4 grada Dragodid – Preserving Dry-Stone Masonry Techniques of the Eastern Adriatic

“Dry-stone traditional constructions are a precious feature of the landscape in the Croatian coastal area. The Dragodid group of sensitive and daring citizens, developed initiatives and invested their time and energy to learn from the local people the traditional skills to preserve the modest, collapsing dry-stone buildings. In so doing, they returned the confidence to the local communities and offered them assistance in their efforts to preserve their seemingly modest and deprived heritage. The jury appreciated this grassroots action and hopes it will encourage similar small scale initiatives and contribute to active citizen participation in the preservation of cultural heritage.”

Dry-stone masonry is an ancient architectural tradition in the Mediterranean, used for the construction without the use of mortar, of land fences, agricultural buildings and modest houses. It has left an extensive mark as a cultural element of the Croatian coastal landscape. Today, this skill and its techniques are rapidly being lost with the retirement of the last generation of masons that actively practiced this art.

The 4 grada Dragodid project began with the recognition that dry-stone masonry techniques are a part of the region’s intangible heritage which is of immense and practical importance for future generations: they produce usable and aesthetic buildings from locally available materials and means. The project is an attempt at transferring knowledge and skills from the old masters to future generations of enthusiasts and heritage professionals, through setting up workshops, printed manuals and the dragodid.org website. It aims at re-establishing dry-stone as an efficient, aesthetic, humane and sustainable option for the construction of simple buildings and structures in the Mediterranean.

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