The Kamenjak Peninsula or Cape Kamenjak also known as the Peninsula of Premantura (Punta) is the southernmost cape of Istria. Kamenjak is a protruding piece of land delving deep into the sea, some six kilometers long with the average width of about a kilometre. Kamenjak rugged coastline, some 30 kilometers long consist of numerous bay and various beaches forming an area of exceptional natural beauty including 11 unhabitated islands. The west coast of Kamenjak is stepper and its northern part partly encloses the Medulin Bay.
It′s the wild rugged beauty and end-of-the-world vibe of this small peninsula just south of Pula that earned it cult status among Croatian beach goers. An undevelpoed protected nature reserve, Kamenjak showcases a carpet full of health plants, shurbs and wildflowers criss-crossed by a maze of dirt tracks running through it all. It′s fringed by a string of peeble bays and secluded rocky beaches, surrounded by crystalline blue-green sea. Its get busy in summer but there′s always an empty beach to escape to, plus a fun beach bar for socialising.Lonely Planet, 20 June 2012.
KAMENJAK PHOTO GALLERY
Kamenjak is the most intimate corner of the Mediterranean with scenes of environmental exclusivity, untouched nature, encounters with the last habitats of plant and animal species on the planet, idyllic beaches as well as a wild coastline, shade of the pine trees, crystal clear water, perhaps an encounter with the Mediterranean monk seal or a discovery of dinosaur footprints. The story is colored by yellow broom flowers and endemic orchids, sky and sea-like tones of the blue-green vistas, white rocks and dusty roads. Everything smells like sage and salt. Enjoy the pleasures of asparagus and crabs of Premantura. You can hear the thounderous beating of waves, strong winds, feel the warmth of the sun…This is certainly a story about traces of the rich history of the Earth, about the place of special power of positive energy. Its here that the splendour of “Terra Magica” dwells.
KAMENJAK CLIMATE AND WEATHER CONDITIONS
The peninsula of Kamenjak is located at the turn of the submediterranean climate to the eumediterranean climate which determines the vegetation period and the structure of the plant communities. The eumediterranean climate of Kamenjak is caused by the position of the peninsula and its exposure to the sea. Specifically, the peninsula stretches to the south and given that the land to sea ratio is very much in favour of the sea, its determines the microclimatic conditions
Kamenjak: 2300 sunshine hours per year
Cape Kamenjak is almost completely surrounded by sea so its climate has the features of an island. Kamenjak has 2300 sunshine hours per year or an average of 6.5 hours a day. The average annual temperature is 13.5°C (max. 23.3°C in July, min. 5.6°C in January) and relative humidity is 72 percent.
In addition to due to the low altitude of Kamenjak, rain clouds are not very common over the area and if they occur, the wind blows them away quickly. Cape Kamenjak has an arid climate, where as the climate of the neighbouring Pula and Medulin is semiarid.
The amplitude variations of temperature and humidity at Cape Kamenjak are very low or insignificant throughout the day, wind speed and wind direction change very quickly. Kamenjak is known for its strong winds that are most frequent in the winter. The most important winds are bura (bora), jugo (scirocco) and maestral (mistral). While bura mostly blows in the winter, northerly and northwesterly winds (N and NW) in the summer and northeasterly winds in the winter.
ISLANDS OF KAMENJAK
Kamenjak has 11 uninhabited islands and islets: Bodulaš, Ceja, Trumbuja, Fenera, Šekovac, Fenoliga, Levan, Levanić, Škoj of Premantura, Škoj of Pomer and Porer. Since there are more than 30, everyone can find their own space to enjoy and rest: those who love crowded beaches with beach bars and restaurants as well as those who want seclusion and privacy. Some of the bays are easy accessible but there are some hidden corners that you can reach only if you are a research and hiking enthusiast.
KAMENJAK FLORA AND FAUNA
The coast of Kamenjak represents one of the richest sites of rudist limestone in Europe. These are the rocks that consist rudist fossils that is shellfish that lived in groups in shallow warm seas and dominated the Cretaceous Period until the mass extinction 65 million years ago when they disappeared from the face of the Earth.
The limestone rocks of Kamenjak from the Upper Cretaceous Period (about 100 million years ago) hide numerous fossils of long extinct organisms.
On the western and eastern side of the peninsula there are rudist limestone rocks and in the coastal area Cape Franina numerous remains of rudist fossils can be seen as well numerous fossil remains of oyster shells. From Cape Munat to Polje Cove and along the central part of the peninsula all the way to its southern part there is a stretch of limestone rocks with ammonites, armoured cephalopods which lived from Devonian Period (mid-Paleozoic, more than 350 million years ago) until the end of Mesozoic (until the end of Cretaceous, more than 65 million years ago).
In the coastal area of Cape Grakalovac there are footprints of Theropod and Sauropod dinosaurs. The richest site of dinosaur footprints can be found in the coastal part of the island of Fenoliga where 146 were found and they have been arranged into six regular tracks of movement.
