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Korčula (Greek Κόρκυρα Μέλαινα, Latin Corcyra Nigra, Korkyra Melaina, Old-Slavic Krkar, Venetian and modern Italian Curzola) is an island in the Adriatic Seamarker, in the Dubrovnik-Neretva countymarker of Croatiamarker. The island has an area of ; long and on average wide — and lies just off the Dalmatian coast. Its 16,182 (2001) inhabitants make it the second most populous Adriatic island after Krkmarker. 96.77% of the population are ethnic Croats, 1.8 others (declared ethnicity, none over 1%), 1% others (undeclared).


The island of Korčula belongs to the central Dalmatian archipelago, separated from the Pelješacmarker peninsula by a narrow strait of Pelješac, between wide (illustration, right). It is the sixth largest Adriatic island with a rather indented coast. The highest peaks are Klupca, above sea level and Kom, high. The climate is mild; an average air temperature in January is 9.8 °C and in July 26.9 °C; the average annual rainfall is 1,100 mm. The island is largely covered with Mediterraneanmarker flora including extensive pine forests.

The island also includes the towns of Korcula, Vela Lukamarker and Blatomarker and the coastal villages of Lumbardamarker and Račišće, and in the interior Žrnovo, Pupnat, Smokvicamarker and Čaramarker. The main road runs along the spine of the island connecting all settlements from Lumbarda on the eastern to Vela Luka on the western end, with the exception of Račišċe which is served by a separate road running along the northern coast. Ferries connect the city of Korčula with Orebićmarker on the Pelješac peninsula and Drvenik on the mainland (near Makarskamarker). Another line connects Vela Luka with Splitmarker and the island of Lastovo. Fast passenger catamarans connect those two ports with Splitmarker and the islands of Hvarmarker and Lastovomarker. The main Adriatic ferry line connects Korčula with Dubrovnikmarker, Splitmarker, Zadarmarker and Rijekamarker and in summer there are direct ferries to Italianmarker Adriatic ports. The island is divided into Korčula, Smokvica, Blato and Lumbarda municipalities.


According to legend, the island was founded by Trojan hero Antenor in the 12th century BC who is also famed as the founder of the city of Paduamarker.

The island was first settled by Mesolithic and Neolithic peoples. There is archaeological evidence at the sites of Vela Spila (Big Cave) and at Jakas Cave near the village of Zrnovo. The finds of Vela Spila are on display at the Center for Culture in Vela Luka [59796]. The fate of these peoples is not know but the sites do provide a window into their way of life.

The second wave of human settement was by Illyrians. It is belived that the Illyrians arrived in Balkans approximately 1000 BC . They were semi-nomadic tribal people living from agriculture. There are nurmous old stone buildings and fortresses (gradine) [59797] left behind by the Illyrians.

Melaina Korkyra ( , "Black Corfu") was the ancient Cnidianmarker Greek colony founded on Korcula. Greek colonists from Corcyra (Corfumarker) formed a small colony on the island in the 6th century B.C. The Greeks named it "Black Corfu" after their homeland and the dense pine-woods on the island. Greek artifacts, including carved marble tombstones can be found at the local Korcula town museum. An stone inscription found in Lumbarda (Lumbarda Psephisma) and which is the oldest written stone monument in Croatia (and, until recently, in former Yugoslavia), records that Greek settlers from Issa (Vismarker) founded another colony on the island in the 3rd century BC. The two communities lived peacefully until the Illyrian Wars (220 BC to 219 BC) with the Romans.

The island became part of the Roman province of Illyricum after the Illyrian Wars. Roman migration followed and Roman citizens arrived on the island. Roman villas appeared through the territory of Korcula and there is evidence of an organised agricultural exploitation of the land. There are archaeological remains of Roman Junianum on the island and old church foundations. In 10 AD Illyricum was split into two provinces, Pannonia and Dalmatia. Korcula became part of the ancient Roman province of Dalmatia. In the 6th century it came under Byzantine rule.

The Great Migrations of the 6th and 7th centuries, brought the Slavic and Avar invasions into this region. As the so-called barbarians began settling on the coast, the Romanised local coastal population had to take refuge on the islands. Along the Dalmatian coast the Croatian Slavic peoples migrations poured in from the interior and seized control of the area where the Neretvamarker River enters the Adriaticmarker, as well as the island of Korčula (Corcyra), that protect the river mouth. The Christianization of the Croats began in the 9th century, but the early Slavic rural inhabitants of the island may well have fully accepted Christianity later. Accordingly, the Croatian population of the island in the early Middle Ages was described as being in the same group as the Neretvians of the coastal Principality of Pagania (the land of the Pagans).
It is apparent that piracy on the sea emerged as the settlers of the coastal delta of the Neretva river quickly learned maritime skills in their new environment. At first Venetian merchants were willing to pay an annual tribute to keep their shipping safe from the infamous Neretvian pirates of the Dalmatian coast (predating the Uskok pirates based further north in Senj). After the 9th century, the island was briefly under nominal Byzantine suzerainty. In 998 the Principality of Pagania came under Venetianmarker control. Doge Pietro II Orseolo . Afterwards Korčula came under the control of the Great Principality of Zahumlje.

