Love Stories That Shook Split

Love Stories That Shook Split

We all know about great love stories, often tragic, from folk tales to Romeo and Juliet, and onward. Split also had different stories about lovers who wanted to stay together in spite of all obstacles. Valentine's Day is the right occasion to remind on some of them. I chose two stories, both tragic, but witnessing that real love is above everything else.

Probably the most famous is a story about Palmina Karaman and Andrija Katalinić, two young Split citizens who lived in mid-19th century. They were buried together in 1864 at old city cemetery Sustipan, which stood till 1961 in today's park overlooking city marina and harbour, and their gravestone was one of the most memorable.

According to the story documented in old newspapers, and stories from old Split, Palmina died of smallpox. When her fiancée Andrija realized that, he was so devastated that he took her bed sheet, covered himself, got sick of the same disease, and died soon. This story shook whole Split, which suffered of smallpox epidemic that year, with dozens of dead. Parents of young lovers built them a gravestone, to let them be together after death. Soon, sad poem about them was written, even published in a collection of local folk poetry.

Another one which is still strong in Split is a story about real local Romeo and Juliet, seaman Branko Hribar and his grand love Grozdana Aljinović. It was 1933 when they fell in love, but their families belonged to different circles, and never approved this romance. They were hiding from others, and Grozdana's father even sent his daughter to Šibenik, to apart her from her boyfriend. Nothing helped, their love was just too intense.

They had their secret spot, just next to the lighthouse at the end of city port's wave breaker, a place with probably the most beautiful view of the city. And this is where they ended their life.

Local newspaper Novo doba extensively reported about the case, day after day, under headlines like "Tragic end of a love", "Tragedy of Branko and Grozdana at the Lighthouse of Love", "Sad farewell to lovers Branko and Grozdana".

Many details appear while reading this coverage. Not only families tried to stop their love, small town gossips followed them everywhere, that's why they were hiding. On the last day of carnival, on Fat Tuesday 1933 couple went partying like everyone else, they danced, and some say they asked orchestra to play them a funeral march for the end of the day. Early next morning, man working at the lighthouse was awaken by two gun shots. He found Grozdana dead, and Branko was still alive but struggling. All the way to a hospital he begged doctors to let him die, and eventually he did die of wound.

Funeral was especially sad, whole Split of that time attended, and lovers' families made peace above their grave, and decided to burry them next to each other, in a way they wanted to spend their lives. Unfortunately, too late.