The most scenic village in the beautiful Župa park is Mlini that has its own sea and the small river of Zavrelje, shallow pebble beaches and protected bays, flower filled gardens and paths, hotels, rivers and summer residences.
MillMlini used to be the ancient historical settlement Molina. This was the centre of the milling trade, and a long time ago it was often mentioned because before the water system was built water was taken from here to Dubrovnik, especially in the summer months when there was a drought. In the 15th century, two boats regularly carried drinking water from Mlini to Dubrovnik. The village got its name thanks to the abundant springs on which the mills were built, and out of the former mills only one has been kept intact.
Boats came to Mlini in the 19th century, not only from the city, the whole of Župa, and neighbouring Konavle and Herzegovina, but also from the Ukraine and were carrying wheat that was milled here. And whilst the men worked in the mills, the woman sewed and washed the bags for flour.
After 1897, the mill grindstones used electric energy from their own central power Station in the mill “Marija”.
In a historical account of Dubrovnik Serafin Razzi writes about this region: “At the end of these valleys, which they call Župa, a Frenchman, whose name is not remembered, came to shore with his boat, and, noticed that not far from the coast, on the karst side and the side of the stone hill, an abundance of fresh water flowed. He soon decided to build a few large mills for milling corn. After than less than half a mile this spring water flows into the sea”.
Mlini, small old harbourThe parish Church of St. Hilarion (sv. Ilar) “sancti Hylacrioni” is located in the oldest part of Mlini, whose name has its roots from the Greek word ilaros, as well as the Latin word hilaris which means happy, joyful, vivacious. It is mentioned in the Dubrovnik Statute in 1272. This old church with its graveyard “ which is remembered in memories is older than the documents about it. The old local chronicles mention it in 1164”. During the century, it was destroyed and constantly renovated. It was badly damaged, especially in the earthquake of 1667, and renovated in 1683 in a Baroque style. It was damaged again in the earthquakes of 1823 and 1824. According to ancient legend, St. Hilary, a hermit and saint of Palestinian origins, killed a dragon on the coast of Mlini and freed this area from paganism. This is why St. Hilarion (sv. Ilar) christened it Illyria in the 4th century. According to historical sources the people of Hilarion were shepherds and were scared of snakes. The church was built in honour of St. Hilarion (sv. Ilar), who became the patron saint of Mlini, and on the big bell that is dedicated to him it writes “I remind the people of St. Hilarion that you destroyed the dragon of paganism here. MCMXXV”.
In the vestry of the church there is a large ancient cross from the 15th century that is part of a group of Dalmatian gothic crosses and silver monstrance’s from 1625, and is the only item to be kept from the time before the Great quake. The walls, which were painted by the academic painter and sculptor Bruno Stane Grill as a gift to his beloved Mlini, tell the story of the Great quake.
The altar painting of the Bogorodica s Djetetom, Sv. Petrom i sv. Ilarom (Mother of God with Child, St. Peter and St. Hilary) is from the 18th century and the old painting Obrezanje Gospodinovo (The Circumcision of Our Lord), a very rare motif in art, is the work of an unknown master.
There is an old graveyard beside the church, where “…remains of old walls and cobble pavements of marble and one marble slab” were found during the digging of new graves. Beside the beach itself, in the embrace of the sea and dreaming its century long dream is the old Church of St. Rocco (sv. Rok), protector from the plague in the 15th century, and it was extended in the 19th century. The altar painting Saint Rocco (Sveti Rok) is the work of the painter Mladen Pejaković.
Mlini, old bridge in the shade of planeThe Church of Our Lady of the Rosary (Gospe od Rozarija), which was damaged in the earthquake in 1979, was renovated and returned to its former glory. It is possible to find cool refreshment under the sumptuous canopy of the plane tree, which was planted in long ago 1743 when it was the resting and meeting place of generations of people from Župa. The stream from the eddy “Vrilla” roars through Mlina, nourishes the hundred-year-old plane tree, and then calmly flows into the sea.
The people of Dubrovnik have always visited this picturesque village for its tranquil countryside and rich cuisine, once arriving by carriage, and now by car, since Mlini was another site for meetings, summer holidays, rest, walking, recreation, poems…
Next to the sea itself, and surrounded by the songs of the waves and the winds rustling in the green canopy of the pine trees, the 17th century renaissance castle of the Better family was built, whose glory only remains in the ruins and traces of an earlier lush garden. This castle is connected to the name of the celebrated academic “where Emperors and Kings bowed” Ruđer Boškević, the son of Nikola Boškević and Pavle Better.
In his own summer residence, the Dubrovnik writer of the 19th century, Medo Pučić was host to the young Vlaha Bukovac and in 1877 wrote a letter to Strossmayer asking for help for the gifted young man who was later to become a distinguished painter.
In this fine building, they were always looking for daydreams, and kept company with beauty in the cool of its cared for gardens that surrounded.
Hotel Astarea in MliniThe birthplace and atelier of the painter Bruno S. Grill is further down the Adriatic highway, who in his ingenuity showed the beauty of his homeland by creating beautiful odes to the sea and life.
They have managed to keep hold of the spirit of the Mlini countryside residences, and the hotels and villas are open for a much larger number of guest and tourists, which offer them a great basis for rest and recreation.
Much of what is here will delight you, spark your curiosity, inventiveness and expectations.