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Korcula travel guide — Korcula tourism and travel information

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about Korcula

Korčula (Italian Curzola, Greek Korkyra Melaina) is the modern Croatian name for an island in the Adriatic Sea with a long Byzantine and Venetian history. The island of Korčula, about 40 km (25 miles) long and about 6.5 km (4 miles) across, lies lengthwise on the Dalmatian coast, in the Dubrovnik-Neretva county of Croatia.

The town of the same name is an ancient fortified town on the protected east coast, also the main port facing the Pelješac (Sabioncello) peninsula, separated from it by the narrow Strait of Pelješac, between 900 and 3,000 meters wide (illustration, right). The island also includes the towns of Vela Luka and Blato, as well as many other small settlements. The population of around 16,000 (2001) makes it one of the most populated Adriatic islands, though the number has been decreasing steadily over the last century.

The old town, no larger than a football stadium, is tightly built on a promontory that guards the narrow sound between the island and the mainland. Building outside the walls was forbidden until the 18th century, and the wooden drawbridge was only replaced in 1863. Most of Korčula's narrow streets are stepped. The town includes several interesting historic sights: the central Roman Catholic church (a cathedral from 1301 to 1806), the 15th-century Franciscan monastery with its beautiful Venetian Gothic cloister, the civic council chambers, the palace of the former Venetian governors, grand 15th and 16th century palaces of the local merchant nobles, and the massive city fortifications.

The island's earliest name, Korkyra Melaina, means "Black Corfu" — "black" perhaps for its dark pine forests that have always provided shipbuilding materials.

Korcula history

Though Korculans like to identify Antenor, fleeing from Troy, as the city's founder, there are even older neolithic burial mounds, a possible Phoenician settlement, and a Greek colony founded from Cnidus. Besides its ship timbers and pitch, Korčula's quarries supplied stone for buildings as far away as Vienna and Stockholm.

The island was part of the Roman province of Dalmatia until the Great Migrations. In the early 7th century, the Avar invasion brought the Slavs. As the barbarians started settling on the coast, the Italic population had to take refuge in the islands. Along the Dalmatian coast, the Slavic invaders from the upper Balkans seized control of the area where the Narenta (Neretva) River enters the Adriatic, as well as the islands, such as Hvar (Lesina), Korčula (Curzola) and Lastovo (Lagosta), that protect the river mouth. A painting dated 1800 in the museum at Curzola patriotically represents “The arrival of Croatians at the sea”, showing a group of medieval knights who, from the neat mountain heights of the Croatian coast, admire the bright vista of the Adriatic Sea. Christianizing of the Slavs began later in the century.

At first Venetian merchants were willing to pay annual tribute to keep their shipping safe from the "Narentine" (Neretvan) pirates of the Dalmatian coast, but in 998 "Curzola" came under direct Venetian control, and eventually Venetian diplomacy and force established hegemony in the upper Adriatic. Doge Pietro II Orseolo assumed the title Dux Dalmatinorum ("Duke of the Dalmatians"). During the 12th century the hereditary Counts of Curzola were loosely governed from Hungary and from Genoa in turn, and also enjoyed a brief period of independence; but after 1255 its hereditary counts again submitted to Venice. Marco Polo was born at Curzola in 1254, to an established family of merchants. Genoa defeated Venice at Curzola in 1298, but in the long run was eliminated from the Adriatic. Marco Polo was taken prisoner by the Genoese in the battle and spent his time in a Genoese prison writing of his travels.

"Curzola" as it was then called, surrendered to the Hungarians in 1358, was purchased by Ragusa (1413-1417), and finally declared itself subject to Venice in 1420. In 1571 it defended itself so gallantly against the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Lepanto that it obtained the designation Fidelissima from the Pope. From 1776 to 1797 Curzola succeeded Lesina (modern Hvar) as the main Venetian fortified arsenal in this region. During the Napoleonic wars it was ruled successively by Russians, French (Illyrian provinces) and British, ultimately passing to Austria in 1815.

Under its Croatian name Korčula it has been part of Yugoslavia between 1918 and 1990 and since then of Croatia.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Korcula".

This city is also known as: Korčula.

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