December 09, 2023
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Trpanj (Italian: Trappano), is a town and municipality of Dubrovnik-Neretva County in south-eastern Croatia. According to the 2001 census, Trpanj has a population of 871. Croats make up 93.11% of the population.

There is more than one theory about the origin of the name Trpanj. According to one, the name was derived from the Croatian verb trpjeti, meaning "to suffer." Another theory draws the origin of the name from an Ancient Greek word for sickle, which is the shape formed by the cliffs surrounding the town's harbor. According to a third theory, the name was derived from the name of the ancient fortification called Tarpano or Tarponio, the remains of which can still be seen on the hill overlooking the harbor. Finally, the sea cucumber is called a "trp" in Croatian, leading some to make the connection
Early history
The area has been inhabited since ancient times. Examples of prehistoric pottery, evidence that the site may have been inhabited by an urban-type society, were found on the slopes of Gradina, the small hill overlooking the port. Other traces of prehistoric humans were found on the St. Roko hill. Life in the area may not have been easy as it is located between barren cliffs to the north and the Miloševica, Viter and Prvač Dol hills to the south.
Under Ragusa
The Republic nobility divided the land among each other and passed laws stating that no one may own land on Pelješac unless he was a citizen of Ragusa, and no one may reside or work there unless he was a serf of the Republic. As a result all inhabitants automatically became serfs. The serfs of the Republic, although having quite a few obligations, had the right to sail (in the Dubrovnik merchant fleet), be educated, do business and accumulate possessions. In contrast with the other two local superpowers which could have claimed the area, (Venice and the Ottoman Empire), the serfs were acquainted with their local lords and could communicate with them in Croatian. Hence the Republic enjoyed overwhelming support among the population.

In order to have the right to live in a house, every serf family with at least one male member over 16 years of age, had to perform services. Those included working the land for free, transporting the lord by rowing boat and carrying out other orders. The number of days that these services had to be performed varied until the Dubrovnik Senate in 1800 set it at 90 days a year. If a serf household had a garden they had to give the lord a lamb, 2 chickens, 2 chicks and 10 eggs. The price for the grazing of the public land was a dried pig’s head. Serf daughters were sent to work as maids in noble families, thus bringing culture and fashion trends from the city to the countryside. Public schools started operating quite early in the Republic, since navigation and sailing required literacy.
Brotherhoods, which in the 13th century had a religious character, received a semi-legal status by the 15th century, and held responsibilities such as collecting port fees. Fishing brotherhoods, such as the one dedicated to St. Peter, always took a fisherman apostle as a patron saint.

Until 1343, when the captaincy was established in Orebić, the seat of authority for Peljesac was in Ston. From 1456 Trpanj had been administered by the newly esatblished captaincy in Janjina. However, since Trpanj was on the coast, unlike Janjina, the Janjina captain spent most of his time in Trpanj, despite the fact that Janjina was more populous.Main sights[edit]

Main Sights



On the small hill just above he port was a fortress of a considerable size, and it northern walls are especially well preserved. The total length of the walls is 60 m. The location, plan and wall construction indicate that it was built in the late antiquity, probably in the time of the Byzantine emperor Justinian who built a series of fortresses along the Croatian coast to protect maritime commerce, after having driven out Goths out of Dalmatia. The fortress has not yet been analyzed by archeologists. A staircase and path that lead to the fortress and the observatory was built in 1936 although it is presently hard to gain access to due to residential buildings that make it less obvious.

Church of St. Peter

Until 1922, remains of the oldest church of St. Peter “on the shore” could be found in the park in front of the former fire station. In front of the church was a walled cemetery where burials were carried out until 1904.
The church had all the details of pre-Romanesque construction just like mot Croatian churches built between the 9th and 12th centuries. It was 4.62 m long, 3.8 m wide and about 5 m high.
This early Middle Ages church was elongated probably in the baroque era, with a wider nave. Hence the original church became simply the altar section of a larger church. The stone arch that was inserted where the old church met the expansion, was done in a shallow relief and the stones from this arch were later used in 1957 in the renovation of the church of St. Roko.


From the visit archives of the Ston Bishop Ambroz Gučetić from 4 July 1621 it is known that the church has a bell tower with bells but it is empty. It has no roof or doors. The bishop ordered the town to restore the church so that it may again be put to use. The roof had probably burned down in 1591 during a pirate attack which were frequent in that year. The same bishop consecrated a restored church and urged the residents to keep the main altar in good condition. He only mentioned the main altar as other altars were the responsibility of the individual families that had built them. Hence it can be found in records that don Agostino di Agostino in his will read on 14 August 1679 instructs his brothers to decorate and take care of his altar in the church. At the end of August 1679 the church was inspected again and new orders were given to continue the restoration that had not yet been done to satisfaction. 

