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Drniš till the Middle ages

The history of these areas begun 18 000 years BC when in Čikola canyon, in caves near Brina, a man settled for the first time. There, a stone tools originating from early Stone Age have been found. In early Iron Age, 2nd or 3rd century BC, an Ilirian tribe Delmats settled the area of present day Drniš and surrounding areas. During that time a stone fortified settlements are being built - gradine. In the vicinty of Drniš several such structures have been discovered: Andabaka gradina over Badanj, Kalun gradina, Čupić gradina in Trbounje and others. During archeological escavations a remnants from the late Ancient time have been uncovered which are presumed to be a castrum (Roman fort) which controlled nearby roads. At the locality of Grubišić glavica a remains of antique ceramic pipelines have been found. In Trbounje there are remains of an old Christian church from 4th-6th century. At the part of Drniš known as Fenčevina an old Croatian necropolis from 9th or 10th century has been discovered. The necropolis consists of fifteen graves with rare jewelry within. During Middle Ages at the locality of Drniš gradina a fort was built (it was most presumably in possesion of noble family Nelipić). Surrounding the fort a settlement formed, which is an old part of present day Drniš (varoš).

Drniš during Turkish conquests

The Turks forced their way into Dalmatia already at the beginning of 15th century. In 1415. they were in hinterlands of Šibenik and Trogir, and invaded Promina area, where they pillaged and burned. The next attack was in 1468. when Turkish army invaded areas around Drniš and Šibenik commiting terrible massacres. During this time name "Drniš" first occured in historical documents: 8.4.1494. it was recorded in sale and purchase contract as "...de Campo Petri sub Dernis" meaning "Gates into field". In 1522. superior Turkish army conquers Drniš, Skradin and Knin. Turks took hold in Drniš till 1683. when they lost Candian war versus Venetia. Their last attempt to conquer the city was in 1715. which ended in failure. Visible remains of Turkish conquest in these areas are Gradina and minaret of used-to-be mosque as well as, in smaller scale, the church of St.Ante which was originally a mosque but later during Baroquization became a church. In everday speech you can also hear word peškir which is Turkish word for ručnik (towel).


Drniš during Venetian occupation

Venetians conquered Drniš in 1683. and they immediately started to distribute land for free to attract settlers and local population which fled into mounatins during Turkish conqusts. During this period majority were pursuing agriculture and animal husbandry but also manufacturing: smithing, carpentry, etc. which encouraged trade. Nevertheless, life was very hard and people started to leave to Slavonija and northern parts of Croatia hoping for the better. When people began to starve (1731.-1733.) Franciscans from Visovac came to their aid. As a consequence of starvation in 1731. plague broke out which lasted until 1732. When plague started to decimate population citizens of Drniš built a chapel dedicated to St.Roko, protector against plague. After plague was cured St.Roko became a protector of the city. Within the chapel, which later became church, there is a inscription in Latin which says:" Building (church/chapel) built with love of believers and under patronage of fine lady Franjica Theodosio and lady Anđela Gili. Anno Domini 1731.". With the downfall of Venetian Republic in 1797. ends the Venetian occupation of Drniš.


Drniš during French and Austrian rule

The Austrian army entered Drniš in September of 1797. and remaind there until 1805. During this short period there were no significant changes in the city. One important event was the completion of road which connected Drniš to both Šibenik and Knin. The treaty which was signed in Požun (present day Bratislava in Czhech Republic), and which ended the war between France and Austria, marked the end of Austrian rule in these parts. On 18.2.1806 the city came under the French rule. During their administration an important regulations have been made: the acknowledgement of land which now officialy belonged to the farmers, a flood control regulation, stimulation of agriculture, but also construction of roads and bridges, public water tanks and others. With the defeat of Napoleon in 1813., near Leipzig, the Austro-Hungary monarchy once again controled Drniš. The first half of 19th century was marked by natural disasters and, as a consequence, a starvation of population, and the situation was not improved much either by the end of the century. The other half of 19th century was a time of architectural activity; the new part of the city was formed around main city square (Poljana). Another important year was 1865. when Nationals, who supported the initiative for uniting the Damatia with northern Croatia, won the county elections. Emperor Franjo Josip I visited Drniš on 18.12.1875. In 1877. the the railroad which connected the Split and nearby Siverić was finished, and construcion towards Knin began in 1885. At the start of the 20th century there was malaria in some of the nearby villages. In 1908. Drniš gained plumbing and in 1925. electricity and telephone. The Austrian rule ended on 26.10.1918., and already on 29.12. Italian army entered the city and stayed until 5.4.1921. Drniš continued to live in newly formed state.


