projects summery 2011

Jankovic Castle in the village Islam Grcki, near Zadar, Croatia


1. Background
Jankovic Castle (‘Kula Jankovica’) is an exceptional and rare example of medieval fortification/residence complex, located at that time on the westernmost border of the former Ottoman Empire. The complex is situated about 20 km north from Zadar, 3 km from the nearest coastline, the Novigrad Sea (7 km by road), about 4 km from the highway exit Zadar I) and about 10 km from the Zadar airport, Zemunik. The Castle is perched on a hill above the wide plain of Ravni Kotari, surrounded by a remarkable park (arboretum) with rare vegetation and centuries-old trees spreading through app. 4 ha (10 acres).
The core of the complex has a rectangular form, approx. 80 by 60 m, enclosed partly by buildings (the fort, the residential part, storehouses, stables, etc.) and partly by high walls. The main residential building and fort divide the inner space into two courts, a larger one in front and a smaller one at the back. Just outside the walls, but belonging to the complex, there is a medieval Romanesque church. Under the crenellated main tower, there is a large, barrel-vaulted kitchen and below it there is a ‘dungeon’ with an underground ‘cell’ and a secret room with a hidden entrance.
The complex has its own high quality water-spring and fish-basin/water accumulation, used in summer month for irrigation of 6 ha (15 acres) of arable land. The object is registered as Monument of culture, ranked in the First category . Over the centuries the owners have been gathering in the Castle valuable and important collections of beautiful icons (16-18 c.; 40 panels), of ecclesiastical objects, of medieval weapons, an ethnographic collection, an archeological collection (from the Paleolithic era on), of Roman coins and glassware, a picture gallery, a library with app. 5.000 books in many languages, antique furniture, old cartulary and geographic maps, old photos, etc.
The object is also rich in history and connected with numerous important personalities: from Stojan Jankovic (an ‘uskok’ (rebel) from the 17th century, who obtained the title of Cavaliere from the Venetian Republic for his successes in fighting the Ottoman Empire and thus became a national hero, celebrated in verse in a number of folk poems) to the eminent novelist Vladan Desnica (who wrote his most famous novel there, and was buried in the castle’s church in 1967).
The Jankovic Castle has been in the possession of Jankovic-Desnica family for more than three and a half centuries. As early as in 1950s and 1960s Vladan Desnica started campaigns aimed at presenting the values and beauties of the Jankovic Castle to the public. He arranged, with a lot of knowledge and taste, a number of rooms, exhibiting there part of the Castle’s rich inventory and opened it to the public. This primarily included the oldest, historic parts of the Castle, in particular the fort, the ‘ancient kitchen’ (with its ethnological collection), ‘sala’ (a representative ‘Great hall’ containing oil portrets of Jankovic-Desnica family, antique furniture and art objects), the ‘space in front of the sala’ (exhibiting a selection of icons, of medieval weapons, of small archeological findings, like Roman glass and coins, etc) and the ‘dungeon’. In front of the ‘dungeon’ he arranged a lapidarium containing stone/terracotta archeological findings from the Neolithic to the Roman times and the Middle Ages. The present generation of owners – successors of Vladan Desnica – nurture the same goals. Furthermore, they are keen to endorse any initiative that would help the rebuilding and revitalization of the Castle. Specifically, the owners are willing to give their consent that large parts of the Castle could be used for the realization of cultural, scientific, educational and sustainable development projects and activities.

