The batana ecomuseum project is a unique approach to preserving the complete tangible and intangible heritage of the Croatian coastal town of Rovinj. The batana, a traditional wooden boat, was inscribed in the Croatian register of cultural property in 2008.

The Ministry of Culture reports that Rovinj’s batana ecomuseum has been inscribed in the UNESCO Register of Best Safeguarding Practices of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity at a session of the UNESCO intergovernmental committee on intangible cultural heritage held in Ethiopia’s Adis Abeba from the 28th of November to the 2nd of December.

The batana ecomuseum project is a unique approach to preserving the complete tangible and intangible heritage of the Croatian coastal town of Rovinj and follows on an initiative by local inhabitants and a development project that has been created over the years by a team of top experts, among them conservator Dragana Lucija Ratković, behind the concept of the core project. The batana, a traditional wooden boat, was inscribed in the Croatian register of cultural property in 2008.

Croatia has been active in the preservation of its intangible cultural heritage since early in the year 2000. By 2016 over 150 intangible cultural properties have been inscribed in the Croatian register of cultural property, with fifteen currently on the UNESCO list. This excellent result has been achieved in collaboration with the culture ministry, experts from various research and specialist institutions and the local communities. One of the objectives of the registration of intangible heritage is to encourage the implementation of a programme aimed at the protection and preservation of various traditional arts and crafts by way of workshops, educational and extracurricular activities, documentation, research, international cooperation and other activities.

The batana ecomuseum consists of the House of Batana, housing a permanent exhibition dedicated to this flat-bottomed wooden boat; the Spacio Matika, a konoba (a local tavern) in which music, culinary and other programmes are staged; the Mali škver, a square in front of the House of Batana that displays the process of the construction of this vessel; the traditional Rovinj regatta of wooden boats; and the Batana Route, featuring two themed trails, along the sea and the waterfront, on which visitors can experience Rovinj from the “batana perspective”.

As is noted on the Internet site of the ecomuseum, the Rovinj batana, along with the batil, a Venetian-style gondola, the Neretva trup wooden boat, The sandula wooden boat of Komiža and many other similar boats, are from the group of flat-bottomed boats suitable for the navigation of shallow waters – lakes, river deltas, lagoons and shallow coastal areas of the sea.

In the Middle Ages the batana was also found in the Italian Marche region and it, together with the flat-bottomed boats of the Trasimeno and Varano lakes, influenced the shape of the batana in the Venetian lagoons. Used for coastal fishing, the batana spread from the shores of the northern Adriatic to Rovinj and the rest of Istria County, the islands of Krk and Rab, the town of Zadar and elsewhere. The batana of Rovinj is directly cited in written and illustrated sources only from the nineteenth century.

According to the Internet site of the batana ecomuseum there are 241 batana boats currently registered with the harbourmaster’s office in Rovinj (www.batana.org). (HRT)