Welcome to Korcula island – a historical islet in southern Croatia. Korcula island is full of things to do and places to explore. Here is an overview of Korcula island, its history and main characteristics.
Korcula island is located in the southern Croatia in the Adriatic Sea, in the central Dalmatian archipelago. Korcula became an island during the holocene period, about 10000 B.C. It is positioned in the direction east-west and it has a length of 47 kilometres and an area of 276 square kilometers. The average air temperatures are for January 9.1 °C and for July 26.9 °C. The number of sunny hours is 2700.
It is connected via ferry and catamaran lines with Split and via catamaran lines with Dubrovnik, both of which have airports that connect to the rest of the Europe and the world.
The same sea routes connect also to island of Hvar (which is on the way to Split), and the island of Mljet, (which is on the way to Dubrovnik), making Korcula an ideal spot in your island hopping adventure in Croatia. Korcula island is closely connected also to Peljesac peninsula, with ferry line departing often during the day.
Bigger centers are the town of Korcula, Vela Luka and Blato. Other seaside places are Lumbarda, Zrnovska Banja, Vrbovica, Racisce, Kneze, Zavalatica, Babina, Prizba, Grscica, Prigradica, Karbuni, Brna, Tri Porte, Nova, Gradina, Poplat as well as other smaller places within those areas – such as Kurija in Prigradica. The main and the primary road runs through the central part of Korcula island and it connects the biggest centers. Other places are connected with secondary roads from those centers throughout Korcula island.
Korcula Island’s Nature
A typical mediterranean flora is present accross the whole of Korcula island. The scenery comprises mostly of pine trees and vegetation of medium height such as maquis. Korcula island is also dominated by olive trees and vineyards. There are a few exceptions, notably a long linden tree alley in Blato and Kocje forest.
Beaches on Korcula are one of the most notable part of the island. Some of the most popular pebble beaches are Pupnatska luka, Bacva, Zitna and pebble beaches on the island of Proizd. Smaller pebble beaches are scattered throughout Korcula island. There are remote pebble beaches which are very hidden as well as those that are right in the centre of seaside resorts, like Prizba, Prigradica or town of Korcula. Other seaside places, such as Prigradica, also have long seaside promenades which are very popular for having a swim. There is only one sandy beach on Korcula island, located in Lumbarda.
Islets around island of Korcula are also its notable characteristic. Clusters of islets are scattered in the area of Korcula town (notable islets are Badija and Vrnik), places of Prizba and Karbuni and around the bay of Vela Luka. Many of these islets hide pebble beaches, such as the already mentioned islet of Proizd on the western side of Korcula island, outside Vela Luka, then the popular Moro beach on the islet of Stupe in archipelago around the town of Korcula and Veli prznjak in the cluster of islets outside Karbuni on central-southern part of Korcula. We suggest to consider rent a boat on Korcula option and making a day trip for unforgettable experiences of the sea and Summer.
History Of Korcula Island
The traces of human activity on Korcula island go back to earlier Stone Age. The finds in cave Vela spila in Vela Luka show the development of the Neolithic culture in period from 3rd to 2nd millenium B.C. and they present not only one of the most important prehistoric finds in Croatia , but in the whole Mediterranean basin as well. Later, the Illyrians settled the island and ruled during the Bronze and Iron age. Their traces were left in form of fortifications on the hills (called gradine) and graves with various archeological finds. One of more important archaeological site is Kopila, located on the hillsides near Blato, above the large field in the centre of the area.
In 6th century B.C., like on many other islands in Croatia, ancient Greeks colonised Korcula island and called it Korkyra of Kerkira Melaina. Among various archaeological finds throughout the island, the most notable is an inscription called Psephism from Lumbarda. It is the oldest document showing the distribution of land parcels in Croatia, as well as the other regulations. It dates from the beginning of the 4th or 3rd century B.C. and it is related to the second Greek colony.