2. Reconstruction, rebuilding and renovation efforts
Since 1989, with the governmental financial support, the Institute for the preservation of monuments from Zadar, (director at that time Miljenko Domijan) began conservation and reconstruction work on the Castle. In three consecutive years the fort, the dungeon, the church and two buildings were reinforced and reconstructed.
The conservation works were halted with the onset of war in 1991. Just as in times of Ottoman empire several centuries before, in the 1991-95 war the complex found itself again at the collision line, both physically (being on the front-line) and symbolically (being also misused in the propaganda war). The complex was heavily damaged during and after the war operations; most of the roofs and old wooden floors collapsed and/or were destroyed by the fire. Fortunately, some of previously reinforced parts (which have walls up to 1 meter thick) have survived. Furthermore, the majority of the most important and most valuable inventory has been saved, in particular: the collections of icons (fully saved), the collection of illuminated sacral books and objects (mostly saved), the collection of medieval weapons (saved), the ethnographic collection (mostly saved), the archeological collection (mostly lost), the picture gallery (mostly saved), the library (saved), the collection of geographic maps (saved), the collection of old photos (saved), very rich archives concerning the Castle and its owners (saved). The Jankovic Castle also housed a collection of antique furniture (mostly lost), and a collection of artifacts (mostly lost). That inventory is now dispersed in various museums (Biograd, Benkovac, Zagreb) and private homes, while a significant part of the inventory was transferred to Belgrade (Serbia) during the war. Today, it is still there, waiting for the Castle to be repaired so that it can be returned to its original place.
From 2002 onwards, Kula Jankovic has been introduced again into the plan of the Ministry of Culture of Croatia for the repair/restoration/conservation works. First, the Romanesque church of St. George was repaired (including the damaged grave of V. Desnica in it). After the introductory works and after the basic documentation had been prepared, the first object (the ‘old house’) was repaired – the walls were reinforced (in 2004) and a new roof was put up (in 2005). In 2006 another facility (‘sala’) was repaired and roofed. In the years 2007-8 the largest part of the third facility (the ‘new wing’) underwent basic reconstruction (walls repaired and reinforced and the large part In 2009-2010. y. reconstruction and rebuilding was accelerated thanks to increased funding and tightened control of all expenditures (after the Ministry of Culture of Croatia granted Association the organizational responsibilities and direct control over expenditures and rebuilding process). The basic reconstruction and roofing of ‘new building’ is finished, basic facilities (sewage lines, tap water lines and electricity connections were repaired and expanded in several objects). The wooden two-floor stairway to the Tower was rebuilt. The East outer wall to the complex was repaired and East entrance gate was reconstructed according to a picture from y. 1918. More than 60 wooden doors and windows were custom made and installed. Altogether, till the end of y. 2010, the historic core of the Castle was again covered with new roofs and protected both from atmospherilia and from possible vandalism. Despite all these positive developments and progress, enormous renovation work still remains to be done. Obviously, additional financial assistance is needed to accelerate the rebuilding of the remaining parts of this significant cultural and historic site, than for rebuilding, redecorating and refurbishing of interiors, in order to enable putting the freshly roofed parts of the Castle into the full function.
Parallel to the physical restoration of the Castle, the work of inventarization and documentation of Castle’s various collections is under way. In organization of SKD ‘Prosvjeta’, Zagreb, this work, which includes professional work on inventories and archives (now scattered in various institutions in Benkovac, Biograd, Zagreb and Beograd (Republic of Serbia)), is conducted primarily by Mr. sci. M. Savic, en expert on the Castle inventory (and former curator of Benkovac Museum) – an extensive work which will last several years.

3. Revitalization efforts in (or related to) Jankovic Castle
– Projects, Exhibitions, Activities, Events, Books, 2005-2010
3a. Activities, events 

