One of the stories relevant for the history of Biokovo Nature Park has to do with what the efforts of one single man can achieve. A theologian, priest and natural scientist, Friar Jure Radić, worked tirelessly on making sure that the Biokovo Mountain obtains protected status, by officially becoming a Nature Park. That wish came true in 1981. The words of Friar Jure Radić are carved in stone in the Biokovo Botanical Garden Kotišina, above the village of the same name: “Oculis mente corde per visibilia ad invisibilia.” Their meaning: “By the eyes, the spirit and the heart, from visible to invisible.” That is Radić’s testimony to those who remain on Biokovo, with Biokovo, and to all those who come to discover it. The mountain is always a place where the primordial in a human being is happy to be small.
The botanical garden above the village of Kotišina is partly located within the Park. Friar Jure Radić founded it in order to scientifically examine, but also to popularize the plant world of Biokovo. It is not a classical botanical garden; rather, it is an enclosed part of nature, aiming to preserve the natural form of vegetation. On a relatively small surface, highly diverse habitats can be found here: rocks, talus cones, steep stone walls, arable plots, as well as the Proslap canyon with the cascade of the same name. The cascade is dry most of the year, brought to life only during heavy rains. Approximately 300 wild plant taxa have been discovered, ranging from the typically Mediterranean to mountain species; in some areas, exotic plants were planted, as well as agricultural and medicinal plants.
In the immediate vicinity of the entry point, right next to the cliff, stands a stony reminder of turbulent times: the walls of Kaštel, a major fortification from the 16th and 17th century.
In Koština, there is the canyon Proslap – dry most of the year, and filled with water during heavy rains.
Biokovo belongs to the Dinaric mountain chain, ranging from the Ćićarija Mountain in Istria to the border with Montenegro. In relief terms, Biokovo consists of three major parts: the southern, littoral side; the peaks; the continental slope with specific relief characteristics.
The peak area of Biokovo is characterized by dolines and sinkholes. In individual, more spacious dolines, one sometimes comes across a range of smaller ones. The bottom parts of some dolines are also a beginning of pits of amazing depth, given the fact that they are located over 1,000 meters above sea level. Some pits are several hundred meters deep! In the central part of Biokovo, dolines appear in the form of thickly packed groups dominating the terrain. In terms of appearance, they resemble Moon craters – at least that is what many would conclude looking at the photographs of this part of Biokovo without knowing where they were taken. The southern, littoral side of the mountain is an area of barren rocks and cliffs several hundred meters high. Bare stone cliffs on one side, and green flysch zones along the sea on the other – that is the majestic stony-green contrast that can be seen and experienced only on Biokovo.
Some pits are hiding eternal ice and snow, the so-called ice pits.
This ice from the natural freezers of Biokovo used to be harvested by the locals for the needs of hotels along the Makarska Riviera back in the times when there were no refrigerators. At night, using donkeys and mules, peasants would extract the ice from ice pits. It was by no means safe work. One first had to wrap ice blocks in beech leaves and cloth made of goat’s hair, then load them on donkeys, and bring them to town. However, that is what the locals did, earning a living by selling ice to hotels, and that enabled guests to drink beverages cooled by ice brought down from unsuspected heights.
The northern, continental side of the Biokovo massif is quite different from the peaks and the littoral side of the mountain. In that part of the mountain, slopes reach the valleys more gently, and that side is greener and more forested.
Biokovo is a stone boundary between two climates – the Mediterranean and the continental one.
It is their mild interaction, but sometimes tough duels too, that create the special climate of Biokovo. Air mass from the sea penetrates along the mountain’s littoral side, across the ridges and mountain peaks. The peaks of the mountain on the northern side prevent the penetration of cold air mass from the continent, but also the Mediterranean air mass from reaching the hinterland.
Air masses from the mountain and the sea already know what will be the place of their final encounter and conflict: the Biokovo Mountain, without doubt.
One consequence of this conflict are frequent weather changes that bring rain and snow in the autumn period, and major snowfall in the winter period, with snow remaining on the mountain in springtime as well. Inclination, altitude, the position of mountain slopes, but also the geological character of soil and vegetation cover, all impact upon the climate. The forest on the mountain is a regulating factor of precipitation, wind and temperature. All these factors contribute to the diversity of the climate of Biokovo.
The snow mountain of Biokovo reaches its highest peak at Sveti Jure. It is the end-point of the Biokovo road, and a culmination of beauty awarding those who reach that point, either by a mountain trail or vehicle. The panorama from 1,762 meters above sea level allows one to see the sea, the islands, the Dalmatian Hinterland, mountains of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and even neighboring Italy.
There is also the Church of Saint George at the sightseeing point, and an ancient sacral site existed on that spot as early as the 12th century. A testimony to this presence is the stone plate that was placed above the altar of the old, demolished small church, first mentioned in 1640.
For centuries, Biokovo was feeding its population, and the locals perceived it almost as a holy mountain in return. People found fertile karst valleys and karrens, which they brought to life and used for survival. They would come to the mountain in order to plant potatoes and cereal crops, to hunt and extract ice, but most of all to attend to livestock. Towards the beginning of the 20th century, there were over 600 shepherds, male and female, staying on Biokovo. Due to the extraordinarily favorable climatic position of the mountain, the local shepherds would take their herds to high mountain pastures during the dry season of the year, and seasonal shepherd settlements soon developed there, characterized by their overall modesty and extraordinary harmony with the landscape. Taking care of livestock was work done by women back in those days, so there were twice as many female shepherds than male ones; in the meantime, men would work on land in the valleys of Biokovo. Their clothes were modest too, mostly including protection for legs made of cloth, peasant footwear, and a coat made of homemade cloth. They mostly ate cabbage, polenta and potatoes, sometimes also meat and milk. After a hard day’s work, the shepherds would get together and sit around a fire, playing instruments, dancing, enjoying various social games, and telling tales about the fairies and werewolves.
Overall, the flora of Biokovo in a wider sense of the word, ranging from the river of Cetina to the river of Neretva, and from the locality of Kozice to the locality of Zagvozd, includes over 1,500 taxa. Endemism is what makes the flora of Biokovo so special. The best-known endemic plant species are the Biokovo bellflower, Centaurea gloriosa and Moltkea petraea, the latter being endemic in a wider Dinaric area.
The fauna of Biokovo is distinctive and diverse, but also insufficiently researched. In numerous caves and pits of Biokovo, fascinating subterranean fauna abounds. So far, over 199 cave species have been recorded, including 60 species endemic to Biokovo.
With a little bit of visitor’s luck, one might also come across wild horses. They got used to visitors, and do not run away from people. Seeing a herd of wild horses is truly an archetype image of freedom.
Since there are no surface watercourses on Biokovo – only rare karst sources and groundwater instead – specific water habitats include pools of water, solution pans and wells, filled with water most of the year thanks to an impermeable layer of clay, and also serving as watering places for domestic animals.
Such water habitats also constitute home for some protected amphibian species, with seven of them recorded in the territory of the Biokovo Nature Park so far.
In the territory of the Nature Park, 21 reptile species have been recorded so far: one turtle species, ten lizard species, and ten snake species.
The most numerous group of species on Biokovo are vertebrates. Among almost one hundred bird species, some rare and endangered species also live on the mountain, such as the strictly protected species short-toed snake-eagle, golden eagle, or Eurasian kestrel.
There are 42 mammal species on Biokovo, with all bat species strictly protected. Out of ten carnivore species, jackal and bear appear only occasionally, and wolf is present permanently. The latter is included on the list of near threatened species. The Biokovo population of chamois, on the other hand, is considered to be the most stable and the biggest chamois population in Croatia.
