Everyone in Croatia knows about the town of Nin mostly as a tourist place not far from Zadar, but also because of its great importance in Croatian history.
At the end of the 6th century, Nin was the first political and religious center for newly settled Croats and one of noble rulers' capitals before the fall of Croatia under the Hungarian crown. These were centuries of turbulent times during which the city was destroyed by both the Venetians and the Turks, while the people always rebuilt it and survived.
It is difficult to single out something from the rich archaeological treasures, the inheritance that Nin has and proud of, however an unavoidable place for visitors of Nin is the church of the Holy Cross. Also known as "the smallest cathedral in the world" it dates back to the 9th century and resembles a Greek cross.
Recently an exhibit titled "Cultural and Natural Heritage of Nin" was held at the Archaeological Museum in Zagreb.
"In the very center of Nin the famous church of the Holy Cross is located at an archaeological site along with the remains of Roman dwellings, Roman houses and Roman streets beneath which are the remnants of even older prehistoric houses. I must say that during the years of reconstruction in Nin, residents could learn a lot about the place they live in, how to preserve their heritage and how to renew it. Nin is a city of culture, a city of exceptional atmosphere in which calm prevails and where the Velebit Mountain and the sky merge. The sea is unique here and I certainly recommend to all who have not yet done so, to come to Nin, even out of the season because it is much nicer then," says Anastasia Magaš Mesić from the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia.
Today, talking about Nin, we talk about something that is eternal and above all human conflicts, about something Nin is widely known for and appreciated, about every day salt. The Nin salt works are situated in a God given place where the shores of Ravni Kotar descend so far as if to imperceptibly step into the sea, and you can't even see where the mainland ends, and the sea begins.
It's over 1,500 years old, fifteen centuries. Today, as in ancient times, the sea, sun and their product, salt, make up a single union. A union in which there is another member, the Velebit Mountain. From this synergetic activity by the sea, sun and the Bora wind coming from the Velebit Mountain, original Nin salt is created that workers at the salt works carefully harvested by hand, as it was done a thousand years ago.
You will be best convinced of this if you are one of eighty thousand visitors who visit the Nin salt works Museum each year, or if you visit the Salt Festival in Nin in August and possibly participate yourself in harvesting the white gold necessary to every living creature.
"In the past it was precisely because of the Salt works that Nin was an extremely important and rich city. Why? Because salt was worth the same as gold, or a lump of salt was worth the same as a lump of gold. Even today, the English word salary has its roots in the Latin word sal, meaning salt. Very simple," says Ivana Čvrljević.
Ivana explained that when the crystallization process begins, the first salt collected is their best and highest quality salt. Many have probably heard about this Fleur de sel or salt flower. At the Nin salt works, one can see how the salt flower crystallizes on the surface of the seawater and is harvested exclusively with special sieves.
"When the salt flower is collected it only needs a few days of drying in the sun and it is ready for use. Of course, for those who don't know and plan to use it, never use salt flower salt in the process of preparing meals. Use it at the end, as a final touch, because it is really a shame to cook salt flower salt, as it loses minerals. If you salt finished food with this salt you will notice a great difference in the taste of food. Likewise, a very interesting plant, Halophyte, grows in the area of Nin salt works. It can be eaten raw and if you walk past it, feel free to pick it and taste it. Otherwise, it is highly valued in culinary arts, especially in western countries, in its younger stage it looks like asparagus, and later it takes the form of a bush," notes Ivana.
Among the gifts of nature that are abundant in the Nin area and one of the most valuable is therapeutic mud, peloid, located near the famous sandy Queen's Beach. “Its effectiveness has been tested by tens of thousands of people who, for the past four decades, under the supervision of the health care facility in Zadar, have been using the mud for treatment of various illnesses, such as rheumatic diseases, spinal deformities, female infertility and various skin diseases," says Dr. Neven Birkić from the Zadar General Hospital.
"Nin Mud is located in the northwestern area of the city of Nin, near Queen's beach, which was visited by the wife of King Tomislav, Jelena. There are several factors that are key to the creation of the mud itself. In the first place, Nina's geographic position is determined by the Velebit Mountain and the Adriatic Sea, which makes the terrain special. Additionally, favorable affects by winds from the north and west as well as insolation create the famous therapeutic peloid. It is black, has a smell of hydrogen sulphide and is applied directly to the skin. It can be cold or warm, usually applied as it is extracted from nature, or the sea. So far, about 20,000 patients have been treated like this, and therapy in Nin starts with exercises and the application of peloid to the skin, after which the group of patients go swimming to wash off the mud," says Dr. Birkić.
He adds that this therapy session lasts for twenty days, and patients apply the peloid to the body several times a day. He also points out that a large number of patients who came and come to the Nin mud say that, due to the effects of peloid, they go to physical therapy less often."
All of this and more can be found in Nin, which has just under 3,000 inhabitants, while last August more than 12,000 tourists visited, which is a record this year for Zadar County.
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