Site history

Šestanovac is one of the youngest municipalities in the Dalmatian hinterland, but also an area with an exceptionally rich cultural heritage. This has always been a meeting point between coast and hinterland, and signs of settlements date back to prehistory. Traces of these meetings have been preserved until now in fairs and trade days, especially those in Zadvarje. Many stone mounds and forts, which are mainly found on the southern edge of the plateaus towering above Kreševo, Katuni and Šestanovac itself, date back to the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. In the old days, the forts were fortified settlements, and the stone mounds were tumuli – burial mounds of the prehistorical population of the region. Some of them might also have been used for cult purposes.

The development of this region continued even during Roman rule, when the new lords started to build roads in the inland part of Dalmatia, some of which crossed this region. The cart tracks or ruts of Roman carts were cut into the rocks and can still be seen in a number of places at the “Vlake” post in Katuni. At the same time, from the 1st to the 4th century, small hamlets, villas and other residential and commercial structures appeared on the hillside between Kreševo and Šestanovac, traces of which are still found today. There also used to be a small Roman fortress at “Kulina”, to the north of the parish church.

At the end of the 4th century or at the beginning of the 5th century, the first Early Christian church adorned with stone furniture was built where the ancient parish church of the Ascension of the Holy Virgin Mary stands now. Some remains of this Early Christian church are kept today in the parish rectory. A similar church might also have existed in the wider area of Šestanovac, since an Early Christian relief depicting the Cross surrounded by sheep – symbolizing Christ and the Apostles – has been built into one of the houses in the hamlet of Nejašmići.

After some turbulent centuries marked by the migration of different peoples on the European continent, the first Croatian State, a principality, was formed in the area of Dalmatia and its hinterland in the 8th and 9th centuries. Rare archeological remains from that period also bear witness to the existence of a warrior and ruler class here on the banks of the Cetina River. This refers primarily to the remains of Carolingian swords, one of which was found in Potpoletnica, and the other one (with a lance) at “Bartulovića zgonu” in Kreševo.

In the Middle Ages, the parish of Radobilja, mentioned for the first time in the 14th century, was formed in the wider area which now encompasses a number of villages (Katuni, Kreševo, Blato, Podgrađe, Kostanje, Seoca, Zadvarje, Žeževica, Grabovac, Lovreć, Cista, Kučiće, Slime, Gornja Brela, and Bast). Its center is on the territory of today’s Katuni, on the location of the old parish church of the Ascension of the Holy Virgin Mary. Radobilja is also an administrative district, which was ruled throughout history by many stronger and more powerful families: the Jurjevićs, the Nenandićs, etc. The main settlement of ancient Radobilja was, in addition to the aforementioned Katuni, Zadvarje – where a fortress was built at the end of the 15th century. At the turn of the 16th century, Radobilja fell under the Ottoman Empire and remained under its rule until around 1717. Almost during the whole time, a Glagolitic priest stayed in Radobilja with his people. The reconstruction of the church of the Ascension of the Holy Virgin Mary started after the first visit of the Archbishop of Split, Archbishop Cupilli, in 1711. The creation of new parishes and various administrative divisions in the course of the 18th and 19th centuries will result in the name of Radobilja slowly vanishing from maps and documents.