Naval tradition and Bakar baškot
There is no town in the Northern Adriatic with such a great and long tradition of naval education and captains as Bakar. It doesn’t mean you will find them around the town, though… these are past times, and you can just imagine captains and sailors in this natural port, preparing their ships for long sea travels. Imagination transformed itself into the old costumes and a naval battle. But some things remain – Bakar is still the place of high-school education in its maritime school, and heritage of Bakar captain families is vivid and represents great value and pride for the locals.
Bakar once had its own Sailor’s House. According to the historical information, it was in fact a brothel. In past centuries every port had brothels, where sailors spent their income. Although there isn’t much written documents, the brothel was later renamed as a Sailor’s House, and it did had accommodation for tired sailors. But, sailors can be proud of better things too. The first number of the magazine “Novi život” (New Life) was published in Bakar on May 29th 1911, the magazine that consisted mostly of maritime topics. It was also a magazine that promoted actions against foreign rule in Croatia.
To evoke memories of this long and rich tradition, Bakar reinstated its Town Guard in 2009. he Town’s Guard Bakar’s uniform is sewed in according to the sample of Jakov Tadejević uniform as shown on his portrait. He was the duke of Bakar’s guard from 1848. An emblem of The Town’s Guard Bakar is the historical emblem of Bakar, and it was established with the Statute of free and royal town Bakar, as approved by Bakar’s parliament on 3rd November, 1896.
This Guard also takes part in the annual Naval Battle, one of the biggest tourist attractions in Bakar. Within the Margaret’s summer in Bakar (Margaretino leto), the spectacular “Naval battle” is held regarding the Town of Bakar’s Day celebration (Saturday closest to July 13th). It is about reconstruction of this historical naval attack, when for the last time the Venetians had unsuccessfully tried to win Bakar back in the year of 1616. The old sailing ships (Klementa, Sakuhai and Stari Ive) equipped with pyrotechnic resources and with members of the Croatian Army historical units from all parts of the country are all participating in the battle as defenders of the town. The originality of a real naval battle experience is guaranteed, along with the shootings from the sailing boats, rifles, firelocks and guns from the shore, fiery torches, water bombs and smoke effects. The whole event ends with a magnificent firework, concert performance of a popular artist, and a party late into the night.
Many of the sailors who embarked and disembarked in Bakar had with themselves Bakarski baškot. Baškot is a typical double toasted or a fresh bread product (type of a bun) in a shape of a ring brought to Bakar by fishermen from Chioggia. Once, the fishermen carried them instead of the bread to longer fishing trips, and they were also unavoidable in ship’s kitchen where they would hang from a rope. Baškoti could last up to six months due to their dryness, and were also convenient to have as a part of diet on other travels. They were often eaten with all liquids available on the ship (wine, tea, water), although baškot was traditionally dipped into red wine. Baškot’s quality was determined by dropping it from a certain height to see if it would break. Baškot that broke in the most pieces was better.
Each baškot is not perfectly shaped because men make them, not a machine, but from the same reason is perfect and unchangeable in taste. They were produced with love and touch of warmth to provide taste enjoyment. Today it has become the protective sign of Bakar, and it had been chosen as an official souvenir of Bakar. Our Bakar’s baškot had always been consumed with joy, and even today it is very popular among all generations that gladly come to well-known bakery “Bakarski baškot” that daily produces soft and hard Bakar’s baškot.
The story of Bakar’s baškot connects to the life of seamen which is as “Bread with seven layers.” Once, it was taken instead of the bread to longer fishermen trips, traditionally is dipped into red wine or coffee with milk. Today, baškot is one of the symbols and souvenirs of the town of Bakar, and we have tried it in original Baškot bakery, situated on edge of old town, Veberova 135a
Photos by: Bruno Vignjević and TZ Bakar