Geology of an area must be treated in a comprehensive manner. Towards the end of the Cretaceous period, approximately 65 million years ago, the African plate and the Eurasian plate began colliding. The narrowing of the ocean space resulted in strong tectonic disorder, with horizontal layers wrinkling, breaking and rising above the sea, creating the mountain chains of the Alps and the Dinarides, with Biokovo as constituent part of the latter. The ancient ocean disappeared, and the Mediterranean remained. Coming to Biokovo is also an opportunity to examine the very long history of the area. However, even without any knowledge of that kind, the mountain’s gift to visitors will be an abundance of experiences and impressions, imprinting permanent images of beauty into their memory. The treasure of the mountain stays with the visitor.
Kotišina includes around 300 autochthonous Mediterranean and mountain taxa. Wolf is a permanently present carnivore on Biokovo, and birds are the most numerous group of animals with almost 100 species, including endangered species such as the short-toed snake-eagle.
The plant cover of the mountain of Biokovo is extraordinarily interesting and rich. Various elements of the flora mix here quite visibly, with the oldest Mediterranean elements of the flora intermingling with newer boreal and Central European ones. Illyrian-Mediterranean plants dominate, while the share of alpine plants is rather limited, which is why Biokovo should be perceived as a special Balkan-Apennine area, with pronounced Balkan characteristics (according to Kušan, 1969).
The plant cover of the mountain of Biokovo might be described as degraded in almost the entirety of its surface. The total flora of Biokovo in the wider sense of the word (referring to the area from the river of Cetina to the river of Neretva, and from the locality of Kozica to Zagvozd) includes over 1,400 taxa. The abundance of the plant world in such a relatively small area is conditioned by the biogeographical position, geomorphological characteristics, ecological peculiarities and human involvement, as well as the metamorphoses from the geological history.
When it comes to the vegetation of littoral slopes of the Biokovo Nature Park, it is worth pointing out certain endemic plant communities, according to Trinajstić (1987, 2000): for example, the community As. Campanulo – Moltkietum petraeae H-ić. 1963, taking up a lot of space on the Biokovo Mountain, primarily in the littoral part, but also the continental one, expanding even further into the neighboring areas. The key species in this endemic community occurring in cracks of rocks, which is quite abundant, permanently present and characteristic for the community, is rock moltkie – Moltkea petraea (Tratt.) Griseb. It is joined by the species Portenschlagiella ramosissima (Port.) Tutin. According to Horvatić (1963), one characteristic species of this community is Campanula portenschlagiana Schult. (Portenschlagian's bellflower).
Dwarf bellflower and crawling bellflower are two endemic species specifically present on Biokovo, which is why they deserve particular mention here. Edraianthus pumilio (Schult.) A. DC., dwarf bellflower, is a Biokovo plant from the family of Campanulaceae, and a relic and stenoendemic species. It was first described by Portenschlag-Ledermeyer (1820), on the basis of findings from Biokovo. The species grows on cliffs of mountain peaks (Sv. Ilija, Šibenik, Raždol, Sv. Jure, Troglav, Lađana, Ravna Vlaška), and it is endemic to Biokovo.
The area of the Park is marked by diverse forms of vegetation, similar in terms of characteristics to the vegetation of a wider littoral area of Croatia and the eastern part of the Adriatic. Warm and dry climate, typical for Mediterranean areas, impacts upon the entirety of vegetation. The dominant plants on Biokovo are those adapted to steep rocks and cliffs and barren karst terrain. Forests have developed on deeper and better-developed soil in higher wet habitats. When it comes to the peak zone of Biokovo, there is a pronounced belt of dominant mountain pastures, with a considerable share of rocky surfaces; the remains of the forests in this area can only be found in sinkholes. As we move on into the mountain, we come across beech forests with a modest presence of fir. The belt of white hornbeam and black hornbeam thicket comes to the fore as we move lower towards the villages on the continental base of the mountain, with more pronounced anthropogenic influences. Unlike the limestone mountain massif, the littoral belt is marked by flysch (marl, sandstone and limestone) and deposits, while the contact zone with the mountain is marked by numerous talus cones. With the exception of talus cones, what we have before our eyes is a cultivated landscape in which natural communities have mostly disappeared, replaced by agricultural varieties, most frequently olive groves and vineyards, together with man-made forests of Aleppo pine (and black pine as well, on several locations in higher zones).
A substantial number of endemic species make the subterranean fauna of the area particularly interesting. It is worth mentioning also due to the fact that systematic research has been dedicated to it in recent times, within the process of preparing the inventory of Park species. Fascinating subterranean fauna abounds in numerous caves and pits of Biokovo. More than 120 cave organisms have been discovered so far, over half of which are endemic species. As many as 25 species have been discovered only on Biokovo per se, including a number of relic species, the so-called “living fossils”. In ancient geological periods, these species used to live on the surface. With the ensuing climate change, many became extinct, disappearing from their original habitats. Some species, however, managed to survive in smaller, isolated areas, adapting to life below ground over time.
Given the fact that there are no surface waters on the mountain of Biokovo, with only rare karst water sources and groundwater instead, specific water habitats in the area are pools of water, solution pans and wells, full of water most of the year due to an impermeable layer of clay. They also serve as watering places for livestock.
Some protected amphibian species appear in such water habitats as well, with seven such species recorded in the area of the Biokovo Nature Park so far: fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra L.), smooth newt (Tritirus vulgaris L.), yellow-bellied toad (Bombina variegata Bonaparte), common toad (Bufo bufo L.), green toad (Bufo viridis Laurenti), marsh frog (Rana ridibunda Plallas.), and tree frog (Hyla arborea L.).
In the area of the Biokovo Nature Park, measuring 19,550 hectares in surface, 21 reptile species have been recorded so far, including one turtle species, ten lizard species, and ten snake species. One snake species living in the area of Biokovo is leopard snake, Zamenis situla (Linnaeus, 1758). It is not poisonous, and is considered to be one of the most beautiful European snakes, frequently subject to illegal animal trade. It is listed as probably endangered, data deficient (DD) species in the Red Book of Amphibians and Reptiles. Hermann’s tortoise, Testudo hermanni (Gmelin, 1789), is listed in Annex II to the Directive on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora. It can frequently be encountered as a pet animal in gardens, despite its protected and near threatened (NT) status, as defined by the Red Book of Amphibians and Reptiles.
Horned viper, Vipera ammodytes (Linnaeus, 1758), is a venomous snake species. As a matter of fact, horned viper is the most poisonous snake of Europe. Contrary to folk tales, it does not jump at its prey; it can suddenly extend ahead by only one third of its length at the most. Live horned vipers are equipped with poison immediately upon birth. The snake can be recognized by a small “horn” on its head and a zigzag pattern on the back. When feeling threatened, the snake is dangerous for humans. Its poison, more aggressive than the poison of any other European venomous snake species, can even be fatal for human beings.
Birds are the most numerous vertebrate species on Biokovo. Among almost 100 bird species on the mountain, one encounters some rare and endangered species as well, such as the short-toed snake-eagle (Circaëtus gallicus, Gmelin), golden eagle (Aquila chrysaëtos, L.), common kestrel (Falco tinunculus, L.), all of them strictly protected according to the Act on the Ratification of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Berne Convention). Until 1966, a colony of griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus, Hablizl) existed in the area; however, the species is rarely seen these days. The most frequent mountain bird is alpine chough (yellow-billed chough) (Pyrrhocorax graculus L.), coming to Biokovo in flocks, nesting in deep stone crevices and pits, feeding on clearings and arable surfaces. This species is also strictly protected according to the Act on the Ratification of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Berne Convention).
