Where is Solta Island?
Location and brief history of Solta
Šolta is an island in the central Dalmatian archipelago, west of the island of Brač, south of Split and east of the Drvenik islands, Drvenik Mali and Drvenik Veli.
The island’s main entry point is Rogač, where ferries from Split tie up at the edge of a large bay. A road leads around the bay to smaller coves with rocky beaches, and another leads uphill to the island’s administrative center of Grohote.
Maslinica is the island’s most picturesque settlement, with seven islets offshore. Another gorgeous village is Stomorska; its sheltered harbor is a popular spot for sailing yachts and a great place to anchor yours before exploring the rest of the island.
The earliest historical records of the island of Šolta date back to the period of Antiquity, when it was first mentioned by the Greeks Olynta, and later by Roman writers as Solentia.
The island’s name derives from the Greek word meaning ‘unripe fig’. Although there are but a few archaeological finds from the period of Illyrian dominance, the oldest legends tell a tale of the Illyrian queen Teuta and her fortress above Senjska Bay.
It was situated on the southern side of the island and its remains have been preserved up to the present day. There are a few remains of settlements from the Roman period, and a number of objects and stone inscriptions. The remains of a villa rustica can be found near Donje Selo, Rogač, Gornje Selo and in Nečujam. This is where the Roman emperor Diocletian had his fishpond built in 295 AD. Today its remains are barely visible under the sea.
Due to its position, the island fell into the hands of looters several times in the course of history and saw the rise and fall of a number of states and rulers. In the Middle Ages, Šolta was governed by a group of noble families from Split.
The islanders were farmers, olive, wine and wheat growers, who were obliged to give the noblemen part of their crop, transported to Split by boat. Archival records from the second half of the 14th century state that, apart from agriculture, the islanders were also seafarers and merchants. At the time, they traded primarily in lime and stone plaques with the inhabitants of Split and Trogir.
Stomorska boasts the longest tradition of seafaring; generations of skilled seamen and ship owners were raised in this beautiful, picturesque village that still nurtures this tradition.
In the beginning of the 20th century the islanders could no longer put up with changing governments and their obligations towards the ruling class, so they decided to buy their land back from the noble families. The islanders were hard workers but quite poor, so they struggled to repay their debt.
When they finally managed to repay it, trouble struck again – the Second World War began. The island was deserted as villagers fled the oncoming war. The Municipality of Šolta was re-established in 1952.
A bright future was ahead, but in 1962 Šolta was merged with the Municipality of Split, which negatively influenced the island’s development and turned it into a summer spot for citizens of Split that built their second homes there. The situation changed once again after the Homeland War in mid-1990ies, and today the islanders are focused on continuous development, especially in the area of agriculture, tourism and the hospitality industry.
The origin of Zinfandel
Among the most unique hospitality experiences one can have on Šolta is the indulgence in tasting and getting acquainted with local wines.
The cultivation of grapes and wine varieties has existed on the island since antiquity. The most famous autochthonous red wine variety is the Dobričić. According to DNA analysis, this variety is one of the original varieties of the American Zinfandel along with the Kaštelanski from the Split area.
The American wine pioneer Mike Grgich from Croatia brought the varieties to California. The Split noble family of the father of Croatian literature, Marko Marulić (1450-1524), who also lived on Šolta, was among the first to cultivate the Dobričic intensively. In the 19th century viticulture in Šolta suffered severe setbacks. A trade agreement between Austria and Hungary with Italy allowed low-cost Italian wines to be imported duty-free.
Diseases such as downy mildew and phylloxera reduced the island’s stocks. Even in the period between the two World Wars there was intensive viticulture. There are no large wineries on the island, however Dobričić is cultivated in small family-owned wineries across the island.
If you want to taste it firsthand, visit the Agroturizam Kaštelanac Winery. Call into this family farm in Gornje Selo to sample some excellent olive oil and the legendary Dobričić, accompanied by a platter of homemade bread and olives.
Something to sweeten your stay
The macchia, herbs and shrubs that carpet the island are perfect beekeeping pastures which is why Solta is famous for its honey.
Sweet, healthy, tasty and eternal – the honey of Šolta is part of the island’s traditional range of flavors. It has a rich history and tells a story of its own. For centuries it was used for its healing properties in relieving sore throats and boosting the immune system. It is also a sweet treat often found in local homemade cosmetics and desserts.
The tradition of bee-keeping goes way back to ancient times, as does the reputation of the island’s tasty wild rosemary honey.
Locally called Olintio, it has been known since the period of Antiquity, when the Roman historian Pliny recorded that Olintio honey had the same flavor as the one from Mount Hymettus (near Athens), which was highly valued at the time for its remarkable quality. Visit one of the islands bee-keepers like the Tvrdić family in Rogač.
They have been harvesting honey for generations and even offer packages where you can be a bee-keeper for a day. Make sure to take home a jar of this miraculous treasure.
Basking in the Sun
After exploring the many wonderful tastes of Šolta, relax in the warm clear waters around the island. You can anchor in any of the many groves and coves of the island, go fishing (make sure to get a local fishing permit when arriving in Croatia and get familiar with the varieties of seafood at your disposal) or catch some well-deserved rays and work on your tan.
Šolta is the ideal, low-key island for relaxing to the fullest, enjoying the scenery and tranquility that is often lacking in more populated places.
If you feel like excitement in the evening or something to spark up your days, you can always sail to Brač or Split which are close by.
Where to Sail & anchor around Solta Island
Here are our picks:
- Šešula Bay, Šolta Island – 43°23’30.1″N 16°12’34.4″E
- Paganica Bay, Šolta Island – 43°23’02.6″N 16°13’49.3″E
- Tatinja Bay, Šolta Island – 43°22’04.6″N 16°17’03.2″E
- Starčinska Bay, Šolta Island – 43°20’11.8″N 16°21’52.1″E
- Livka Bay, Šolta Island – 43°19’50.0″N 16°23’23.5″E
- Gornja Krušica, Šolta Island – 43°21’26.9″N 16°22’01.6″E
- Donja Krušica, Šolta Island – 43°24’39.4″N 16°16’06.1″E
- Maslinica (populated), Šolta Island – 43°23’52.3″N 16°12’11.7″E
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