The project "Every place has its own bench" started in 2014. The goal of the project is to give each village a unique mosaic bench.
The author Božica Kliman makes mosaic benches in collaboration with the locals and tourists. She is especially proud that she managed to interest and involve children and young people in her project.
The project encourages creativity, positive spirit and togetherness, and has an ecological dimension – recycling waste materials raises the environmental awareness.
The motifs on the benches are related to the history of each place – that way the history remains written in mosaic.
The mosaic benches have become a "selfie point". By sharing photos via social networks, the story of mosaic benches and Ugljan is spread all over the world and creates a recognisable brand, as well as tourist promotion of the island of Ugljan.
The story continues, the author Božica Kliman is not getting any tired, and she is thinking of new bench designs and projects.
The first public mosaic bench was made in front of the office of the Ugljan Tourist Board in 2014, as part of the "Every place has its own bench" project.
The bench features the symbol of the Holy Trinity, formed by the bodies of three fish with one eye. This symbol is located on the cloister of the Franciscan monastery of St. Jerome from the 15th century, a landmark in Ugljan, located in the bay of Mostir. The rest of the bench depicts various marine motifs. As the first public bench made as part of the project, it has attracted over a thousand curious people, both children and the elderly, who wanted to leave their mark on the bench. This is the beginning of a tradition that will continue on each subsequent mosaic bench, which only confirms the success of this project.
Did you know?
Forgive me, God, for I am a Dalmatian! – a catchphrase often used by St. Jerome, aware of his temperament and restless spirit, became the motto of the Dalmatian way of life. St. Jerome is a prominent saint from the end of the fourth and early fifth century, the patron saint of Dalmatia, who translated the Bible into Latin.
The following year, 2015, the bench in Mostir Bay came to be – the so-called bench of the rising sun. The place the bench is placed faces the open sea – the view is especially beautiful in the morning when the sun rises and illuminates the whole bay with its golden rays. Hence the name of the bench, as well as the motif of the sun rising from the sea, full of colourful boats on the back.
The front of the bench shows the local church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (first mentioned in 1401), located on a dominant hill near the bay of Mostir. The sides of the bench are decorated with coral reef and anchor motifs.
Did you know?
The altar painting "Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary" in the local church of the same name in Ugljan is the work of the famous Venetian painter Bartolomeo Litterini from 1714. It was declared a protected cultural property. This work is one of 33 that Litterini painted for churches and monasteries throughout Dalmatia. Apart from the island of Ugljan, his paintings can also be found in Zadar, Split, the island of Brač, Hvar and the Dubrovnik area.
The bench of the setting sun in Muline was made in 2016. The front of the bench is dedicated to the olive and the old ancient mill after which the place is named. The mill dates back to the first century, and its remains have been preserved to this day. A replica of it has also been made, which tourists can visit. One side of the bench is dedicated to Sivko, the only living donkey on the whole island. The other side of the bench, facing the sea, shows a fish with a fishing rod that greets and wishes the local fishermen luck as they sail off in their boats hoping for a good catch. The back side shows the sunset, which, according to the locals, is the most beautiful right where the bench is set.
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Muline boasts an ancient archaeological site where the remains of the Basilica of St. John are preserved, as well as villa rustica, mausoleum and oil mill that was in operation from the first to the fifth century. This oil mill was the largest plant in what was then Liburnia and the centre of production of the famous Liburnian oil sold throughout the Mediterranean. The popularity of this oil is also shown by the recipe for forgery by the Roman writer Apicius: "This is how you will make Liburnian oil. Put meadow fleabane, oats and fresh bay leaves in Spanish oil, all beaten, sifted to be a fine powder. Then leave the baked and beaten salt for three days or longer, stirring carefully from time to time. After that, let it rest for a while and everyone will think it is Liburnian oil".
The construction of the bench in Sušica started in 2017. The locals affectionately named it "bora bench", given its location, as it is exposed and defies the full strength of wind and sea. This is especially pronounced in the winter when hurricane force bora is not an uncommon phenomenon. Hence the inspiration for the motif on the back of the bench, the wind rose. A motif of red grapes dedicated to the once rich viticulture on the island, which is now slowly dying out, is found on the back of the bench. On the sides of the bench there are motifs of sailboats that, despite the bora wind, still sail, as well as the motif of the seahorse as a symbol of the rich sea world on the island.
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Viticulture was once a very important activity on Ugljan. In the middle of the 19th century, there were as many as 1,169 vineyards on Ugljan. However, towards the end of that century, the island was hit by a grapevine disease. Furthermore, due to a special agreement between Austria-Hungary and Italy (the so-called wine clause which allows favourable placement of cheaper Italian and better quality wines on the market), many islanders decided to plant olives and fruit trees instead of vines. Since then, the number of vineyards has declined significantly, so that in 2000, vineyards occupied only 1.4 per cent of agricultural land on Ugljan. Maybe this bench will encourage the revival of Ugljan viticulture!