There are 42 species of mammals on Biokovo. During prior research, seven bat species were recorded in the area of Biokovo. All Biokovo bat species are strictly protected according to the Act on the Ratification of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Berne Convention), and also according to the Ordinance on the Protection of Certain Mammal Species; in addition, they are also part of the list of endangered species according to the Red Book of Mammals of the Republic of Croatia. Out of four species in the family of Muridae, one species particularly worth mentioning is the less known, probably endangered Balkan snow vole (Dinaromys bogdanovi), a Tertiary relic species and an endemic species in the Balkans. There are ten carnivores in the area of Biokovo, with the golden jackal (Canis aureus) and bear (Ursus arctos) appearing only occasionally. Wolf (Canis lupus) is present permanently, and it is listed as a near threatened (NT) species in the Red Book of Mammals of Croatia. The key dangers for the species include illegal hunting, caused by the fact that people perceive wolf as a harmful animal; road kills due to the roads cutting the migratory routes of the species; shortage of natural prey; and poisoning. Chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra), subspecies balcanica, was introduced to Biokovo from the areas of Čvrsnica and Prenj in the period from 1964 to 1968. The Biokovo population of chamois is considered to be the most stable and the biggest chamois population in Croatia, with around 400 animals. Prior to the war, chamois numbers reached as high as 1,000; the key reasons behind the decrease in numbers include illegal hunting and the impact of wolves.
The collision of the African tectonic plate and the Eurasian plate began towards the end of the Cretaceous period approximately 65 million years ago, and it is still ongoing. The narrowing of ocean space resulted in strong tectonic changes, with the horizontal layers wrinkling, breaking and rising above the surface of the sea, creating mountain chains such as the Alps and the Dinarides, with Biokovo a constituent part of the latter.
The rocks that Biokovo consists of developed by sedimentation in what used to be the Adriatic Carbonate Platform. Its remains represent the karst area of Croatia, from Karlovac to the regions of Gorski kotar and Lika, and all the way to Istria, the region of Primorje and Dalmatia; a considerable part of the Platform ended up submerged below the Adriatic Sea. Only a smaller part of what used to be an abundant plant and animal world of the Carbonate Platform left its trail in the rocks, predominantly organisms building hard mineral skeletons, such as snails, bivalves and corals today. The age of sediments can be determined on the basis of preserved remains of fossils, organisms from times past. For example, in the rocks that Biokovo is made of, in addition to a considerable number of bivalves from the group of rudists in some localities, cross-sections of various genera can also be found, including algae and very small unicellular organisms – Foraminifera – that can be seen only with the help of a magnifying lens or a microscope. These findings point to a conclusion that these sediments grew over a longer geological period of time, from the Middle Jurassic approximately 175 million years ago until the Middle Eocene approximately 40 million years ago.
With the slow sedimentation of limestone material (carbonate sludge, skeletons of various organisms, fragments of older rocks, etc.), over a long geological period in a shallow sea, a substantial succession of layers around 3,000 meters thick came about, with loose sludge and sands gradually turning into firm limestone rocks through complex processes.
Jurassic and Cretaceous limestone prevails in the structure of Biokovo; slopes of the base of the mountain on the littoral side are made of Tertiary flysch sediments. Limestone layer on top of the littoral flysch resulted from the process of the rise of Biokovo in the Middle Eocene 40 million years ago. While flysch sediments, impermeable to water, enabled the growth of denser vegetation, limestone areas in which surface water quickly disappears into the underground obtained the appearance of barren karst.
All typical karst phenomena are present on Biokovo: karrens, solution pans, pits, caves, ice-filled cracks and dolines, dominating the surface relief, and morphologically turning Biokovo into a unique mountain among other karst mountains of Croatia.
In the central part of the mountain of Biokovo, sinkholes appear in the form of thickly packed groups dominating the terrain, reminding of moonscape in their appearance – thus forming the so-called polygonal karst.
Numerous caves appearing along the lines of tectonic contact are significant as paleontological and archaeological finding sites. The reason why we are still able to examine such sites and localities in the territory of the Park, such as the locality of Dubci and caves Baba, Drinova II and Jujnovića špilja – even today, one million years after their creation – is connected with the chemical content of limestone, which reacts to water saturated with carbon dioxide, creating a dripstone-like layer that serves as a “conserving” substance. The most frequent and the most significant sediment in many caves obtained the form of calcite dripstones. Curtains and cascades are very frequent ornaments of caves. The cave Krjava 2 is the biggest cave of the mountain of Biokovo discovered so far. Cave Baba is the finding site of fossils of cave bear (Ursus spelaeus Blum.), brown bear (Ursus arctos L.) and wolf (Canis lupus L.), as well as skeleton remains of chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra L.), Alpine ibex (Capra ibex L.) and other animals, dating back to Upper Pleistocene.
Pits are vertical indentations in the terrain with steep sides, frequently small in diameter, and with major depth. The Biokovo pit of Mokre noge is currently the fourth pit in Croatia in terms of depth. It was discovered in 2011, by the speleologists from the speleological club SAK Ekstrem from Makarska. The pit has been explored to the depth of 831 meters. Around two hundred speleological sites have been explored in the area of the Biokovo Nature Park so far, and further research continues. Taking into account the structure and morphology of the mountain, it is assumed that Biokovo might contain up to 1,000 speleological localities.
Friar Jure Radić, important personality, priest, theologian and natural scientist, played a major role, together with his collaborators, in ensuring that the mountain of Biokovo obtains the status of a Nature Park. His wish came true in 1981, when the Park was established on the surface of 19,550 hectares. The words of Friar Jure Radić are written in stone in the Biokovo Botanical Garden Kotišina, located above the village bearing the same name: “Oculis mente corde per visibilia ad invisibilia.” Their meaning: “By the eyes, the spirit and the heart, from visible to invisible.” It is a message to those who remain on Biokovo, with Biokovo, and to all those who come to discover it. The mountain is always a place where the primordial in a human being is happy to be small.
Friar Jure Radić was born in Baška Voda near Makarska on December 28, 1920. A world-renowned expert in malacology, botany and ecology, he founded the Malacological Museum, the Mountain and Sea Institute, and the Biokovo Botanical Garden Kotišina in Makarska. He also initiated various scientific symposia, and the preparation of a scientific publication entitled Acta Biokovica, dedicated to the nature of Biokovo.
He passed away suddenly on July 25, 1990 in Split. He is buried in the city cemetery in Makarska.
The Botanical Garden is located on the littoral slopes of the mountain of Biokovo, above the village of Kotišina, at 350 to 500 meters above sea level. It is a constituent part of the Biokovo Nature Park.
The garden was established by Friar Jure Radić (1920-1990), a Franciscan scientist, with the aim of scientific research and observation, protection and conservation of the plant world of the mountain of Biokovo, with the aim of popularizing it and obtaining better knowledge about it. Kotišina is not a botanical garden in the usual sense of the word, i.e. a place where each plant is introduced based on certain strict rules. Instead, the Garden is envisaged as an “enclosed part of nature”, in which natural forms of vegetation would be retained together with the autochthonous flora. On a relatively small surface of 16.5 hectares, one can encounter very diverse habitats: rocks, talus cones, steep stone walls, arable plots, as well as the Proslap canyon with the cascade bearing the same name. The cascade is dry most of the year, brought to life only during heavy rains.
Around 300 autochthonous plant taxa grow in the Garden, ranging from typically Mediterranean to mountain plants. In some areas, exotic, agricultural and medicinal plants have been planted as well. There are several walking trails passing through the Garden, marked by educational tables, and certain plant taxa are marked by tags with the names of the plant family and taxon.
At the main entrance to the Garden, words in the memory of Friar Jure Radić have been written in stone. In the immediate vicinity of the entrance, right next to a cliff, one can see the walls of Kaštel, a major fortification from the 16th and 17th century, impressive in its appearance. The Marin Kovačević Memorial House in the village of Kotišina serves as the information and presentation center of Biokovo Nature Park. It is open to visitors in the summer months, and can be visited based on prior arrangement in the remainder of the year as well.
