Inhabited since prehistoric times, this central Dalmatian island which stretches parallel to the Dalmatian shore is a place you simply can’t afford to miss when in Croatia.
Over the centuries, Korčula had been settled and conquered by the Greeks, Romans, Venetians, French and English but Croats proved to be a constant throughout.
With just over 16 thousand inhabitants, Korčula is the 2nd most populated island of Croatia after Krk.
This island is a place of timeless beauty and uncountable exploring opportunities. Breathtaking architecture, narrow roads, numerous coves and bays and an archipelago consisting of over 20 islands are a short description of Korčula and its surrounding.
The old town of Korčula is located on the island’s east coast and is surrounded by walls. The streets of the old town are arranged in a herringbone pattern which allows air circulation, protecting at the same time from the strong south and north winds.
The town’s historic sites include the central Gothic and Renaissance Cathedral of St. Mark, the Town Hall and the massive city fortifications, the 15th-century Franciscan monastery with a beautiful cloister situated on the islet of Badija, near Korčula Town, the town museum in the Gabrielis palace, the church of the brotherhood of All Saints, St. Anthony’s hill and the alleged birth house of Marco Polo.
The Moreška sword dance, which is performed by males from Korčula (town) and several other settlements, is perhaps the most recognisable feature of the island’s history.
This mock battle dance is performed traditionally on St. Theodore’s Day on July 29th. During the summer, it is performed weekly.
The sword dance has been performed since the 17th century but it is believed to be even older because the technique used in it dates back from the 16 hundreds. Soldiers from the Black and Red army are battling while holding two swords, to free Bula, who was abducted by the Arab King. The dance heats up through 7 battles to eventually end in the freeing of Bula and her return to her beloved Osman.
The dance is also performed in six other villages, only a bit modified. The men are organised into a village military unit with a captain and flag-bearer and each soldier holds one long sword. The captain leads his soldiers in a synchronised and highly coordinated formation where each soldier holds the tip of his neighbour’s sword to form a single linked group. When the linked figures are complete the soldiers are led into a fencing practice that tests their ability to clash swords with a partner, while performing leaps and skips. The dance is accompanied by the sounds of bagpipes and drums.
The town’s museum is located in the Gabrielis Palace which is, for itself, an outstanding example of 15th and 16th-century residential architecture and is located in the middle of the old town.
The Church and Brotherhood of All Saints preserve the oldest town traditions. The church was built in the 15th century on the remains of an older one, which dates back sometime between the 10th and 13th century. Icons from the Greek island of Crete are exhibited in the Icon Collection.
The hill of St. Anthony is a half an hour walk away from Korčula centre and it is a protected area of natural beauty. 102 steps are leading to a small 14th-century church dedicated to St. Anthony the Abbot at the top, decorated on the sides by a cypress alley planted in 1708. From the top of the hill, the most beautiful view of the Korčula archipelago spreads.
The Flora of Korčula consists mostly of different varieties of pine trees, the evergreen maritime oak, cypress trees, maquis, wild olives, aromatic plants like marjoram, myrtle, arbutus, rosemary and mint.
In Blato, there is a well known avenue lined with lime trees and in general, Korčula has many decorative green areas all around the island.
Excellent fish can be found in the waters of Korčula so the fish and seafood, in general, in the restaurants is always fresh and of great quality.
Unlike Pelješac, which is known for red varieties, Korčula is known for white wines. Rukatac gives light wines with a flowery and fruity aroma and is also used to make great “prošek”, a beloved desert wine in Dalmatia.
Grk, an autochthonous Korčula sort of grapevine, grows on a limited part of the ground near Lumbarda on lightly sunlit, not too steep but characteristically sandy ground. The interesting thing about this variety is that it needs a second variety, in this case, Plavac mali, to enable it to pollinate. This wine goes with literally everything; it has a high alcohol content and a distinct aroma.