Ston and Mali Ston …. Salt, Oysters and a Great Wall tells their story

Ston with the salt pans on the right

The trip up into the Stonski cannel brought back fond memories as we passed Kobas – that is where we docked to the restaurant dock and had one of the best meals in Croatia!BBQ fish and a marvellous bread baked on the fire! I also bought my litre of home-made olive oil from the restaurant – freshly filled out of his vat into an one litre empty plastic water bottle. One of the dishes we had that night was fresh Ston oysters … The best oysters I had in the last 20 years! I promised myself I will not miss Ston – if only for the oysters! They are the flat ones that apparently is very much the rage in French restaurants.I can see why!

As we pass the half way mark in the channel, where more restaurants are waiting for the tourist season to pick up speed, we kept going to get as close as possible to Ston. At a distance one could see the old stone walls of the city as well as the famous old salt flats.

The salt flats

Salt has been playing a massive role in the economy and history of Ston. Already in Roman times, the flat topography and close proximity of the Adriatic Sea allowed the settlers to build large salt pans were built in the top end of the channel. Salt was the gold of those times, and the massive walls were built to protect this valuable commodity from invaders. (By the way, that is where the word salaries are coming from (pay with salt)). The salt works are still operational and you will most likely receive a small bag of salt at one of the restaurants that you support. We ended up with way too much of it …the oysters are too good to resist!
The stone walls that stretch from Ston to Mali Ston

The Walls of Ston were known as the “European wall of China” is stretching all the way from Ston , across the mountain/ hill to end in Mali Ston (a small town in a bay on the other side of the Peljesac Peninsula. Besides the basic wall structure it also includes 3 forts, 7 semi-circular bastions and 41 towers! It took them nearly 400 years to build the 5 km wall due to the adaptations they need to make to accommodate the development in weapons (e.g. strengthening the walls as the artillery became more powerful). This enormous structure would have kept invasion from the main land at bay.

Solamanzi at the dock at Ston

We docked at the entrance to the town on a very rugged dock, side on. No facilities as far as electricity or water is available, but provided safety for the night. The dock master was a young and very helpful guy that could provide me with information on demand.
As we arrived, Johann was very keen to go walking the stone walls. Sadly, I had one of my “bad feet day” thanks to my new hanger-onner, psoriasis and I had to sadly give it a miss. It is fantastic that he could have done the Great Wall of Europe and the Great Wall of China! I was totally blown away that the two 80 year olds on board that actually did the full length of the wall! Rosemary and Cal certainly earned their beer and plate of oysters that day!

We later on took the bicycles into town and walked up to one of the towers ( apretty steep walk on very basic rugged steps) to take in the view from the top over the town of Ston , the channel and the salt pans. It was an easy ride with the bicycle across to Mali Ston where the oyster are cultivated.
Mali Ston is where Malostonski Zaljev – the most renowned Croatian Oyster Bay is located. Oysters, muscles and other shell fish are cultivated here. We had a feast of the best oysters and superb local wine! It made the ride back a bit of challenge with legs less energetic after a bottle of wine, but still worth the effort.

The 14th century founded fortified town of Ston has a few wonderful cobbled stone alleyways that take you to churches and a Gothic-Renaissance style monastery from the 14th century, a few 16th century palaces and the lovely down to earth way of living of the locals. With no big resorts or luxury hotels but with some great restaurants, old architecture, stone houses and the longest fortifications in Europe, it is certainly worth the visit.

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