Posted by: viewfromtheriva | August 19, 2010

The Night of the Pirates lights up Omis!

Surrounded by pirates, the Venetians are lured into shallow water!

Each year Omis, a jewel of a town an hour from Split nestled at the mouth of the Cetina River where it meets the Adriatic, plays host to its legendary pirate past.  Framed by  rocky crags that loom over the town providing perfect lookouts as well as hiding places, Omis and its pirates wreaked havoc on the Venetian navy for years, finally “defeating” one of the great superpowers of the time by forcing them to pay booty (a tax) simply to be left alone whenever they ventured into its waters.

The Night of the Pirates re-enacts these historical events with vivid drama as well as accuracy.  When the clever Omis seamen would spot a Venetian boat, they would quickly ride out in small rowboats to harass it.  The Venetians, seeing what looked like a motely flotilla of tiny craft would chase them towards the harbor.

Having trapped the Venetians, a large pirate ship would sail in behind it, ready to finish the attack

Lured into shallow water, the big Venetian ship would then be attacked from the rear by a swarm of Omis pirates in a sleek, uniquely designed shallow draft boat perfectly suited for close handling and boarding.

Hoisted on high, a treasure chest of Venetian booty!

These raids yielded a lot of treasure as well as a lot of misery for the Venetians, who finally agreed to pay a tax rather than continue to lose men and fortunes to the unstoppable Omis pirates.

Each year in August, thousands of spectators line the Omis waterfront to celebrate this great  David vs. Goliath victory.  The official event begins with a pirate parade through the main streets and Old Town to the waterfront. Then the re-enacted battle takes place using authentic period costumes as well as muskets and pistols.  This year there was an extra bonus when a contingent of Korcula men came to perform their famous ancient sword dance for the crowd.

After all the festivities end,  a lot of the crowd heads off to Kastel Slanica, a wonderful restaurant up in the canyon on the river’s edge or to Radman’s Mills, a restored 1700’s flour mill also on the river that has been converted into an outdoor resort famous for its peka bread–a half meter round and incredibly yummy made in an enormous iron pan placed over the coals.

Whether it’s the Sinj Alka or Omis’ Pirates Night, Croatia summer festivals are a real treasure.  Next up–a Soparnik festival at the end of the month in the Krilo area!

Enjoy our new Croatian vacation portal

Read more about Croatia at secret dalmatia’s unique blog

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