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Format: 2024-05-26
Format: 2024-05-26

Our information

Working hours
Monday - Sunday
08:00 h -15:00 h
17:00 h -20:00 h
Podvrtaje 65
22 243 Murter, Croatia
GPS coordinates:
T: 00385 (0)22 436 544
F: 00385 (0)22 436 545

History of Island Murter and Kornati Islands

On this web-site, history of Murter and the Kornati is presented to you through a few interesting stories and some key events given chronologically. They were mostly taken from the "Murterski otočni brevijar" ("The breviary of the Island of Murter") written by Stanko Ferić, published in collaboration with the Kornati National Park and found in every major tourist office in the region.

History of Murter and the Kornati islands is not filled with crucial events, famous rulers, brave conquerors or great painters. It is not the kind of history you would be reading about in history books or admire in museums. It is history written by miles of dry walls on pastures of the Kornati islands, olive-groves and vineyards rising in the middle of nothing, on small pieces of land stolen from the Karst; history of small ports, perfectly shaped boats, houses made of stone and arched streets. When you make a trip around the Kornati or Murter, it becomes clear that thousands of human destinies speak through these walls. They tell the story of a common man and his attempts to make this rough landscape a place to live in. They sing and ode to human persistence and will-power.

On this web-site, history of Murter and the Kornati is presented to you through a few interesting stories and some key events given chronologically. They were mostly taken from the "Murterski otočni brevijar" ("The breviary of the Island of Murter") written by Stanko Ferić, published in collaboration with the Kornati National Park and found in every major tourist office in the region.



On the north side of  the Hramina bay, at the foot of the Gradina hill, remains of an ancient town called Colentum can be found under sea. This town was most prosperous during the reign of the Roman emperor Nero (37-68 B.C.), whose  money was found on the site during the first archaeological research done in 1907-1909. Colentum had a typical antique architecture – houses with an upstairs floor, water containers, thermae and the narrow streets covered in stone, similar to today's streets in old parts of Dalmatian towns. Scientists assume the town was robbed and destroyed by pirates in the 2nd century A.D., although some claim that it was destroyed in an earthquake. Even though a part of the ruins near the shore was rebuilt,  Colentum was never restored to its old splendor. Some of the archaeological findings can be seen at the «Murter in the light of recent archaeological research» exhibition at the Murter library.


What does the name of the island of Murter mean?

For centuries, scientists have been trying to find out what the name of the island and the town of Murter means? For a long time it has been thought that its name has to do with “death”. Still, it is most likely that it was named after “mortarium” – a concave trough made of stone, which used to be a  part of the oil-press. Throughout years Murter has been mentioned under different names : first Colentum, then Srimač, Mortar, Mortura, Mortaro, Morter and finally Murter.


Murter fishing boat gajeta

There are a few boats which made it through the age of production of plastic boats . The legendary Murter fishing boat ("gajeta") is one of them. Made to fit the needs of islanders and their exhausting trips to the Kornati Islands, this kind of a boat is knows for its durability and safe sailing, even when other boats sail leeward. The early "gajetas" were run by sails or paddles and their deck was fully covered. At the half of its length it had a hatch with a cover, as well as smaller doors on both stem and stern for going down into the cargo hold. Its mast was slightly bent forward towards the stem, the sail was triangular. Apart from Murter, there are also "gajetas" from Komiža, Lopud and Korčula.


What is a "Kurnatar"?

Kurnatar is another name for residents of Murter, the oldest and largest town on the island of Murter. They own most of the islands in the Kornati National Park and the neighbouring islands. The residents of Murter came to the Kornati islands in the 17th century, when they could not stay on their property on the shore. In mid 19th century residents of Murter began to buy off the Kornati islands and in 1896 became their only owners. It is mostly because of their properties on the islands that labourers of Murter became seamen, fishermen and ship-builders.