Church of St. Peter and Paul, formerly St. Michael

St. Peter and Paul in Trpanj.

Inside of St. Peter and Paul in Trpanj.

The year 1799 was engraved on a tomb in this church so that year was taken as the year of construction. Stefano Gondola in his 20 October 1647 will leaves instructions for the building of the church of the Lady of Carmen and he asks that a religious church item be made of gold for the church of St. Michael. The Vručica priest don Juraj Gabrić confirms having received the gold from the state treasury and those are the oldest references found for this church.

That was at first a very small church that was not mentioned in any of the bishop’s visits from 1621 to 1805 whereas the little church of St. Anthony is mentioned. That would mean that St. Michael’s was either smaller or not in use. Even in 1800 it is not mentioned in a separate list while all other churches are named.

Prince Joseph II of Liechtenstein who frequently came to Trpanj to hunt for čaglje (a wild dog native of Pelješac resembling a hyena) made a gift of 2 bells in 1888. Since the niche could not support the large bells, they were taken down in 1897 and hung next to the church. The town then decided to expand the church and build new bell tower. The prince of Liechtenstein contributed 150 fiorns and the town 2000 crowns. The work started in 1902, and the new roof and sacristy were completed in November 1904 and the new bell tower in 1905. The church and 5 new bells were consecrated on 28 April 1907 by bishop Marcelic. The marble statues of St. Peter and Paul were made in 1907 in the Bilinic workshop in Split. In 1912 began the construction of the staircase leading to the church and in 1916 the space around it was paved. The old fence wall consisting of benches was replaced with the current stone columns between 1917 and 1918 thanks to father Dinko Suljaga. The paintings in the church were made by the local painter Frano Ferenca between 1929 and 1930.

Church of Lady of Carmel


The Gundulić-Gondola family crest.

The Dubrovnik nobleman and lord of Trpanj Stefan Gundulić-Gondola, in his will dated 7 October 1645 instructed that a church be built in Trpanj. He insisted that church be a replica of the Holy Family chapel in Loreta. Furthermore he instructed a priest to be hired and housed in Trpanj to serve daily mass for the deliverance of his soul. Stefan Gundulić-Gondola (the uncle of writer and Duke Ivan Gundulić) died in 1647 and the first mention of the church is found in the bishop’s visitation of 29 April 1679. It is noted that the church suffers from damage from humidity so instructions are given for two windows to be equipped with iron bars to allow free flow of air. Furthermore since the painting above the altar was also seriously damaged because it has no frame, the bishop orders a wooden frame be built. From this it is obvious that there were previous visitations and that the church is not completely new. The altar is built in the renaissance style, and the House of Gundula crest can be found on the base of the columns. In time the painting was replaced by a statue and parts of the painting representing souls in purgatory were saved and can be seen under the statue of the Lady of Carmel. According to professor Grga Gamulin the painting shows signs of 18th-century Venetian painting resembling Piazzetto and Benkovic. The painting on either side of the statue were made by the amateur painter Frano Kaer from Makarska in 1848.

Church of St. Roko

 St. Roko in Trpanj.

The church of St. Roko, protector from leprosy, was built in the first half of the 17th century over the remains of an older church on the highest hill overlooking Trpanj and the Neretva channel. The 1621 bishop’s visitation does not mention the church whereas the 1679 visitation notes that the bishop inspected the church and noted that there is a new painting of St. Roko in it. In 1684 the Trpanj born bishop Natali forbaded mass services because the church was not properly equipped. Around 1700 the town people planted olives around the church and surrounded it by a fence wall. When in 1739 the children’s cemetery became full in the town church, a cemetery for children was made in the church of St. Roko.

Bishop Milković in his 1751 visit notes that the church has a well equipped altar, a good silver chalice, and all other items of cult. The altar was built in the neo-renaissance style and ha two small statues: St. Roko and Lady of Health. The older statue of St. Roko was replaced in 1897 by a new 90 cm one brought from St. Ulrich for 300 florins. The space between the altar and the walls is covered on both ides by two paintings. The one on the right shows the pope St. Sylvester baptizing Constantine the Great and the left shows St. Blaise holding Dubrovnik in his arm and Trpanj in the background. Both of these copies of older paintings were done by Frano Ferenca. The bell for the church was made in 1804.

During the epidemic of cholera in Metković, in 1884, the Trpanj townspeople vowed to repair the church and build a new bell tower. Hence in place of the older bell niche a bell tower was built in the neo-Roman style and at the same time a space in front of the church was built and surrounded by a wall. All work was completed by 1895.

