The Croatian coast – Lastovo

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The Croatian coast is known for its many islands and one of them is the topic of the day. The island of Lastovo together with its archipelago of 46 islands is not only a natural paradise but a place of remarkable history, customs, and because of its remoteness the perfect place to gaze upon the stars of the Milky Way.

Lastovo was settled by Illyrians but the first signs of human trace on the island date back to the late Neolithic age. Lastovo joined the Dubrovnik Republic in 1252 by its own will and under the condition of a high level of internal autonomy but lost most of it in 1486.

The carnival celebrated every year is very popular and has a very interesting (hi)story.

Aside from Lastovo the largest islands of the archipelago are Predžba, Sušac and Mrčara. Predžba is connected to the main Island by a bridge in the village Passadur. The village’s name, in Croatian means path or passage.  Curiously, Lastovo was built on steep banks of a naturally formed amphitheatre facing away from the sea which is just the opposite compared to other Adriatic islands.

Nature Park

Lastovo is among the greenest islands in Croatia and was therefore proclaimed a natural park. With more than 70% of green area and sea so clean and crystal you just can’t get enough of, it truly is a nature lover haven.  The remoteness, specific climate, a lot of sun and nocturnal humidity, defined the specific vegetation of the island. Over 800 different plants have been recorded on Lastovo, a large number of them very rare or endemic. The marine vegetation around the island is almost as rich as the much wider area of the mid and south part of the Adriatic coast.  The inflow of nutrients from the deep sea of the Adriatic made such unseen flourishing possible.

Consequently, the sea fauna is also very rich in its diversity. The seabed around Lastovo abounds in corals, sponges, mollusks, echinoderms, crabs and a large number of different fish. The open waters around the island are inhabited by several species of dolphins and the isolated cliffs used to be the home of the Mediterranean monk seal, a now, believed to be almost extinct species.

The beaches of Lastovo are wild, rocky and decorated by cliffs – they are exactly how nature intended. Dense forests accent every cove, creating so much-needed shade during hot summer days.    Lastovo has rich communities of falcon and hawk nests. In past times, the Dubrovnik Republic made good use of it for falconry and traded them to other kingdoms.

The only cave on Lastovo into which you can go without fear is also, archeologically and historically the most significant one. Rača holds the evidence of human existence on Lastovo from the Neolithic age, 4 millennia BC. The cave is the discovery place of a round shaped double-bladed razor with an engraved cross in the middle, which is unique even for the east Adriatic area.

Lastovo Carnival or “Poklad”  

Legend says that the Moors sent a messenger to Lastovo to persuade them to surrender without a fight after they tried to take over the town of Korčula. When the inhabitants captured the messenger and he did not return, the Moorish army sailed towards Lastovo with the goal of conquering it. After the alarm had been raised because of the incoming ships the people left the village to climb up to the top of mount Hum to wait for the army. Along the way they prayed to St. George to save them. A storm broke suddenly and destroyed several ships. The rest of the fleet had no other choice but to return to Korčula. The Moors never came back. Rejoiced, the people returned to their village, put the Moorish messenger on a donkey and displayed him for the whole village to see. After the mockery ended they executed him. “Poklad” has been celebrated on Lastovo since the 16th century and always begins on January 17th, St. Anthony’s Day.

Gastronomy  

Lastovo, the imperial island, has been known for a long time as a place of exquisite dining; a place where kings and emperors enjoyed wineolive oil and the scents of aromatic herbs.  See food delicacies are prepared traditionally and are especially recommended. Because of the rich sea fauna around the island, the fish is always fresh.  Meet lovers are not left out as there are a number of family run businesses which breed their own animals and offer various meat dishes.

Maraština, known in some parts of Dalmatia as Rukatac, is an autochthonous variety of coastal Croatia. This vine variety found the perfect growing conditions on Lastovo. This wine is served with fish, seafood, white meat and natural cheeses at a temperature of 10 to 12 degrees Celsius.

The best “Plavac Mali” wines are made out of vines grown at Dingač and Postup positions on Pelješac, Hvar and Lastovo. This wine is the combination of two autochthonous Croatian varieties.  While young it is of a purple reddish colour with blue reflections but becomes ruby red by maturing. “Plavac Mali” is an integral part of every Lastovo dining table.

The night sky  

Lastovo is one of the least light-polluted places in the world. From the top of mount Hum, all visible stars of the Milky Way can be counted.  “By observing the night sky and the pale trace of the Milky Way one can actually see as many as 219 million stars. The night sky as seen from Lastovo mount Hum is deemed by scientists to be the darkest in entire Europe. Therefore, Lastovo could be proclaimed the first starry night  park” – concludes the brochure of the tourist board of Lastovo.

As if you needed a reason more to go visit this oasis of natural beauty.