During the 3rd century, Illyrians from the eastern Adriatic ruled the island before the Romans arrived. During the rule of Octavian (later Augustus) Korcula island was in war with Romans who conquered it and it became part of the Roman province of Illyricum. The Romans called the island Corcyra Nigra. Following the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire ruled the island during the 6th century, after which it was inhabited by Slavs and later saw various changes in rulers, from Venetians, Croatian, Croatian-Hungarian and other.
In this period, an important document covering the laws of Korcula city and island of Korcula is the Statute of Korcula Town which dates from 13th century. It also belongs to the group of oldest legal documents amongst Slavs. This period marks also the mention of Marco Polo, a great Venetian traveller and explorer, captured by the Genoese in the great naval battle between the Genouese and the Venetians in front of the town of Korcula.
The Republic of Venice ruled the island from 15th to the end of the 18th century, after which the Austrians, French and briefly English and Russians ruled the island of Korcula. One part of fortifications and roads was built in this period. The Austrian continued to rule the island from the beginning of the 19th to the beginning of the 20th century, with a strong movement of “People’s Revival in Dalmatia” demanding the unification of Dalmatia with Croatia and distancing from Italian national interests throughout the 19th century.
After the end of the First World War, the fall of the Austrian Empire and the brief rule of Italians, Korcula island became a part of the state and later kingdom of SHS, a state of south Slavs. The period between two wars is characterised by the emigration of population (Blato saw a great loss of population in this time ), general social and economic crisis, as well as a dissatisfaction towards the leading political dynasty. During the Second World War, the island fell into the hands of the Axis alliance. This period was ended by the Yugoslav Partisans and Korcula became a part of the Republic of Yugoslavia. After the breakup of Yugoslavia in early 1990s and the war that followed, Korcula island became a part of the independent Republic of Croatia.
Being an island in southern Croatia, Korcula’s economy is today mostly oriented towards tourism, accommodation and connected catering services. Bigger hotels are located in town of Korcula, Vela Luka and Brna, while the rest of accommodation facilities comprises mostly of private accommodation. There are campsites as well. With its long shipbuilding and naval tradition, Korcula island nowadays has active shipbuilding and other factory facilities located in Blato and town of Korcula. The most dominant agriculture products are olive oil and wine.
Culture On Korcula
Various changes throughout history brought different influences to the cultural heritage of the island of Korcula. The most notable location on the island is the town of Korcula, with its medieval rampants and narrow city streets of cobblestone. The impressive St. Mark’s cathedral hides important painting of the great 16th century Venetian master Tintoretto. Other sites include already mentioned cave Vela spila in Vela Luka, as well as the abandoned fortress Hum, also in Vela Luka.
One of the most notable tradition on the island of Korcula are the sword dances. This activity is performed in bigger centers on Korcula and in some smaller places and it differs a bit from one place to another. The most renowed sword dance is Moreska, which is traditionally performed in Korcula town. Other sword dances on the island are called „kumpanjija“ or „kumpanija“, most often performed on the main town square. In previous years, an annual festival of sword dances of the island was held in town of Korcula:
Korcula island has a long tradition of shipbuliding and stonemasonry, which was most active during the long rule of the Venetian Republic. Known sculptors in the modern era were Frano Krsinic and his student Ivo Lozica, from Lumbarda. Krsinic was one of the founders of Croatian Academy of Fine Arts and a member of an art group Zemlja („Earth“).
A notable painter was Maksimilian Vanka, famous for its portraits in 1920’s and 1930’s. Nataša Cetinić, a painter from Blato, is also renowed for her work in the second half of the 20th century.
One of the more famous lyricist was Petar Kanavelic, a poet in the 17th century, regarded as one of the greatest Croatian writers of that era. In modern times, Petar Segedin stands out as one of the more prominent writers, as well as Danijel Dragojevic and Darko Separovic.
In modern industrial design, a prominent figure to note is Bernardo Bernardi, an architect from Korcula.
