Posted by: viewfromtheriva | March 17, 2017

Amazing Imotski!


Yes, those are BIG trees perched along the rim of this amazing sheer drop-off into Imotski’s Red Lake, the deepest and surely the spookiest, in Europe.  The tiny slice of water in the right hand side of this photo is part of the lake.

We’ve been wanting to go to Imotski for a long time.  It’s one of those hinterland villages like Sinj and Nin and others that have a fascinating history, but being off the coast an hour or so away, we and surely tons of tourists just don’t make the effort.

Now that we have been there–and it took just 45 minutes and 21 kuna ($4) on the highway–we’ll surely be back.

Once you are behind the hills and mountains that separate the coast from the interior, everything really changes.  Small towns, lots of farms, long deep valleys.  Quiet. Nature. And very few people.

As we swung off the highway onto a twisting two lane country road, it felt all too familiar. But then the road opened to an enormous valley with beautiful 200-300 meter high hills dotted with hundreds of red tile roofed houses–gorgeous!

Imotski itself is sitting pretty smack in the middle of all of this–surrounded by mountains, lush valleys and a surprising number of vineyards (Kundusa, a sassy white, is indigenous here).  The main street is wide and gracious lined with shops and angled parking–so many cars we couldn’t find a space and had to circle our way uphill to park.

taking it easy in one of the main town squares

Despite a city population of only 5,000 or so,  Imotski realy feels bigger…a lot bigger! It’s probably because the surrounding area has around 20,000 people and Imotski is clearly the political and cultural center .  Once you leave the main street, it’s  uphill all the way via a twisting series of streets and turns, at the top of which is the spectacular 10thC Topana Fortress.  I mean how many places have a town where you can have a coffee, go to the bank, do a little shopping on the main street and up a flight of stairs or two and a few minutes walk is a 10thC Fortress!??

lovely back streets like this make walking in the town really special

Lots of stepped side streets and staircases lead to upper levels of the town

Almost 350 meters above sea level, surrounded by all those valleys, the view from some of the hilltop streets is terrific, like this one:

still snow in the mountains, but 16C in Imotski!

With the new tunnel off the highway, the coast is now just 30 minutes away, so most visitors to Imotski come from the Makarska Riviera, an hour down the coast from Split. But let’s get back to that amazing fort:

Held by the Ottoman Turks for more than 200 years, today the Croatian flag flies from top of Topana

The town has made walking up the fort a real pleasure–well kept, wide path, gently sloping up and then a final set of stairs bringing you to the top.  Nice scenic overlooks and plenty of benches to sit, rest, enjoy.

Like Klis, just above Split, the people who designed and built Topana made it practically impossible to attack, perched at the very top of a craggy mount.

In front of the fort is a small ancient church, Our Lady of Angels, who is the patron saint of the town. Directly below the fort is the amazing Blue Lake, the “sister” of the Red Lake, about a kilometer away.

Although the lake was green the day we were there, in the bright summer light, it casts a deep blue hue.

The Blue Lake. Unlike the Red Lake, there is a series of winding trails that you can take to get to the waters edge–and even swim if you want. It’s about a 45 minute trek all the way down

One of the well marked signs around the fort that helps visitors understand the history here

All this rock, rugged nature, history, the fort, the Lady of Angels, and then our guide says look to your right, and we do:

More than its history and culture, Croatians love their football–let’s hear it for the NK Imotski club!

What??? Somehow shoe-horned in-between the rock and karst up here at fort level, just below is a well-watered football pitch and stadium in the middle of it all!

I have to admit one of the reasons I always wanted to come here was another “first” claimed by the proud citizens of Imotski–it’s the town with more Mercedes Benz’s per capita than any town on the planet–most of them geezers like my 1992

Three vintage Mercedes, plus in the upper left corner, two more. My 1992 beauty is out of the picture, but the very height of fashion in this town!

I wish we had more time to spend just discovering more of the back streets and churches and boy it was tempting to enter one of the meadow roads leading to a cave opening under the fort……next time!

Marijana and Natasha clearly enjoying themselves

A big thank you to Marijana Sucur of GAZ Travel.  Wonderful guide, English of course, and Zagreb eat your heart out because after going to university there, Marijana came back home because “I love Imotski and really missed being here”.  www.gaz-travel.hr  for tours, wine tasting, a whole lot more.

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