Monday, March 05, 2018

The Ancient and Magical Croatian Town Of Nin

Croatia Online - Nin Branimir

Nin has a very special place in my heart. It is very special, for a number of reasons, in its own right; however I happened to find myself there the day a very close friend and relative died. My aunt was in her nineties and, thanks to a thoughtful cousin, I’d known she was on her way out and I’d been able to say my goodbyes a couple of days before. I didn’t know, until later that evening, that this would be her last day on earth, but I had decided I would find somewhere spiritual to say a few words to try and help her on her way. And lo and behold, in Nin, I found a church that was named after the same saint that her house in England had been named after – St Anselm.  You can see the tower in the background of the above photo and below is the same tower with part of the garden where I sat and said my piece.

Croatia Online -Nin St Anselms 

It turns out that St Anselm, who was made Archbishop of Canterbury at the end of the 11th Century, was born in Italy, and so it’s not so surprising that he was feted in Catholic Croatia. The church itself, built in the 6th century, was a cathedral during the rule of Croatian Kings. It was restored during the reign of King Zvonimir in 1070, suffered various further damage and assumed its present-day appearance in the 18th century. The Bell Tower, to the west of the church, was thoroughly restored a few decades ago but is believed to have originated in the 13th century and undergone reconstruction in the 17th century. All of which gives rise to a timeline anomaly I am trying to clarify since, clearly, the St Anselm who became Archbishop of Canterbury was not around when this church was originally built so was it renamed later or was there another St Anselm? Watch this space!

Nin itself is one of Croatia’s most ancient settlements and lies on a tiny island connected to the mainland by two stone bridges spanning a shallow lagoon. These bridges were severely damaged in the torrential rain of September 2017. The picture below is before the storm damage but you can see what happened by following this link Total Croatia News - Nin Bridge Damage

Croatia Online - Nin Stone Bridge

Founded by the Ilyrians in the ninth century BC, Nin became an important municipality under Roman rule, with plenty of Roman remains still clearly visible,  including those of a temple and villa. Nearby Zaton, now home to a large holiday resort, was an important port. Nin was ransacked and destroyed several times but went on to become the birthplace of the Croatian state and the seat of the first Kings of Croatia. In spite of all the destruction, however, the Church of the Holy Cross, built in the 9th century, survived intact, and is one of the most important examples of early Croatian religious architecture.

Croatia Online - Nin Church Of The Holy Cross

Nin has much more to offer – a salt works, medicinal mud, a museum, some good restaurants, the normal array of cafes, bars and shops, to name but a few. One of its most famous bishops, Grgur, who fought to preserve the national Slavonic language and Glagolitic script, has a statue in his honour in the centre of town. There’s another statue of him in Split and both have polished toes as rubbing them is supposed to answer wishes and bring good luck. By the way, that’s not Grgur in the first picture, but the much adored Duke Branimir who ruled Croatia from 879-892 and was largely responsible for Croatia being accepted as an independent country of the Christian west. On 7th June 879, in Nin, Branimir was recognised as the legal ruler of Croatia as a new nation state, and Nin was the centre of power.

Nin also has a replica of a traditional old boat, the Condura Croatica. They were found in 1966 and taken out of the sea in 1974 when the desalination, conservation and restoration work began in Zadar. They were in use at the end of the 11th and the beginning of the 12th century and are claimed to be the smallest but deadliest war ships in history.

Croatia Online - Nin Condura Croatica

For more information on Nin go to Nin Town Website

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