Marija Petkovic, known also as the Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified Petković was the founder of the Catholic Congregation of the Daughters of Mercy. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2003. The sanctuary of the Blessed Mary is located in Blato and there is a monastery in Prizba bay, on Ratak peninsula.
A very popular event on the island of Korcula are also the carnival traditions, especially those held by organisations in Vela Luka and Blato. There is also an open air carnival happening during Half New Year event, being held in Korcula town on 30th of June.
Music On Korcula
On Korcula island, the tradition of a capella singers called „klapa“ is a very popular form of musical expression, with festivals taking place a couple of times during year. Klapa singing was also included in 2012. to the UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage. Some of the most popular klapa singers in past were Klapa Ošjak and Klapa Vela Luka, and today the most prominent is Klapa Kumpanji.
Korkyra Baroque Festival is an international event being held in September in town of Korcula in previous years. It hosts a selection of the world’s leading ensembles and soloists performing Baroque music.
Notable popular music singers that originated from Korcula island are Oliver Dragojevic, Jasna Zlokic and Meri Cetinic. Many places on the island host concerts during Summer, mostly with Croatian pop music bands and singers.
Korcula island is a great place to have various sorts of sporting activities related to the sea.
Korcula Swimming and Water polo Club „KPK“ is one of the most prominent sporting organisation on the island. It won the 1979. European waterpolo cup . Other prominent sport clubs include football club „Zmaj“ from Blato and rowing club Osjak in Vela Luka. Some of the oarsmen from Vela Luka gained international recognition and titles.
Annual sporting activities include a triathlon Marco Polo challenge, Korcula town water polo championship and a traditional regatta from Gradina bay to Vela Luka town center.
Korcula island is gaining more and more reputation on Croatia’s gastro map. Lesic Dimitri restaurant in Korcula town is the first one to receive a Michelin star on Korcula for its exceptional menu.
There are many other restaurants to stop and grab a bite, from fancy and chic restaurants to hidden countryside restaurants serving typical local fish, meat and pasta dishes made with fresh ingredients. Do not miss to try out the typical way of preparing food under a bell, known as peka.
There are food-themed events and festivals dedicated to particular dishes, such as the event of preparing the traditional pasta served with sauce called zrnovski makaruni, originated from place of Zrnovo , or the event of preparing finely chopped cabbage called kupus na tabak, being held during Summer in Vela Luka. Also, if you take a short dive while swimming you could find delicacies hidden in most unusal creatures of the underwater world!
Some of the best known biscuits and cakes are lumblija and klasun, as well as other biscuits and dough-based sweets, with variations even ending up as recipe on Jamie Oliver’s website. Lumblija is mostly connected with Blato and Vela Luka. The story about the name „lumblija“ dates from the Napoleon era and French rule of these areas. One of the French soldiers fell in love with a girl from the island and gave her a sweet cake followed with words „ne m’oublie pas“ which in French means „don’t forget me“. During the course of time, the words were pronounced differently and the cake remained known as „lumblija“.
Korcula island has various locations covered in olive trees and olive oil production is well known and widely recognized. A lot of these olive groves are planted in stone walls. These were made on hillsides in the past to prevent soil from being washed away during rains. Dry stone walls make fascinating landscape sights and paths through those are great for having walking tours, or even ride on bicycle. There are even some small dry stone wall buildings, called toreta and vrtujak.
Wines of Korcula are also something not to miss tasting. Most notable wine varieties are posip, cultivated mostly in the fields of Cara and Smokvica in central part of the island, and grk cultivated in sandy soils of the area of Lumbarda. Lately, more and more wine tasting corners of smaller family-run wineries open their doors throughout the island. There are wine tasting events and evenings happening throughout the island during Summer.
How to reach Korcula island
With so much to explore and discover, there are many things to do on while staying on Korcula island. For more information on how to reach Korcula island, you can check out the general information on our Travel to Korcula page and for detailed instructions on ferries, highways and routes when arrving by car check out our Korcula ferries page on our another blog.