The Kornati islands: life and death

For residents of Murter the Kornati islands have been a question of life and death for centuries. In times of war, when they had to leave their land on the shore, the Kornati islands meant a survival. Of course, there was a price to pay. The distance between Murter and the Kornati had to be crossed on boats. A long and difficult journey, bad weather and rowing all the way, which was very exhausting, used to ruin their health. The life of Kurnatars was hard and short. On the other hand, the shepherds on the islands lived for a long time. Legend has it that  a shepherd from the Kornati, Mate Divov, lived to be 150 years old.


The votive chapels

There are many votive chapels on the island of Murter – by the road, on  crossroads, on capes … For over six centuries they have been built by fishermen and labourers so as to mark important events in their lives, ask for help or protection of health and families. Most of these chapels were dedicated to Our Lady (77 of them), but also to St. Anthony, the patron of fishermen and St. Nicholas, the patron of travellers and seamen. Many chapels were built on the Kornati islands as well – on island such as Sit, Gangarol, Žut, Kornat, Smokvica…



History of Murter


1st century AD. The Romans built a small town called Collentum at the foot of the Gradina hill. It was mentioned in Historia Naturalis, the 3rd book written by Plinius.
9th century During the great movement of peoples a Slavic group of people crossed over to the island.
1298. The town of Murter is mentioned as Villa Magna, a settlement of 36 houses and 203 inhabitants, who already have their own parish.
1412. The parish church of St. Michael's was built in honour of the patron saint.
1688. A small church of Our Lady of the Ruins was built. The Brotherhood of the Lady existed even before 1480.
1760. A small church of St. Roch's was built in token of gratitude to the defender from the plague.
1774. "A praise from the town of Šibenik", a poem by Divnić, was published in "Viaggio in Dalmazia" by abbot Fortis. There is a couplet in the poem praising the wine from the Island of Srimač.
Late 18th century Italian names Mortar, Murtar and Murter used to name the Island of Murter.
1866. Under the influence of The Croatian National Reformation a National Library was opened in Murter.
1910. A modern oil refinery was built for the production of high-quality oil.
1913. The residents of Murter won a gold medal for the quality of their oil at an international oil show in Eix, France.
Early 20th century The beginnings of tourism on the island of Murter.



History of the Kornati islands


1st century  Plinius Senior, the author of the first encyclopaedic work in the European culture, mentions the Kornati Islands as Crateae.
6th century The Byzantine emperor Justinian builds a fortress on the Island of Kornat near the Tarac Field.
1311. The islands were mentioned as Encornata, which is probably the origin of their present name.
1354. The island of Kornat is mentioned under the name of Insula Sancta Mariae.
1515. The island of Kornat was mentioned under a Croatian name, Stomorin island, for the first time.
16th century The church of Mary's Conception was built on the remains of an early Christain church on the Tarac Field. Nowadays, it is called the church of Our Lady of Tarac - Queen of the Sea.
13th - 18th century  The islands were known under different names - Incornat, Corona, Coronata.
1627.-1859. Shifts of tenantry and ownership of the islands.
1859-1890. Serfs from Murter became yeomen and bought the Kornati islands
1980. The Kornati National Park was opened, including Telašćica on Dugi Otok (the Long Island).

Keramika iz rimskog naselja Colentum - Murter
Pogled kroz prozor crkve Sv Rok u Murteru
Stara karta područja Otoka Murtera
Ulica Dolac najstarija ulica u Murteru na Otoku Murter
Ostaci metala iz rimskog naselja Colentum - Murter
Crkva Gospe od Gradine u Murteru na Otoku Murter
Mozaik iz rimskog naselja Colentum - Murter
Stari majstor na brodogradilištu u Betini, Otok Murter
Tradicionalni brodovi sa latinskim jedrom - Otok Murter
Stara slika tradicionalnog broda i vožnje na vesla, Murter
Crkvica na otoku Piškera na Kornatima
Zavjetna kapelica na Otoku Murter