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The Renaissance Towers in Pučišća on the Island of Brač

Vanja Kovačić ; Konzervatorski odjel Ministarstva kulture u Trogiru

Puni tekst: hrvatski pdf 1.232 Kb

str. 48-65

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The first Turkish invasions and pillages on the territory between the cities of Split and Trogir started at the second half of the 15th century. That caused the noble families of Trogir to start building castles and fortified summer houses on the sea shore, in order to protect their own estates and at the same time, act as a safe refuge for the local population during dangerous times. Also during that time, poorly defended harbors on the east side of the island of Brač, which were exposed to sudden pirate pillages from the neighboring land, were fortified by smaller castles and towers. The harbor of Pučišća, “the tower harbor” as it was called, was in the 16th century glorified by thirteen towers which had their base on the cliff-sides and partially followed the edge of the bay, while others protected the rear of the upper row of houses. The towers were not connected with a common defense perimeter, but every castle was a separate complex fortified by a defensive yard wall.
The tower on the northern side of the harbor, whose tall corpus dominates the village, was built, according to chronicler Andrija Ciccarelli, on the cliff-sides in 1467 by Ciprijan Žuvetić. Although Ciccarelli doesn’t say anything about Žuvetić’s family coat of arms in his chronicles on Pučišća, he mentions the inscription which used to adorn the tower:
The three stories high tower has triple stone consoles that used to carry protruding parapets on the last floor. High on the south-east corner above the consoles, a stone beam was built in, with a part of the inscription in the capital and which says:
Letters on the transom were damaged by salt, so it was therefore used as a corner stone during the building extension of the tower which is evident in the letters being turned upside – down. One half of the preserved inscription partially overlaps with the transcription brought by Ciccarelli, but the dating must be from a later period because the year 1487 was carved in, which makes sense historically when compared to similar defensive measures across the Dalmatian coast.
At the bottom of the Pučišća harbor, a smaller two story high tower was preserved, right next to the house of the Martinić family. During the centuries, the tower changed hands frequently, and traditionally, it belonged to the Prodić family. This is evident from the marble tablet with the coat of arms which is situated on the eastern facade of the tower. Some antique spolia was used for the relief with an expertly carved profile and shield with a stylized oak treetop, acorns and strong roots. The top of the shield is a palmette, and in the corners there are rolled-up scrolls. MD / XXXXV is carved on the lower part of the tablet which places the date of the tower construction in 1545. The bottom part of the tower has a scarp which is separated from the top part of the tower by an oval cordon wreath. There is also a monumental threshold in the lapidarium, through which people used to enter the yard, with corner triangle decorations with a ball. The majority of the renaissance and early baroque structures show, in the middle of the transom, a medallion with an abbreviation IHS and the cross through which the family asked God’s blessing. It can be found on the main doors of a house, as well as on stone vessel decorated with segmental circles with the year 1627.
On the northern part of Pučišća harbor, a bit further away from the sea shore, there was a house with a tower belonging to the Davidović family. The text with the initials M.C., followed by a lily in relief, and the year MDXLVI (1546) are carved on the house’s window lintel. There is a triangular gable over it showing a chalice and abbreviation IHS with a cross. There is a stone tablet with a carved sundial and the same initials M.C. and the year MDXLV... on the side of a window. Although it is attributed to the Davidović family, which is mentioned in birth registries at the end of the 16th century, it is important to remark that it is related to a family whose family name begins with a letter “C”, so we can assume that it is related to either Ciccarelli family, or Kuščić family, which both belong to Brač’s nobility.
The house of the Moro family was replaced by the municipality building which was built in 1914. On the south side, an old transom is preserved and it has an inscription dated 1546, the same year as the house of the Moro family was dated.
The inscription which is carved in traditional, elongated letters, says: MDXXXXVI IHS EDIAE LVCAE MORO.
On the east, at the end of the harbor, there is a prominent tower which was built by Mate Aquila. The tower used to be situated on the cliff-side. The entrance bearing the family coat of arms showing an eagle swallowing a snake is situated on the first floor of the tower’s northern façade. Openings in the shape of a cross are used for the mechanism of the drawbridge. The semi-circular cordon wreath is placed above the scarp, and the tower had a small number of round or tear shaped openings and loopholes; the second floor of the tower had a cross vault made of tuff. In the yard, there is a cylindrical well decorated with cogs and the central medallion in which there is a monogram of Christ’s name, IHS, in relief, with a cross above the letter H, and branches symbolizing the power of the holy sign spreading from it. Triple stone consoles are well preserved on the eastern and the southern side, on the second floor formed “hanging bridges”, i. e. machicolations.
During the restoration of Dešković Furioso complex, situated on the south side of the parish church, parts of the castle that earlier belonged to the Pinezić family, were discovered. During the research work, remains of the foundation of the northeast tower were discovered, as well as the opening of the cistern on the inside of the Pinezić house. Also, several parts of the 16th and the 17th century majolica were found, and among those parts, the outstanding examples are maiolica berettina and maiolica colorata types, produced in Venice or Padua. The Pinezić castle took only the western part of the present Dešković complex, and it had the ground plan of a rectangular building with smaller towers on opposing corners. The original typology of the house was established, with two diagonal towers placed on corners, one facing the harbor, and the other one facing the back vale. A similar variant monumentally appears on the Cerinić castle in Škrip, where one tower has a base in the form of a scarp, while the other one has completely straight wall. The other variant is the corner guardhouse opposing the tower as on the Žuvetić – Ciccarelli castle in Pučišća where the bottom of the guardhouse made of monolith stone plates standing on double consoles, was preserved. The Marinović tower is situated on the south of the parish church, and along the east border of the Ivellio vale (the present Dešković vale); its original affiliation is unknown. Although its outer look has changed and although it doesn’t have the finishing consoles, several round holes with tear – shaped openings, as well as one stone lug of gothic – renaissance style, were preserved. Over the former cistern on the ground floor is a conic crown of a well, while the monumental cross vault made of tuff, above which is the finishing terrace, is on the second floor.
On the crossroad between Porat and Soline bay, there is the Grego – Orlandini tower. It is a two–storey building with a terrace but without any visible defensive elements, and by its volume and outer appearances, it is very similar to the Marinović tower.
One of the so far uninhabited towers is the one of the Bokanić family, whose members were respectable stonemasons; the tower was inherited by the Lukinović family. What is left of that tower is hidden in the complex situated on the west side of the Dešković estate, next to Picokara street. Although some significant sculpting and construction projects were made by sculptors and stonemasons of the Bokanić family at the end of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th century, on the areas of the island of Brač, Trogir, Zadar, Omiš, and the island of Hvar, they didn’t make any more important works in the renaissance constructions in their homeland. Epigraphic monuments from the middle of the 16th century, situated on towers and tombstones, are an expression of self-consciousness and virtue of those who ordered them to be made in order to further define their belonging to a certain family, and at the same time, they carry a strong religious message. Besides the Ciccarelli chronicle, today these inscriptions present first-rate sources for the history of Pučišća and the stonemason compendium of the classical alphabet with abbreviations. Noble families, with their fortified constructions with towers, formed the axis of the defense of that port against pirate attacks from the sea. Although the towers were not connected with a unique defense wall, their strategic positions on the sea, with houses in the second row on the hill slopes, made possible the defense of the whole settlement and they prevented the penetration of attackers into the inner part of the island.

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