's a busy guy so I'm sure he won't be able to drop things and attend this annual event in the coastal town of Omiš, but I'll touch upon the topic anyway. I mentioned him previously on my 2 Cellos/Queen Elizabeth jubilee post HERE.

I was actually planning on being in the area right around this time, but a last minute change of plans to spend some time with family and other projects for a while. Even if one's not into the historic pirate related  festivities, taking a peek at just the town of Omiš website, there's still plenty of other cool things to see and do. Regardless, this one is about pirates so I had to add this. (The real original old school pirates I'm talking about, as in pre-motorized boats and vessels and automatic weapons, back in the day with their buried treasures, swashbuckling, oaths, sword carrying and eye-patch wearing, they were much cooler back then than today's various pirates. They had really good jokes back then too I heard, as well as good grub and always plentiful hooch, sort of like alternative Robin Hoods but on the seas and in boats). All the basic info is below......

Pirate battle, Omiš 2009. Image:

Johnny Depp receives the latest celebrity invitation to Croatia

Omis - Arguably the most famous pirate of them all, Johnny Depp receives an invitation to the annual Pirates of Omiš festival on the Adriatic coast.

With the Croatian tourist season in full swing on the Adriatic coast and the Dalmatian beaches full, several cultural festivals are also taking place, and the Tourist Board of Omis has taken the enterprising step of inviting Johnny Depp to the annual Pirates of Omiš festival, which takes place on August 18, 2012, according to a report in the Croatian Times.

 Some of Johnny Depp's pirate work from the "Pirates of the Carribean" film series.

Depp, one of the world's best known pirates through the character of Jack Sparrow in the successful Pirates of the Caribbean film series, is unlikely to come, but the invitation has generated publicity for the festival, which was last year attended by 10,000 people.

The highlight of the annual festival is the reconstruction of a 13th Century sea battle between the Venetian empire and the pirates of Omiš. The battle will include more than 100 participants fighting with original weapons (see video below for 2011 event).

The aim is to promote Omiš as a centre of culture and tradition, and to show that the Dalmatian coast has a lot more to offer than its fabled beaches and coast line. The village of Igrane, some 50km further down the coast, is also taking a closer look at the tourism potential of its history and last year held a Night of King Arthur for 3,000 guests, in honour of Arthur's mother, Igraynne, who it is claimed is from the area.

 Image source:

While the invitation may be seen as a gimmick by some, there is no doubt that such invitations are effective in generating publicity and interest, and this is not the first such invitation coming out of Croatia. Last year the mayor of Hvar Town - one of the most popular tourist destinations on the Adriatic - invited Facebook supremo Mark Zuckerberg to the island, offering to rename a neighbouring island 'Facebook Island' if he came.

 Lots of Pirate grub during the festivities. (Pirates were always known for having good grub and hooch) Image source:

The high profile visit of Beyonce to Hvar last year (where she revealed her baby bump to the world) and the revelation that the inspiration for the naming of her daughter, Blue Ivy, came from Hvar, lead to Bebic conferring the status of honorary citizen of Hvar on the small child.

Pirates. Image sources:

From an updated post HERE, an interesting pic of even New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick as a pirate. (Bill also has Croatian descent btw. More information at a post HERE)

The story went around the world and, as previously reported on Digital Journal, led to an immediate upsurge in tourism interest in the island. Croatia is becoming more popular as a celebrity destination, where the approach to the rich and famous is a lot more relaxed than elsewhere, and Eric Clapton and Michael Schumacher were two visitors to Hvar earlier this month.


More About The History Of Omiš


At the peak of their power, Omiš Pirates were one of the most powerful and fearsome pirates on the whole Mediterranean Sea. In the 12th and 13th century Omiš was governed by the dukes Kacic, the leaders of the pirates of Omiš. The Omiš dukes from the Kacic family: Malduk, Toljen, Pribislav, Osor were the masters of the Adriatic Sea, so mighty that the towns of Dubrovnik and Kotor were forced to make treaties with them on non-attacking, and in the 13th century even Venice appeared as a party in the pact with the Omiš pirates making a commitment to pay tribute to ensure free sailing and trade. The pirates of Omiš used to attack Pope's galleys and merchants of Venetia, Dubrovnik, Kotor, Split. On few occasions they even attacked the crusaders on their way to the Holy Land as well as Greek bishops.

Mirabela Castle (Croatian: Tvrđava Mirabela or Peovica) a Romanesque fortress built in the 12th century above the town of Omiš in the  Split-Dalmatia county was their lair. it was a reliable hideout for the Omiš pirates who used to retreat into the safety of the Cetina gorge.  It's believed that the Kačić family, feudal lords of Omiš during the 12th and 13th centuries, built Mirabela in the early 1200s.

Omiš Pirates ruled the Adriatic Sea for more then three centuries until in the year of 1420 the whole of Dalmatia, except Omiš, fell under rule the of Venetian Republic, the most powerful naval force of those times. Surrounded by the enemy and left completely alone, the Pirates of Omis managed to defend themselves for 24 years. In 1444, Omiš fell into the hands of Venetia and that year marks the end of piracy on Adriatic Sea.

Omiš Pirates were extraordinary sailors and shipbuilders, famous for their Sagittas (the Arrow), a special type of ship constructed for fast attack and even faster retrieval into the safety of the mouth of the Cetina River. Due to its position and the bravery of its inhabitants, Omiš was practically  impregnable to all invaders. Even the Turks, who conquered all of the south-eastern Europe, and were stopped at the gates of Vienna, didn't manage to defeat Omiš.