Church of St. Anthony

An inscription above the church states that it was built as a result of a vow made by Antonio Simonetti. His son, father Antun, was the priest of Vručica from 1731 to 1749. Antun Sr. owned stocks in several ships along with his brother. The church has a baroque altar with a painting above of no artistic value as it is a copy by the amateur painter Ilija Antunovic from 1960 of a previous damaged painting. From the bishop's visitation in 1751 it states that the church is fully equipped with a silver chalice, two chandeliers, a lamp and two bells. In 1845 the brotherhood of Forgiveness was founded and took the church as its chapel. The mosaic on the floor dates from that period as can be seen from the inscription that reads 1847.

St. Nicholas in Trpanj.

An inscription above the church states that it was built as a result of a vow made by the sailor Kleme Cvitanovic in 1840. The inscription also says in Croatian: “buduci da ga bili pokrili valovi, od smrti osloboden” meaning “delivered from death having been covered by the waves [sea].” Kleme Cvitanović (1799–1877) was born in Drasnica not far from Makarska but married Frana Iveta from Trpanj and relocated there. He was owner of 9 stocks of the Peljesac Maritime Association (1867–1869) and of the house called Vatican.

He had no inheritors, so he left all possessions to his wife’s family and they in turn left the church to the Trpanj mother church.

The church has a wooden altar, with St. Nicholas and St. Liberan. The church has a bell niche. The last restoration dates from 1988. This church, dedicated to the protector of sailors, was built at the onset of the golden age of Trpanj’s sail boats specializing in mall coastal commerce.

The chapel of the lady of Grace

On the small hill to the left of the church of St. Peter and Paul, is the smallest church in Trpanj referred to by the locals as the chapel. From the outside it is only 213 cm long and 158 cm wide. It was built by Franić Nesanović-Jura in 1865. The association for the improvement of the town began the construction of a staircase in 1936. An observatory in front of the church fenced by a stone colonnade was completed by 1940.

Other notable monuments can be found in the cemetery, in particular statues from the workshop of Pavle Bilinić in Split.

The town council decided on 20 December 1902 to forbid further burials in the old cemetery of St. Peter. On 15 June 1906 the construction of the chapel of the Holy Cross began on the site of the new cemetery. The chapel roof was badly constructed and the chapel suffered from humidity requiring restorations in 1924 as its interior had seriously degraded. Further renovations were carried out in 2000 with the inclusion of a communal repository for the remains of bones transported from the old cemetery.


Trpanj was a center of coastal navigation on Pelješac. Sailor were frequently exposed to dangers. For example in 1660 Martin Marin Medovic from Trpanj was captured in Tunis, and in 1755 pirates captured Nikola Franković.

In February 1669, the Ragusan Senate orders that officials be sent to Trpanj to bring two sail ships with crew because they have not answered the call to transport construction material for the restoration of the city.

From 1677 to 1797 there were 41 known sailors from Trpanj in the Venetian fleet and two known ship commanders Grga Ivana Frankovic and Mato Nika Mrčić.

In the mid 18th century, on Dubrovnik ships navigating outside the Adriatic the following sailors from Trpanj could be found: Ante and Justin Auustinovic, Simun Andricic, Stijepo and Vicko Barbica, Andrija, Mato and Petar Certić, Luka nd Peter Despot, Ivan, Mato, Nikola and Petar Ferri, Antun, Duro, Ivan and Luka Franković, Ivan Iveta, Ante and Tomo Jerić, Petar Keko, Ivan and Baldo Krešić, Antun, Petar and Mato Marković, Ivan, Petar and Mato Mrčić, Rade and Baldo Nesanović, and Ivan Sirovica-Dolica.

Many Trpanj priests were co-owners of sailhips notably: Miho Fabrelli Iveta, Antun Simonetti, Mato Nesanović, Nikola Augustinović, Baldo Kresic, Andrija Kalais and Ivan Klaric-Mirkovic.
The sail ship “Nimfa” 104 barrels, was purchased in 1801 by the Jerić, Barac, Zimić and Ferri families. That ship was confiscated in 1804.


Trpanj was a major export port for salted fish in the Republic of Ragusa. In the 18th century Trpanj imported salted fish from Sucuraj which was under Venetian authority and exported it along with its fish. In the 18th century, in Senigallia near Ancona, merchants from Trpanj had their own warehouses for storing fish and other goods during the local fair. Trpanj sail ships were returning with imported goods from the far away European colonies, cloth and ceramics. Commerce was booming at the time and the merchant fleet was constantly on the rise. In a good year, Trpanj could generate over 30,000 florins.

 The last sail ship from Trpanj was sold in 1920.