The Present of Drniš is a period between the birth of free and independent Republic of Croatia till the present day. War of hatred which was started with the goal of creating Great Serbia and destroying everything that was Croatian did not spare Drniš. The attacks on city began on 16.9.1991. by JNA (Jugoslavian National Army) and paramilitary formations of local Srbs which were being helped by JNA. The same day population began to fled before the Serbian agressor leaving behind their ancestral homes. Cetnicks did not want only to kill and burn, but to destroy every evidence of these areas being Croatian. Churches were pillaged and then destroyed, the elementary and high school were burnt to the ground, the homes and buildings were pillaged, burnt, and razed, even the dead were not left to rest in peace. The high school library, which numbered over 20 000 books, was completely destroyed and books used as toilette paper. Those who did not want to abandon their homes, the old and weak, were murdered, and even today their last resting place remains unknown. The dream of Krajina and Great Serbia was shattered on 5.8.1995. when Croatian army heavily defeated Serbian army in operation "Storm". In only 72 hours the area of 10 400 km² was reconquered; liberated were Knin, Drniš, Vrlika, Benkovac and many others.


The future is history in making and future of Drniš is optimistic. In the last decade most of the population has returned and most of the city was rebuilt. Fertile Petrovo Polje Valley allows agriculture and animal husbandry and specfic climate of this area is good for vinemaking, which more and more takes place. Winds that blow from directions of Velebit and Dinara give special aroma to pršut, which is the best one you will ever taste. Natural and cultural beauties are excellent prerequisites for etno and village tourism.

Most important dates in Drniš history

  • 18 000 god.pr.Kr. - man inhabits these areas for the first time
  • 2.-3.st.pr.Kr. - Delmats settled at the area of present day Drniš

  • 9.-10.st. - remains from the time of Croatian kings
  • 14.st. - Noble family of Nelipić rules the entire area around river Krka

  • 8.4.1494. - first written occurance of name Drniš
  • 1522. - superior Turkish army conquers Drniš
  • 1553. - the city numbers 10 000 citizens
  • 1683. - Venetians conquered Drniš in Candian war
  • 1715. - Turkish army heavily defeated in battle at Petrovo Polje Valley
  • 1731.-1732. - plague broke out in Drniš and nearby villages
  • 1731. - chapel dedicated to St.Roko built
  • 1797. - the first vineyard in northern Dalmatia planted

  • 1801. - first school constructed in Drniš
  • 28.8.1813. - Austrian army entered Drniš
  • 1815. - Man's school Drniš founded - present day "Ivan Meštrović" high school
  • 1818. - emperor Franz I. stayed in Drniš
  • 1864. - People's brass orchestra founded
  • 1865. - Nationals won the county elections
  • 1867. - Slavjan people's library founded
  • 1867. - city numbered 1368 inhabitans
  • 18.12.1875. - emperor Franz Joseph I visited Drniš
  • 1877. - railroad form Split to Siverić constructed
  • 1878. - Drama society founded
  • 1885. - construction of church of Gospa od Ružarija started
  • 1893. - tamburitza orchestra founded
  • 1897. - Croatian tamburitza society "Petropoljac" founded

  • 1903. - cultural and sports society Croatian falcon founded
  • 1908. - Croatian worker's singing society "Promina fairy" founded
  • 1908. - city gained plumbing
  • 1919. - DOŠK - Drniški omladinski školski klub (Drniš youth's school club) founded
  • 1924. - "Miner's brass orchestra" founded in Siverić
  • 1925. - Drniš gained electricity and telephone
  • 1932. - FC Rudar founded
  • 1934. - The music of Croatian Catholic action founded
  • 1935. - jazz orchestra "Caramba" founded
  • 1944. - city was under heavy aerial bombardment
  • 1962. - first basketball club, "Partizan", founded

  • 16.9.1991. - Srbs attacked Drniš
  • 5.8.1995. - all of Drniš area liberateed in operation "Storm"

© Ante Marin 2008