It is fascinating that the flora of Kamenjak consists of many as 591 plant species. Such richness and diversity of habitat is reflected in the distinctive and valuable landscape consisting of a combination of woods, meadows, bushes, underbrush and rockery. The amazing diversity of flora influences the diversity of fauna.
Kamenjak is extremely rich in various plant species which is evidenced in the fact that Lower Kamenjak is home of 591 species and 85 plant families including some endangered species of vascular plants. A number of rare, endangered and endemic species found their habitat precisely on Kamenjak and 37 species belong to pre-extinction categories. It is precisely here that narrow-leaved bindweed and wooly chamomile have their last habitat in Croatia
We find them on a coastal edge with many other threatened and endangered plant species. Interestingly, least adder′s tongue (Ophioglossum lusitanicum), a rare species of fern had long been considered extinct in Croatia and in 2000 several populations of the plant species were found on Kamenjak. Yellow centaury (Cicendia filiformis) had not been on the list of Croatia flora at all and in 1998 it was recorded here for the first time in Croatia. The above species are strictly protected and any encroachment into their habitat and plant species alone is punishable by law.
As many as 63 plant species are threatened, this accounts 10.6% of overall flora of Lower Kamenjak which points to the fact that the significant landscape of Lower Kamenjak and the Medulin Archipelago belong to the botanically important areas of Croatia. A large number of species on Kamenjak has aromatic and medicinal properties that have been used for centuries as natural remedies as well as in pharmaceutical and food industry. In addition to rare endangered species, Kamenjak is rich in typical Mediterranean species as well as those that are not common in the Northen Adriatic area such as thyme rockrose (Allium chamaemoly)., pygme cudweed (Evax pygmaes) and others. In the wider area of Lower Kamenjak and the Medulin Archipelago there are some vascular plant species that have reach their norther limit of distribution. Some of them are hayek (Papaver apulum), nailwort (Paranychia kapela) and others.
The mild Mediterranean climate and the diversity of habitat are the reason of the great biodiversity of Kamenjak which is reflected in a large number of animal species. Kamenjak is home to many invertebrates as well vertebrates. Natural uniqueness of the peninsula is characterised by biodiversity and rich coastal and offshore area. Numerous species of algae, seaweed, invertebrates and large marine vertebrates live in this area. Although the wildlife of Kamenjak is still being explored and there are no accurate overall figures, previous studies of the fauna on the peninsula report very large number of species.
146 bird species have been recorded on Kamenjak, of which 130 are endangered, more than 50 species of diurnal butterflies, numerous species of insects, reptiles, mammals and many other animal species.
The protruding area of Kamenjak represents an important migratory for many species of migratory birds, so that the surroundings islands and the peninsula itself are nesting sites for numerous bird species. 146 bird species on Kamenjak have been described so far. During the spring and autumn migrations this area is flown over by a number of rare and endangered species of birds of prey such as the lesser spotted eagle (Aquilla pomarina), black stork (Ciconia nigra), red kite (Milvus milvus) and black kite (Milvus migrans), red footed falcon (Falco vespertinus) and others. Among passerines there are larks, blackbirds, chickadees, wrens, pipits and blackcaps. A subtype of pallid swift (Apus pallidus illyricus) is endemic to the Adriatic and the northernmost nesting sites of this bird are found in the caves of south of Kamenjak.
Insects are also permanent inhabitants of Kamenjak. There are bees, wasps, bumblebees, ants, mosquitoes, praying mantises, earwings, grasshoppers and butterflies. In the area of Kamenjak, about 50 species of diurnal butterflies have been recorded so far and the fauna of nocturnal butterflies is still being researched. Since the diversity of habitat favours the biodiversity of butterflies, the lack of urban architecture and light pollution contribute to the preservation of diurnal butterflies on Kamenjak. Among spiders that inhabit Kamenjak we should single out the black widow spider.
Numerous species of mammals live on this area, especially in its forests. Apart from deer, stone marten, red squirrel, fox there are bats whose protection has recently been given special attention. 35 species of bats have been recorded in Croatia, almost as many as in the whole Europe and five of those species have been recorded on Kamenjak so far. These are: the greater horseshoe bat, south horseshoe bat, sharp-eared bat, greater mouse-eared bat and Geoffroy′s bat.
In the spring when the temperatures rise, lizards and snakes emerge from their winter hideouts on Kamenjak. They are reptiles, cold-blooded animals whose body temperature depends of the ambient temperature. Among the protected reptiles, those usually seen on Kamenjak are: western green lizard, common wall lizard, European legless lizard, Balkan whip snake, four-lined snake and western whip snake.
The rugged coastline of Kamenjak is characterised by a great diversity of marine habitats and rich flora and fauna. It is estimated that the waters of the peninsula are inhabited by thousands of species of organism among which we should point out those of economic importance – fish, crustaceans and molluscs as well numerous protected species.