Souvenir t-shirt.. Image:

  another souvenir t-shirt

The Seal of Omiš Count Nikola Kačić from 1245


The document, dated 5 March 1245, on the basis of which Omiš and Dubrovnik regulated their relations, is to be found at the State Archives of Dubrovnik. Appended is single brown wax seal, round, 40 mm in diameter and 12 mm thick. Close analysis of the fragmentary seal impression provides elements for its reconstruction and interpretation. The inscription round the border is 4 mm wide, written in rustic capitals with uncial letters «m» and «t». The inscriptions reads: S(igillum) NIC(olai) D(omi)NI ET COMITI(S), that is, «the seal of Nikola Lord and Count». It reveals the owner of the seal, Count Nikola Kačić, son of Hodimir, who, on behalf of the Omiš county, made the agreement with Dubrovnik. The central motive of the seal picture is 23 mm in diameter, representing Count Nikola riding a horse. He waves a sword in his right hand, reining the horse with the left hand. The device of the armed equestrian figure was used by uncrowned rulers, neither kings nor emperors, but landlords, whose hereditary lands were converted into fiefs and later, independent counties. The equestarian seal was commonly used in Europe by members of the royalty or royal officials who ruled independently over a certain territory. Thus, the Croatian ban Opoja had the same type of equestarian seal, as well as the sons of the Hungarian King Béla IV, the viceroy Stephen, and Béla who ruled over Croatia. This type of seal generally symbolized the strong, practically independent jurisdiction of its owner over a territory.

More information and images  HERE and images HERE.

Omiš Pirate Forts

 Image source:

 Text and more information:


The medieval fort of Starigrad (Fortica) developed on the site of a prehistoric and Roman fort, during the XIVth or at the beginning of the XVth century, during the time of the duke Ivaniš Nelipić.  At that time a large bailey was built, with houses for the garrison, and a water tank. Acess to the main square tower was via long corridor. Both the tower and the ramparts were topped with characteristic battlements. During the Turkish wars in the XVIth century two triangular bastions were built in the eastern and north-eastern parts. The fort has been undergoing conservation and restoration treatment since the 1990s. Starigrad was an important fort defending the land around Omis, as well as a much larger area between Split and Makarska from the XVth to the end of the XVIIth century.

Now it's open for tourists, and you can reach the fortress from the Omiš city on foot, using well aranged paths with signposts, over the settlement Baucici and climb the fortress in about 20 minutes, and enjoy the spectacular view at Omiš Riviera and Dalmatian islands.
Ticket price is 15 HRK (kunas) per person.


Fortress Mirabella (Peovica) is a Romanesque fort, difficult to conquer, built in XIIIth century above the city of Omiš on the foundation dating for back to the time of the Byzantine emperor Basilius (887. - 886.) , but it has undergone numerous changes in the years to come. Fortress Mirabella was a reliable hideout for the Omiš pirates, who used to retreat into the safety of the Cetina gorge. Old legend says that in 1537, during an attack by the Turks, the defenders of Omiš confused the attackers with their shouting and shots so much that the Turks overestimated the number of defenders and fled.  Fortress Mirabella has four floors and exit at the top that offers an unforgettable sight.

You can reach the Fortress Mirabella from Omiš main square in 5 minutes walk.
Ticket price is 15 HRK (kunas) per person.

1145. Povlja, Island Brac - Benedictine monastery, built between the end of the 9th and the beginning of the 10th century, was devastated in 1145 by pirates of Omiš.

1167. Duke Nikola Kacic signs peace treaty with the merchants of Kotor. The treaty was soon broken.

1180. Archbishop Arnir of Constantinople gets stoned to death in Omiš.

1190. Kacics signs treaty with Dubrovnik. This treaty was also soon broken.

1200. Komiza, Island Vis - The Benedictines moved their monastery from Bisevo to Saint Nicholas Church in Komiza due to the threat of attack by the Omiš pirates.

1208. Venice makes pact with the Omiš pirates making a commitment to pay tribute to ensure free sailing and trade.

1220. The Pirates of Omiš attacked the Pope's crusaders on their way to Palestine.

1221. Pope Honorius III undertook crusade against Omiš pirates. Pirates won the war.

1226. Duke Toljen Kacic pillages the surrounding of Split.

1228. Pope Honorius III undertook another crusade against Omiš pirates. Pirates lost the war, but the piracy continued.

1228. Splitska, Island Brac - The church of St. Maria was destroyed by the Pirates of Omiš.

1236. Venetia and Dubrovnik form an alliance against the Pirates of Omiš.

1241. Island Solta - The islands churches, as well as the island villages were badly damaged when the Duke of Omiš, Osor Kacic and his pirates invaded the island.

1273. The Pirates of Omiš robbed Henry, Bishop of Greek Kefalonia

1277. Nerezisca, Island Brac - This year is known in Nerezisca for the Omiš Pirates attack: they set the Brac office building on fire and destroyed the Brac archives.

1278. Island Brac was captured for the first time by Pirates of Omiš.

1280. Sucuraj, Island Hvar - Monastery of the hermit brothers of St. Augustine, was burnt down by Omiš Pirates.

1294. Povlja, Island Brac - The Pirates of Omiš pillaged Povlja monastery again.

1331. Island Hvar - After several centuries in which Venice, Byzantium and Croat-Hungarian kings ruled the island; in 1331 it opted for the most powerful of the lot – Venice – as a protection against the notorious Pirates of Omiš.

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