Pirovac is a medieval settlement and the fortification of the oldest croatian nobelmen. Until 1931 it was named Zloselo, Slosella, Slosslein, Izlus(e)l. It was mentioned for the first time in 1298 as a property of a croatian peer family Šubić (11th – 14th century) which was related to the croatian kings Dmitar Zvonimir and Petar Krešimir IV. According to the information we have, this area was foothold of the knights templars on the Lake Vrana.
The king Dmitar Zvonimir handed over St. Grgur's monastery on Vrana lake to the pope as a hospice. According to the transcript of the oath of Dmitar Zvonimir, there were two golden crowns with jewells. Starting from the assumption, those were the crowns of the kings Tomislav and Stjepan Držislav of whom the legends have been told among the croats.
The first time Pirovac was mentioned as a Sloslein/Slosell is connected with the time of the Crusades when there was a strong foothold of the knights templars on the Lake Vrana near Pirovac. Thousands and thousands of adventurer knights came here from all over the Europe through their journey to the Holy land.
On the maps dating from the 16th and the 18th century Pirovac was marked as Sloβeln, Sloslein which is a german diminutive for the word castle – croatian Dvorac, Dvorci, Dvorčići, of which there are many in this area around Pirovac. Sloβeln has probably evolved into Zloselo. There is also a possibility that Pirovac was a so called „fortification/castle by the sea“ of some croatian kings and later of knights templars from the Lake Vrana.
By the middle of 18th century Pirovac was an island surrounded by walls and accessible by a bascule bridge over the Gate of the village. At the beginning of the 20th century this area was leveled and became the part of the mainland while the Gate of the village remains the memory of past battles with Ottoman conquerers who failed to break thorugh the walls because of the brave people from Pirovac who offered fierce resistance.
The nobel family Draganić (descendants from the croatian peers Šubić (11th-14th century) bought Pirovac in 1503/1506 from the nobel family Mišić and built the local church. The castle was also enlarged and rebuilt. The facade and plastering of the castle was decorated in neo - Renaissance style with maori influence evident on a chimney. Valuable artefacts and documents have been preserved in this castle which are significant for the croatian history (testimony of Faust Vrančić, charters of european rulers, Tiziano's portrait of Faust Vrančić, arts of Andrija Medulić (Andrea Schiavone...). There was also a valuable family library.
The castle has been visited by many notable persons of the past times, among them Vincenzo de Marmont- a civil administrator ofDalmatia, Alberto Marmont -the author of the book Viaggio in Dalmazia / Travelling through Dalmatia, Ante Marinovic- a writer, Giovanni Arduino – a famous italian geologist, Giacomo de Concia – an official and travel writer and many others.
The church of Our Lady of Carmel is situated in the old part of the town, built in 1506, reconstructed in the 18th century in baroque style. It was built by the nobel family Draganić. On the front part there is a statue of angel Gabriel, the work of Bonino from Milan. It is considered, that the work of Bonino and the statue of Our Lady (situated on St. Juraj's cemetery) have been the part of the Annunciation and it is thought that those statues were at first positioned on the columns of the west part of Šibenik's chatedral.
The Gate of the village with the remains of the walls from the 16th century. It was built in 1505 by count Petar Draganić as a defense from the Turks. The famous Mihovil Urem, the capatin of Pirovac, was pouring down hot oil from the top of the walls over ottoman conquerers putting them on the run. After that event, stories have been told and folk songs have been sung about the legendary deeds which made the enemy disperse. There is also a templar cross egraved at the bottom of the Gate of the village.
The Gate of the village was the center of social life for centuries, in the afternoon hours locals were gathering, trading, aranging family affairs and other business. The master of Pirovac, Count Draganić-Vrančić, used to come to this place after the evening mass while the locals greeted him cheerfully with hats down. So it was until the last of the master of Pirovac Ljubomir Draganić-Vrančić who sold the whole property and moved with his family to Zagreb by the end of the Word War I.
The oldest preserved cemetery in Pirovac. There are wooden altars with sacral oil paintings in the church which was the characteristic of the gothic period. In the cemetery chapel of the nobel family Draganić – Vrančić there is a gothic sarcophagus with a relief of The Mother of Lord, the work of sculptor Bonino from Milan (1429). It is considered that both work of Bonino found in Pirovac were the part of the composition The Announcement, and it is thought that the statues were originally positioned on columns of the west doorway of Šibenik's chatedral.
At the side entrance into the chapel there is a Glagolitic script engraved in stone and dating from 1495, which witnesses the use of this old croatian Glagolitic script over the centuries. The inscription records the competion of the architectual or sculptor work of the master Mihovil on the church. According to the surname, he may be a sculptor from Šibenik, a son of Jakov who at that time worked in Zadar and cooperated with Mihovil Radovan, master from Zadar, and in 1488 he worked with master Petar Meštrović from Split.
Situated 6km from Pirovac, this church served as a church for local farmers on the fields around Pirovac. Those farmers performed religious ceremonies as different pieties, prayers and similar. Near the church there is an old croatian cemetery.
This is one of the numerous medieval fortifications, disposed in quite regular distances from the part of Dalmatia until the town of Karlovac. These fortifications controled restless, unstable and changeable tripple border called Triplex Confinum, between Ottoman empire, the Republic of Venice and Austria- Hungary. From the south to the middle part of Croatia, these fortresses were sending information by fire signals about the enemy movements within hours, which provided quicker preparations and organization for defence from the conqueror's attack.
To celebrate 1000th anniversary of the coronation of the King Tomislav and the change of the name of the village, a monument has been built in a shape of a pyramid on which there is a text inscripted:
“By the historical name Pirovac, for the chivalry named by Turks – Zloselo, put up a memory of the national King Alexander, to the first croatian King Tomislav 925-1925.”
The monument and the plaque on the Gate of the village have been revealed in 1930 which coincides with the change of the name from Zloselo to Pirovac. By the pyramidal shapeof the monument it was suggested the significance of the anniversary as well as the connection of Pirovac with croatian political history.
Remains of the old franciscan monastery (1511) are located on the islet St. Stjepan or Sustipanac. In Pirovac bay, just opposite the town there is an islet Sustipanac or Mojster as locals like to name it for many centuries. The remains of the roman civilization have been discovered there and the name Mojster is connected to magister (the leader of the templar region). Just across the islet, along the coast, there is a site called Porat. Even though there are no remains of any settlements, its name indicates the existance of the harbour mentioned by historians who suggest that there was a harbour for transport of goods arriving from the seaside, then transported to the lake and over it untill the templar fortification on the Lake Vrana.
New research in the Great Britain has showed that an English King Richard the Lionheart, on his way back from the Crusades in the Holy Land visitied Dubrovnik, Split, Zadar, Pula and Trieste. Since he was a knight templar and a well known general, it is logical that he also visited the templar fortification on the Lake Vrana which was the center of the templar order in all Hungary at that time. He could have stayed in three places, on the islet Mojster (Sustipanac), in Slosslein( Dvorčići) – today Pirovac or in templar castle on the lake.
The church was probably built for the same purpose as the church of St. George in the countryside (15th or 16th c.) Archeological preliminary research of the area around Pirovac District resulted in discovering numerous sites from different periods of human history but only some of those research have been finished. However, it is estimated that on the egde of the Pirovac bay there have been found some columns in the sea which witness the existance of the roman salt works and following structures. Besides the olive- growing and wine- growing in this area, this testifies the existance of an organized agriculture on this area. Moreover, half of the century ago, the scientists have discovered an exceptional curative mud on this area, which raises the possibility for health tourism. On the east side of the church there are graves with engraved symbols which testify that those are the graves of the knights.