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The oldest village on the Adriatic

Miha Zupan | 29.11.2009 | Comments 59

On the western coast of Cres Island, 378 meters above sea level, lays a small village of Lubenice, which has been continually inhabited since the Bronze Age, for more than 4000 years. The unusual name (Lubenice means “watermelons” in Croatian) has nothing to do with the fruit, it actually comes from the village’s old Latin name, Hibernitia. In good weather you can see Istria or sometimes even the Italian coast from there.


According to the 2001 census, the village only has 24 permanent inhabitants, the youngest being 65 years old. The economy is based on tourism, sheep herding and fishing, as the land is not suitable for agriculture. For Sunday Mass, a priest comes from the nearby village of Valun. He also takes care of the funerals. Nobody can remember when the last marriage took place in Lubenice, while the last baptism was performed in 1981.


Romans were the fist to fortify Lubenice. East and west of the center of the village, remains of the old wall can still be seen. In the Middle Ages, the fortification was expanded and two gates were built. As you walk into the village, the first thing you see is a Gothic church of Saint Anthony The Hermit built in the 15th Century. On the main square there is a bell tower from 1791, connected to a church built in the early 19th Century. Otherwise, the village consists of approx. 40 old stone houses.


Lubenice are only about an hour’s drive from the town of Cres, but they give an impression of being at the very end of the world. The narrow, winding road leading to the village is not wide enough for two vehicles to meet, so driving there can be quite stressful. But once you have reached the village, all that is forgotten, and you can enjoy one of the most beautiful views on the Adriatic or walk through the narrow lanes of this unusual ancient settlement.


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