In the past, some locals would cut out ice blocks from these pits and transport them on donkeys to restaurants on the coast that needed fresh ice. These ice pits still exist on the mountain, but no one extracts ice out of them anymore.
Some pits are hiding eternal ice and snow, the so-called ice pits.
In the past, at a time when there were no refrigerators in the area, many ice pits in the central part of Biokovo had major importance for the local community, with people who worked as ice harvesters extracting ice out of them. They would first wrap ice blocks in beech leaves and cloth made of goat’s hair, and then transport them using donkeys to various settlements in the base of the littoral and continental side of the mountain, where this ice was used in catering.
Biokovo has fed the people of the region for centuries, and it is perceived almost as a holy mountain. People found fertile karst valleys and karrens, which they brought to life and used for survival. People would spend a lot of time on the mountain, in order to plant potatoes and cereal crops, to hunt and extract ice, but most of all in order to attend to livestock. Towards the beginning of the 20th century, there were over 600 shepherds, male and female, staying on Biokovo. Due to the extraordinarily favorable climatic position of the mountain, the local shepherds would take their herds to high mountain pastures during the dry season of the year, and seasonal shepherd settlements soon developed there. Farmers from the area of Primorje had most of the shepherd’s huts, in particular those from the settlements of Podgora and Tučepi. On the northern side of Biokovo, only three villages had shepherd’s huts – Župa, Krstatice and Zagvozd. The biggest and the most interesting secondary settlement once used for seasonal livestock breeding is Podglogovik, with a well-preserved spatial organization. Today abandoned, this settlement once included huts for housing, farming facilities, ponds, wells, cisterns, threshing floors and fertile karst valleys. In general, such settlements were modest in appearance, and remarkably well integrated into the environment. Taking care of livestock was work predominantly done by women back in those days, which is why there were twice as many female shepherds than male ones; in the meantime, men would work on land in the valleys of Biokovo. Their clothes was modest, mostly including protection for legs made of cloth, peasant footwear, and a coat made of homemade cloth. They mostly ate cabbage, polenta and potatoes, occasionally also meat and milk. After a hard day’s work, the shepherds would get together and sit around a fire, playing instruments, dancing, enjoying various social games, and telling tales about the fairies and werewolves.
In the early Roman period, the settlements of Biokovo reached a civilizational and cultural level that entailed the construction of sacral sites. Small churches were raised on prominent peaks that dominated the area. The tradition of veneration of St. George on the highest peak of Biokovo is particularly worth mentioning. The existence of a small church dedicated to St. George on the Biokovo peak bearing the same name was first mentioned in a travel book written by Friar Pavao Pelizzer from Rovinj, back in 1640. That medieval church was a very low stone construction, dug into the ground, with a small opening facing south.
Unfortunately, it was destroyed when a TV transmitter tower was built on the peak in 1965. A new church was then raised a bit further to the east, in 1968. In addition to that church, Biokovo has many other churches and chapels, such as the relatively recent Church of St. Elijas, built in the 19th century in the area of Staza; the Church of St. Nicholas, built in the 14th or 15th century on the hill of Pirovac, in the area of Gornja Brela; the Church of St. Rocco, located on the peak bearing the same name above the village of Župa, reminiscent of the torn-down Church of St. George in its shape; Chapel of St. Elijah on the peak bearing the same name; Chapel of St. Caius on the locality of Nevistina stina, first mentioned back in 1786; Chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the mountain pass of Dubci, built before 1870; Chapel of St. Nicholas on the locality of Staza, from the 19th century, and many others.
There is a legend still living among the people, about a big love that once existed between a young girl and a young man who turned into stone on the locality of Nevista due to their evil fate.
According to the legend, the girl came from “down below”, what must have meant the region of the Dalmatian Hinterland, and she was supposed to marry into the region of Primorje. Her mother was against that love, and she was particularly against her daughter marrying someone whom the family had not approved. In addition, the young man was from Primorje, which meant that he was poor. Whatever the case may be, the mother gave her daughter the following farewell: “The moment you see the sea, may you turn into stone!”
Despite these horrific words, the wedding procession moved on, with the groom at its head, and the bride on a horse, not even aware of how much force did the mother’s curse carry. And when the merry procession came to the top of the hill above the settlement of Brela, the curse came true. A testimony to that can still be seen in the rocks shaped in the form of a horse with the bride and groom, traditional bread and waterskins.
If you look carefully, you can even see the bride’s veil that the wind blew off her head at that very moment, and the entire procession that accompanied the couple. Dense pine forest hides the sad testimony today.
Staza – Saranać cycling trail passes along the Rodić Road, and it is 8 kilometers long. The trail leads from the Staza mountain pass (897 m.a.s.l.) to the hamlet of Saranać, located on county road Šošići – Kozica (ŽC 6199). The Rodić Road was named after Baron Gavrilo Rodić, the Dalmatian Governor who advocated its construction. Its opening ceremony took place on May 30, 1878. The road led from Makarska over the Staza mountain pass to the village of Kozica, where it connected with the main road of Dalmatia linking the cities of Zadar and Dubrovnik.
Trail length: 8 km
Elevation difference: Staza pass 897 m.a.s.l.; hamlet of Saranać 740 m.a.s.l. (157 m in total)
Recommended time of year for visit: Throughout the year
Bicycle rental possibilities: Not available
Trail type: Gravel
Note: Use of bicycle helmet is compulsory during cycling in the Park!
The cycling trail connecting the Park entrance with the peak of Sv. Jure starts from the entrance to the Biokovo Nature Park located next to the Makarska - Vrgorac state road (D 512) above the settlement of Podgora, at 365 m.a.s.l. The trail ends at the peak of Sv. Jure, the highest peak of Biokovo (1762 m.a.s.l.). In total, this rather difficult cycling route is 23 kilometers long, with the ride taking approximately three hours. Actual climbing time depends on the fitness level. The trail is asphalted throughout.
Trail length: 23 km
Elevation difference: Entrance to the Park 365 m.a.s.l.; Sv. Jure peak 1762 m.a.s.l. (1397 m in total)
Recommended time of year for visit: Spring, summer, autumn
Trail type: Asphalt
The trail starts from Podgora, passing next to the water reservoir and the potable water spring of Vrutak, continuing through the Staza area and the forest of black Dalmatian pine. The final section passes along the Biokovo Road to Podglogovik.
Trail length: 4 km
Trail difficulty: Easy
Elevation difference: 660 m
Accessible to persons with disabilities: Not accessible
Recommended equipment: Recommended equipment includes seasonal hiking clothes, high-quality hiking boots and sufficient quantity of drinking water.
In the summer, due to possible sudden and harsh weather changes, as well as elevation and temperature difference, hikers are advised to take warmer clothes with them - including windproof jacket or raincoat. Do not forget your hat and sunscreen for sun protection.
Availability of drinking water: Not available
The trail passes through old fields and abandoned hamlets, with a steep climb through rocky terrain in its final section (not demanding technically, but very hard).
Trail length: 4.7 km
Trail difficulty: Medium difficulty
Elevation difference: 945 m
The trail passes through old and mostly abandoned hamlets; the hiking climb starts at the hamlet of Grubišići. The trail then passes next to the red cliffs to the left of the trail. Sections marked by macchia and low shrubs are interspersed with rocky hairpin turns. The trail then enters a pine forest with the water spring Logršća voda.
Upon leaving the forest, the trail steeply rises in its final part as it winds through talus cones and rocks (this section is not technically demanding, but it is hard). Towards its end, the trail passes next to a chapel and through the locality of Viskovića staje in the area of Mala Lađana, finally reaching the Biokovo Road after a short climb.
