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Vrgorac (Split-Dalmatia, Croatia)

Grad Vrgorac

Last modified: 2007-06-02 by dov gutterman
Keywords: split | dalmatia | split-dalmatia | vrgorac | tower |
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image by Željko Heimer, 23 January 2007

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Vrgorac is a city in the Split-.Dalmatia County, in region known as Imotska krajina in the hinterland, about 100 km south-east from Split. 7,500 inhabitants, 2,200 in the town of the same name. Until 1910 the name was spelled Vrhgorac (from which is obvious meaning of the name "top of the mountain" that may not be so obvious nowadays). First mentioned in documents in 1419. Of a very important strategic position it was well fortified, but nevertheless in second half of 15th century it was taken by Turks and held over 200 years. After the liberation in 1690 the mosque built where once stood a small chapel was again transformed into a chruch, rebuilt in 1913. Today the city is interesting tourist desitination for those who are fed up with coast and seek for other things then sun and sea. The city is dominated by the seven medieval fortified towers.   The Coat of Arms of Vrgorac shown on the web site <> is: gules from a rock argent a massoned tower issuant and atop of it sinister a tower topped with a mast flying a flag azure.
The flag seems to be light blue with the coat of arms in the middle, but confirmation is necessary.
If this Coat of Arms is a modernization of a historical one or a newly devised, I wouldn't know (althugh no Coat of Arms is shown for Vrgorac in 1934 Laszowski book).
Željko Heimer, 5 July 2006

The Vrgorac blog shows the image of the flag. It is probably in wrong ratio, cause croatian local flags are in 1:2 ratio.
Valentin Poposki, 23 January 2007

I have no doubt that this is the flag. The image of the Coat of Arms at the official web site of the community has the Coat of Arms shown on the light blue background - although this means nothing, it may indicate that light blue was at least considered as appropriate background for the flag. The Vrgorac blog describe the flag as dark blue - and I guess that this description may be based on flags seen in use in vrgorac on the community hall or something so it may be considered relevant (more relevant then the deduction from a background of a Coat of Arms image I metnioned above).
However, there are other claims in the short article on the blog that do not sound very much convincing to me, and I would prefer if we had some references where they got them..
The text there says (my translation):" The communities of Dalmatia were granted official coats of arms in 1865. Among them was also the community of Vrgorac. The Coat of Arms of Vrgorac is in shield shape coloured red. In its base are depicted silver caves on which is a massoned tower also silver. Atop of the tower is a smaller silver turret topped with a flying flag of bluec. Afterwards the Coat of Arms was set in the middle of the Vrgorac's flag which is dark blue. In 1865 the Coat of Arms was set above the main entrance into the community hall and in all official seals. From the community hall it was removed in 1929. On 6 January 1929 the Yugoslav King Alexander introduced a dictatorship when all national emblems (flags, Coat of Arms, anthems) and work of all "tribal" (=national) organizations was forbidden. The Coat of Arms and the flag are afterwards returned and now serve as official symbols of the City of Vrgorac."  
I have problem with the claim that 1865 all communities in Dalmatia were garnted Coat of Arms. I know of none such case, even for the large cities - although I certainly don't want to claim that it was not so - only I have never seen any claim to that except in an article written by a certain priest from Vrgorac who mentioned the fact in a newspapers. I don't know where he got it from, and maybe he confuzed Coat of Arms with administrative seals. Certainly here is a place for research...
I am very much doubtful that the Coat of Arms if older then 1990's and certainly it is not included in the Lazowski book "Grbovi Jugoslavije" which is indicative that he had no idea about any community Coat of Arms of Dalmatia during the Austrian administration - something he would have known and included (since he does show Coat of Arms of ridiculously small villages in Slavonia and Vojvodina that for some reason were granted Coat of Arms during Austrian-Hungarian rule). Of Dalmatian Coat of Arms he has Biograd (1870), Komiža (?), Korcula (1898), Milna (on Brac, 19th c.), Nin (?), Novigrad (?), Omiš (?), Pag (?), Rab (13th c.), Skradin (19th c.), Split (?), Starigrad/Hvar (?), Šibenik (?) and Trogir (?). The questionmarks here mean taht Laszowski do not mention the year of origin of the Coat of Arms, so this as a rule means pre-Austrian rule, but this may be indicative that we may dismiss the 1865 as a year of the grant of Coat of Arms for Dalmatian communites. Of coruse, this list leaves a number of communities without Coat of Arms.
Anyway, this does not mean that the seal or some other emblem (or even Coat of Arms) was not used in 19th century depicting a design on which the modern Coat of Arms was based, and I suppose that there would be some evidence that there was indeed some Coat of Arms (possibly stone carved) set on the community building in 1865 - the tower with turret is, of course, the depction of the Vrgorac fortress and a natural choice for a symbol. I would very much like to know the source the athor have, and probably the same source has the claim that this Coat of Arms above the entrance was removed in 1929. This shall quite probably easily be true, however, I am very much doubting in the explanation - while it holds that in 1929 Alexander introduced dictatorship and that the national emblems (which include the Croatian tricolour and chequy shield, but also emblems of other nations in Yugoslavia) were banned from use, I see no reason why one would have to remove a community Coat of Arms? It was not a national emblem (or did it include the tricolour then?).
Well, too many questions are left unanswered, and I hope that soon we shall be able to solve them.
I am very much convinced that the flag was not used before 1990's and it must have been adopted for the first time when the Coat of Arms was being adopted, according to my estimations around 2004, but it may have been as early as 1997 or so... This should be easier to find out...
Anyway, this would mean that the last sentence in the text above is not quite exact, the symbols were not "returned" they were adopted anew (the Coat of Arms possibly based on some historical pattern as I mentioned above, but the flag most probably is completely new thing).
And finally, as the blog author adds in a comment of this article, he is not sure if the Coat of Arms and the flag were used during the Socialist Yugoslavia, or even before and admits that the history there is a bit hazzy. He promises to research more, so we'll keep the site under "surveillance". However, I am pretty sure that he shall find somthing like I have recounted above.
Željko Heimer, 23 January 2007

Coat of Arms

image by Željko Heimer, 5 July 2006