The mosaic bench in Guduće is located right by the sea, with a view of the surrounding islands of Sestrunj, Iž, Rava and Dugi otok. Hence the name of the bench. Its production began in September 2018, but due to the extremely strong sirocco wind and bad weather which endangered the structure of the bench, construction had to be stopped. As a result, it was necessary to further strengthen the bench, so its opening celebration was held in 2019, when it was finally completed. The front of the bench is decorated with the motif of the church of St. Cosmas and Damian, located near Guduće. The back of the bench shows a sunset, which, given the view from the bench, is especially beautiful in that spot. As a tribute to all the local fishermen who traditionally go squid fishing at night, the motif on one side depicts that seafood treat, while the other side shows a lighthouse that illuminates their path.
Did you know?
The Church of St. Cosmas and Damian is located in the bay of Ljokini. It was built in the 11th or 12th century in the late Pre-Romanesque style. According to legend, it was built as a votive church by the merchant Torricella, who escaped in a shipwreck and swam to that place. It is the oldest preserved church in Ugljan. Saints Cosmas and Damian were two twin brothers and physicians who, according to tradition, treated people for free and thus convinced many to convert to Christianity. Many miraculous healings are also attributed to them. The most unusual one, which is often mentioned and depicted in paintings, is the transplantation of a leg from a deceased Ethiopian to a white man.
Wishing to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their famous summer festival in a special way, the locals of Čeprljanda wanted to decorate their place in 2019 with a unique mosaic bench. This bench was completed in a record time of just ten days, as the locals were rushing to finish it before the festival. That demonstrates the special sense of togetherness the locals of Čeprljanda have. And that was the inspiration for the name of the bench, as whoever visits this picturesque place always wants to return to it. Hence the motif on the back of the bench – the slogan of the place, “Sve san obaša vode je nojbolje” ("I've been everywhere, but I love this place the most") written in the local dialect. The front is dedicated to the boat regatta, which is held every year on the day of the festival – every first Saturday in August. One side of the bench is dedicated to the symbol of the local association "Idro", which initiated the idea of making a bench in their place. The other side shows the flora and fauna of the sea world.
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The festival in Čeprljanda dates back to 1979, when the late local Dragutin Karlović got the idea to bring the then very popular event "Meetups on the Adriatic" to Čeprljanda. The locals then decided that the festival would be held on the first Saturday in August, and this tradition is kept to this day. Long tradition, organisation and the offer of the festival created a sort of brand for this event that has become widely known, as well as the slogan “Sve san obaša vode je nojbolje” (“I've been everywhere, but I love this place the most"), which can be found on the bench. In addition to the rich gastronomic offerings of Dalmatian dishes prepared by the locals and an entertaining music program, visitors can also participate in the traditional boat parade on the day of the festival – from the bay of Čeprljanda to the bay of Sušica.
All the income from the festival, as well as donations, are invested in the town of Čeprljanda through work actions, landscaping, projects and events.
The bench in Batalaža was also made in 2019 in the bay of the same name. The back of the bench shows a rising sun that seems to rise from the sea. The front of the bench shows boats that can be observed from a quiet place, under a tree, where the bench is located and which offers a view of the open sea. It also shows the flora and fauna of the sea world. Lavender is shown on one side of the bench, while the other shows an anchor and a lifebuoy with Batalaža written on it.
Did you know?
The remains of a Roman villa were found in Batalaža bay. These are the villas built during the Roman Empire, and many of them have been found on the Croatian side of the Adriatic. However, they have not been fully explored yet. An interesting description of the main features of Roman villas was given by Pliny the Younger, who says that the villa must offer a beautiful view, but visitors must also have a view of the most beautiful parts of the villa from the outside. The villa must also have a room for breathing and relaxation because the villa is a space of mental and physical health. Furthermore, the space must be open and mobile, so that air, light and people can pass through it freely. The house and garden must consist of indoor and outdoor spaces that intertwine.
Despite the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus and the adjusted dynamics of bench production, the bench in Varoš was completed in 2020. On the front of the bench, there is a symbol of lote tree, a Mediterranean tree that could be found in large numbers on the island in the past. On the back is a demijohn, as a symbol of viticulture on the island, as well as the church of St. Hippolytus and Cassian, located nearby. Other motifs on the bench represent the sea world, the setting sun and a basket of fruits and vegetables, as a symbol of a fertile island where many cultures succeed.
Did you know?
The Church of St. Hippolytus and Cassian in Varoš was built in the 11th or 13th century. It is first mentioned in documents in 1374. The titulars St. Hippolytus and St. Cassian came from Italy to Dalmatia at the time of Italian domination. More prominent is St. Hippolytus, known in history as the first antipope because he advocated the continuation of strict penitential practice in the Church. After Maximus of Thrace came to power in the Roman Empire, St. Hippolytus and St. Pontius (then legitimate pope) were banished to Sardinia, where they both died as martyrs. St. Cassian acted as a Christian teacher in the time of the emperor Diocletian, who expelled him from Rome. He was assassinated on August 13, 302. That day is celebrated as a memorial of these saints and Mass is celebrated in the church in Varoš.