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St. Michael’s Fortress (Sv. Mihovil)

Across the Zadar channel lies Ugljan Island, a long and narrow strip of land with rolling hills and a few interior valleys. The island’s highest point, rising to an elevation of 249 meters above sea level (817 ft), is easily visible from Zadar but is made more apparent yet by the giant radio tower that crowns its summit. Actually, the real jewel of the peak lies not in its communicative powers in the present, but rather in its strategic location in the past, evidenced by the centuries-old stone fortress that currently encloses the tower, the fortress of Sv. Mihovil, or St. Michael.

Location of St. Michael's fortress

Location of St. Michael’s fortress

St. Michael's fortress

St. Michael’s fortress

To visit the site, we set out early on foot to catch a ferry from Zadar to Preko, and proceeded to follow a narrow road up and over a small set of hills, across an interior plain predominantly covered with olive groves and undoubtedly centuries-old field walls, and up a steep switchback path to the summit. Fortunately, most of the path was paved with asphalt or cobblestones, since I had the unfortunate pleasure of pushing Austin’s Jeep stroller to the top. We made the journey from the ferry to the fortress in a couple of hours and enjoyed lunch with a view that was well worth the effort.

Jadrolinija, an Adriatic ferry line

Jadrolinija, an Adriatic ferry line

Ugljan Island and the summit radio tower

Ugljan Island and the summit radio tower

Pushing Austin up the hill

Pushing Austin up the hill

From what I gather, little is known of the history of the fortified structure, but archaeologists here at the university suspect the foundation may date to the 13th century, with probable renovation and reinforcement by the Venetians sometime between the 15th and 18th centuries. Regardless of its history, the view from the summit is spectacular and offers sweeping views of much of the island, Zadar to the east, and dozens of Adriatic islands to the west.

St. Michael's fortress

St. Michael’s fortress

 

St. Michael's fortress

St. Michael’s fortress

Click to view 360: http://360.io/KAs6sU

Click to view 360: http://360.io/KAs6sU

A little plug for UMaine

A little plug for UMaine

We descended with nice afternoon views, took the ferry back to Zadar, picked up some tortellini from a local trattoria, and walked home to complete the 9 mile journey (round trip). Let me just conclude by giving a plug for the Jeep stroller. If you are in the market, get the Jeep—it’s for gettin’ around.

Sasha and Austin enjoying the walk down

Sasha and Austin enjoying the walk down

View above Preko

View above Preko

The mob waiting to storm Preko

The mob waiting to storm Preko

Zadar from the ferry

Zadar from the ferry

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