DUBROVNIK DIGEST >> EXCURSIONS
EXCURSIONS >> Korcula island
Korčula island is a particularly interesting island - while other Dubrovnik islands fell within the territory of the Republic of Dubrovnik, Korcula was under Venetian control. It is therefore different from Dubrovnik, but no less beautiful.
Particular emphasis is placed on the town of Korcula which can be reached by ferry from Orebic, on the Peljesac peninsula. The ferry ride takes about fifteen minutes and runs regularly. Orebic is located about 120km west of Dubrovnik.
The old town of Korcula is situated on a small peninsula and is surrounded by walls and fortifications. During the Middle Ages the town was on an island and connected by a bridge, which was drawn up in the evening. Later, the deep trench that remained was filled with soil. The town’s palaces, old houses and squares are preserved in their original form. The streets don’t lie vertically, but instead are arranged like fish bones in order to preserve the city from strong winds, but also to bring fresh air. This interesting fact makes Korcula unique in the world.
The whole city is beautiful, particularly the gothic-renaissance style St. Mark's Church. The altars that adorn Renaissance paintings by Tintoretto and other masters are especially valuable. The statues, among other things, are the work of the great Croatian artist Ivan Mestrovic. Artistically speaking, the upper part of the bell tower of the church is extremely valuable as it was made by Marko Andric.
Along with the cathedral, the former Bishop's Palace rises from the square, now known as the Abbot’s Palace. It has been home to the famous Abbot's treasure trove of art works, exhibited in six halls and a courtyard, since 1953. In a variety of works by local authors, a painting of the Virgin and Child by Juraj Trogiranin, stands out in particular. With its wealth and visibility, this treasury is among the most valuable church collections in Dalmatia.
On the opposite side of the Bishop’s Palace is one of the most beautiful Renaissance palaces in the city, Gabriellis. Built in the 15th century, today it is home to the City Museum and the ground floor houses the remains of old stone-masonry workshops. In the 15th and 16th centuries, many buildings sprung up, such as the Cathedral, the Municipal Hall and square, as well as numerous palaces and churches. It was at this time many valuable paintings and works of art were acquired that are kept in the collections of fraternities, private treasuries, the City Museum and the Abbot’s treasury.
The most valuable items are bronze door knocker by Tiziano Aspetti and a piano from 1819 played by Edith Streicher, a friend of Ludwig van Beethoven. The top floor of the museum is an attractive old-fashioned kitchen, and the rest of the museum is full of objects from everyday life on Korcula during its rich history.
In this medieval city you can visit the birth house of Marco Polo, the Venetian merchant best known for his travels through China at a time when few people from Europe were in the Far East. Polo visited during the 13th Century when China was ruled by Kublai Khan. Not only did he reach China, but Vietnam and Burma too. When after 24 years Polo returned to Europe, more precisely Venice, he brought with him many unknown things, and after listening to his stories, thousands of adventurers planned a similar route.
Based on his accounts, came the book Il Milione, the third most widely read and best-selling book in human history immediately after the Bible and the Koran. Marco Polo had a middle name Emilio, from which according to legend emerged the number one million. Europeans had until that point referred to a million as a thousand thousands. As Polo recounted his exaggerated stories, overusing a thousand thousands, people then started referring to the number by Polo’s middle name which was subsequently modified to a million. He died in Venice where the airport today bears his name.
Interestingly, the Korčulan statute is older than Dubrovnik's, dating back to 1214 whereas as Dubrovnik's was written in 1272. In addition, many buildings on the island are older than those in Dubrovnik as an earthquake destroyed many. You’ll notice that many of the facades on houses are decorated with coats of arms of old noble families from Korcula.
It's not just the town of Korčula that is interesting on Korcula – there are many other places and unbelievable nature to explore.
This island stands out for its rugged coastline of bays and small islands. Around Vela Luka - a place that is on the opposite side of the island to Korcula town – there are countless bays and each is beautiful in its own way. On the south side of the island is perhaps the most beautiful beach of all, Pupnatska luka - an incredible work of nature - which attracts swimmers from all over the island. You can reach it by road, and the beach has a restaurant serving local cuisine. The Žitna bay with its turquoise water near the town of Zavalatica, is also incredible.
The islands surrounding Korčula are also protected. The island of Proizd stands out for its beauty, not far from Vela Luka. The beach on this small island was once named the most beautiful in Croatia and can be reached by boat from Vela Luka. The bays and islands around Vela Luka are decorated with incredible white rocks that locals used to build their houses. If you are a fan of the Robinson Crusoe way of life then why not rent one? Many have no electricity for an authentic experience.
Lying above Vela Luka is the interesting Vela spilja cave. Prehistoric man lived in this cave and many artefacts were found at the site.
Whatever you do on Korčula, don't miss the chance to try some excellent Korculan olive oil, authentic Posip wine or žrnovske makarule that are handmade.
Pošip wine is produced in Čara and Smokvica, places found in the middle of the island. Right besides the two villages are the beautiful bays of Zavalatica and Brna where you can enjoy time at the beach and eating seafood dishes and great wine.
It's lso worth visiting Blato and Lumbarda. The island is far from small so it's best to come with a car in order tos ee as much as possible. Whether you decide to come to Korcula for its gastronomical delights, recreational offering, fishing, diving or cultural attractions and nature, you can't go wrong.
If you have the opportunity, be sure to watch the knight's game Moreška which is unique in the world. Black and red dancers fight with swords, occasionally leading to accidental injuries.
The island of Korčula is possibly the only place on earth that celebrate half New Year– which falls on 1 July. Everything is as with ordinary New Year, the countdown, fireworks, wishing others a happy new year. That which isn't is the carnival and costumes which all make for a unique celebration.