Trail length: 5,5 km
Elevation difference: 930 m
Availability of drinking water: Available
The trail begins in the Kotišina Botanical Garden of Biokovo, located approximately two kilometers from Makarska, which can be reached by car or on foot. Visitors approaching via the Makarska – Vrgorac state road should take the turn towards Kotišina – a village above which the Kotišina Botanical Garden of Biokovo is located. The village of Kotišina can also be reached by walking from Makarska. Hikers should take the Petra Petice Street, passing along the right side of the city cemetery to the Adriatic Highway and the pedestrian crossing, and continuing next to a large transformer station where the concrete section of the trail starts. The walk to the village of Kotišina takes approximately 30 minutes.
The hiking trail starts at the main entrance to the Botanical Garden, steeply rising through wide stone hairpin turns, and eventually reaching pine forests after passing through the area marked by talus cones and bare rocks. After three hours of hiking and permanent climb, one reaches Pržinovac - a plateau best known as a paragliding take-off site, offering amazing views of the coastal area of Makarska. An intersection on this site offers the choice to proceed left towards the mountain pass and the sightseeing point of Štrbina and further on towards the peak of Vošac, or to continue straight towards the Biokovo Road. Taking the first option, visitors reach the beech forest and then the site of Štrbina after half an hour of pleasant hiking. A somewhat steep climb further on to the peak of Vošac (1422 m.a.s.l.) takes 15 minutes.
Trail length: 6.6 km
Elevation difference: 1146 m
Starting from Makarska and the square Kačićev trg (with the old Venetian fountain), a walk through the town takes visitors to the hamlet of Makar. A steep climb over rocky hairpin turns leads to the site of Vrba with a water reservoir. To the right of the trail, there is a water spring closed by small metal door. After Vrba, the trail proceeds with a relatively easy climb through a predominantly pine forest to the site of Kruška. This is where one comes across an intersection of hiking trails. To the right, hikers can reach Tučepi in 2 hours and 45 minutes, and Kotišina in 1 hour and 45 minutes. The trail proceeding straight takes hikers to Vošac in 1 hour and 15 minutes; Sv. Jure in 3 hours and 45 minutes; Bast in 3 hours and 45 minutes; and V. Brdo in one and a half hour.
Approximately five minutes after this intersection, we reach the next intersection. There, the trail branching leftwards takes hikers to Bast in 3 hours and 45 minutes, and to Veliko Brdo in an hour and a half. The trail proceeding straight leads to Vošac and Sv. Jure. This is where hikers should proceed straight along the hairpin turns to the Mali Vošac mountain pass, and further on to the Štrbina sightseeing point (1338 m.a.s.l.), with the peak of Vošac (1422 m.a.s.l.) rising above it. Continuing onwards, there is an intersection after 200 meters, where the trail branching to the left takes hikers to the Toni Roso mountain lodge on the peak of Vošac (1422 m.a.s.l.). The branch of the trail proceeding straight descends towards the Vošac mountain lodge (1300 m.a.s.l.), which can also be reached by car using the Biokovo Road.
Trail length: 7.05 km
Elevation difference: 1422 m
The oldest hiking trail leading to the peak of Sveti Jure from the south side takes hikers from the village of Makar (229 m.a.s.l.) across the Vošac mountain lodge (1422 m.a.s.l.) and the mountain lodge under the peak of Sv. Jure (1594 m.a.s.l.), to the peak itself (at 1762 m.a.s.l.). The village of Makar is located right above Makarska. Those arriving by car should park on a widening in front of the local cemetery and the chapel of St. John. The climb first briefly leads through the settlement to its last houses along an asphalted road, and then continues along a well-built trail.
At the very beginning, the trail is wide and paved with stones. Following a constantly winding section marked by hairpin turns, hikers eventually reach the locality of Vrba with a water reservoir. Following this locality, the trail continues with a light climb through a predominantly pine forest to the site of Kruška with an intersection of trails. This is where hikers should continue straight through the hairpin turns to the Mali Vošac mountain pass, and further on towards the Štrbina sightseeing point (1338 m.a.s.l.) with the peak of Vošac above it (1422 m.a.s.l.). What follows from the mountain lodge at Vošac is a well-marked and well-built section of the trail leading to the chapel and intersection at Babina vrklja. This is where hikers should follow the direction towards the mountain hut under the peak of Sv. Jure. The trail leads further through dolines covered in beech forest. The telecommunication tower and the peak of Sv. Jure can be seen nearby. The climb to the top is secured by rope.
Trail length: 10.9 km
Trail difficulty: Difficult
Elevation difference: 1762 m
The starting point of this route is in the village of Milići, located at around 400 meters above sea level, approximately three kilometers from the center of Zagvozd in the direction of Vrgorac on the D62 state road. In the beginning, the trail is marked by a mild climb through the macchia and low shrubs, passing along numerous fences, large and small karst valleys, and the remains of a stable at 830 meters above sea level.
Soon after the stable, at approx. 900 meters above sea level, the trail proceeds in a steep climb through a dense beech forest protecting hikers from the sun all the way to the glade above Očijeski. From the well at Očijeski, a marked trail leads further towards the peak of Sv. Jure. After crossing a very steep and demanding slope, the trail again enters a beech forest, somewhat less dense than the first one, providing hikers with the first glance of the destination upon leaving the forest - the peak of Sv. Jure with the dominant TV transmission tower.
Elevation difference: 1269 m
The first part of the route starts with a walk along the asphalt trail uphill to the center of the settlement, followed by a turn northwest towards the hamlet of Baškovići (420 m.a.s.l.). The walk to the last houses in the hamlet takes approximately 40 minutes, and it is also possible to drive to that point. There is no shortage of marks and signposts, so orientation is hardly a problem. What follows is a climb along a slope covered in weaver's broom, all the way to the exit to a path cleared for firefighting purposes. One part of that section of the trail leads along a talus cone that makes the climb somewhat harder than usual. On the locality known as Miletin bor (650 m.a.s.l.), there is a take-off site for flying afficionados in love with heights.
The route continues in the direction of southeast along a firefighting path, leading the visitors to an intersection marked by a signpost after only a couple of minutes of hiking. Here, the trail becomes steeper and steeper, climbing through a mountain passage all the way to the base of the Veliki Borovac rock. This is where we encounter yet another miracle of the human will - a path carved into rock, called Skaline. The trail proceeds through a pine forest until the Mali Borovac mountain pass (1253 m.a.s.l.). Continuing through the forest until an intersection, the trail then divides into two branches. One branch continues straight towards Lokva and the Slobodan Ravlić mountain hut, while our branch heads to the left, towards Šibenik and Motika.
Trail length: 6.2 km
Elevation difference: 1170 m
A marked hiking trail begins in the town of Baška Voda. Those who prefer to avoid walking all the way from Baška Voda to the village of Bast can drive that part of the route. Vehicles can park approximately 100 meters before the church of St. Rocco, on a large parking lot in the middle of the village. Upon passing the village, a very steep climb starts along a livestock trail, through the passage of Oštri umac, to the water source of Korito where hikers can replenish their water supplies. After Korito, the hiking trail proceeds further through the Oštri umac passage, along a talus cone, all the way to the first intersection of hiking trails, where one should turn left towards the Osičine mountain shelter.
The branch is well-marked, and easy to notice. After the turn, the trail continues very sharply uphill, through a pine forest this time, all the way to the mountain shelter PS Osičine (1353 m.a.s.l.). After passing this mountain shelter at the locality of Osičine, hikers should continue further through the forest, until they come to the intersection of their trail with the Biokovo Hiking Trail (Biokovska planinarska staza, BPS). At this intersection, one branch of the hiking trail proceeds to the right (eastwards) towards Motika, and one branch proceeds left (northwards) towards Sv. Ilija. The markings of the latter trail lead to a sinkhole with the abandoned site of Matijaševića stanovi, where one can also find water in the western part of the sinkhole next to the rock. A pole or a rope is required to reach the water; however, it is questionable whether the water is potable. If there is no other choice, and water from this source must be used, hikers are recommended to disinfect it.