Although only partly reconstructed, parts of Jankovic Castle have already been used for various activities and cultural events. The first public event was held in the still mostly demolished Castle. It was the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Vladan Desnica (17. 09. 2005), organized under the patronage of Mr. Stjepan Mesic, the President of the Republic of Croatia, and with the presence of many special guests from cultural and public life, with good media coverage.
Furthermore, a program of scientific investigations under the name ‘Desnicini Susreti’ (Desnica’s Encounters) was re-established (This program was started in 1989. by the History Department, Faculty of Humanities of Zagreb University, but was cancelled during the war. The program aimed at socio-humanistic and cultural investigations, including Croatian-Serbian relations in post-war circumstances, then generally majority-minority relations, political power-dissidents relations, etc, etc).. In September 2006 in Jankovic Castle the cultural-scientific meeting, renewed ‘Desnica’s Encounters’ was held in the Castle. The general subject of the next two scientific-cultural symposia ‘Desnica’s Encounters’, held in September 2007 and September 2008, was ‘Belonging to the culture – the culture of belonging’, and attracted speakers from different scientific fields as well as from different regions/countries. The topic of 2009 symposia ‘Desnica’s Encounters’ (Zagreb-Zadar-Kula Jankovica, September 18-20, 2009) was ‘Intellectuals and political power in years 1945-1954’. ‘Desnica’s Encounters 2010’ was held in September 17-19th 2010, partly at the University of Zadar and partly in Jankovic Castle. The topic was ‘Ideology of power and the ideology in texts’. The media coverage of the event was exceptional, on national and local TV stations, in various newspapers and numerous on web pages. The next ‘Desnica’s Encounters 2011‘ are planned for September 16-18th 2011, and the topic is enounced: Intellectuals and the War, 1939-1947.
In 2006 the first International Youth Work Campwas organized (20 participants from Belgium and France; July 16-23). The volunteers worked under professional guidance on clearing the rubble of the collapsed roofs/walls thus helping the professionals in their rebuilding endeavors. In y. 2007, 2008 and 2009 the second, third and fourth International Youth Work Camp were held, also very successfully. In these three years the volunteers have cleared virtually the whole complex from rubble and started works in Castle’s park. Instead of sleeping and eating in the neighboring village, as they did during the first Camp, in 2007 a storage-house was turned into a dormitory for the volunteers. Furthermore, in 2008 and 2009 the food was also prepared in the same village of Islam Grcki by a family recently returned from exile, and was served in repaired parts of the Castle. In 2010 the 5th International Camp was held in the Castle from July 4th till July 12th , concentrated mostly to the park area.
For the duration of the Camp Summer-schoolswere organized in the Castle on the subject: ‘Cultural heritage: research, protection and revitalization works’. Camp activities, beside direct effect of accelerating the rebuilding of the Castle, also had indirect benefits in making the Castle better adapted for visitors, by helping in solving some essentials like – electricity, water, basic hygiene, etc.
Furthermore, the Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology of University of Zagreb carried out their field-work in/around the Castle, collecting data on the cultural heritage of the region, including scientific research of the traditions and cultural heritage of the mixed ethnic villages of Islam Grcki, Islam Latinski and Kašic. The results of these investigations were published in the Spring of 2010 (cited below).
Additionally, in the Castle a part of the Japanese film – a combination of documentary and animation – was filmed: ‘Stojan Jankovic – Hero of the Border’; author Prof. Isao Koshimura (Tokyo Zokei Sveucilište ) was filmed .
Besides the activities in the Castle itself, a number of activities and events closely connected with the Castle or the important personality related to it were held in other places as well. For example, in the 2005, the 100th birth anniversary of V. Desnica was marked by a number of other cultural and scientific events that took place in Zagreb, Belgrade and other places. This anniversary was accompanied by numerous articles in daily/weekly/monthly newspapers/magazines; on TV and radio news/shows etc., including Književni petak (Literary Friday) about Vladan Desnica on November 5th 2005 in Zagreb, etc.
3b. International Projects:
In y. 2003 an ambitious Project, BRIDGES(MOSTOVI, has been initiated by the University of Zagreb, Faculty of Philosophy, History Department, Triplex Confinium Project) led by Prof. Drago Roksandic PhD. Within the Project, together with other friends of Jankovic Castle, various events started to be organized in still mostly ruined Castle. The aim of the Project has been to initiate and perform activities which will accelerate the restoration and revitalization of the Jankovic Castle Complex and the surrounding region, Ravni Kotari. In September 2006 friends of Jankovic Castle formalized their involvement by establishing a non-profit organization “Association for Rebuilding/Restoration and Revitalization of Stojan Jankovic Castle – Bridges”. From the end of y. 2008 an additional partner, Center for Peace Studies, Zagreb (, joined forces in organizing various activities in the Castle. Recently, also the University of Zagreb (as a whole), University of Zadar and University of Padua become involved as well.
In January 2009 started the EU sponsored Project:Old Castle – New Bridges. The proposer was CMS – Center for Peace Studies, Zagreb, in collaboration with 3 other partners, within EU Program EIDHR (European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights). The activities of the project aimed at lowering the tension between different ethnic communities and offered specialized training in how to resolve conflicts peacefully. The Castle, being through its history important both for Croats and Serbs living in its surrounding, was used both as a symbol of joint interests and as a place for different activities. Besides peace-building activities, part of the Project was to produce a Cultural Guide of Bukovica and Ravni Kotari (encompassing 43 points of interest) for this underdeveloped part of Zadar hinterland. The area abounds in valuable heritage objects which are little known and neglected, although they could greatly help the region through the development of tourism.
The continuing Project Old Castle – More Bridges(2010-11) was also EU financed, and represents both the continuation of the previous project and its expansion to include additional and new partners. They are:‘Documenta’, Zagreb (‘Documenta – Center for Dealing with the Past’) working, among other activities, on collecting and analyzing oral histories of people whose lives were affected by the war) and two NGO’s from the hinterland of Zadar, Udruga Pokretac (NGO ‘Generator’, Korenica) and ‘Udruga obnovitelja’ (NGO ‘Re-Builders’, Gornji Karin), both working on (re)building civil society and improvement of quality of life in this region after the war.
Furthermore, the Jankovic Castle was the subject of an international project between the Zagreb and Padua Universities, within Interreg IIIprogram ( 2005-7).
3c. Exhibitions:
Two important exhibitions were organized about the Jankovic Castle:
The Exhibition on Jankovic Castle Zagreb, Jan.-Feb. 2003, with an introductory Javna tribina (Public discussion Forum) on January 15, 2003, and
the Exhibition on Jankovic Castle; Belgrade, May-June 2006 (where over 500 exhibits were presented, selected from the Castle inventory). Furthermore, a monographic book Dvori Jankovica: Historija i ljudi, by M. Savic, Istorijski Muzej, Belgrade, (2005, it was published parallel with the Belgrade exhibition).
3d. Newer books:
– Milana Cernelic, Marijeta Rajkovic Iveta (editors), Zapisi iz gornjih Ravnih kotara. Etnološki, povijesni i muzeološki prilozi o Islamu Latinskom, Islamu Grckom, Kašicu I Podgradini, (Notes from upper Ravni Kotari. Ethnological, historical and museological papers about Islam Latinski, Islam Grcki, Kašic and Podgradina, FF press, Zagreb 2010)
– Drago Roksandic, I. Cvijovic (editors), Zbornika radova “Desnicini susreti 2005.– 2008” (Collection of articled concerning “Desnica’s Encounters 2005. – 2008.”) , Plejade, Zagreb 2010.
– Ivan Basic, Od domus episcopi do Kule Jankovica. Prostorni razvoj Kule Stojana Jankovica u Islamu Grckom, (From domus episcopi to Jankovic Castle. Spatial growth of the Castle of Stojan Jankovic in Islam Grcki) FF press, Zagreb 2010.
– Bukovica i Ravni kotari – Vodic kroz kulturnu baštinu (“Bukovica and Ravni kotari – a Guide through cultural heritage”) (CMS and partners, 2010); edited by P. Jurlina; authors of texts: J. Predovan, M. Curkovic i M. Jurjevic
– Tea Mayhew, Dalmatia between Ottoman and Venetian Rule – Contado di Zara 1645-1718, (Viella, Roma, Italia, 2009)
– M. Savic: Boško Desnica, Prosvjeta-VBZ, Zagreb 2008;
– M. Savic: Baština Dvora Jankovica (“the Heritage of Jankovic Castle”) NMS Belgrade 2006 – an extended Catalogue (146 pages), printed with the exhibition in Belgrade, 2006);
– D. Marinkovic two-volume book: Hotimicno iskustvo,(“Intentional experience”); VBZ, Zagreb, 2005; (contains results of new research on biography/bibliography/and some less known or unpublished texts by V. Desnica).
– M. Savic: Ilija Dede Jankovic ,Prosvjeta, Zagreb, 2003, ( a monograph about the last count Jankovic in the Castle)
A number of scientific and non-scientific papers were also published about the writer Vladan Desnica. In addition, a number of V. Desnica’s books were re-printed.
Furthermore, several doctoral theses (including one in Padua and one in Rome), diploma theses, seminars atc., directly related to Jankovic Castle and/or prominent people closely related to the Castle were produced. The one from Padua resulted also in above mentioned book: Tea Mayhew, Dalmatia between Ottoman and Venetian Rule – Contado di Zara 1645-1718.