In the 12th century, Korčula was conquered by a Venetian nobleman, Pepone Zorzi, and incorporated it briefly into the Venetian Republic. Around this time, the local Korčulan rulers began to exercise diplomacy and legislate a town charter to secure the independence of the island, particularly with regard to internal affairs, given the presence of its more powerful neighbors.
South coast of Korčula
The brothers of Stephen Nemanja, Miroslav and Stracimir, launched an attack on the island on 10 August 1184, raiding its fertile western part. The island's inhabitants called the Republic of Ragusa (Dubrovnik) for help, which in turn captured all of Stracimir's galleys.

The Statute of Korčula was first drafted in 1214 [59798]. This legal document is the second oldest example of legislation among Slavs, with only the Russkaya Pravda of 11th and 12th Century Russia predating it. It guaranteed the autonomy of the island, apart from her outside rulers - Grand Principality of Raška, semi-independent Great Principality of Zahumlje and the Republics of Ragusa and Venicemarker. Captains were created for every one of the 5 island's settlements for organized defense. Korčula had less than 2,500 inhabitants at that time.

In 1221, Pope Honorius III gifted the island to the Princes of Krka (Šubićs).Then 1222, the Serbian King Stephen the First-crowned of Nemanja gifted his monasteries and lands on the island, referring to it as Krkar to his followers of the Benedictine Monastical Order on Mljetmarker.

During the 12th century the hereditary Counts of Korčula were loosely governed by the Hungarian crown and from the Republic of Genoa in turn, and also enjoyed a brief period of independence; but, in 1255, Marsilio Zorzi conquered the island's city and razed or damaged some of its churches during the process, forcing the Counts to return to Venetianmarker supreme rule . According to a local tradition, Marco Polo was born at Korčula in 1254 to an established family of merchants, although there is no irrefutable proof of this claim.What is more definite however is that the Republic of Genoa defeated Venice in the documented Battle of Korčula off the coast of Korčula in 1298 and a galley commander, Marco Polo, was taken prisoner by the victors to eventually spend his time in a Genoese prison writing of his travels. However, some Italian scholars believe that he may have been captured in a minor clash near Ayas (in sources from those times: Laiazzo). The controversy over the birthplace of Marco Polo between the Venetian and Korčulan theories is the subject of debate up to the present day.

After the writings of Pope Martin IV in 1284 and Pope Honorius IV in 1286 to the Archbishop of Dubrovnik, the Archbishop implaced a certain Petar as Bishop of Ston and Korčula - stacnensis ac Crozolensis. In 1291, Ivan Kručić was in Korčula's city as the Bishop of Korčula. Bishop Ivan contested his overlord, the Archbishop of Hvarmarker, and wanted to unite Stonmarker with his church domain. In 1300, Pope Boniface VIII finally founded the Korčula Bishopric under the Archbishopric of Dubrovnik. In 1333, as the Republic of Ragusa purchased Stonmarker with Pelješacmarker from the Serbian Empire, the suzerainty of Ston's Roman Catholic Church with the peninsula was given to the Bishopric of Korčula.

Curzola, as the Venetians called it, surrendered to the Kingdom of Hungary in 1358 according to the Treaty of Zadar, but it surrendered to the Bosnian King Stefan Tvrtko I in the Summer of 1390. However the Kingdom of Hungary restored rule of the island. and in December 1396 Croatian-Hungarian King Sigismund gifted it to Đurađ II Stracimirović of the Balšić dynasty of Zeta, who kept it up to his death in 1403, when it was returned under the Hungarian crown. In 1409 it again became a part of the Venetian Republic, purchased by the neighbouring Republic of Venicemarker in 1413-1417, it still declared itself subjected to Venice in 1420. In 1571 it defended itself so gallantly against the Ottoman attackers at the Battle of Lepantomarker [59799] that it obtained the designation Fidelissima from the Pope.

Arneri Lords of Korčula

The Arneri family, since the XV century, were the principal landed proprietor of Korčula . The palace itself were the Arneri lived is of Venetian Gothic but such an place as a Contarini or a Gradenigo might have leaved in. It has a superb bronze knocker representing a Hercules swinging two lions by their tails that adorned the door. Entering the courtyard there is a marble draw-well, on which has cut three pears, the arms of the family, and the minutely fretted windows of the crumbling halls. Signor Arneri was a polite gentleman who had white neckcloth and broad-brimmed hat, spoke to Andrew A. Paton about his family.

"These three pears you see on the wall," said he, "are the arms of my family. Perussich was the name, when, in the earlier part of the fifteenth century, the Dalmatian Arneris built this palace; so that, you see. All the family, fathers, sons, and brothers, used to serve in the fleets of the Republic of Venicemarker; but the hero of our race was Arnir Perussich, whose statue in the city, who fought, bled, and died at the Siege of Candia, whose memory was honoured by the Republic, and whose surviving family was liberally pensioned; so his name became the name. The family became Arneri, and ceased to be Perussich."