Upon leaving the sinkhole, hikers reach a ridge that leads to the peak of Sv. Ilija in only 10 minutes.
Trail length: 5.32 km
Elevation difference: 1317 m
The trail begins on the site of Kričak in Brela, at the elementary school with a large parking lot where visitors arriving by car can leave their vehicle. Alternatively, drivers can continue for about one kilometer to the end of the settlement of Gornji Kričak. This is where one finds a gravel trail and a hiking signpost pointing towards Nevisitna stina. Hikers can reach the site of Nevistina stina in about half an hour of hiking. The site offers wonderful views of the Makarska Riviera and the nearby islands.
The trail leads further across a mountain pass to the north side of Biokovo, where one can see the church of St. Nicholas in the distance. What follows is first a descent, and then a new ascent through the abandoned village of Sokolove Staje, with the trail eventually reaching the church of St. Nicholas.
Trail length: 3.15 km
Elevation difference: 317 m
The trail begins at the Brela Gornja Presentation Center in the hamlet of Subotišće. What follows is an easy climb along the educational trail Paths of Ancient Berulia, ending at the church of St. Nicholas at 550 m.a.s.l., requiring approximately an hour and twenty minutes of easy climbing.
The trail then continues further, first through the forest and across a large talus cone, and then through the forested area of Bukovačka draga, owing its lush vegetation to water sources scattered right next to the hiking trail. After almost two hours of climb from the church of St. Nicholas, hikers reach a meadow with the Bukovac mountain hut located at its southern end (1030 m.a.s.l.).
Trail length: 4.87 km
Elevation difference: 763 m
The trail starts in the hamlet of Šute (260 m.a.s.l.), proceeding to the site of Šutina kamenica (590 m.a.s.l.) and then towards the site of Šutini stanovi site with a hunting hut (970 m.a.s.l.), followed by the Vraca pass (1486 m.a.s.l.). Following an intersection with the Biokovo Hiking Trail, the route continues along a narrow ridge to the peak of Sv. Ilija (1640 m.a.s.l.) with the chapel of St. Elijas open for visits.
Trail length: 5.3 km
Elevation difference: 1347 m
The starting point of this route is on the pass of Turija, approximately ten kilometers from the center of Zagvozd in the direction of Vrgorac. Some five hundred meters before the tunnel, at 647 meters above sea level, there is a branch turning right towards the area with a number of old livestock stables known as Lozovci; the turn is marked with a panel and markings.
The trail is wide and well-maintained, and the climb is easy. The Lozovac water well follows next, located only ten or so meters from the trail, and retaining water throughout the year. At 857 meters above sea level, one reaches the final traditional livestock complex, called Peškirića staja. The trail is rather monotonous from there on; initially, it is easy, but then it becomes steeper and more demanding. The markings are densely placed and visible in this section of the trail. After slightly over 2.5 kilometers of hiking, at around 1100 m.a.s.l., hikers come across a rather steep and demanding climb half a kilometer long, ending on the northeastern edge of Ljubovića dolac (1266 m.a.s.l.). From that point onwards, hikers can see the transmitter on the peak of Sv. Jure, which marks the end of the climb.
Trail length: 5.15 km
Elevation difference: 1062 m
The climb starts from the hamlet of Roglići (400 meters above sea level), at the birthplace of Josip Roglić (1906–1987), Croatian geographer, natural historian and member of the Academy of Sciences and Arts. The marked trail starts with a mild climb, becoming steeper and steeper as it continues, initially leading through dense macchia and karst terrain, and then through an increasingly dense and shady forest.
After an hour and a half of hiking, one reaches the Akademik Josip Roglić mountain hut at Čulija (900 m.a.s.l.). A single-storey construction made of stone with ten beds has no supplies, and the only water source is a small reservoir.
From the site of Čulija, around an hour of climb remains to the peak of Sutvid (1332 m.a.s.l.), representing the highest point of the climb. Additional half an hour of hiking eastwards lead hikers across Luetića pojata to the small church of St. Rocco (1227 m.a.s.l.).
Trail length: 5.5 km
Elevation difference: 816 m
This multiple-day hiking tour takes hikers along the trail Biokovska transverzala. The route starts at the Brela Gornja Presentation Center in the hamlet of Subotišće, continuing further towards Zaveterje and the hamlet of Bartulovići, which is where the actual hiking trail starts. This very demanding and hard multiple-day tour requires an excellent fitness level.
Trail length: Approx. 30 km
Rock climbing has a rich history on Biokovo, with the Brela climbing site a renowned climbing destination. This top-class site for sport climbing includes around 70 routes, mostly medium-difficulty. The climbing guide Rocks of Croatia from 1975 listed as many as 18 climbing routes on Biokovo back in those days.
Modern rock climbing on Biokovo started in 1955, when the rock climbers from the city of Split designed the first climbing route on the peak of Šibenik. The first mention of Biokovo as a climbing site can be found in the rock climbing guide Rocks of Croatia of 1975, with 18 listed routes on the mountain. In the 1980s, Austrian rock climbers led by Christian Hacker designed a number of routes in the area of Gornji Kričak near the town of Brela. These rock-climbing tourists recognized the superb quality and major potential of the rock, making it one of the most attractive sport climbing sites on the Adriatic coast.
Brela climbing site is a high-quality, compact sport climbing rock, with around 70 prepared sport routes, mostly medium-difficulty. The climbing site faces southwards, with fully vertical surfaces in some sections.
Both the horizontal and the vertical routes take maximum advantage of the potential of the rock. Elevation difference of the routes ranges between six and seventy meters (three lengths); grades range from rather easy 4a-category climbs to 7c+ routes. Details can be checked on the sketch of the climbing site.
Number of routes: 69
Recommended time of year for visit: Spring and autumn
Route grade: 4a - 7c+
Smokvina climbing site is located above the village of Bast near the settlement of Baška Voda. This small climbing site has 29 routes in total, taking maximum advantage of the potential of the rock.
Elevation difference of routes ranges from six to twenty two meters, and route grades range from 4c to 7b.
Number of routes: 29
Route grade: 4c - 7b
Take-off site is located at 1300 m.a.s.l.
Landing site: Landing site Rt Ramova
OPERATOR OF BIOKOVO TAKE-OFF SITE:
Edel Club (Klub padobranskog jedrenja Edel – Makarska)
Obala kralja Tomislava 27, Makarska
Cell: +385 (0)98 732 110
E-mail: [email protected]
Person in charge on site: Mr. Matko Benković
Take-off site is located at 650 m.a.s.l.
Sridivice educational trail is a continuation of the educational trail Paths of Ancient Berulia, thus creating a loop trail starting from the Brela Gornja presentation center of the Biokovo Nature Park, and it is located near the old and neglected pasture of Sridivice. The trail has three information panels, showing the map of the Sridivice pasture with hiking trails, and informing the visitors about the practice of nomadic livestock breeding and the importance of agricultural diversity and biodiversity in the conservation of pastures and sustainable development of Biokovo.
Educational geological trail Pod Vilovikom begins at km 9 of the Biokovo Road, between Lemešini doci and Jakičuša. The trail is easy and marked, and it takes about half an hour of moderately paced hiking to explore it. The information panel marking the starting point of the trail is located on the Biokovo Road itself, and two additional information panels placed along the trail explain the origin of limestone and geomorphological phenomena of Biokovo.
