We all know that Croatia has been in the center of the Council of the European Union starting 01. January this year. As part of the presidency of the Council, the Member States rotate every six months. Croatia was in the role of “main state” of the Council, until June 30, 2020, when the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs appointed our school as being the best representative when it comes to connecting outstanding natural beauty and cultural heritage of Croatia. So, on this occasion, the Masonry School was given the honorable task of creating souvenirs made of Brač stone, namely stone mortars, which were handed over to the respective EU ministers, for which they got practical instructions on how to use it. Besides this souvenir, each minister received an educational brochure about the art of stone carving, the history and activities of our school and some relevant information about the beautiful Croatian coast, from Istria to Dubrovnik. The European Union once again became acquainted with exceptional natural characteristics and tradition of one of its members and learned the importance of our presence in, not only Europe, but also much more widely.
Below is a text published on the internet – a private computer network intended for a specific organization – the website of the Council of the European Union. In this text (in English) 3000 experts from 27 EU member states have learned about the importance of stonemasonry craft and its “fruits” around the world. We would like to thank the author of the abovementioned article for the significant promotional contribution of “Klesarska škola” (Stonemasonry school).The author of this beautiful story about tourism in Brač, history of stonemasonry and activities of our school wished to remain anonymous.
A TASTE OF THE PRESIDENCY
White stone carving school in the Adriatic
One would say that Brač, the third largest Croatian island, is popular among tourists thanks to its gorgeous pebbly beach Zlatni rat. However, once there, visitors discover another hidden treasure of this sunny piece of land: the white limestone.
You may not know this, but the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington D.C., was partly built with this stone as pure as you can imagine. It is not excluded that the residence of US presidents erected at the end of the 18th century actually owes its poetic name to several impressive quarries in the middle of an incredibly turquoise sea belonging at that time to the Austrian Empire.
However, Washington is not the only city that had the idea to build a public building of white limestone from the island of Brač. Parliaments in Vienna and Budapest – capitals of Austrian and Hungarian parts of the Habsburg Monarchy – also opted for the same building material. Magnificent snow white palaces in Venice still resist the sea today.
The Cathedral of St. James in the Dalmatian regional capital Šibenik founded by the King Petar Krešimir the Great almost ten centuries ago is decorated with 71 sculptured faces of men, women and children in the spirit of Renaissance. Roman Emperor Diocletian had already admired the white stone of Brač 1700 years ago and thereafter ordered a construction of his palace and military fortress on the Dalmatian coast. That is how today’s second-largest Croatian city of Split was founded.
Highly skilled artisans
A unique stone carving high school was eventually opened on the island of Brač in 1909. Traditionally, the stone blocks were extracted by saw instead of using dynamite since the limestone is easily workable. It is therefore suitable for the finest stonework. Even today, the about 80 students mainly from Croatia, but also from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Germany and the Czech Republic, use manually powered tools as they did centuries ago.
Each year, the school educates a full class of highly skilled artisans ready to perform the arduous stone craftsmanship or continue their studies in architecture and other creative fields. In 2019, the school joined Germany, Spain and Romania in BIMstone educational project co-funded by Erasmus+ and focused on the development of multimedia materials on stone products in the European architecture.
The stone carving school is located next to a natural harbour in the picturesque town of Pučišća with 1600 inhabitants. Every year it attracts between 13 and 15 thousand visitors willing to pay for a tour. Information is available in Croatian, English, French, German, Italian and Czech. If you would like to learn how to dress stone, summer classes are available for tourists as well.
However, they cannot be held this summer due to strict sanitary measures.