The rivers Cetina and Ruda - Antun Mateš: The Enchanted Angler

The rivers Cetina and Ruda

Glavaš, the strongest Cetina source

Abbot Alberto Fortis, scientist, botanist and mineralogist, born 1741 in Padua, wrote about his journeys through the regions where Croats lived. His notes were interesting letters to famous friends all over Europe. Later, these travelogues were collected in the book Journey through Dalmatia (Viaggio in Dalmazia) and were published for the first time in 1774. This book was in Europe the biggest literary sensation from the Italy of the 18th century. The very popular, separate chapter about the Morlaks was first translated to German, Die Sitten der Morlacken, Bern 1775, and later to French Lettre a Mylord Comte de Bute Sur les moeurs et usages des Morlaques, Bern 1778, to English Travels into Dalmatia, London 1778, after that Swedish Bref on Morlackerna, Göteborg 1792, Travell to Dalmatia etc. In 1776, in Croatia, Ivan Lovrić (around 1754–1777), a native from the town of Sinj, wrote in the region which Fortis called Morlakia, the extraordinary addition to the partly polemic tone of Fortis, Comments on the Journey through Dalmatia by Alberto Fortis and the life of Stanislav Sočivica. Due to the interesting observations, the enormous popularity of these notes, especially about the Morlaks, has been lasting until today in Europe. Alberto Fortis addressed his journey along the river Cetina as follows:


Source Jarebica, the second mighty source of the Cetina... the inhabitants of the neighbouring villages say that many trout of about 16 or 17 libra live here and that they always, two or three days before the rain, come to the lake..., wrote Lovrić in 1776

The whole chapter about the river Cetina has one title: About the course of the river Cetina or Tilurus with old authors. The chapter has eleven parts. The first eight parts deal with the course of the river itself, while the other three are less concerned with the river and more with the town of Omiš and the republic Poljička republika. He begins his travelogue with eleven subheadings: About the sources of the Cetina, Travel below the Earth’s surface, Morlak meal at the cemetery, The lowland of the field Paško polje, Salt source, Otok (Island), Ruins of the colony Aequum, Limestone of Sinj, About the fortress of Sinj and the nearby field, The course of the river Cetina between the sinkhole and the waterfalls and The course of the Cetina from Zadvarje to the estuary. In his first sentence of the first chapter, Fortis wrote:

"Near the small village of Jarebice, three miles from Vrlika, below a marble mount, there are four main sources of the Tilurus, which the natives call Cetina. After a short course, all flow in one riverbed – hence the name of the place Vrilo Cetine (source of the Cetina)… The clear, small lake, almost hidden by the rocks and the shadow of the trees, has a diameter of around thirty feet; the natives say it has no ground; we threw stones of different size in it and lost them out of sight before they touched the ground. Countless trout, some of as much as twenty-five small Libra , come with the water from the heart of the mountain. One can see also other kinds of freshwater fish. But the hole through which they come out, can not be reached and can not be seen by anyone looking horizontally from the outside. In order to discover it, one has to climb on the top of a rock and look down… A bit farther, there was our lunch. The place for it was chosen at the old cemetery near the ruins of a church, which was dedicated to Ascension (the church of Sveti Spas – St. Saviour). Between the graves, there were many trees, offering delightful shadow. The large rocks – below them were the remains of old heroes – are remarkable for their number and size; I said old heroes because the numerous weapons, which can be found there, show that they were warriors. Below the trees there must be more than two hundred very heavy stones, each one heavier than a piece of marble; with good reason, one could call them giants’ graves."

The canon of the Cetina near Trilj, remains of the tower Nutjak from the 15th century; the picture was taken in 1982

On the road from Knin to Sinj, two hundred years after the publication of Fortis’ book, a few kilometres before Vrlika, I turned left to my friends, through the village of Civljane, on the narrow road below the mountain Dinara and its connections with the other giant mountain Kamešnica. The view of the sand, which developed due to the erosion of this massif, was spectacular. From here stretches, one hundred metres long, the enormous amount of sand hills, to half of the mountain, and produces deep cuttings with torrents originating from sudden cloudbursts. All this water is only part of the water potential of the Cetina, which owes its two major and several smaller sources, totally eight, to the processes and the collecting of water in the middle and over these gigantic mountains. Fortis wrote about the same view: “…the memory of the marble sand hills, which cover the Illyrian mountains, made us boldly guess that the true sources of the Cetina were not those we had visited, but that they were just branches of a river below the surface of the earth, whose ancient riverbed had been the endless plateaus in past centuries…and especially at those places, where the folds of the mountain often break off the rivers, Mylord Hervey realised the obvious traces of subsidence on the slopes of the Kozjak, Gnjat and Dinara,which clearly show that the cause for the interruption of their layers was a large, sudden breakthrough, probably even several…"

After having passed the first source in the village of Kotluša, at the second source, called Jarebica (partridge) or Vukovića vrelo (Vuković’s source), there were already very many trout, whereas the major source Glavaš near the church St. Saviour was a true phenomenon. In the cone-shaped cleft flows from the break, whose deepness was measured by diving with 109 metres, constantly a considerable amount of first class, crystal clear water. When we visited this source for the first time, there were trout of two or four pounds, swimming in certain intervals on the surface and chasing sedges (Trichoptera), who were developing from larvae to dry flies. It was especially attractive to watch from the top of the rock, just like Fortis did, how these trout chased from the deep of several dozen metres vertically up to the surface to catch the spotted fly. The natives, who were anything but friendly, threw stones in the water to spoil our day. So, after several stones had dangerously landed directly in front of us, we decided it would be wise not to follow the destiny of Captain James Cook, who also had certain misunderstandings with the natives on the islands of Hawaii.

Attractive waterfall in the source part of the Ruda, a combination of colour, water, stone, and the biotope of attractive big fish

The first big trout, 12 lb. and 80 cm, at the connection between Ruda and the drain-off channel of the water power station Orlovac

One of the big trout from Magaretuša at the Ruda, 9 lb

Exquisite speciality from the Cetina region, real magic of unbeatable flavour and appearance – crab-buzzara

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English Deutsch Hrvatski Glavatice i lipljani