By Ivana Babić
Granted motor vehicles are useful things if you turn a blind eye to things like pollution, noise and traffic. Imagine a life without cars. Well just head to the Croatian island of Silba to get a taste.
Silba, located off Croatia’s northern Dalmatia coast south-east of Lošinj, is a car-free island.
The whole island, which is roughly 15 square kilometres in size, is a pedestrian zone, no traffic is allowed on the island with the exception of vehicles supplying the local businesses.
Not that one would need a car on this island paradise. The island does not take long to walk from the north-eastern harbour of Mul to the south-western harbour of Žalić.
Silba has a population of only a few hundred, mainly retired folk. This number, however, increases when the influx of tourists arrive during the summer months.
The main public beach Sotorišće is located close to the harbour of Mul. On Žalić, where the ferry docks in, there are a number of pebbly beaches and a pier.
Silba’s most popular landmark is Toreta, a sleek tower with a spiral staircase from which there is a wonderful view of the surrounding islands. It is in the centre of the village right on Veli Put – Silba’s High Street.
Silba has a long history. It was mentioned in historical records in the 9th century. In 827, it belonged to the Zadar county.
In the olden days, there was a custom of “village king” elections on the island. The king would get elected on St. Stephen’s Day (26 December) and his rule would last until Three Kings (6 January).
During his twelve-day rule, he would preside, with a crown on his head, surrounded by twelve councillors, over village gatherings and dealt justice. This custom died out in the first quarter of the 19th century.
Tourism is the main activity on the island and if you arrive in winter you will notice a number of empty ‘holiday homes’.