Below the sea Kamenjak turns into a sputtering kaleidoscope of colors made up of red, brown and green algae and communities of organisms associated with them. real marine carpets mad up of thousands of little parasols are created by green algae. Each little parasols consists of only one cell. There are also crabs, shellfish, snails, starfish, sea cucumbers and many other organisms that make the fauna of Kamenjak so diverse. The mediterranean monk seal (monachus monachus), sea man, adriana, sea monk…all these are names for the big marine mammal, a seal with a smiling face with large black eyes long moustache and a large body suited for swimming, up to 3.5 meters long and weighing up to 400 kilograms. The fur of the monk seal is gray or brown, glossy and soft. This warm sea seal with its way of life is related both to the sea and land. It feeds on fish, crustaceans and cephalopods. They can bee found in the vicinity of the breeding site, in underwater caves and on the beaches. They live in small groups of five to seven seals.
KAMENJAK IN THE MEDIA
Various world magazines and travel guides praise the magical beauties of Kamenjak and the southernmost cape of Istria can be found very often among the top tourist summer destinations. National Geographic Traveller included Istria in the list of top summer destinations for the year 2011 and along with other beauties they point out Cape Kamenjak.
A nature reserve on the edge of the world that has 21 metre high cliffs, hidden caves and flat stone surfaces formed by nature, ideal for sunbathing.
Lonely Planet praises Kamenjak in June 2012 which was preceded by an excellent rating in the Daily Telegraph in 2010.
The beauty of the rocky coast of Kamenjak as well as its popularity and the fact that anyone who wants to explore the picturesque peninsula in more depth will be able to find a part of the coast only for them for the rest of the day.
Daily Telegraph, 2010.
Numerous Croatian and international directors and producers, inspired by its untouched nature and the beauty of its wild coast, have chosen Kamenjak for shooting movies and commercials. The most famous among them is definitely the film “Season of the the Witch” by Dominic Sena with Nichols Cage in the lead role which was filmed on Mala Kolombarica beach, bellow the Safari Bar in 2009.
Photo credits: 24 sata
History and prehistory of Kamenjak begin with bronze age when this area has already been settled as the prove that Kamenjak is an area very rich in history. Kamenjak was inhabited as early as in prehistoric times which is evidenced by the ruins of fortified villages of Volam and Gradina north of Premantura, as well as Kastril and Debeljak on the south. There is also o Gradina cave – the southernmost cave in Istria situated 200 meters north of the village of Premantura. We should point out the unexplored archaeological site of Kastril, of which today there are remains of large walls. The research conducted so far suggests the possibility of late antique or Byzantine fort existing in that area. According to the previously established data, Kastril represents the only example of a castrum, a type of military fortification along the eastern coast of Adriatic built in the sixth century during the reign of Justinian. At the time, for navigation safety reasons, military forts were built at all important points of the coast and islands and each fort is in the range of vision of another.
Numerous findings are evidence of a relatively dense population of Kamenjak peninsula in ancient times. The remains of buildings, tanks and money of Emperor Augustus were found in Močile Bay. The ancient past in the Polje Bay can be traced in the remains of a rural complex as well as of walls, a part of pillar and fragments of pottery. The remains of rural architecture can be found in the Škokovica Bay. Between Late Antiquity and Late Middle Ages, at that time settlement of Premantura came into existence, Kamenjak was not permanent inhabited. At the hydro-archaeological sites in the waters around the peninsula, there are remains of 2 sailing ships from the 17th and 18th centuries as well other ships.
The chroniclers of Premantura noted some sketches from its Austro-Hungarian past, the traces of which are still visible , especially in Upper Kamenjak which was a strategic military point. It was also noted that at the time Pula became the main naval port of the Austro-Hunarian Empire: “in Premantura at the locality of Gomila, the construction of the naval base was initiated, along the installation of long range guns.The entire project was interrupted by World War I”. The lighthouse of Porer from 1846 belongs to this Austro-Hungarian heritage and there is also a mention of setting a ships mast on the Premantura bell tower from which signals were given to ships on the route around Cape Kamenjak.
The remains of the military facilities at Kamenjak were part of the fortification system of Pula, which was created to protect the central naval port of the Austro-Hunagrian Navy. It was a unique system of defence whose construction began as early as in the first half of the 19th century and was developed in the following hundred years. It included the entire southern Istria, and the cape of Premantura was the southermost part of the sector. Pula, which during World War II became a fortified city, that is, one of the best defended cities of Europe, was protected by 16 defence districts, while Cape Kamenjak and Premantura belonged to the Va district whose northwestern border passed through Veruda channel and the southeast one through the Medulin Bay. The middle defensive fortification ring ended in the northwestern part, and Fort Gradina was south of it. On the Monte Kope hilltop, on the peninsula opposite Banjole there was two batteries.
After the Secon World War these facilities were used by the Yugoslay Peoples Army. Today, Austro-Hungarian buildings, bunkers and ammunition batteries located on the hills and at the foot of the Upper Kamenjak represent a significat but insufficiently researched cultural contribution to the protected landscape in the surroundings of Premantura and Kamanjak.
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