During 2008-10 many prominent figures from education, science, culture and politics visited Castle to discuss possibilities of its revitalization, including the President of the Republic of Croatia Mr. Stjepan Mesic. During the activities in the Castle but also in Zagreb and Zadar, a number of meetings was held (including a Round Table in the Castle) about the possibilities of rebuilding and revitalizing the Castle, about future functions, activities and contents that could be established in the Castle. There are on-going activities and initiatives to establish Medunarodni Sveucilišni Centar (an International University Center), for which, until now, a strong interest was declared by the University of Zagreb, University of Zadar and University of Padua. in y. 2009, after meetings in the Castle (March 2009) and in Zagreb (May, September and November 2009) further steps in these initiatives were successfully concluded, so that owners of the Castle and the University of Zagreb signed an Agreement about long term use of parts of the Castle.
Based on this agreement, in October 2009 three Universities (Zagreb, Zadar, Padua) and the NGO ‘Association for rebuilding and revitalization of Jankovic Castle’ representing owners, submitted several Proposals with the aim to rebuild ‘North Wing’ of the Castle and to establish above mentioned International University Center, in which a large number of educational, cultural and scientific projects are offered to be conducted. Presently, a Proposal within IPA EU funding scheme was submitted, as well as the one submitted to the Call from the University of Zagreb. The presentation and promotion of the project International University Center in Jankovic Castle was held at University of Zagreb on Dec. 28. 2010, while an analogous promotional event was held on March 24, 2011, in Zadar (at University of Zadar).

