The northern part of the island Cres, Tramuntana, with high and steep coasts, comprises 1/5 of the total island area. That is a region with scarce settlements, meagre vegetation and broad Karst pasture-grounds where half-wild sheep graze in full freedom.
Wooded part of Tramuntana, with the expanse of about 5500 ha, represents an exceptional value of natural heretage. The floral covering of this region mainly consists of high oak, hornbeam and chestnut forests. The oldest oak-tree, found at the entrance to the village Sveti Petar, is proclaimed a protected monument of nature in 1997.
Numerous Karst valleys, caves and hollows can be found in Tramuntana. Some of them are particularly interesting for biospeleological, paleontological and prehistoric research. Among them a unique speleological object is distinguished. That is Jama Čampari (Banić’s cave) near the village Petrićevi, where four skeletons of brown cave bear, 12000 years old, were found. Those are the only skeletons of that kind found in this part of Europe.
The Tramuntana region, except with complex values of protected nature (protected reserve), also stands out with archeological sites dating from prehistory (Banić’s cave) to antique and Middle Ages (Beli, Dol), with completely preserved rural settlements situated near enclaves of fertile grounds with original forms of traditional architecture, numerous puddles for fresh water reserves and ecologically inviolate environment. In the past times those puddles were a significant factor in water supply, and especially in cattle watering.
This region once had explicitly cattle-breeding character, and sheep-breeding is still present. Good pasture-grounds give opportunity for good sheep-pasture. The flocks graze freely and each sheep has its sign on the ear that enables the owners to differentiate them. This kind of extensive cattle-breeding is a prerequisute for the survival of white-headed vulture, the biggest and very rare European bird that has been living here from times immemorial. Rabbits and martens also live in the forests of Tramuntana. Deers, mouflons and wild boars were populated by reason of hunting tourism.
An exceptional panorama of central wooded part of Krk, with monastery Glavotok situated on the coast, can be seen from Križić, a mountain-ridge almost 400 m high, on the point where from the main road a trail takes direction towards Beli.The place was called after the cross found on boundary stone of Cres’ cadastrial county districts Beli, Dragozetići and Predošćica.Besides the view on Kvarner see, from this site a view stretches also on "vegetation see" of sage, immortelle and wormwood.
Near by is also the highest peak of Tramuntana, a hill called Sis, 638 metres above the sea. It is supposed that a castle situated at the top of Sis had a special function due to its position which makes possible controlling a wide area (maritime and terrestrial area). The hill Sis was a watching point and served the ancient inhabitants of Tramuntana in controlling their surroundings. They would light bonfires as a sign of warning. Perhaps that is how the island got its present name - Cres (similar to bonfire in Croatian).
Venice once ruled this region. They exploited forests for firewood and shipbuilding. For centuries firewood from Tramuntana kept Venice warm, and also Chioggia and other Italian towns in the northern Adriatic.
Land-registry and regular census were made for the first time in 1821. under the Austrian rule.
In 1997. the first didactic eco-track on the island Cres was open, leading through the Tramuntana region. It has 20 stations all together, marked by stone sculptures, a work of academic sculptor Ljubo de Karin. Verses of Andro Vid Mihičić are engraved on them, a great poet, patriot and thinker born in Beli.
Today is Tramuntana mainly deserted. People went away looking for a better living. 50 years ago 1487 inhabitants occupied the area, and today there is only about a hundred in Beli, Dragozetići and Predošćica. However, the inhabitants come back in summer time and then this place looks almost like it used to before. Tourists have also started discovering Tramuntana, regarding it as an oasis of peace, and they are coming in an increasing number.
© Ineco, 1995./2005.