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Written by: Captain Ivan Pamić

Nakovana map

Nakovana is a vast part of Pelješec Peninsula stretching from the Mount Illias to the Point of Lovište. If you drive a car from Viganj to Lovište you will find two villages – Donja (Lower) and Gornja (Upper) Nakovana, now abandoned, except for one family house in Donja Nakovana. In that area wherever you walk you will find a piece of history – from more ancient time to present day. That is why the whole region of Nakovana is protected by law as an Eco-archaeological park.


Probably the name Nakovana origins from a Croatian word ‘nakovanj’ that means blacksmith anvil. Thanks to archaeologists we now that Nakovana was inhabited for the last 8000 years. Archaeological evidence from the famous cave Spila show that Neolithic people of this area were not only the first farmers in Europe, but also oriented toward the sea, engaged in long distance contacts with the Lipari, islands north of Sicily.

Medivel church Mala Gospa


During 4th. Millenium b.c. local people situated in the cave Spile gave a rise to a special way of living and pottery production known by the historians as NAKOVANA culture.

During the ancient time Nakovana was one of the greatest Illyrian centers in South Dalmatia from were queen Teuta controled her kingdom. Illyrians were subdued to Romans during three wars in which their forthill in Nakovana called Grad suffered destruction and was burned down. >>>> ILLYRIAN HILL FORT “GRAD”

Illyrian forthill Grad

Hidden Illyrian shrine

One unusual finding has recently turned the public eye to the historic heritage of the Pelješac peninsula. Above the Nakovana, village. in a cave called “Spila”, archaeologists have found and explored Illyric shrine from hellenistic period (4-1 century BC). Entrance to the shrine was close by plie of rocks so it was left intact since it’s abandonment two thousand years ago.

The Illyrian rituales of Nakovana Cave by T.Kaiser and S.Forenbacher:

 Spila Nakovana

After removing the rock piles and crawling through the narrow hallway, archaeologists entered in spacious cave hall. On the cave floor were scattered thousands of fragments of fine ceramic cups, jugs, plates and amphoras. That precious, luxury dishes were made in workshops in greek colonies in southern Italy and on Adriatic, and on mainland Greece. Illyrians from Pelješac were acquieing it through trade or piracy. Nearly all vessels were left in front of the lone 60 cm high stalagmite of falusoid shape.

Nakovana Spila i falus

Numerous fine dishes for serving food and drink and bones from goat and sheep hams, witness of ritual feasts that were held here. Covenant gifts are placed at the foot of the stalagmite, striking symbol of a supernatural being that was worshiped in the cave. About the attributes of this “deity” we can only guess for now, but the very shape of the stalagmite suggests a cult related to fertility, potency or warrior strenght and bravery. Those characteristics were in high regard in those turbulent centuries of prehistory.

Ceramic pottery from Nakovana Spila

Spila kod Nakovane is the only preserved and explored Illyric shrine that we know of. It is also the only sealed cave finding site in Croatia found by archaeologists and not by accidental passers so it’s science potential has remained completely intact. Because of this we expect that the analysis will give new insight about the Illyric spiritual life and their assimilation into the classical mediterraean civilization.

From 14. to century Nakovana was part of the Republic of Dubrovnik. During that period people of Nakovana were living of agriculture, ship and goat herding, fishing and seafaring. They were skillful seamen so they sailed all over the world. During the 19. century due to economic reasons they started to emigrate to overseas countries.

Nakovana 1905

They emigrated to other parts of the world such far as Argentina and New Zealand, but also in other part of the Peninsula (they also founded a settlement named Loviste), as well as on the mainland, where the prospects for life were much better and so the original village became almost empty.

Donja Nakovana suffered during II World War when it was burned down by occupiers 1943. After the war village become abandoned, so now you can find only one family living there.




Nakovana with surrounding area is now protected by law as NAKOVANA HISTORICAL SITE wich contains several cultural historical and natural sites;

  • – Villages Donja & Gornja Nakovana – First mentioned in 14 century villiges are probably much older, probably dating back to the ancient times. They are build in the old dalmatian way, using mostly stone.
  • – Church Mala Gospa – is one of the oldest churches on Pelješac, probably from 12th century.
  • – Cave Spila – contains remains of human presence going back to 8000 years ago. It also contains a hidden chamber with illyrian shrine.
  • – Illyrian forthill GRAD – First people inhabited Grad 2000 y.B.C. because for it geostrategic location. From the top of the hill you can see most of the South Adriatic. During the ancient times it was one of the most important Illyrian strongholds.
  • – GOMILAs – are illyrian tumbstones and in Nakovana you can find more then 100 of them

Natural herritage of Nakovana

  • – Forrest and wildreness of Sv. Ilija
  • – Bays and beaches of Bezdija, Lozić, Kupusna and Duba
  • – Other caves and stone hills