We invite you to explore this island, which has been inhabited since prehistoric time and the Illyrian era, and search for architectural remnants of Liburnian and Roman edifices, port facilities, and mosaics testifying its importance since the ancient times.
First mention and origin of name
The island of Murter changed its name several times during its long, but relatively unknown history. The island was mentioned for the first time in the works of Pliny the Elder and Ptolemy as Scardon, the site of the Colentum settlement. The Croatian name of the island of Srimac (Srimač) appears in 1251, when Bela, King of Hungary and Croatia, established the boundaries of the Šibenik commune. Since the 14th century the island has been known as Insula Mortari, most probably due to the danger of sailing close to its coastline. This name was shortened over the years, and in 1740 the name Murter became fixed. Although it was thought that its name was connected to death, the current prevailing idea is that Murter owes its name to the ancient hollowed out stone trough which formed part of the oil press and was called mortarium. Such an origin of the island's name points to the long-standing olive-growing tradition in this area, where over 170,000 olive trees were grown and around 60 wagons of oil were produced annually. The olive oil from Murter was awarded a gold medal for quality at the international oil exhibition held in 1913 in Eix in France, and the tradition of olive oil production quality continues to this day.
The ancient Colentum
The Roman town of Colentum was situated close to where the modern settlement is today, its remains lie at the foot of the hill Gradina. Colentum probably experienced prosperity during the rule of Roman emperors Nero (37 – 68) and Vespasian (9 – 79) whose money was found during the first archaeological researches. The city had the typical Roman architecture, multi-storey buildings, water tanks, thermae and cobbled narrow streets. Archaeologists have discovered luxuriant buildings, most likely villas, terraced down the Gradine hill, with facades facing the sea. It is believed that Colentum was devastated and plundered by pirates at the start of the 2nd century, or that it was destroyed in an earthquake. Although some of the ruins by the coast were rebuilt, Colentum never regained its old glory. The site of the ancient Colentum is now an archaeological park with lookout points, promenades and a one-of-a-kind archaeological beach.
From the Middle Ages to today
The island of Murter was inhabited by the Slavs in the Middle Ages. Presumably, they inhabited the island after discovering the abandoned ancient settlement. Two settlements were formed on the island at that time: Villa Magna (Big Village) - today Murter and Jezera, while Tisno and Betina were founded at a somewhat later point in time, during the Ottoman attacks. In time, due to the overpopulation of the towns and the island, the need for new arable and pasture land became a way of life and influenced behaviour. All desirable land was located outside the main island – on the neighbouring mainland and the surrounding islands. The act of acquiring this land took several centuries, and since the only way of accessing land on the islands was by boat, several changes were made to the structure of the towns, as people moved towards the coast (Hramina). This process resulted in the construction of the then largest marina in the Adriatic. Even today, the town of Murter owns the largest amount of boats per capita in the Adriatic, as well as the largest quantityamount of wooden boats and traditional sailboats. As a way of remembering the days of sailing which was a way of life due to this scattered land ownership, every year in late September Murter hosts the largest lateen sail regatta in the Adriatic.