In the summertime tens of thousands of tourists flock to the area from Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Sweden, Slovenia, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as other countries.
Climate and vegetation
Makarska experiences a hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification: Csa). Winters are warm and wet, while Summers are hot and dry. Makarska is one of the warmest cities in Croatia.
Vegetation is of the evergreen Mediterranean type, and subtropical flora (palm-trees, agaves, cacti) grow in the city and its surroundings.
Near present-day Makarska, there was a settlement as early as the middle of the 2nd millennium BC. It is thought that it was a point used by the Cretans on their way up to the Adriatic (the so-called "amber route"). However it was only one of the ports with links with the wider Mediterranean, as shown by a copper tablet with Cretan and Egyptian systems of measurement. A similar tablet was found in the Egyptian pyramids. In the Illyrian era this region was part of the broader alliance of tribes, led by the Ardaeans, founded in the third century BC in the Centina area (Omiš) down to the River Vjosë in present-day Albania.
The Roman era
Although the Romans became rulers of the Adriatic by defeating the Ardaeans in 228, it took them two centuries to confirm their rule. The Romans sent their veteran soldiers to settle in Makarska.
After the division of the Empire in 395, this part of the Adriatic became part of the Eastern Roman Empire and many people fled to Muccurum from the new wave of invaders. The city appeares in the Tabula Peutingeriana as the port of Inaronia, but is mentioned as Muccurum, a larger settlement that grew up in the most inaccessible part of Biokovo mountain, probably at the very edge of the Roman civilisation. It appears on the acts of the Salonan Synod of 4 May 533 AD held in Salona (533), when also the town's diocese was created.
The migration of the nations
In 548, Muccurum was destroyed by the army of the Ostrogoth king Totila. The byzantine Emperor expelled the Eastern Goths (Ostrogoths). In the 7th century the region between the Cetina and Neretva was occupied by the Slavs, who established the Neretva Principality, with Mokro (Makarska) as its administrative centre. The doge of Venice Pietro I Candiano, whose Venetian fleet aimed to punish the piratesque activities of the city's vessels, was defeated here on September 18, 877 and had to pay tribute to the Neretvans for the free passage of its ships on the Adriatic.
The new inhabitants were skilful boatsmen both on the rivers and the sea and they became excellent mariners and fearless pirates. The Croats who moved into this part of the coast were called Arentani by the byzantine Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus (10th century), and their state was called Pagania or Neretljanska: Moroko (once Muccurum), Verulja (Gornja Brela), Ostrok (Zaostrog), Slavinac (Lapčan near Gradac) and that they held these islands: Meleta (Mljet), Psara (Hvar), Bracis (Brač), Hoara (Sušac), Jis (Vis Island) and Lastovo. During the period of the Neretvan principality a port known as Makar developed on the coast.
Under various rulers
The principality was annexed to the Kingdom of Croatia in the 12th century, and was conquered by the Republic of Venice a century later. Making use of the rivalry between the Croatian leaders and their power struggles (1324–1326), the Bosnian Ban Stjepan Kotromanič annexed the Makarska coastal area. There were many changes of rulers here: from the Croatian and Bosnian feudal lords, to those from Zuhumlje (later Herzegovina).
In the eventful 15th century the Ottomans conquered the Balkans. In order to protect his territory from the Turks, Duke Vukčič handed the boardlands Krajina and Neretva over to the Venetians, in 1452. The Makarska coastal area fell to the Turks in 1499. The city was surrounded with walls that had three towers. The name Makarska was cited for the first time in a 1502 document telling how nuns from Makarska were permitted to repair their church.
Under the Turks
Map depicting the Turks trying to recapture Makarska after the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.
The Turks had links with all parts of the Adriatgic via Makarska and they therefore paid a great deal of attention to the maintenance of the port. In 1568 they built a fortress as defence against the Venetians. During Turkish rule the seat of the administrative and judicial authority was in Foča, Mostar, for a short time in Makarska itself and finally in Gabela on the River Neretva.
During the wars between Venice and the Turks over Crete (1645–1669) the desire amongst the people of the area to be free of the Turks intensified, and in 1646 Venice recaptured the coastline. But a period of dual leadrship lasted until 1684, until the danger of the Turks ended in 1699.
Once more under the Venetians
After the return ot the Venetian ruler in 1646, it was given to the Austrians by the Treaty of Campo Formio (1797). In 1695 Makarska became the seat of a bishopric and commercial activity came to life, but it was a neglected area and little attention was given to the education of its inhabitants. At the time when the people were fighting against the Turks, and Venice paid more attentionn to the people's demands. According to Alberto Fortis in his travel chronicles (18th century), Makarska was the only town in the coastal area, and the only Dalmatian town where there were absolutely no historical remains.
From 1797 to 1813
With the fall of Venice, the Austrian army entered Makarska and remained there until Napoleon took the upper hand. The French arrived in Makarska on 8 March 1806 and remained until 1813. This was an age of prosperity, cultural, social and economic development. Under French rule all the people were equal, and education laws written, for the first time in many centuries, in the Croatian language were passed. Schools were opened. Makarska was at this time a small town with about 1580 inhabitants.
Under the Austrians (1813-1918)
As in Dalmatia as a whole, the Austrian authorities imposed a policy of Italianization, and the official language was Italian. The Makarska representatives in the Dalmatian assembly in Zadar and the Imperial Council in Vienna demanded the introduction of the Croatian language for use in public life, but the authorities steadfastly opposed the idea. One of the leaders of the National (pro-Croatian) Party was Mihovil Pavlinović of Podgora. Makarska was one of the first communities to introduce the Croatian language (1865). In the second half of the 19th century Makarska experienced a great boom and in 1900 it had about 1800 inhabitants. It became a trading point for agricultural products, not only from the coastal area, but also from the hinterland (Herzegovina and Bosnia) and had shipping links with Trieste, Rijeka and Split (city).
The Congress of Vienna assigned Makarska to Austria-Hungary, under which it remained until 1918.
The 20th century
In the early 20th century agriculture, trade and fishing remained the mainstay of economy. In 1914 the first hotel was built, beginning the tourism tradition in the area. During World War II Makarska was part of the Independent State of Croatia. It was a port for the nation's navy and served as the headquarters of the Central Adriatic Naval Command, until it was moved to Split.
After the war Makarska experienced a period of growth, and the population tripled. All the natural advantages of the region were used to create in Makarska one of the best known tourist areas on the Croatian Adriatic.
In 2007, exhumation of victims from the World War Two was still ongoing.
* St. Mark's Cathedral (17th century), in the Main Square.
* Statue of the friar Andrija Kačić Miošić by the famous Croatian sculptor Ivan Rendić.
* St. Philip's Church (18th century).
* St. Peter's church (13th century), situated on the Sv. Petar peninsula, rebuilt in 1993.
* The Franciscan monastery (16th century). It houses a library with numerous books and rare incunabula's and a famous, world known collection of shells from all over the world, collected in a Malacological Museum from 1963.
* Napoleon monument, erected in the honour of the French Marshal Marmont in 1808.
* The Baroque Ivanisevic Palace.
* Villa Tonolli, which is home to the Town Museum.