The details concerning the activities going on in the Jankovic Castle, the personalities connected with the Castle during its history, the local heritage, the activities and projects under way, etc. can be found in the web pages of the Association for rebuilding and revitalization of Jankovic Castle-BRIDGES: Besides the activities of the Association, pages present a lot of visual and textual material regarding the same subject through the history (in Croatian, some pages also in English, French, Italian). Furthermore, activities of Faculty Humanities, History Department, Triplex Confinium Project, can be found on

The very good recent results in rebuilding of the Jankovic Castle rise hopes that the time is approaching when the Castle could be reopened to visits. The Association had applied for a 2011 Tourism Cares Worldwide Grant which, if granted, would enable equipping and refurnishing the ‘Ancient kitchen’ (in the ‘Tower building’) and the Great hall ‘Sala’ (in the adjacent Great Hall building). Then the Ethnographic collection (now in depot of Biograd Museum) could be returned to the Castle (as the first of the Castle collections) and ‘Sala’ could be turned into a multifunctional space, for exhibitions, cultural and popular events, workshops and small symposia. Along with the fact that a considerable part of the historic sector of the Castle (the ‘dungeon’, the Tower terraces with breathtaking views, etc.) and the Castle’s park, (water sources, water accumulation, arboretum, meadows and the medieval church) are safely accessible, (although not yet renovated), the Jankovic Castle could be then reopened to the public and tourists.
Such development would give a strong impetus not only to the already ongoing projects and proposals for accelerating further rebuilding/revitalization of the historic core of the Castle, but also to other projects and plans, which have a great synergistic potential, like the Project to transform Northern wing of the Castle into an International University Center. All that would contribute to the viability and sustainability of the Castle in the longer run, and increase its visibility and strengthen ‘the brand’ of Jankovic Castle, and increase its allure to visitors and its attractiveness as a tourist focal point, as well as invigorate its role as a generator of the development of the region.

4. Associations Vision of the long term revitalization of the Jankovic Castle (in constant exchanges of ideas and coordination with owners’ wishes and other potential shareholders ideas)
Working in close collaboration with the Association, present generation of Castle’s owners are looking to the modalities to fulfill their intentions to enable use of a large part of the Castle for the public good.
Possibilities, seriously considered plans and ideas (an open list):
– To establish (above mentioned) International University Center (University of Zagreb, the University of Zadar, University of Padua, and possibly some other interested Universities; from Graz, Vienna, and several Universities from Balkan region), which should be a modern, state-of-the-art facility, with lodging both for professors and for students.
University Center should handle educational, scientific, cultural and development projects, field works, Conferences, Summer schools, art/restoration work colonies, etc.
Center would have a good chance to achieve international recognition and regional leadership in a number of fields, in particular:
– Center for interculturalism (Prof. Dr. Sc. Drago Roksandic, (The University of Zagreb, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, History Department), with numerous collaborators from other Departments and other academia circles
– Center for sustainable development (especially Mediterranean cultures, regional architecture, rural sustainable development, renewable energy sources, etc)
Non-academic activities in the Castle would be organized and handled by the Association for the rebuilding and revitalization of Jankovic Castle –BRIDGES, Center for Peace Studies, and other interested organizations
Historic core of the Castle is envisioned as: 
– partly as a Museum, to exhibit selected items from valuable collections of the Castle,
-partly as a modern Visitor center interactively networked with other regional museums
– partly as an Exhibition gallery
– partly as ‘The house of the writer’ (with memorabilia related to V. Desnica, his books and archive, Castle’s library and large Archives of Jankovic-Desnica family, collected throughout centuries)
– partly The Peace Museum (Prof. Dr. Sc. T. Sola, The University of Zagreb, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Department of Information Sciences)
Numbered ‘plans’ are, of course, ‘work in progress’ and are open to further discussions, changes, additions and new ideas – since ‘final’ plans for the revitalization requires additional studies, wide, creative and high-quality discussions among all potentially interested shareholders and of course, adequate funding.
However, all these short/medium-term plans fit well into long-term Association objectives:
– To demonstrate how a Monument of culture, when properly evaluated and adequately presented, can be used for both the promotion of social cohesion and for the economic growth. – To prove the economic value of heritage to be a spur both for the tourism-based industry and for the long-term viability and sustainability of heritage sites
-To continue working on the concept of cultural heritage as a tool for the revitalization of local communities and local socio-economic development.

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