Korčula had for years supplied the timber for the wooden walls of Venice, and had been a favourite station of her fleets. From 1776 to 1797 Korčula succeeded Hvarmarker as the main Venetianmarker fortified arsenal in this region. According to the Treaty of Campoformio in 1797 in which the Venetian Republic was divided between the French Republic and the Habsburg Monarchy, Korčula passed on to the Habsburg Monarchy.

The French Empire invaded the island in 1806, joining it to the Illyrian Provinces. The Montenegrin Forces of Prince-Episcope Peter I Njegoš conquered the island with Russianmarker naval assistance in 1807 during his attempt to construct another Serbian Empire. However, the Great Powers decided to return the island to the Austrian Empiremarker in 1815, and it accordingly became a part of the Austrianmarker crown land of Dalmatia . From 1867, Korčula was in the Cisleithanian part of Austro-Hungary.

During the First World War, the island (among other territorial gains) was promised to the Kingdom of Italymarker in the 1915 Treaty of London in return for Italy joining the war on the side of Britain and France. However, after the war, Korčula became a part (with the rest of Dalmatia) of the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbsmarker in 1918. It was ruled by Italy in 1918 - 1921, after which it was incorporated into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenesmarker; known as the Kingdom of Yugoslaviamarker from 1929. In 1939, it became a part of the autonomous Croatian Banate.

During the Axis occupation of Yugoslavia from 1941, the Ustaše regime gave the island, together with most of Dalmatia, to Fascist Italymarker. After the Armistice between Italy and the Allied powers in 1943, it was briefly held by the Yugoslav Partisans who enjoyed considerable support in the region. Korčula was then occupied by the German Nazis and finally liberated in 1944. With the liberation of Yugoslavia in 1945, the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslaviamarker was formed, and Korčula became a part of the People's Republic of Croatia, one of the six Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The state changed name to Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslaviamarker in 1953, and so did the Republic into Socialist Republic of Croatia. After 1991, the island became a part of the independent Republic of Croatiamarker, recognized in 1992.

Don Marko Bon of Zrnovo

On 10 June 1715, Turkish pirates set out to raid one of the provinces of the Republic of Venice, Dalmatia. It is well documented that the two empires had their fair share of conflicts between each other over the centuries. Sailing around Korcula in two of their galleys, they disembarked at the bay of Brna and 260 of them went on to plunder the island. Firstly they set houses on fire in Smokvica. Then they moved on to the next village of Zrnovo.

When they set fire to the house of the parish priest, Don Marko Bon of Zrnovo, Marko decided to fight back. In the process he killed two of them. The pirates took him in chains to Ulcinjmarker . There he was sold in public as a slave. After two years of searching for him, his relatives found him and managed to buy him back. Don Marko Bon returned to his village of Zrnovo on the Island of Korcula.


The 17th century saw the rise of Peter Kanavelic who wrote love songs, occasional epic poems and dramas. He also translated from Italian the major poetic works of that time. He is regarded as one of the greatest Croatian writers of 17th century. In 1673 he became the representative of the Korcula community in Venice. There is a primary school named after him in the town of Korcula.

Moreska is a traditional sword dance [59800] from the town of Korcula. It is one of the many proud traditional sword dances that are performed on the island. It arrived in Korcula around the 16th century. Korcula has a rich musical history of Klape groups. Klapa is a acappella style of singing. The tradition goes back centuries, but the style as we know it today, originated in the 19th century. Oliver Dragojevic is a famous Croatian singer who comes from the island. Oliver has had many hits over the years and has performed overseas many times.

Korcula has a very old Stonemasonry history [59801]. The tradition was established during early times but reached it's peak during the rule of the Venetian Republic (1420-1797). Important to mention is the very strong art tradition that is present on the island [59802].

Famous artists:


The economy, besides tourism, is based on agriculture, namely the cultivation of grape vines, olives and fruit, and fishing and fish processing. Shipbuilding still exists although its importants has diminished to the local economy. Summer tourism has a long tradition on the island. Nautical and village agro-tourism have recently been developed.


A Jadrolinija ferry approaching Korčula harbour
Korčula is linked to the mainland by a regular ferry service that runs between Dominče, just outside of Korčula Town, and Orebićmarker. There are numerous other local ferry services including one linking Vela Lukamarker and Lastovomarker. The main Croatian ferry operator Jadrolinija runs a service linking Korčula Town with Rijekamarker, Splitmarker, Hvarmarker, Mljetmarker and Dubrovnikmarker. Local operator Mediteranska plovidba runs duering a season a service linking Korčula with Drvenik.

There are also bus services that link the island to major cities on the mainland, which reach Korčula using the Orebić ferry service.

Korcula town also has mooring facilities. The western harbour affords shelter from wind though not against the ‘bora’ and north-westerlies, so owners are advised to shift to the eastern harbour or to Luka Cove. The port is open to international seaborne traffic as a permanent Port of entry; it offers all types of repairs to hulls and engines at the Brodograditelj Shipyard.

See also


External links

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