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Vrlika below Prozor Fortress
Vrlika below Prozor Fortress
Vrlika is located in Croatia
Location of Vrlika within Croatia
Coordinates: 43°55′N 16°24′E / 43.917°N 16.400°E / 43.917; 16.400Coordinates: 43°55′N 16°24′E / 43.917°N 16.400°E / 43.917; 16.400
Country  Croatia
County Flag of Split-Dalmatia County.svg Split-Dalmatia
 • Mayor Ivan Ćorić (HDZ)
 • Total 237.73 km2 (91.79 sq mi)
Population (2011)
 • Total 2,177
 • Density 9.2/km2 (24/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 21236 Vrlika
Area code(s) 021
Climate Cfb
Website Official site (Croatian)

Vrlika is a small town and municipality in inland Split-Dalmatia County, Croatia. The closest large towns are Sinj, Knin, and Drniš. Vrlika was given the status of city in 1997.[1]


Vrlika is located in the Cetinska Krajina region in Split-Dalmatia County. It is 40 km northwest of the town of Sinj on the State route D1 between the towns of Sinj and Knin and on the regional route which connects Vrlika with Drniš.[2]


Folk costume of Vrlika

The oldest evidence for human life in this region is from 30,000 BC. During Bronze Age on territory of municipality Vrlika between 1900 - 1600 BC there has been so called Cetina culture. From that period historians have made finding of old graves, Bronze Age sword and other smaller stuff. From finding it is clear that many people have lived in that region. Prior to the arrival of the Romans, the Illyrian tribe of Dalmatae are said to have lived in the region.[3] After multiple wars, lasting for as long as 250 years, in the year 9 AD they were finally defeated and annexed by the Romans.

The history of the town begins in the 7th century when the Croats moved there and formed a village on the spring of the river Cetina, in a field below the mountain Dinara.[citation needed] In the 9th century probably during the time of Duke Branimir of Croatia, the old Croatian Catholic Church of Holy Salvation "Crkva Sv. Spasa" was built near Vrlika, then called Vrh Rike.[4] Church was built by old Croatian Gostiha of Cetina "Cetinski župan Gastika" in memory of his mother and his sons.[5]

Vrlika was first mentioned in written sources in 1069, as the seat of Cetin County (Cetinska županija) - the old Croatian county, which included the towns of: Glavaš, Prozor, Sinj, Trilj, Stolac, Gradac, Nutjak, Tugare and Poljic parish (Poljička župa). Of the five old Croatian counties (Imotska, Zminjska, Kliška i Dridska) that were located in the area of the current Split-Dalmatia County, Cetinska County was the largest.[6]

In the year 1406 King Ladislaus of Naples gives Prozor Fortress, at that time Castrum Werhlychky as a center of Vrlička župa, to the Croatian noble Hrvoje Vukčić.[6] During the medieval period Vrlika, along with the rest of the Balkans, experienced invasion and subsequent occupation by the Ottoman Empire. During the Ottoman rule the local population of Vrlika was forced to convert to Islam or leave. Many of the original settlers from Vrlika left for the island Olib in the Adriatic Sea off the Croatian coast.

In the late 17th century, the town was liberated from the Ottomans by the Republic of Venice as a result of the Morean War.[7] Locally, the uprising against the Ottomans was led by Croatian priest Father Josip Bogić.[7] During French rule (1805–1814), Vrlika became a municipality in the Šibenik district. Franz Joseph I of Austria visited Vrlika in 1875 and noted impressions in his diary.

The town was occupied by the so-called Republic of Serbian Krajina on August 26, 1991.[8] Soon after, the non-Serb population was expelled from the area.[9] The Serbs had deliberately attacked medical facilities, including the centre for retarded children who had remained for several months without water, electricity or adequate medical supplies.[10] After difficult negotiations, they had finally been transported to Split, but two of them had died of dehydration on the way.[10] As part of Operation Storm, Vrlika was liberated by the Croatian Army on August 6, 1995 where soon after, the remaining Serb population fled the area.[8]


According to 2011 census, the town of Vrlika has a population of 828, while the municipality has a population of 2,177.[11]

Historic, cultural and natural heritage[edit]

Local government[edit]

The current city council of Vrlika has fifteen seats:[12]


Vrlika has a local branch of the Croatian cultural organization Matica hrvatska, as well as the Croatian Disabled Homeland War Veterans Association.[13][14] Vrlika also has a folklore ensemble KUD "Milan Begović".[15] From Vrlika originates the well-known folklore dance, Vrličko Kolo.[16]


Throughout the history of Vrlika, major basic economic activities have been agriculture, livestock breeding, and trade. In modern times tourism, hospitality, and information technology are also substantial, with a focus on the principles of sustainable development.

Religion in Vrlika[edit]

Church of Sveti Spas (9th century)

Built during the reign of Croatian duke Branimir in the 9th century, by župan Gostiha of Cetina, near Vrlika, then called Vrh Rike. This church is one of the most important in Croatia, as it is the only pre-schism church constructed with a bell tower that is still standing [1]. 1,026 Old-Croatian[17] ancient graves of great archaeological interest have been found in the vicinity of the church indicating that the culture of that time was under the influence of the Frankish Empire.[citation needed]

Monastery Dragović (1395)
Main article: Dragović monastery

The Dragović monastery was founded in 1395 while Vrlika was ruled by Croatian noble Hrvoje Vukčić from Bosnia. In 1480 the Ottoman Turks invaded the region, raided the monastery, and expelled its residents. For twenty full years it was abandoned until restored. Dragović monastery is situated on a hill downstream of the Cetina River not far from Vrlika. Its location was shifted several times due to wars and the construction of a dam on Cetina River[18]

Orthodox church (1618)

In 1618, the Orthodox church dedicated to Saint Nicholas[19][20] was built by the Serb Orthodox inhabitants in and around Vrlika, where it still stands today.

Roman Catholic Parish Church (1898)

Father Jure Bogić from Cetina established a Catholic parish of Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1688, and later Our Lady of the Rosary. The Roman Catholic parish church in Vrlika dedicated to the Nativity of the Virgin Mary (Croatian: Župna crkva Gospe Ružarice) was built from the year 1876 to 1898. The church was built on the site of a mosque, which was built on the foundations of an old Catholic church. This simple stone church dominates the Vrlika centre square. During the Second World War, the Catholic church in Vrlika sustained significant damage. In the front of the church stands a bronze bust dedicated to Filip Grabovac, who was born in the nearby village of Vinalić and died in Venice, Italy as a Croatian national hero. The exterior dimensions of the parish church are 27x10.30 metres. The Catholic Parish Church in Vrlika was badly damaged and desecrated during the recent Croatian War of Independence.[21] The holy day of Gospe Ružarice, the protector of the Vrlika Catholic community, is celebrated annually during the first week of October.

Notable people[edit]

Villages of the Vrlika municipality[edit]

Garjak, Ježević, Koljane, Kosore, Maovice, Otišić, Podosoje, Vinalić


External links[edit]