Trail length: 0.5 km
Duration: 45 minutes
Elevation difference: Biokovo Road 1050 m.a.s.l. – end of the geological trail 1070 m.a.s.l. (20 m in total)
Recommended time of year for visit: Spring, summer, autumn
Suitable for individual / group visits: Individual and group visits
Trail type: Forest path
Number of interpretation panels: 3
At its current stage, the educational trail Paths of Ancient Berulia is 2.7 kilometers long, and it leads from the Brela Gornja Presentation Center of the Biokovo Nature Park in Subotišće to the church of St. Nicholas. Nine information panels provide an overview of the life of ancient Berulia and its inhabitants.
Words and images are used to tell stories about sites such as the Church of Our Lady of Health from the 17th century, a protected cultural site; Tomaševo guvno, a threshing floor for wheat; the site of Gorčina known for its almonds and Marasca cherry; Klešići, an old settlement on rocky cliffs; Vodice water well, a valuable source of "live water"; Mrkore viewpoint, a site on rocks marked by unique structure and colors; the site of Dubrava, once a place of lush vineyards and Marasca cherry orchards, and covered in dense pine forest today; Church of St. Nicholas, a cultural monument from the 13th century. The trail is easy, and requires approximately one hour of hiking.
Trail length: 2.7 km
Duration: 2 hours
Elevation difference: Brela Gornja Presentation Center 277 m.a.s.l. – St. Nicholas 550 m.a.s.l. (273 m in total)
Number of interpretation panels: 9
Educational historical trail Topnički put or Artillery Trail leads from the Staza pass (897 m.a.s.l.) to the slopes of the peak of Supin (1033 m.a.s.l.), and includes historical artillery and machine-gun nests, trenches and remains of water reservoirs and barracks once used as fortifications in World War I for the defense against the forces of the Entente.
The trail is easy, approximately one kilometer long, and requires around half an hour of hiking. Five information panels along the trail inform the visitors about the historical importance of the Church of St. Elijas, life of soldiers in trenches, the Sarajevo assassination, the Artillery Trail itself, World War I and the Rodić Road.
Trail length: 1.5 km
Duration: 1.5 hours
Elevation difference: Biokovo Road / Church of St. Elijas 897 m.a.s.l. – base of the peak of Supin (end of trail) 930 m.a.s.l. (33 m in total)
Number of interpretation panels: 7
Educational trail Sridivice is a continuation of the educational trail Paths of Ancient Berulia, completing a loop trail that starts from the Brela Gornja Presentation Center of the Biokovo Nature Park, and it is located near the abandoned old pasture of Sridivice. The trail was designed within the BBio Project "Sustainable development of the border regions through preservation of autochthonous breeds and establishment of gene centres in Buhovo and Biokovo".
It is equipped with three educational panels that include the map of the Sridivice pasture with walking trails and that provide information to visitors on transhumance livestock breeding and on the importance of agricultural diversity and biodiversity for the conservation of pastures and sustainable development of Biokovo.
Trail length: 3 km
Duration: 2.5 hours
Elevation difference: Gorčina site / educational trail PDB 325 m.a.s.l. – St. Nicholas 550 m.a.s.l. (225 m in total)
Guided tour through the Kotišina Botanical Garden of Biokovo
Target age group: Preschool age group and lower elementary school grades
Duration: 2 to 3 hours
Recommended time of year for visit: April, May, June, September
Suitable for individual / group visits: Group visits
Accessible to persons with disabilities: Not accessible
Note: By prior arrangement
Half-day guided tour is provided by Park staff, and takes up to three hours. During the program, visitors get acquainted with the plant and animal world of Biokovo, and with the cultural heritage and geology of the mountain.
The guided tour requires prior arrangement, and it covers the area of Brela Gornja, educational trail Paths of Ancient Berulia, the Kotišina Botanical Garden of Biokovo, the massif of the Biokovo Mountain and the Biokovo Road.
Duration: 3 hours
Recommended time of year for visit: Spring, autumn
Suitable for individual / group visits: Individual and group visits
Accessible to persons with disabilities: Accessibility depends on the specific area: Brela Gornja, educational trail Paths of Ancient Berulia and the Kotišina Botanical Garden of Biokovo are NOT wheelchair accessible; the Biokovo Road IS wheelchair accessible.
Recommended equipment: Adequate hiking footwear and clothes
Full-day guided tour is provided by Park staff, and takes up to six hours. During the program, visitors get acquainted with the plant and animal world of Biokovo, and with the cultural heritage and geology of the mountain.
The guided tour requires prior arrangement, and it covers the area of Brela Gornja, educational trail Paths of Ancient Berulia, the Kotišina Botanical Garden of Biokovo, the massif of the Biokovo Mountain and the Biokovo Road.
Duration: 6 hours
The construction of the mountain hut began in 1976, and the hut was completed in 1984. The facility was built by mountain lovers and hunters from the municipality of Brela, with the assistance of the municipality. The mountain hut is managed by PD Pozjata from Brela.
Capacity: 10 persons
Offer: beds, water
Phone: +385 (0)98 771 819
Contact person: Željan Bekavac
Located on the very peak of Vošac, named after the Makarska mountaineer Toni Roso who tragically passed away, the facility was originally built for military purposes after World War II; it has been open to hikers since 2005. Its dominant position offers unique views of the entire coastal area of central Dalmatia. The mountain lodge is managed by the speleological club SAK Ekstrem from Makarska.
Capacity: 14 persons
Offer: beds, water
Phone: +385 (0)98 968 7786
Contact person: Dragan Delić
The mountain hut has been open to hikers since September 12, 1981. Named after the Makarska mountaineer Slobodan Ravlić who tragically passed away, the mountain hut is managed by HPD Biokovo from Makarska.
Capacity: 18 persons
Offer: beds, water
Phone: +385 (0)98 225 852
Contact person: Drago Erceg
The mountain hut is located next to the Biokovo Road, just below the peak of Sv. Jure. It was built during the construction of the TV transmitter on the peak, and it has been open to hikers since 1983. The mountain hut is managed by HPD Biokovo from Makarska.
Capacity: 18 persons
Offer: beds, water, electricity
The mountain hut Akademik Josip Roglić is located on the north side of the mountain of Biokovo, on the site of Čulija at 900 m.a.s.l., and it is owned by the Roglić family from Župa. The mountain hut is a former stable of Josip Roglić's family, adapted into a mountain hut and opened in 2006, on the occasion of one hundredth anniversary of his birth.
Phone: +385 (0)91 130 1964
Contact person: Stjepan Roglić
Located under the crowns of walnut trees in a renovated family house from 1903, this tavern offers traditional fish and meat dishes of the Dalmatian cuisine, by using fresh and domestic produce from the family garden. Accommodation in the village is also available, as well as the transfer of visitors from their place of stay to the tavern. The family also owns a family farm, and there is a large private parking available, together with a playground for children and a bowling court.
Offer: food and drinks
Opening hours: upon request
Address: Cesta Domovinskog rata bb, Brela Gornja 21255 Zadvarje
Phone: +385 (0)21 729 175
The tavern is located in the hamlet of Šošići on the road towards Vrgorac. In addition to food and drinks, its offer includes a bowling court.
Address: Šošići bb, 21 327 Podgora
Phone: +385(0)21 615 876
Cell: +385(0)91 582 5826
Opačak tavern and winery is located in Sridi Sela, and offers traditional dishes and a large selection of wine.
Address: Gornji Tučepi bb 21325 Tučepi
Phone: +385 (0)21 679 962
Cell: +385 (0)98 433 961
E-mail: [email protected]
This "house of village tourism" is located in the vicinity of the Staza viewpoint at 897 meters above sea level. It offers traditional, healthy food prepared in Dalmatian style, as well as mountain sightseeing opportunities and horse and donkey riding.
