Monument to Duke Domagoj and his archers in the village of Vid (Photo: HRT) Monument to Duke Domagoj and his archers in the village of Vid (Photo: HRT)

The village of Vid sits on a sunny hilltop in the Neretva region. Planted on the remains of the ancient city of Narona it harkens back to the days of the former Greek and Roman colonies there. The scenic landscape around Vid is comprised of the Norin River winding its way through a rich green valley to the Neretva River. A top the hill lies the impressive historical monument to Duke Domagoj's archers, the work of sculptor Stjepan Skoko and equally stunning local church. The view is fantastic, on one side overlooking the untouched wetlands, on another the headwaters of the Norin and on a third side Metković and the Neretva valley. The Norin is a tributary to the Neretva which opens out into the Adriatic Sea.

Marko Marušić is the secretary of Narona, a Croatian cultural association for Ancient Sports. “Our association is the product of our socializing through cultural, artistic and other associations, through local shipbuilding, rowing and sailing traditions, to the tradition of the ‘žudije’ - the guardians of the tomb of Christ, and our carnival. Effectively, we have revived one old association that was originally established in 1930 and thus united these activities in various sections.”

“I would first mention our mariners, Domagoj's Pirates, which is the oldest naval association in the Neretva Valley. There is also a historic military unit of Domagoj's Archers who are in charge of preserving the memory of the historic Neretva soldier. The third association is the Happy Fraternity of the Vidonnais. We also have a foosball club that has achieved enviable results in Metković as part of the association of foosball amateurs. Over the past 7 or 8 years these are the guys who have contributed most to raising social and cultural life in the area to an enviable level. We also have a cultural and artistic society that has also been active in the past seven or eight years, and has already put on highly regarded performances throughout our beautiful country,” added the president of the Narona Cultural Association Mijo Volarević.

Two members of Domagoj's Pirates are Leo Ilić and Roko Ramić, Vid's representatives in the famed Neretva Lađa, a traditional boat from the Neretva region. Leo and Roko are rowers and compete in the traditional Neretva marathon.

“When people see us, most think that strength and preparation are most important, but the psyche is the most important thing. The marathon is twenty-two and a half kilometers long, and if your head is in the wrong place or you are of weak character you cannot endure it. I have competed in eleven marathons and started with Domagoj's Pirates from Vid, because I watched my elders do it and liked it immediately. Once you start it becomes a part of you. There's a lot of sacrifice here, lots of work and effort go into winning something in this sport. Cumulatively during our training we lifted up to fifty tons, and we knew we'd be rowing on the water three hours a day, sometimes covering more than thirty kilometers per day. I slowly got to know the art of rowing when I was about 15, and I was always in awe of the older guys and how they could endure these challenges. Year in and year out I became physically and mentally stronger and now I am a mentor, and I transfer my knowledge to our younger rowers,” Ilić says.

Eels from the Neretva (Photo: HRT)

Roko Ramić adds; “The first time I entered the boat, I had a strange feeling. I watched the older guys rowing and I suddenly wanted to participate in the marathon. I have been rowing for two years now, on the Norin and the Neretva. Mostly we have dry-land training sessions, as well as going to the gym, running and over-all fitness training, but of course the most important training is on the water. There are no waves on the Norin, so there is no resistance, while the Neretva, which is wider, has big waves and it is a little harder to row on the Neretva. This is a long path for us younger rowers and it requires a lot of effort and strength to row that section.”

Tomislav Ramić, is a member of the famed historic military unit Domagoj's Archers. “The Domagoj's Archers Association was established in 2006 by eleven locals. The association's goal is to promote Croatian history and to pay homage to Duke Domagoj who was from this region of Croatia. To honor his work, his character and his famed warriors. Duke Domagoj ruled over the southern part of Croatia, including all of the islands from Šolta to Split, a region called Paganija. At that time, the Venetians, under the leadership of the Pope, demanded Domagoj pay tribute to them, to give them money so that they wouldn't attack the Croatian coast. Duke Domagoj said he would not pay and a great battle ensued in Makarska where Duke Domagoj, with the support of Franciscan Emperor Ludwig II, defeated the Venetian forces. Here we have a monument to Duke Domagoj, sculpted by Stjepan Skoko, and officially unveiled by the first Croatian President Franjo Tuđman in 1997. This monument is our eternal inspiration,” says the Vid native.

Clearly the traditions of the Neretva region are safe in the hands of the locals from the small, yet picturesque hilltop village of Vid.