Phone: +385 (0)21 613 902
Cell: +385 (0)98 924 5051
E-mail: [email protected]
The tavern is located right next to the church in Sridi Sela. It offers Mediterranean cuisine, with a particular emphasis on traditional dishes prepared under a bell-shaped lid.
Offer: food and drinks
Opening times: from April 10 until October 15, from 9 till 23; closed in the remainder of the year.
Address: Gornji Tučepi bb 21325 Tučepi
Phone: +385 (0)21 623 224
Located on the littoral slopes of the mountain of Biokovo, above the village of Kotišina, the Botanical Garden lies at 350 to 500 meters above sea level, and it is partly situated in the Biokovo Nature Park.
The Botanical Garden was established by Friar Jure Radić (1920–1990), a Franciscan scientist, with the aim of scientific research and monitoring, protection and conservation of the plant world of Biokovo, in order to popularize it and raise awareness of its importance. The site is not a classical botanical garden, where every plant would be introduced according to strictly defined rules. Instead, it is designed as an enclosed part of nature with natural forms of vegetation and autochthonous flora. On a relatively small area, one can encounter very diverse habitats, such as rocks, talus cones, steep stone walls and arable plots. There is also the Proslap canyon in the area, with a cascade of the same name. The cascade is dry most of the year, and it is brought to life only during heavy rains.
Guided tours of the garden are available Monday to Friday from 8:00 till 15:00; Saturdays from 8:00 till 13:00. Prior arrangement required for groups of pupils and other groups.
Left of the signpost at the parking lot in front of the catering establishment Vrata Biokova, there is a walking trail taking the visitors to the viewpoint offering a view of the Makarska Riviera and the islands after a five minute walk.
Above the parking lot, one comes across Podglogovik, the biggest and the most interesting secondary settlement once used for livestock breeding and abandoned today. On the way to the settlement, on the right side, stands the Church of St. Elijas built around the year 1880 on a prehistoric tumulus, with the Chapel of St. Nicholas opposite to it. Walking along the walking trail through the remains of the settlement, one reaches Plužine in approximately 30 minutes. Remains of shepherds’ dwellings and prehistoric (Illyrian) tumuli can be seen along the trail.
There is a gravel path branching from the trail that leads towards the abandoned settlement of Podglogovik, taking the hikers towards Saranač. This path was part of the so-called Rodić Road, which was built upon the orders of Emperor Joseph I for military and strategic purposes, under the supervision of the Dalmatian Governor Rodić. The road connected the settlements of Kozica and Makarska via Staza, and it was built in 1878. It represented the only road link between the towns of Imotski and Vrgorac on the one hand and Makarska on the other. A section 8 kilometers long is also marked as a cycling trail.
The abandoned settlement of Podglogovik also houses a mountain hut of the Vitrenik Mountaineering Society from Podgora.
The viewpoint is located on the highest peak of Biokovo. It is six kilometers away from the branch leading from the Biokovo Road towards Vošac, and it is the end point of the Biokovo Road. The peak of Sv. Jure can also be reached by taking the hiking trail from Makar via Vošac, the hiking trail from Veliko Brdo and Baškovići via Lokva on the littoral side, and the hiking trail from Milići and from the pass of Turija on the hinterland side.
There is a TV tower and the accompanying building for telecommunication equipment on the peak of Sv. Jure, together with the Church of St. George built in 1968 to replace the Church of St. George that had previously stood on that site, and that was probably built immediately upon baptism of the local population. It is certain that the original church existed here as early as in the 12th century, as testified by a stone plaque that was placed above the altar of the old and demolished church. The old church was also mentioned in historical records in 1640, and it underwent several renovations in its history, until it was finally demolished in 1965 in order to free up room for the TV tower and the telecommunication building.
The peak of Sv. Jure offers amazing views of the hinterland region of Zagora and of the islands; in excellent weather conditions, visitors can also see the mountains of Bosnia and Herzegovina and neighboring Italy (Monte Gargano).
The road leading to the peak of Sv. Jure, the highest peak of Biokovo, is the highest asphalted road in Croatia; the Church of St. George on the peak is the highest-altitude church in Croatia.
Visitors can obtain materials and information about the Biokovo Nature Park in the Information Center; they can also get acquainted with the geological history of the mountain by examining the geological pillar, watch photographs of flora and fauna, learn about the ice pits and life of the locals in ancient mountain settlements built for seasonal livestock breeding, and they can purchase souvenirs. The site also includes an old adapted military facility, which has been transformed into a stable for autochthonous breeds. Near the stable, a pen for animals has also been built, and a loop trail equipped with information tables provides visitors with yet another opportunity to explore the area.
Opening hours during the visiting season: Monday to Sunday from 8:30 till 20:30.
Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 7:00 till 15:00.
Opening hours during the summer months (July 1 – September 1):
Monday to Friday from 7:00 till 15:00 and from 18:00 till 21:00;
Saturdays and Sundays from 8:00 till 12:00 and from 18:00 till 21:00.
For the time being, the Presentation Center is open only for organized school groups and only upon request and on prior notice at phone/fax +385 (0)21 616 924.
Brela Gornja Presentation Center is located in the building housing the heritage collection of Brela, and it is open for visitors daily during the summer months. The exhibition Biokovo at the Presentation Center allows visitors to learn about the natural characteristics and beauty of the Nature Park; various materials and information on the Park can be obtained here as well.
Brela Gornja Presentation Center is also the starting point of the educational trail Paths of Ancient Berulia that connects with the educational trail Sridivice, thus creating a loop trail starting from the Presentation Center.
Opening hours during the visiting season: daily from 7:00 till 13:00; closed on Wednesdays.
Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 8:00 till 15:00; Saturdays from 8:00 till 13:00. During the visiting season (April to October), the Presentation Center is also open in the afternoon hours, from 16:00 till 20:00.
Marineta – Mala obala 16, 21300 Makarska
E-mail: [email protected]
Biokovo Nature Park is connected with European cities via the Split International Airport, approximately 90 kilometers away from the Park. Visitors can reach Makarska from the Split Airport by taking a bus or taxi, or by renting a car.
Flight timetable is available at: http://www.split-airport.hr.
There are excellent bus connections between the Biokovo Nature Park and European cities available via the Makarska Bus Terminal. Visitors can reach the Park entrance from Makarska by using organized transfers offered by tourist agencies, by taxi, or by renting a car.
Bus timetable is available at: http://www.promet-makarska.hr/.
There are excellent train connections between the Biokovo Nature Park and European cities available via the Split Railway Station, 65 kilometers away from the Park. Visitors can reach Split by train from the direction of Zagreb or Rijeka, and then proceed to Makarska by bus or by taxi.
Train timetable is available at: http://www.hzpp.hr/voznired.
According to the data of the Croatian Automobile Club (www.hak.hr), road distances between Makarska and major destinations in Croatia are as follows:
Makarska – Osijek: 454 km (via Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Makarska – Zagreb
480 km (via Dugopolje and Šestanovac)
495 km (via Split, along the Adriatic Highway)
Makarska – Rijeka: 372 km (via Sinj, Gračac, Senj)
Makarska – Zadar: 186 km
Makarska – Šibenik: 124 km
Makarska – Split: 59 km
Visitors can reach the Biokovo Nature Park by car, by van, by motorcycle, by bicycle or on foot.
The main road entrance to the Biokovo Nature Park can be reached from several directions:
Park entrance next to the D512 road Makarska – Vrgorac (8 kilometers from Makarska in the direction of Vrgorac)
Parking available – 50 improvised spaces
Marineta Information Center in Makarska: Marineta – Mala obala 16, 21 300 Makarska
Visit the official Park website at http://www.pp-biokovo.hr